The Terminators seen at the beginning of the movie were fully workable animatronic models.The fireball in the opening sequence was filmed using 300 frames per second. Director James Cameron said “We almost burned the building down.” One of the main percussive sounds of Brad Fiedel‘s score – the metallic beats of the Terminator theme is not created by a synthesizer. It’s Fiedel striking one of his cast-iron frying pans.
James Cameron asked special effects creator Stan Winston to direct a teaser-trailer.
Cameron didn’t want the trailer to just be early footage and so with a budget of $150 000 Winston created this trailer to show a futuristic assembly line churning out copies of Terminators. Cameron had fears about audience reactions to trailers showing Schwarzenegger as the Terminator in the 1st film was destroyed. The “Bio-Flesh Regenerator” at the Endoskeleton factory which grows living human tissue onto the T-101. The toy manufacturer Kenner released a “Bio-Flesh Regenerator” play-set which came with your own Terminator action figures
Carol-co studio executives were nervous and concerned when the original budget of $75 million ballooned up to $88 million with more to come. In order to keep the budget manageable they proposed to eliminate a few scenes particularly the opening biker bar scene where the Terminator was introduced. They tried to get Schwarzenegger to persuade Cameron to remove that scene but Schwarzenegger turned them down saying “Only a studio guy would cut a scene out like that.”
For this scene Arnold was actually wearing a pair of purple board shorts. A woman passer-by actually wandered onto the biker bar set thinking it was real. Seeing Schwarzenegger standing in the bar dressed only in board shorts she wondered aloud what was going on only for Schwarzenegger to reply that it was “male stripper night”.
In the DVD audio commentary James Cameron said that not only was the biker bar scene filmed across the street from where LAPD officers beat up Rodney King but that they were filming the night of the beating.
“We did digital willy removal in this shot” said James Cameron. But the director notes the effect wasn’t complete and Patrick’s…”rise of the machines” could somewhat be seen on the home video format of the film. Cameron notes he wants his willy removal money back since the job didn’t get done.
The film is set either in 1994 or 1995. The police database states John Connor was born on February 28 1985 and is ten years old. However the Terminator says Judgment Day (scheduled for August 1997) will happen in three years’ time which would make the film set in 1994 and John Connor would be 9 years old.
Billy Idol was James Cameron‘s original choice to play the T-1000. However a motorcycle accident prevented Billy from taking on the role. James Cameron cast Robert Patrick as The T-1000 after seeing him in Die Hard 2 (1990). The badge on the T-1000’s uniform reads “Austin” (after producer Stephanie Austin) although it is not fully visible in the film. Austin is also the name of Robert Patrick‘s daughter.
The mall scenes were spread out over two malls. The scenes shot outside the mall were filmed outside of the Northridge Fashion Center in Northridge California. This mall was closed for months after the Northridge earthquake destroyed much of it in 1994. Parts of the parking garage in the movie were destroyed in that earthquake. The mall where the T-800 goes to look for John and fights the T-1000 is the Sherman Oaks Galleria which has been used for many films. Arnold Schwarzenegger previously filmed another fight scene there in the movie Commando(1985). Even though Robert Patrick got weapons training James Cameron was so amazed by Patrick’s performance for the T-1000 shooting scene that he used the actual footage shot without speeding up the frame rate. The sound used for Arnolds shotgun is actually the blast of two cannons been fired.
Co-writer William Wisher Jr. is the photographer in the background, he was also the cop who was violently carjacked in the original movie .Linda Hamilton‘s stunt double Maryellen Aviano can be seen as next to the photographer. In this scene the photographer is William Wisher Jr. the Co-writer for the movie! Robert Patrick trained in a rigorous running regime in order to be able to appear to run at high speeds without showing fatigue on film.
For the storm drain sequence Schwarzenegger‘s shotgun had an X large finger loop in its lever to make it easier to cycle the action by twirling. This trick was performed by ‘John Wayne’ in several of his Westerns. Schwarzenegger was in pain because since he couldn’t wear a glove while cocking the gun his fingers would get stuck in the mechanism. He tore the skin from his fingers and hand many times before he mastered it; and he achieved this while trying to act and control a Harley at the same time as James Cameron told him where to look. He couldn’t dart his eyes either because it would have ruined the shot. Shooting the gates also took weeks of practice because he had to also act cool while doing it.
