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The Terminator (1984) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (5) | Spoilers (13)
Arnold Schwarzenegger worked with guns everyday for a month to prepare for the role; the first two weeks of filming he practiced weapons stripping and reassembly blindfolded until the motions were automatic, like a machine. He spent hours at the shooting range, practicing with different weapons without blinking or looking at them when reloading or cocking; he also had to be ambidextrous. He practiced different moves up to 50 times.
One afternoon during a break in filming, Arnold Schwarzenegger went into a restaurant in downtown L.A. to get some lunch and realized all too late that he was still in Terminator makeup - with a missing eye, exposed jawbone and burned flesh.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous debut line 'I'll be back' was originally scripted as 'I'll come back'.
The beginning of production was postponed for nine months, due to Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment to Conan the Destroyer (1984). During this time, James Cameron wanted to be working but didn't have the time to do a whole other film so he took on a writing assignment; this turned out to be Aliens (1986).
Arnold Schwarzenegger originally wanted to play Kyle Reese. But James Cameron had a different idea and saw Schwarzenegger in the title role of The Terminator and Cameron said to Schwarzenegger "This movie is not about the hero. It's about The Terminator".
Mel Gibson turned down the role of the Terminator.
The Terminator is the only character to be listed in the American Film Institute's 100 Heroes and Villains as both a villain (for The Terminator (1984) and a hero (for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)). Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the only two actors to be on the list as playing a villain and a hero but Pacino played two different characters. 13 other actors and actresses appear twice or more but either all as heroes or all as villains.
Near the beginning of the movie, when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) receives a message on her answering machine breaking her date, the voice on the machine is James Cameron's. Years later, Hamilton and Cameron got married and subsequently divorced.
The relationship between James Cameron and executive producer / Hemdale head John Daly deteriorated during post-production. According to Cameron, Daly and Orion executive Mike Medavoy (who recommended Arnold Schwarzenegger to Cameron) wanted the film to end right after tanker explosion, removing the climax at the robot factory and epilogue. Orion Pictures, which co-financed the movie, wanted to be known for its quality drama movies (like Amadeus (1984) and Platoon (1986)), and perceived The Terminator as little more than a low budget vehicle to make some quick money. Quoting from Cameron: "Daly said 'The film has to end right after the tanker explosion'. I told him straight, 'F**k you! The film isn't over yet.'" Daly would ultimately back down, a decision that led to the sudden success of the film. However, the studio refused to do advertisement for the movie. Three weeks after the film was released, Medavoy still ignored Cameron's request to beef up the film's ad-campaign: "They told me, when you have a dirty-down action thriller, the film can last in the box-office for about three weeks plus or so. They are treating the film like dog-s**t!" Reportedly, Schwarzenegger still holds a grudge towards Orion Pictures due to their lack of support.
O.J. Simpson was considered for the Terminator, but the producers feared he was "too nice" to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer. In 1990 (before Simpson's first trial) Dark Horse Comics printed issues using his likeness.
The initial draft for the movie was sold to James Cameron's wife, Gale Anne Hurd for the price of $1 only.
The movie was released in the late 1980s in Poland under the title "The Electronic Murderer". The title was changed because there is a Polish word 'terminator', meaning roughly 'an apprentice', and so the title was changed to something more catchy and interesting to audience. By the time Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) was released, the original movie was widely available on pirate copies under its original title, and because of it in the early 90s in Poland the word 'terminator' was widely recognized as the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of its original meaning, so all the sequels had their titles unaltered.
Sarah Connor is 19 years old in the movie. This is proved in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) where Dr. Silberman says Sarah is 29 years old and T-1000 checks Sarah son's, John Connor's, profile which states he's 10 years old.
The revolver Reese carries after the police station massacre and gives to Sarah at the motel is Lt. Traxler's. In a deleted scene, Reese and Sarah are trying to escape the police station when they come across the wounded Traxler. He now believes their story and gives Reese his sidearm, telling him to protect Sarah.
Shots through the Terminator's vision shows a dump of the ROM assembler code for the Apple II operating system. If you own an Apple II, enter at the basic prompt: ] call -151 * p This will give you the terminator view. Other code visible is written in COBOL.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was trained for weeks on weapons handling before he started the film, and wound up garnering a compliment in "Soldier of Fortune" magazine for his realistic handling of the guns on camera (whereas the magazine usually lampoons movies for their inaccurate depictions of weapons use).
Tom Selleck was rumored to be cast as The Terminator, but was forced to turn the role down due to his commitment to the TV series Magnum, P.I. (1980). Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas were also considered.
Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to avoid Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn as much as possible since the Terminator was trying to kill them, not form connections.
The future terminator who infiltrates the human camp in the dream sequence is played by Franco Columbu, who is a multiple Mr. Olympia title winner like Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a close friend of his.
The film takes place from May 13 to May 15, 1984.
In James Cameron's original treatment, Sarah Connor has an old figure skating injury that was fixed with a couple of surgical pins and the terminator would cut the legs open of the first two Sarah Connors to find this identifying mark.
Lance Henriksen was originally considered for the role of The Terminator. Writer/director James Cameron even made early sketches showing The Terminator looking like Henriksen. The original concept was for the character to be able to blend into a crowd. Cameron approached Arnold Schwarzenegger and wanted him to play the role of Kyle Reese, but after their meeting, Schwarzenegger and Cameron both wanted Schwarzenegger to play the title role, so Henriksen was cast in the role of Det. Vukovich. Curiously, Henriksen later got to play the part of a humanoid cyborg when he played Bishop in Aliens (1986), also directed by Cameron.
The scene where the Terminator breaks into a station wagon was the very last thing shot and it was added a few weeks before the film's release. The scene was filmed in 2 hours by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger alone. Due to insufficient funds, Cameron had to pay for the scene himself, but could not afford a police permit. As such, another set of Arnold's clothes was placed behind the wagon trunk and Cameron told him to change the moment the scene was deemed finished.
Science fiction author Harlan Ellison sued James Cameron, claiming that the film was plagiarized from the two The Outer Limits (1963) episodes that Ellison wrote, namely The Outer Limits: Soldier (1964) and The Outer Limits: Demon with a Glass Hand (1964). The concept of "Skynet" could also have been borrowed from an Ellison short story called "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." The suit was settled out of court and newer prints of the film acknowledge Ellison. Cameron has claimed that this settlement was forced upon him by the producers, which he has always resented.
James Cameron's original idea was that Skynet would send two Terminators at once: one would be a cyborg, while the other would consist of liquid metal and was able to shape-shift. Cameron realized early on that this latter effect could not be realized with the special effects at the time, so he abandoned it early on. When a completely computer-generated special effect proved to be a success in Cameron's The Abyss (1989), he revived the idea of the liquid Terminator for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
Michael Biehn almost didn't get the role of Kyle Reese because in his first audition he spoke in a Southern accent as a result of working on a part for a stage production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (he didn't get the role), and the producers didn't want Reese to seem regionalized. After a talk with Biehn's agent, the producers called Biehn back for another audition and he got the part.
The immortal line: "I'll be back!" as written by James Cameron, could have ended up being - "I will be back" - if Arnold Schwarzenegger had had his way. Because English was relatively new to him then, Schwarzenegger had felt that his unabbreviated sentence would have been the more formal and correct usage, but Cameron insisted on his script as written and the line remained.
The TechNoir set was actually a downtown L.A. restaurant, redressed to look like a nightclub.
The "fog" in the scene after Sarah and Reese leave the bridge where they spent the night is actually bug spray, due to the big "fly scare" in the filming location at that time. The crew was going to wait until the spray dissipated, but decided to use it as fog for the effect instead. This is revealed in a DVD easter egg, which can be found by pressing the right arrow in the languages section until the square on the right is lit up.
According to a 2008 interview with Lance Henriksen, James Cameron had no agent and was living in his car when he wrote the script for the film. Cameron had actually fired his agent because he didn't like the story idea Cameron had conceived for The Terminator (1984).
Debra Winger was James Cameron's preferred choice after he watched her in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Lane and Carrie Fisher were all considered to play the part, and both Sharon Stone and Kelly McGillis auditioned for the role.
In the original script the Terminator was supposed to steal a car at the beginning of the film. The scene involved the Terminator observing an elderly woman getting into a car and as she saw the Terminator she panicked and put it into reverse hitting a trash can then correcting herself put it into drive and sped off. The Terminator then enters the car, puts it into reverse then into drive mimicking the woman's actions. This was cut from a later script.
Geena Davis auditioned for the role of Sarah Connor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered so indispensable to the film that when he went off to do Conan the Destroyer (1984) first, they were prepared to wait, rather than recast him in the interim.
The sunglasses worn by the Terminator were Gargoyles.
