Schwarzenegger underwhelmed by early ‘Terminator Salvation’ footage

Aug. 04, 2008 | 3:37 p.m.

Terminator "The Terminator" will be back next summer, but the original killer robot, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a bit puzzled by this new model, at least so far.

"I still don’t know how it will play out with this one," said the star-turned-politician, who said he was given a private screening of early footage from "Terminator Salvation" by producers of the franchise reboot directed by McG. "They showed me some footage, but I don’t have a feel for the movie. I didn’t see enough. I wasn’t sure who the Terminator was. I don’t know if there is one or if he’s the star or the hero. These are the things that determine the success and how the strong the movie will be."

This will be the fourth of the "Terminator" films but the first without the Austrian-born muscleman who became a international film icon in the role of an assassination machine with cool sunglasses and a deadpan delivery. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" in 2003 was Schwarzenegger’s last starring role before he gave up Hollywood for Sacramento.

Schwarzenegger loves to talk Hollywood, and on Friday afternoon he chatted about his favorite recent movies — he absolutely loved "Wanted," for instance, and he says Will Ferrell movies are so funny that he’s getting "a six-pack" of abs from all the laughing — and he addressed the tender topic of a new "Terminator" for the first time in any depth.

Schwarzenegger has been playing a different sort of "Terminator" these days — last week he ordered the layoffs of 10,000 state employees. He has said that move, along with sweeping salary reductions for state workers, will take pressure off the California coffers during the ongoing budget impasse in Sacramento.   


"Terminator Salvation" is being filmed now in New Mexico and stars Christian Bale (above), who wears the mask of Batman in this summer’s history-making hit, "The Dark Knight," which is making a run at "Titanic" for the highest-grossing film ever.

Bale won’t be a Terminator robot — just the opposite, he plays a grown-up John Connor, the leader of the ragged human resistance against machine-men oppressors of the future. "Salvation," directed by the filmmaker McG, will be a prequel to "The Terminator," the landmark 1984 film directed by James Cameron. In 1991, Cameron and Schwarzenegger teamed up again for "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which not only grossed more than $200 million in U.S. theaters, it became a landmark achievement among special-effects films.

"Salvation" is trying to pay homage to that history even as it charts its own course. McG ("Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle," "We Are Marshall") sought out Cameron’s blessing for "Salvation," which is far more bleak, unsettling and savage than the third film in the series, directed by Jonathan Mostow. "Salvation" producers also arranged for the governor to see an early "sizzle reel," a montage of scenes of the sort shown at Comic-Con International last month, where "Salvation" was popular with fans.

Schwarzenegger was polite but cautious on Friday when he was asked if he thought the reel actually had the sort of sizzle he expected.

"I’ve seen very little footage so I don’t really have a feel for it. I hope they do well, and I hope it is a huge hit.  I do hope it creates a spectacle on the screen. That is what James Cameron created."

The politician, who turned 61 last week, remains an ardent booster of Hollywood. Despite the crises  around him in the state capital, he gushed about what a wonderful season it has been for popcorn entertainment.

"It’s been pure heaven! We’ve never seen anything like this: Every week, Hollywood has been pounding away. And look at that, the economy is going down but Hollywood grosses are going up. It shows how important Hollywood is to our state economy and how much people love movies.

"There are such high standards and now there are always new standards being set for action,"  Schwarzenegger said. "You see that with ‘Iron Man‘ and with the new Batman movie and that other film this summer, um, ‘Wanted.’ That was an excellent movie! There was this train coming down from a bridge, falling, and they’re fighting inside the train car. Jesus, that is unbelievable that you can do that. To have the imagination to write it and the talent to shoot it and make it real on the screen. It’s a whole new dimension."

The father of four said it’s the "huge visual effects, the super-heroes," that make him and his kids want to "run to the theater," but the state’s chief executive apparently also has a soft spot for "Step Brothers" and "Semi-Pro."

"It’s the big action ones or the ones with Will Ferrell. In those you howl for two hours and you feel like you get a six-pack [of ab muscles] from all the laughs!"

His tone turned cautionary, though, on the topic of "Terminator Salvation."

"With Batman and Terminator, those big movies, there’s a certain expectation and if you don’t live up to it, if the movie is not a 10, then the business will be soft," the governor said. "If [‘Salvation’] is pushing it forward, it will be breaking records all the time. If [director McG] has the T4 and the kind of shots that has the audience thinking, ‘Now how did he do that?’ — then it is ‘Terminator’ and you can blow everyone away and every record at the box office."

In 2003, the American Film Institute made a list of the top 50 film heroes ever and a list of the top 50 villains. Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is the only character to appear on both lists. The imagery from the films is part of his defining persona, whether it’s the nickname "the Governator" or the state employee protests last week in which the politician’s name was written on a pink slip along with a slogan saying he was the one deserving job termination.

Will Schwarzenegger be able to watch any new "Terminator" film and not feel a pang of loss?