The T800’s bike jump into the storm drain was performed by stuntman Peter Kent. The motorbike was supported by one-inch cables so that when they hit the ground the bike and rider only weighed 180 pounds. The cables were later digitally erased.
Cameron was nervous about the entire concept of the T-1000 early in the script writing phase. He put a halt to writing the screenplay so he could check with ILM to see if the character could even be pulled off. If they could do this why not a liquid man? The liquid-metal T-1000 was actually intended for the first film but could not be done due to budget constraints and the limits of technology at the time.
SFX crew had to incorporate Robert Patrick‘s football-injury limp in their animation of the T1000. Next they filmed the T1000 pretending to be driving from the right-hand steering wheel wearing a mirror-image police uniform) while the real driver was hidden under a black hood at the lowered real steering wheel. The scenes were flipped left-to-right to make it all look right and combined with footage shot with a normal truck driving in the drain. This was done so that Patrick could concentrate on acting rather than driving. They accidentally caught a street sign; after they mirror-imaged the scene they digitally reversed the text on the sign so it would appear correct.
Because of Edward Furlong‘s small stature during filming his stunt double who was older and larger used a bigger version of the dirt bike for filming the chase scene. When John takes off on his motorbike in the mall while been chased by the T-1000, he is riding a bike with a 4-stroke engine. It was dubbed over with a smaller 2-stroke sound to create a strong contrast between his bikes and the Terminator’s.
The original script did not call for the top of the truck to be ripped off during the chase but when they arrived on location they found that the cab wouldn’t fit under the overpass so director James Cameron decided that the roof was going to have to come off. James Cameron once owned a German Shepherd dog named “Wolfie” (short for Beowulf). The dog appeared in the original movie at the Motel Sarah and Kyle were staying at.
The “forced medication” scene (In the Special Edition) had to be re-shot several times because actor Ken Gibbel wouldn’t hit Linda Hamilton properly with his nightstick. The scene was very physically demanding and Hamilton was furious with Gibbel because he repeatedly botched it. She got her revenge in a later scene where she smashes Gibble in the face with the mop handle. A single solid white frame is spliced in at the moment of impact. This trick accurately conveys the flash a person sees when they get hit in the head. It was also used in The Abyss when Cat punches Coffey in the face. Linda Hamilton‘s then 20-month-old son Dalton plays an infant John Connor in a playground dream sequence.
Stan Winston and his crew studied hours of nuclear test footage in order to make Sarah Connor’s “nuclear nightmare” scene as real as possible. It was so realistic members of several U.S. federal nuclear testing labs unofficially declared it “the most accurate depiction of a nuclear blast ever created for a fictional motion picture”.
Linda Hamilton trained for three hours a day six days a week for 13 weeks before filming. She trained with weights and learned judo and heavy military training techniques. She had to maintain a demanding non-fat diet even during filming and lost 12 pounds. Because of this punishing regimen she declined to reprise her role for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Ironically her identical twin sister Leslie was only required to “hit the gym” for a few hours a week and the difference is visible in the two scenes they star in together.
The photos of the 1984 attack were still shots of a re-shoot. James Cameron had a hallway set built dressed Arnold Schwarzenegger in his original Terminator outfit and had him recreate one take from which they took the pictures. Local residents in Lake view Terrace held a protest outside the Medical Center when it was dressed up to be the Pesca-dero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. They quickly realised it was in fact only a film set.
Linda Hamilton learned to pick locks for the scene in the mental hospital where she does precisely that with a paperclip.
For the sound of T-1000 passing through metal bars they simply inverted an open can of dog food and recorded the close-packed food as it oozed slowly out. When transforming and flowing like mercury the “metallic” sound is the spraying of Dust-Off into a mixture of flour and water with a condom-sealed microphone submerged in the goo. For the sound of bullets striking the T-1000 inverted glass was slammed into a container of yogurt creating a combo sound of hard edge and goop. The sound of the T-1000 eye-spiking the prison guard was the sound of Gary Rydstrom’s Jack Russell terrier Buster. Identical twins Don Stanton and Dan Stanton played the hospital security guard and the T1000.
For the scene where the Terminator tells Sarah Connor about Miles Dyson and the history of Skynet Arnold Schwarzenegger read his lines from a card taped to the car’s windshield. The date of the fictional Judgment Day – 29 August 1997 – is the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s first detonation of an atomic bomb in 1949.