The original treatment by James Cameron included the detail that the Terminator needed to eat periodically in order for his human flesh to survive. A scene is included where the Terminator eats a candy bar, wrapper and all. This detail was incorporated into the script for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), with the Terminator selecting Arnold Schwarzenegger's favorite Austrian chocolate wafer. When fans learned that a scene had been shot where the Terminator ate chocolate, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative and the scene was omitted.
During the final chase, as 'Reese' tosses pipe bombs at the 'Terminator', there is a single white frame spliced in just before some of the explosions, which is a trick employed by editor Mark Goldblatt. Director James Cameron would later use this trick to heighten the visual impact of gunshots in Aliens (1986). The pyrotechnic charges can be seen on the street, each with a pressure-sensitive strip for triggering the explosion when run over by either the Terminator's motorcycle or the heroes' truck.
After the sitcom Frasier (1993) became a TV sensation, an actor (then simply known as David Pierce) was asked to amend his name so as not to be confused with bit player David Hyde Pierce, co-driver of the tanker truck hijacked by T-800. Pierce inserted his middle name "Hyde" and subsequently became David Hyde Pierce. Even though DHP assured Regis Philbin (in an interview) that he was NOT in The Terminator (1984), it's uncanny that both actors share the same birth date (3 April 1959).
Sarah's middle initial is shown as 'J' in the phone book, but her middle name is never mentioned in any of the Terminator films.
Wolfie, James Cameron's German Shepherd dog, can be seen at the Tiki Motel.
According to the original treatment (accessible on the DVD version), there were supposed to be two protectors sent back to save Sarah Connor. However, this partner of Reese's would have received very little screen time, as he rematerialized right into a fire escape. It is interesting to note that this contradicts the sequel's logic in regards to the Temporal Displacement Field (matter in an orb-shaped space is replaced by its counterpart from the future).
The Los Angeles police cars have different mottoes: "To Protect and Serve" and "To Care and Protect."
There was minimal interference from the film's financial backer, Orion, partly due to the budget offered. However, they suggested two things. The first was a cyborg canine that accompanies Reese - an idea turned down by James Cameron; the second was strengthening the relationship between Kyle and Sarah, which Cameron decided to accept.
A Hydraulic arm was used when the Terminator punches through the windshield in the alley scene. This was rehearsed several times and since Arnold Schwarzenegger's face was in the shot too, it all had to be choreographed perfectly, since replacing a windshield was too costly and time consuming.
The laser sight on the .45 Longslide was specially built by Laser Products Corporation (now Sure-Fire). This was in the early days of laser-aimed weapons and what was seen was actually not a complete assembly. Only the laser was mounted but the required battery pack was hidden from view. In those days the battery packs were very large, about the size of a TV remote control. A wire was hidden underneath Arnold Schwarzenegger's sleeve.
The teaser trailer for this film was narrated by Peter Cullen, best known to fans as the voice of the robotic hero Optimus Prime from Transformers.
The Terminator's motorcycle was later displayed in Arnold Schwarzenegger's restaurant Planet Hollywood.
Stan Yale played the 'Derelict in Alley' uttering the line "That son of a bitch took my pants," and his subsequent appearances included P.I. Private Investigations (1987), in which he was credited as 'bum', Terminal Exposure (1987) ('wino'), Moonlighting (1985) ('bum'), Matlock (1986) ('bum'), L.A. Law (1986) ('first homeless man') and My Name Is Earl (2005) ('homeless man') Typecast yes, but he's probably a rich "bum" after all those appearances!
Series Trademark: When Reese saves Sarah at the nightclub shootout, he says, "Come with me if you want to live."
Jürgen Prochnow was also considered to play the title role.
The classic "clank" was made by Brad Fiedel by hitting a microphone with a cast iron skillet.
The movie's line "I'll be back." was voted as the #37 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), and as #95 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
The film was actually meant to end with the tanker explosion and Reese living through the movie. But Cameron found this too anti-climatic and rallied for the factory ending.
Linda Hamilton broke her ankle prior to production, and had to have her leg wrapped every day so she could do her chase scenes. Those scenes were also moved towards the end of the shooting schedule.
Edward James Olmos and Louis Gossett Jr. were considered for the role of Lt. Traxler.
Although stereophonic sound existed in 1984, The Terminator (1984) was filmed in monophonic. This was because during the production, the budget was too low to allow the filmmakers to get all the effects they wanted and still allow for the film to be shot in stereo. Although a stereo remix was produced later for the Hemdale VHS release, it was not until MGM acquired the rights to the film that a fully recognizable 5.1 stereo soundtrack was created, for the 2001 Special Edition DVD.