"No, the same thing happened with bodybuilding. Seven times I won the Mr. Olympia title, a record, no one had done that. Then someone else [South Carolina native Lee Haney] won it eight times. Do I sit and say, ‘Darn it, my record is gone’ or ‘Darn, I’m not up there on stage.’ No, because I’ve moved into other phases of my life. I moved on from bodybuilding into entertainment. Then I moved on from entertainment into a political life. Now this is the most exciting experience of my life. When this movie comes out, I won’t be sitting there saying, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ I hope it makes a lot of money and is very successful."

— Geoff Boucher

Photos: Top, Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the Terminator. Center, Christian Bale
stars as John Connor and Sam Worthington stars as Marcus Wright in “Terminator Salvation.”

Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

More in: Uncategorized, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator, Wanted


28 Responses to Schwarzenegger underwhelmed by early ‘Terminator Salvation’ footage

  1. Frankie says:

    I'd rather see my friend the gouverneur in action in T4, than the action he orchestrated last week. Than again I do understand it to be a political stunt. My hat off for the "Terminator", and may we have a [California] budget soon this week.

  2. Patricia says:

    Will there be a plot in this new film? Or will it be like his Charles Angels film, just a bunch of strung together actions bits in search of a story? The fall of humanity should be an emotional story, not just some shallow and empty special effects display.

  3. lee the people says:

    his films are all history now. he made his millions, unfortunately as a politician he's not doing so well at all. why go through all this humiliation like saying "follow the rules" when the wealthy who rule over us all, don't follow any of those rules. they don't apply to them. the rules they manufacture for others, don't apply to any of them. he has no choice but go back to hollywood once his politics is over.

  4. shake says:

    If youv'e seen the original Terminator it started out with John Conner as the leader of the human resistance against the machines.This is the way it should end with John Conner defeating the machines.When I saw T3 I felted like it just couldn't end this way.I'm so glad that a T4 movie is coming out and I hope it ends with a glorious ending!

  5. Lauren says:

    I love our Governator. :)

  6. Snarky says:

    lol, your salaries are TERMINATED!

  7. MaestroH says:

    It wont end till the final film. They're planning 3 Future films. But bale should do fine!

  8. iH8Shia says:

    T3 should have been like the Terminator ride in Universal Studios where John Connor is taken to the future and the T-1000 is after him again…not the movie it ended up being. I wonder if T4 will end up being like Mad Max or Soldier?!

  9. Tony says:

    "If youv'e seen the original Terminator it started out with John Conner as the leader of the human resistance against the machines.This is the way it should end with John Conner defeating the machines.When I saw T3 I felted like it just couldn't end this way.I'm so glad that a T4 movie is coming out and I hope it ends with a glorious ending!"
    But how does John Connor become a leader of any resistance if there is no Judgement Day? Everyone cried to get to this point from the original Terminator. T3 does what it needs to do and its not the way it should have ended? Am I the only one not understanding this logic?

  10. Dave says:

    For the love of God stop referring to every remake, sequel, or prequel as a "reboot"! It's cliched, hackneyed, and sloppy, lazy writing.

  11. K von M says:

    "I wasn't sure who the Terminator was. I don't know if there is one or if he's the star or the hero. These are the things that determine the success and how the strong the movie will be."
    arnie needs to get over himself. anyone familiar with the storyline, or even with the teasers for T4 knows damn well this movie isn't ABOUT the robot, and therefore isn't about arnold. maybe he should spend more time figuring out how to fix his economy without screwing over the state than seeing idioic wastes of time like "stepbrothers".

  12. dave says:

    it has been suggested that arnold schwarzenegger's name, based on his poetic native alpine language, in approximation translates to, 'a foreigner is born a star to the eyes of never-never-land.'
    what could that mean?
    attacks on the american republic, and constitutional freedoms, might come from without and within. that a nation inherit liberty, prosperity and peace, does not exempt the people from their own responsibility. life itself provides their entitlement to earn and keep what is their birthright, by protecting and defending it, staying vigilant, making conscious and responsible choices. this is the pursuit of happiness. it involves the awareness that things have meanings – the things people say, and the things people do – even 'action hero movies.' meanings have consequences, and offers not declined, can be taken as a mandate to impose them. watch your eyes, if you will.

  13. I can't wait for the new Terminator movie, hopefully Arnold gives it the thumbs up after watching the completed film. The Comic-Con footage got me excited for it.

  14. Brandon says:

    Im glad they are finally making T4, but its not gonna be the same without good old Arnold! I think the movie company is gonna lose money in less people seeing it in theatres and just renting it instead just because Arnold is not in it.

  15. Will says:

    To tie story lines together, there is bound to be parts that somebody doesn't like. T3 was entertaining and I was glad to see they continue a line of story-telling where a person comes form the future to kill someone in the past. Brilliant. They should make 6 more movies like that. Now if Hollywood could just figure a Predator, and Alien, and a Pregnant Teenager into this storyline, they'll be all set. Also, lets hope Bale uses a believable voice. Someone should have offered him a Halls for that raspy voice in Dark Knight.

