Interview : Terminator Salvation cast


About – what was it now? – a week ago, Warner Bros invited me to chat to the cast of “Terminator Salvation”. Below you’ll find my chat with supporting players Common, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas-Howard and Anton Yelchin. Enjoy!

Q: Anton, how did this compare to being on the Starship Enterprise?

Anton: It’s very different. They’re both really incredible to be a part of and experience, and to be on the sets is just insane. They’re both iconic franchises, but with two totally different moods and philosophies, so it was pretty wonderful to go from one universe into a totally different universe. Even though they’re both science fiction, the two of these couldn’t be more different in tone and understanding of the world they describe.

Q: Moon, McG has said that if L.A. were nuked, you’d be the last woman standing. What do you think he see in you to merit that?

Moon: I think he’s implying that there’s a toughness, and a confrontational side.

Bryce: She’s a survivor.

Moon: I’m a survivor. I didn’t know he said that. There’s a tomboy side to me.

Bryce: I’d be the first to go.

Moon: No, you would talk them down and say, “Are you sure you wanna to do that?”

Q: Were you all fans of the Terminator franchise?

Common: I was a fan. I wasn’t a fanatic, to the point where I knew everything, in and out, about Terminator. I thought they were good movies. I really enjoyed the first and second one. I went back and watched them and appreciated them seeing them. I wasn’t the guy wearing the “I’ll be back” t-shirt, but I was into it. I thought it was cool.

Anton: I wasn’t around in ‘84, when the first film came out, but I was actually a huge fan. I think I saw them way too early. T2 came out in ‘91, and I probably saw it on TV a couple of years after that, so I was four or five when I saw it and I was so into it. And, I saw T1 shortly after. I made my parents rent it. I was so obsessed. I even re-enacted the final scene from T1 in elementary school. I tried to get this girl to say, “Die, fuckin’ robot!,” or whatever Linda Hamilton said, and she was like, “No, I’m not saying that.” I was like, “It’s Terminator. You’ve gotta do it. You can’t mess around with the movie.” I didn’t have a t-shirt either, but I had all the action figures and I had a Terminator factory that made gelatin Terminators. At some point, I had a model that I got at Universal Citywalk. That was a big deal. So, yeah, I loved it.
Bryce: I had no action figures or models or goo factories, but I also always watched this franchise. This is such an incredible moment to appreciate the franchise and be a fan of it, and then to know that you’re going to be a part of the next film and sit down and watch it all again is amazing. It was a defining, awesome, exhilarating moment, for sure.

Moon: I love sci-fi. I like Star Trek. I’ve never been somebody that liked romantic comedies. I always wanted to see movies that were about the future, like BladeRunner. I liked Arnold, but my favorite was always the story of John and Sarah Connor, who was a female with those bad-ass biceps. She was so tough.

Q: When you sign on for a movie like this, you’re probably prepared to do a lot of green screen and effects. Were you surprised at how many things were done practically, on set?

Anton: We did some green screen, but very little.

Bryce: I think you feel it. Cinematically, audiences are really, thoroughly adept at realizing if something is being technologically manipulated. McG has a good sense of that and made a really wise choice, in trying to build as many things as possible. For me, there was just unbelievable stuff on set. I was going, “Oh, it’s just all here! Oh, God, look there! It’s the apocalypse!,” which was fantastic.

Q: Bryce, were you really pregnant when you shot this?

Bryce: No. I had just had my baby.

Q: Was your character the same as Claire Danes’ character in T3?

Bryce: Yeah. Kate Brewster is now Kate Connor.

Q: You were in the scene where Christian says, “I’ll be back.” Did he have to be persuaded to do that, or was he up for it?

Bryce: That’s a great moment, for sure. Christian was so committed to making sure that the script was always being fully realized and that every single plot point was hit, perfectly. And, he and McG formed an incredible dynamic and partnership together. That’s a potentially iconic moment, if played correctly.

Q: Were there any mishaps during the action sequences and stunt work?

Anton: [Our special effects guy] Mike Meinardus was like the guy from Tropic Thunder that blows everything up. His leg almost got sliced off.

Moon: Sam and I were doing a scene and, in between, I guess somebody pulled one of the strings, just on accident. It was only the second day of shooting and, all of a sudden, I hear all this commotion and it had basically gone into his shin, and we had to stop shooting. I didn’t look, but they were holding him down because he went flying in the air and he was in a lot of pain. It was really gruesome, so I just walked away. And, that was the scene that Sam and I were in, where I’m trying to not be freaked out. But, he was okay.

