The T-800 without the skin suit in fire in The Terminator
Movies - TV
Terminator’s Funding Came Under One Very Specific Condition
While the focus of “The Terminator” isn’t on the actors, the sci-fi slasher is well-cast, particularly Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular assassin.
However, these two actors weren’t the initial picks for these roles. Director James Cameron confirmed that the film’s distributor, Orion Pictures, wanted O.J. Simpson as its star.
Cameron explained to Entertainment Weekly that Orion co-founder Mike Medavoy felt the movie needed a star and was pushing for Simpson to be in the movie as the robot assassin.
Medavoy also suggested that Schwarzenegger play Kyle Reese. Producer Gale Anne Hurd and Cameron were puzzled by the proposal; the director objected to Simpson for two reasons.
Cameron felt having a Black man chasing around a white woman would send a racist message. Simpson also had a reputation for being a “likable, goofy, kind of innocent guy.”
Although he may not have initially wanted Schwarzenegger, after meeting the actor, Cameron sensed his enthusiasm and felt that Schwarzenegger looked the part of a human-machine.
Cameron convinced Schwarzenegger to take the role. While speaking with EW, Hurd shared, “When [Schwarzenegger] committed that was enough to get us financed.”