James Cameron Talks About ‘Terminator’, ‘Terminator 2’, and The Evolution of Sarah Connor

By June 2, 2014
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Iconic science fiction heroines were front and center at this past weekend’s Hero Complex Film Festival in Hollywood. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley got her due with back to back screenings of Alien and Aliens on Sunday, and Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor also received special treatment with a screening of The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day the night before. James Cameron, the writer/director of Aliens and the first two Terminator films, participated in a Q&A himself between the films, in which he offered some thoughts about how to make a great sequel and his guess about the future of humanity, but he also took the time to discuss his first female action hero, from the origins of her character and more:

I wanted to created a kind of ‘everywoman.’ Everybody was talking about the ‘everyman,’ I wanted to create an ‘everywoman’ – somebody who feels insignificant, feels like their life doesn’t have any greater purpose, and then [Sarah Connor] gets tapped by a great duty and a great burden, and she has to step up. We see her change a great deal in the film. Since you just saw it and it’s fresh in your mind, what you’ll notice is that all of her support structures get peeled away. Her roommate, who’s obviously a close friend. Her roommate’s boyfriend, who’s a big strapping guy who might have protected her. Then she meets the protector when she’s very isolated and falls in love with him, and then he gets taken away at the end and she’s left on her own. Even her ability to run gets taken away, and she’s crawling, so it comes down to this extremely primal thing; she has to step up or she’s going to die, and history will change. I like the idea that an epic story can be told in these very small scale terms.

Linda Hamilton T2

Cameron also spoke about Linda Hamilton (his one-time wife), the actress he cast to play Sarah Connor and praised her ability to transform between the innocent girl we see at the beginning of the first film to the hardcore badass she becomes by the second movie.

I knew what I wanted to do with the character, but then finding the right actress to play her? I got incredibly lucky with Linda [Hamilton] – when you look at the two-film arc because of what she was capable of doing in the second film which I could never have anticipated when we cast her in the first film because I wasn’t thinking in terms of a sequel. But the fact that she would be so willful and determined and so athletic to be able to create the transformation…her transformation is really quite astonishing, and yet it works from a narrative perspective perfectly. She becomes the externalization of her own anguish, and the fact that she’s internalized this terrible thing that’s going to happen, this holocaust that’s going to happen in the future.

Be sure to check out Hero Complex for videos of the discussion and even more details from the conversations with James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver, and the other participants from this year’s festival.

Special thanks to John Conroy at the LAT for making this coverage possible.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.