Anton: He was there, every day, on crutches. I’m pretty sure everyone got hurt. I fell off of a truck that we were shooting on. I was latched onto the truck and there was this part where I’d start to pull off, and I kept pulling farther and farther. And then, one time, I just didn’t come back. I fell off and was hanging upside down. I dropped the gun and my nails got fucked. I was just hanging there and I was like, “Shit, I need to get back on, now!” I got back on and everyone stopped and was screaming, and the best part was that Sam was laughing. I was like, “Why are you laughing?” It was pretty painful because I slammed my shin into the truck. I still have a scar, but it’s a lame story to tell after Meinardus’ leg getting almost sliced off. But, everyone got hurt. You think it’s safe, but it’s not safe to run around with things exploding around you, or to run around on a moving vehicle. They’d leave the more dangerous stuff for the stunt guys. Logan Holladay, who was my stunt double, got on the back of the truck and the cable got caught on a car or something, and it snapped and hit him in the arm, and he has this huge scar on his arm. We got a call on set that said, “Logan’s in the hospital along with the 2nd Unit D.P.” You know, it’s a Terminator movie.

Q: What was it like working with Christian? Isn’t he an intense actor?

Moon: So am I. I’m very intense.

Bryce: I understand the word intense, but I’ve thought a little bit about it and intense usually implies intimidation, and he’s not an intimidating guy. He’s just incredibly focused and methodical and dedicated.

Moon: I had nothing but a great experience with him. He was light, he was warm, he was funny. All actors are intense to me, in some way. How do you get there without having some kind of intensity? It doesn’t have to be negative.

Bryce: Yeah, there’s no standoffishness.

Moon: He’s quite funny, and he made us laugh. He’s just very focused.

Bryce: He reminds me of my grandfather, actually. He’s very grounded, and a genuine gentleman.

Q: Anton, how did you and Christian get your heads around the fact that you are his future father? Did you just have to shove that knowledge aside?

Anton: McG and I talked about it, before we started shooting. Obviously, Kyle Reese doesn’t know, so it’s not essential to his understanding of the universe he inhabits. It was an interesting moment to play, when Kyle Reese sees Connor, and Connor sees Kyle Reese. Connor’s going, “Oh, my God, this is my father!,” and Kyle is going, “I don’t know who the hell this guy is!” But, there has to be some kind of emotional/spiritual connection between these two people, so that was a fascinating, interesting moment to play because you didn’t want to play it like, “Oh, Kyle knows he’s his father,” because he doesn’t. It was interesting to find that beat of some sort of vague recognition of something. Also, Kyle has heard his voice on the radio and he knows about John Connor, but he doesn’t know he is John Connor at that moment, so I just put it out of my mind to focus on other things.

Q: Common, did you feel you needed to build some backstory for your character, in your own head?

Common: Yeah, I definitely needed to put a backstory to my character because there wasn’t a lot written about Barnes. When McG first talked to me about working on the film, he said, “Man, we’ve got to give you some more stuff.” I just started working and thinking about what it would be like to be a human being living in a time where the world had pretty much been destroyed, and just thinking about surviving and where I’ve come from and what you could have learned during these times of just being around in a desolate world. You’re looking at humanity in a different way because the enemy is different from what we think it to be now.

Q: What was it like to kick butt beside John Connor?

Common: To be beside John Connor was definitely an inspiration. When you think of John Connor, he represents so many great people in the world that have brought people together to save humanity, whether it be Gandhi or Martin Luther King or Malcolm X — revolutionaries that use their minds and souls and everything to help save the world. That’s what I looked at John Connor as. John Connor could be Barack Obama, at this point. The fight comes on different levels. So, to have that dynamic with someone so great and so powerful was great for me to play against and with, and develop my character to see who he was.

Q: Anton, is it a different process for you to be playing a character who has been played before, versus creating a new character?

Anton: Yeah. For me, there’s a whole other set of guidelines, in my mind, that I want to follow, and I take those guidelines from the character that was created by the original actor. You start off with A, B, C and D that you want to have and you think, “How can I incorporate those things into this idea?” And then, I had to adjust certain scenes to those guidelines, as opposed to adjust those guidelines to the script, because I felt like this is something people would want to see in that character and that was just who that character was, and it was just essential to capture that. In a way, it’s a lot of fun. You’re given something to work with and you’re told, “You need to take this toothpick, this piece of clay and these marbles, and make something out of it,” so you do something with it.

Q: Did you watch Michael Biehn’s performance?

Anton: Yeah, a lot. Every day.

Q: The previous films are now being called “The first trilogy.” Are you guys all signed for more films?

Anton: I think it’ getting ahead of ourselves to talk about future films.

Q: But you would like to do them, if that were to happen?

Anton: Yeah, sure.

Bryce: Oh, God, we really want to!

Moon: Yeah, we do!

Bryce: I think the reason why it hasn’t come up for us is because we don’t want to have hubris. The movie hasn’t come out yet and we don’t know what the response is going to be like.

Q: But, are you signed for three? Anton, didn’t everyone sign for three films on Star Trek?

Anton: Yeah, I think Star Trek was three, but none of us have talked about it.

Q: Bryce, if your character comes back, after having the baby, would you like to kick butt the next time around?

Bryce: Oh, yes!

Q: Common, is it true that you’re going to be in The Green Lantern?

Common: Hopefully. That movie is on hold, so I don’t know.