'The first 'Terminator' picture ... scared the hell out of me, then I saw the second one and it made me want to be a director,' he says.
By Larry Carroll
April 22, 2009
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HOLLYWOOD — Trying to wrap your head around the entire "Terminator" universe at this point would require the kind of robotic brain capacity that only Skynet could manufacture. So, with a mere four weeks before "Terminator Salvation" rewrites the record books at theaters nationwide, McG is only looking at James Cameron's two classic films when he says, "I'll be back."
"I felt like it was time for a new beginning," the "Charlie's Angels" filmmaker said of his decision to ignore 2003's "Rise of the Machines" and the recently canceled "Sarah Connor Chronicles" and instead create a companion piece to the first two films of the franchise. "I feel as though Jim Cameron finished the story after 'Terminator 2.' We respect the mythology of all three Terminator pictures that have come before us, but this is about the future war. And we only ever got a tiny peek at the world [after 'Judgment Day'] — I thought it would be a really interesting place to start, and therefore worthy of a jumping-off point to tell a new 'Terminator' story and begin again."
Aside from small cameos by Linda Hamilton and (possibly) Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new film has re-cast the apocalyptic battle with Christian Bale, Anton Yelchin, Common, Bryce Dallas Howard and the fast-rising Sam Worthington.
"These are the films that have touched my life — I saw the first 'Terminator' picture and it scared the hell out of me, then I saw the second one and it made me want to be a director," McG remembered. "It's very important to me. I want to respect [the series] all the way and make sure that we are indeed mindful of what Jim Cameron put into motion."
The director is also bringing some new killer machines along for the ride, of course — starting with the enormous monster glimpsed briefly in the film's trailer. "There's a Harvester in this picture that goes around collecting people," he explained. "This film is largely about Skynet ... Skynet has to harvest a lot of human beings, and therefore the Harvester.
"We understand the mythology of Cyberdyne and Skynet, and the nature of everything coming online, and we respect the timelines — even though the time travel makes that a little confusing sometimes," McG said of all the "Terminator" story lines that have emerged over the past three decades. "But put most simply, the first film is about saving Sarah Connor and the second film is about saving John Connor. This film is about saving [Yelchin as] Kyle Reese.
"Kyle Reese has to go back in time to protect and ultimately impregnate Sarah to give birth to John Connor who is ultimately going to save us all," McG said of what fans need to know heading into the new blockbuster. "That's the triangle of 'Terminator' mythology."