Production took so long that Edward Furlong visibly aged during the shoot – he is clearly much younger in the desert for instance than in other scenes. His voice began to break which required him to be re-dubbed again in post-production. His young voice is left intact only in the scene where he and Terminator are talking about why people cry because James Cameron wanted it to sound dramatic and thought it was better if left intact.
The pumps in the gas station forecourt shown prior to the chip surgery scene display the Benthic Petroleum logo. Benthic Petroleum was the company that owned the submersible drilling rig in one of James Cameron‘s previous movies The Abyss.
While a central point in “Terminator 2” the phrase “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves” is not said in “The Terminator”. The phrase comes from a deleted scene. When Sarah leaves her sniper’s position in Dyson’s yard she walks past a pool. The pools surface should be still but it’s undulating, like stormy waters in an open bay – this was applied for a dramatic effect.
Denzel Washington turned down the role of Miles Dyson – The actor said “No offence to Jim Cameron, but when I read the script I thought All he does is look scared and sweat. – I had to pass.” More explicit shots of the arm cutting scene were removed as Cameron felt they were tasteless and unnecessary.
When the T-800 uses The Grenade launcher it to blow open a door, in real life it wouldn’t have worked. According to Cameron — his brother a Marine, who said the grenade would have to spin seven times before it arms. The distance the T-800 was from the door the grenade would have bounced back and exploded behind him. “I didn’t know this at the time” said Cameron.
Originally the Terminator was going to use a MAC-10 to shoot at the police but James Cameron decided to revisit the gun used in Predator(1987). 11 cameras were used to capture the explosion at Cyberdyne HQ. The Cyberdyne building is in fact a two-story structure. A fake third floor was constructed on top for the movie. Much of the structure was rebuilt after the filming and the building exists to this day.
It took 2 takes to get the van crashing into the Cyberdyne lobby. They sprayed adhesive onto the floor to stop the van from skidding too much.
Dean Norris has a small role as SWAT team leader. Norris had previously worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger in science fiction film Total Recall (1990) which he played the mutant Martian freedom fighter Tony. Pilot Charles A. Tamburro actually flew the helicopter under the overpass in the final chase scene. The camera crew refused to film the shot because of the high risk involved.So James Cameron did the filming with the help of the camera car driver.
It took three takes to properly capture the helicopter crashing on the freeway.
All the electrical cabling meant to light the five-mile section of freeway during the liquid nitrogen truck chase was stolen. Not having enough time to replace all of it the company had to rent or borrow every wire connected to the lighting on the freeway. That lasted for 5 days.
The steel mill effects were so convincing some former workers from the plant (which had been closed for over 10 years) thought it was up and running again.
The artificial substance used instead of melted steel (which would’ve been far too dangerous to use sometimes impossible) actually needed to be kept pretty cool to maintain the right density. This meant that the temperature on set was really quite cold so the actors had to be sprayed with fake sweat in between takes.
Given Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s $15-million salary and his total of 700 words of dialog he was paid $21429 per word. “Hasta la vista baby” cost $85716. In the Spanish version of the film to preserve the humorous nature its changed to “Sayonara baby”
The damaged Terminator look in the climax of the film took five hours to apply and an hour to remove. The make-up artists mixed KY jelly into Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s make-up for the Terminator in “normal” mode to give him a slightly synthetic look.
James Cameron fought over the ending with executive producer Mario Kassar. Cameron wanted to end the film with an older Sarah in future as a bookend. But Kassar wanted to end the film in its current form for the possibility of another sequel.
The Sound work is so extensive that every incidental movement on screen is replaced: the creaks of the Terminator’s leather jacket his buckle clinks and footsteps. The entire sequence where Sarah escapes from her hospital bed using a paper clip to pick the strap buckle and door lock was nothing but Foley and music.
According to sound supervisor Gloria S. Borders approximately 70% of the dialog and most of the breathing is Automated Dialog Replacement.
Despite the film’s R rating numerous children’s toys were released and were a financial success. Because the film was shot out of sequence Arnold Schwarzenegger was unsure if the Terminator was supposed to be played as too human or not human enough in some scenes.
This is the only Terminator film to win or be nominated for an Oscar. It won 4 and was nominated for 2 others. With the film’s domestic box office adjusted for inflation it is the top grossing R-rated action film of all time. This was the first film to break $300 million at the “international” box office and is the highest-grossing movie of 1991.