  16. nitish patil says:

    don't do it without real terminator.if arnold is not in the movie….i am not going to see this movie.

  17. Bear says:

    A few points: Mr Patil, please remember (or re-watch) the first Terminator film. Arnold is not the only Terminator, the one who shot up the inside of the underground shelter was played by Franco Columbu in the first Terminator, and others have played Terminators as well.
    Shake & IH8Shia, remember that in order for there to BE a John Connor in the first place, as Tony pointed out, THERE MUST BE A "JUDGMENT DAY", hence the need for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
    And dave (with a small "d"), please for the love of all that is holy, don't drop acid before you go online and post. Your post had nothing to do with the subject (the Terminator films) and not much to do with anything else, so far as I could discern. Just some EXTREMELY disjointed ramblings, lacking in basic punctuation and capitalization.

  18. ENC1102 says:

    I was so excited to see the teaser in theaters of Terminator 4. I was disappointed however to see that Arnold Schwarzenegger would not be in it. I understand that he is the governor of California, but you can’t have a Terminator without a Schwarzenegger. For one it totally losses a majority of the audience, people would kill to see Arnold back in action. Secondly, from the trailer it doesn’t look like there is much plot. If this is true then it’s going to make this supposedly box office hit, a box office upset. Kids are going to be so excited to go see the terminator, and after realize that the terminator wasn’t there, and they are going to cry. Don’t make kids cry. Give them what they want, not only kids but mankind. What are the rides going to be like at Universal Studios? Hey kids come into the new Terminator room, and ride Christian Bale?
    This is by far the stupidest thing I have ever heard, terminator without Schwarzenegger? This is not 007 you can not just change Arnolds every 4 or 5 movies. Yes Christian Bale did a good job in “The Dark Knight” and it was a huge box office hit. We all know that everyone didn’t see that movie because of his awesome acting skills. They saw it because Heath Ledger dropped a bomb on all actors across the country. Basically saying, you can’t act I can now I am going out with a bang. Which is exactly what I predict the Terminator 4 will do, except this bang will be bad.

  19. dave f says:

    usual internet immaturity.
    "im not going to see it because arnold is not in it" comments. what a load of bull. he is an old age pensioner for god sake.
    if this film is done right it will clean up. the terminator universe is so rich it can easily survive and move on without arnie.
    what we dont want is the same film rehashed over and over again which dilutes the appeal of the first two. (like T3) although point taken T3 is important for the overall story arc to work.
    get over arnie not being in it, and appraciate the terminator universe for the overall story which is the real appeal of the first two films, and hope the new film lives up to that potential.

  20. Bill Clinton says:

    Arnold should have come back. This movie will make no money without him because he is THE Terminator, and it will not be the same without him.

  21. Bill says:

    it doesn't matter that Arnold is old. He can still kick some a$$. I think Arnold needs to be in the movie at least a small part. Why dont they include the T1000, Robert Patrick? I know he looks old today, but the fans would get a kick out of seeing him.

  22. Bill johnston says:

    Schwarzenegger MUST! be in Salvation Or the MOVIE WILL SUCK

  23. ELizabeth says:

    Ok people……. It's just another movie…..right? Will it do well because Arnold isn't in it? Probably. Should Arnold be in it? YES!!! Who cares if he's older than time now. Think about his roles in the other Terminator movies. T3 he was to old to play that role but he did and………..did that movie even make it to theaters? Maybe this is what the terminator saga needs. A new face as John Connor and no Arnold. I'm going to see it anyway just because it looks like a cool film. So get off Arnold and leave him as the govanator and give the Bale guy a try. Who knows it could be a great movie with a T5 in its future. Have fun people and keep focusing on this stupid crap that doesn't mean anything. People don't have $$ to eat and live, but lets argue about movies that don't really change our lives one bit.

  24. Arlee says:

    Yeap Dave F is RIGHT!!!…If he not in then it'll look sucks and does'nt make sense.. and because they didnt follow the story line from the T2 and T3……

  25. Patricia says:

    Forget the movie. McG can't tell a story to save his life. The TV show is way, way better. It has actual writers. A plot. And even subplots. And lots of surprises and even social and political commentary.
    Watch the TV show. Forget the film.

  26. Piratefan says:

    Arnold is just jealous because Christian is gonna kick *** in this film! It's just like Jack Nicholson when Heath did a better job in "Dark Knight" than he did in the late 80's early 90's. This looks so much more in your face and exciting than the earlier ones, even though I've never seen them, but anyway…..I say "Go Christian!" The Governator has officially been de-throned by Mr. Bale!

  27. i just saw arnolds name as one of the casts of salvation ,term 4 whats up with that will he be in it.

  28. SK says:

    will schwarznegger star in dis film

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