Tony Banks, keyboardist for Genesis, was considered to compose the soundtrack and was sent the script, but he was busy doing the score to Lorca and the Outlaws (1984) (aka Redwing.)
The role of Sarah Connor was originally written by James Cameron for Bridget Fonda, who passed out from the project. He later replaced Bridget Fonda with Tatum O'Neal. However, it was decision of James Cameron to make the character of Sarah Connor older. He suggested Kate Capshaw for the role of Sarah, but Capshaw was filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). He later suggested Kathleen Turner for the part, but Turner was filming Romancing the Stone (1984).
Arnold Schwarzenegger started work two weeks later than the rest of the cast. His first day of work was on the car garage scene where he was looking for Sarah on a police car that the Terminator hijacked.
Randy Quaid was considered for the lead role.
Jennifer Jason Leigh was considered for the role of Sarah Connor, but director James Cameron feared she was too young for the part. She was later recast as Ginger but she was replaced at the last minute with Bess Motta.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was rumored to be cast as Sarah Connor but was forced to turn the role down due to her commitment as a regular player on NBC's Saturday Night Live (1975).
James Cameron wrote the part of Sarah Connor as a teenage girl. It was rewritten as a twenty-something woman.
In the future scene when Reese throws a grenade under the wheel tread of one of Skynet's machines, it took 26 attempts to get right.
The tanker truck that explodes at the end is a model, not a real truck. It was filmed twice because the wire pulling the truck tugged too hard initially, pulling the front axle off and ruining the shot.
The Terminator (1984) was filmed on a very tense set, e.g. Schwarzenegger didn't enjoy the prosthetics, because the wires of the red eye burned a lot of the time; for the arm scene, he had to have his real arm tied behind his back for hours. James Cameron also shot the carjacking scene without a permit. Anyone who came up to him with lame ideas wound up irritating Cameron, e.g. Cameron waxed an idea of the Terminator drinking a beer and acting silly (like in ET) because that just couldn't happen.
Most of the car chase scenes were shot at normal speed and sped up slightly. To add more of a sense of speed, other cars rode along with them out of frame with revolving lights attached to them that made it seem like the car was passing other light sources faster.
The "screaming" sound at the end of the movie is Brad Fiedel and friends screaming in a microphone and Fiedel playing synth over it.
James Cameron included Arnold Schwarzenegger in a lot of his decisions on-set, e.g. the Terminator's hair had to look spiky and burned.
The Terminator's line "I'll be back" is commonly mock-quoted as "I'll be bock!" However, Schwarzenegger delivers the line calmly and with very little accent.
The Alamo Sport Shop was a real gun store, at 14329 Victory Blvd. in Van Nuys, California. It is no longer there. The Artkraft Taxidermy shop visible behind Alamo has moved to North Hollywood, California.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's iconic catchphrase almost became "I will be back" because he thought it sounded more machine-like without a contraction; he also felt "I'll" sounded too feminine. It was the one major disagreement between Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, and all Cameron had to say to that was "I don't tell you how to act, so don't tell me how to write".
Debra Winger successfully auditioned and won the role of Sarah Connor. However, she later changed her mind and turned the role down.
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Daryl Hannah auditioned for the role of Sarah Connor, but turned it down in order to play Madison in Splash (1984).
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James Cameron revealed that Glenn Close was originally chosen to play Sarah Connor, but Close wasn't available prior to the project began.
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According to an article from Hot Dog #10, April 2001, studio executives threatened to shut down the project if James Cameron filmed additional future war scenes beyond the script.
Sarah Connor's answering machine message is a recording of Ginger saying "Hi there...ha ha fooled you. You're talking to a machine. But don't be shy, it's ok, machines need love too. So talk to us and Ginger, that's me, or Sarah will get back to you. Wait for the beep."
Just after the first scene in the nightclub TechNoir, we hear a police radio report a "two-eleven in progress at Bob's Liquor, corner of Third and Cameron," a possible reference to director James Cameron.
The building number for the gun store is '14329' this is also the house number of Sarah Anne Connor, the first victim.
When Sarah is struggling to pull Reese out of the flipped semi, you hear her yelling "Get out!" three times. The second two screams are identical.
Sarah causes the hydraulic press to shut twice, once by accident and once on purpose. Both times the remastered soundtrack uses a completely different sound effect when this occurs than what was originally presented in the mono soundtrack.
When Reese and Sarah escape the police station, Brad Fiedel's score was too intrusive for James Cameron's liking. So he asked him to tone it down a little.
