Terminator: Dark Fate’s Linda Hamilton on returning to her iconic role

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In the Terminator franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger has followed through on his trademark promise of being back so many times that it’s become a bad punchline now. When it comes to his original co-star Linda Hamilton though, she’s not been seen on-screen as iconic heroine Sarah Connor since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

That’s about to change with the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate though, which is a direct sequel to that classic, completely ignoring the subsequent films. As such, it means that the 62-year-old Hamilton’s Sarah Connor needs to be just as badass as she was in her younger days, which takes a whole lot of both mental and physical preparation as the actress explained to Entertainment Weekly.

It’s not like riding a bike, I’ll tell you that. [Laughs] Of course, one assumes if you put in the same hard work, you get the same results, so I went straight back into training really hard and it’s like, “Oh my god, you need hormones to put muscle on!” So just starting with the basic cosmetics of the character and all of the things that I had to sort of include in my new reality as Sarah Connor. But, really, it’s about building her backstory and figuring out where she’s been and who she is today. You have a character but so many things have impacted her in the last 30 years that it was like starting over, and yet, there is an echo of the younger Sarah Connor in everything that I had to create.

But no, I worked damn hard. I spent a year-plus training really hard and working on her walk and exploring her deep sorrows and just so many elements, and more so, because there is a path there. By the time we started, I felt ready, but a year-plus before that, I was pretty overwhelmed with a sense of obligation and duty and love for the character, just really trying to make sure that we honored the past and created something new for the future.

With Hamilton admitting that “it was many, many years of just being sure that it was done, that I was done”, even getting to the point of just agreeing to come back took time though. Franchise creator James Cameron (who was married to Hamilton in the 1990s, and is the father of her daughter) had to work at luring the actress back to the Hollywood limelight she had mostly been avoiding for the last few years.

He called me three times before I even called him back. The third time, he was like, “It’s about work,” and I’m like, “Oh, hey, what’s up?” But, even with that and his big sell, it took me weeks to decide that I really could go there and might have something new to say.

And according to director Tim Miller, what Terminator: Dark Fate has to say will be directly addressing Sarah’s actions at the end of Terminator 2.

This will be more clear when you see the movie, but the first two movies really deal with time as a loop, what’s happening is the same thing that happened before and everybody is fighting to ensure that happens again. And Jim had this lucky break that he only broke that rule at the end of Terminator 2 when Sarah destroys Cyberdyne, it’s the first thing that happened that hadn’t happened before, and so it was going to change the future — but no one knew how. And I don’t think the movies that came after it really explored that in a clean way like I believe we are, with true consequences, and it makes perfect sense for Sarah to be the one to face those consequences since they were her choices to begin with.

Hamilton added that things are different for Sarah as her actions have left her as “a woman without a country.”

Her original mission has changed due to circumstances and she really doesn’t have a team anymore, she just has a thirst for vengeance, so that makes her very alone. She’s still a wildcard, but a wildcard without a real true mission is a lot more unpredictable. Basically very hard for her to find her humanity, so once again we get to take a journey on that level, to have some deep things that need to be rediscovered for her survival.

We’ll find out just how Sarah Connor has been surviving all these decades, when Terminator: Dark Fate opens in cinemas on 1 November. In the meantime, you can check out the first trailer before the new one drops at Comic-Con this coming weekend.

Last Updated: July 16, 2019

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