James Cameron Explains Why It’s Okay That The New Terminator Looks Old

By  · Published on October 21st, 2014

Orion Pictures

Arnold Schwarzenegger is old, which means he’s going to look old in the next Terminator movie. He’ll be a robot with wrinkles, and according to James Cameron, that’s okay.

“I pointed out that the outer covering (of the Terminator) was actually not synthetic, that it was organic and therefore could age,” Cameron said at a 30th anniversary celebration of the original film. “You could theoretically have a Terminator that was sent back in time, missed his target, and ended up just kind of living on in society. Because he is a learning computer and has a brain as a central processor he could actually become more human as he went along without getting discovered.”

So that’s that, except it doesn’t really matter.

This is the kind of external explanation that you can hold in the back of your mind even while laughing at what’s happening on screen. Even if they offer it up as exposition, it’s still a cosmetic solution for a real-world situation we all recognize. Schwarzenegger is thirty years older, so now they’ve got to explain why he’s that way in the movies, thus reminding all of us that it’s something which needs explanation. It’s lose-lose.

On the other hand, there’s a chance that aging will offer Terminator: Genisys a gruff, sullen robot, but on the other other hand, is there any real hope that Schwarzenegger can rise above his hammy delivery to pull that off to its full potential?

Ultimately it probably doesn’t matter. This is the fifth film of a sci-fi series that ran out of steam two movies ago. Maybe it can have new life CPRed into it. Maybe not. But regardless, it also fits nicely into the category of movies that Cameron rolled his eyes at during the event.

The money quote:

“Original ideas are rare in mainstream filmmaking. There has to be some underlying IP in order to gather enough momentum for studio executives to make decisions the way they make decisions, which is fear-based. They have to fear making the movie less than not making it.

The moment they’re afraid the guy across the street will make the movie and they’ll look stupid – that’s when they’ll make the film. There’s no sense of ‘I want to make this movie, I believe in this movie.’”

Cameron, of course, is currently working on 19 back-to-back Avatar sequels.

Terminator: Genisys – starring Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney and Matt Smith – is out July 2015.

Related Topics: ,

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.