When O.J. Simpson was still in the running to play the Terminator, a mockup movie poster was done with him instead.
The motorcycle the Terminator rides is a Honda CB750 Four. Sarahs scooter is also a Honda, model Elite.

Cameo 

William Wisher Jr.:  The police officer who attempts to assist the Terminator after he is thrown from the hood of the car, but gets knocked unconscious for his effort.

Director Trademark 

James Cameron:  [Biehn's hand]  Michael Biehn's character gets bitten on the hand by another character. See Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989).
James Cameron:  [nuke] 
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James Cameron:  [Slow-motion interrupted by gunshot]  At the TechNoir club
James Cameron:  [feet]  the Terminator often steps on objects, crushing them. In the future, there is a close-up of tank treads rolling over human skulls.
James Cameron:  [nice cut]  Sarah's burning photo fades into Sarah sleeping in Kyle's arms.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the beginning of the movie, The Terminator drives over a toy semi truck..towards the end of the movie, The Terminator is run over by the same model of semi truck.
James Cameron got the idea for The Terminator (1984) while shooting another film in Europe. His vision was of a metal endoskeleton emerging from flames and most of the script was written backwards from there. The endoskeleton would have to be futuristic, and Cameron couldn't afford to set the film in the future. The solution was to bring the future to the present, hence the 'time travel' aspect of the script was written in.
Michael Biehn and Arnold Schwarzenegger are in the same frame together only once. It is when Kyle blasts The Terminator the second time at Tech Noir. When they finally meet in the factory, it is not Schwarzenegger, just a metallic puppet.
Please note -- also a spoiler for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)) Two deleted scenes gave Skynet and the Future War some more background. The first was a scene where Sarah discovers that a company called Cyberdyne will be responsible for building Skynet and the Terminators. She tries to convince Reese that they should destroy this company, in order to prevent the dark future from ever happening. Reese tells her that his mission is conserving the future, not changing it. The second scene shows that Cyberdyne owns the factory where Sarah battled the Terminator, and one of their employees finding the Terminator's microchip (this event actually causes Skynet to exist in the first place). Both these ideas became major plot points for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Director James Cameron cut the scenes because he wanted to leave some questions yet unanswered, which he never regretted as he could make an entire sequel out of the unused ideas.
Filming of the final shot, with Sarah Connor driving off into the distance, was interrupted by a policeman asking if the crew had a permit (which they didn't). Special effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr. lied that the production was his son's student film. Also, Sarah Connor wasn't being played by Linda Hamilton but by a double.
Kyle Reese smiles only once during the entire movie, when Sarah makes to playfully throw the bag of dynamite at him after their night of intimacy.
The body bag Reese is put in at the end of the film is actually a suit bag owned by director James Cameron.
The smoke flowing out of The Terminator when it is crushed in the hydraulic press is actually cigarette smoke.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice is used in exactly 16 lines, with 17 sentences spoken. The terminator has two other lines on-screen, one with the voice of a police officer overdubbed, and one with the voice of Sarah's mother overdubbed. There are also many lines with the voice of Sarah's mother, and we learn that the terminator is actually saying them, but we don't see it.
Body count: 28. Lt. Traxler tells Sarah that there are 30 cops in the police station, but the sequel states that the Terminator only killed 17. Also killed were Kyle Reese, one of the three punks (the second (Brian Thompson) who was punched through the stomach - the punk leader (Bill Paxton) got knocked out and of course the third (Brad Rearden) lost his clothes), the first two Sarah Connors, a man and a woman in Tech Noir, the gun store clerk, Sarah's mother, Sarah's friend Ginger and her boyfriend Matt, and of course, the Terminator himself.
In the film's final cut, there's a scene where Sarah screams "No!" twice, upon seeing that the Terminator is still alive. These vocals were actually taken from a deleted scene where Reese struggles with Sarah.
The Terminator uses the following weapons during the movie:
  • An AMT 1911 .45 Long Slide with Laser Pointer (to kill the first two Sarah Connors and Ginger)
  • An S&W classic type 2.5-inch barrel revolver, caliber .357Mag (during the tunnel chase)
  • An Uzi .9mm Submachine Gun (in the Tech Noir nightclub)
  • A SPAS-12 Automatic Shotgun (during the police station shootout)
  • An AR-18 Assault Rifle (during the police station shootout and the tunnel chase)
Series Trademark: In each Terminator film the villainous character's death is greeted with the word "Terminated" in some way: Sarah Connor says "You're terminated fucker" as she crushes the Terminator in the hydraulic press.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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