It's the 30th anniversary of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and James Cameron celebrated by giving an oral history of the conception and making of the film. One of the biggest reveals is that he was under the influence of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy, E, or molly) when the main plot of the sequel came rushing to him. He says this about tripping out while creating one of the biggest summer blockbusters of all-time.
"I remember sitting there once, high on E, writing notes for Terminator, and I was struck by Sting's song, that "I hope the Russians love their children too." And I thought, 'You know what? The idea of a nuclear war is just so antithetical to life itself. That's where the kid came from.'"
He explained that his movies are always about the relationships. "Sure, there's going to be big, thunderous action sequences, but the heart of the movie is that relationship," James Cameron says from his home in New Zealand. "I have always loved The Wizard of Oz. This movie is about the Tin Man getting his heart."
"The first film made money and it was definitely a hit, but it wasn't like Star Wars. You didn't have to start on the sequel the next day. And frankly, in order to get that film made, I made this deal, to sell the rights. Whatever it took to get the film made, to get my foot in the door. And so I think it was justified. But then I didn't control the rights."
"I'd already made another couple films and forgotten about it, and I got a call from Carolco and they said, "We want you to make another Terminator film. We'll pay you $6 million." I said, "You have my full attention."
The next thing he had to do was get the gang back together.
"Linda, I called her up and I said, 'Look, they want to pay us a lot of money to make a sequel. Are you in or are you out? But just between you and me, I don't really want to do it if Sarah doesn't come back and I don't want to recast Sarah, so you got to say you're in.' And she and I weren't involved. (Cameron and Hamilton were married from 1997 to 1999). We hadn't even really hung out at all much since the first film. She was making a movie somewhere down South."
"And so she said, 'Yeah, in principle, I'm in, but I want to be crazy.' I said, 'Well, what do you mean, crazy? How crazy?' She said, 'Crazy, like I've been driven crazy.' I said, 'Like you're in an insane asylum, like you're institutionalized?' She said, 'Yeah, sure. Let me play crazy. Let me go nuts.' I said, 'All right. Well, you're going to get my version of nuts,' and she said, 'All right. I'm down.'"
When Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked if he'd join the cast his repsonse was, "Just make me cool." After reading the script, Schwarzenegger has just one problem, Cameron explains the exchange.
"'Jim, I have a big problem with the script.' I said, 'Well, what is it?' And he said, 'I don't kill anybody.' I said, 'I know, right? They'll never see that coming. Nobody will guess it.' He said, 'I know, but one thing is surprise. Another thing is I don't kill anybody and I'm the terminator.'"
Finding Ed Furlong was a different story. Furlong says, "I was at a Boys Club in Pasadena. I was just hanging out there." Cameron was looking for someone un-touched by the industry. He explains. "We looked at all the boys of that age that were coming up and they either were overexposed in the wrong context or they were these little smiling machines that were being churned out by the advertising industry. Because you get these kids that are kid actors and they teach them how to be perky in family settings and sell cereal."
He sent Mali Finn, casting director over to him to gauge his interest Cameron says, "She walked up to him and he said, 'What do you want, frog lips?' She said, 'I like you. Have you ever been in a film?' And he said, 'No, and don't like me,' or something like that. And she said, 'No, seriously, have you ever been in a film?' He said, 'My dad films my birthdays.' And so it was like you're just starting from scratch."
Furlong says, "It was crazy. I went in there and she just asked me to improv a scene. That was the first audition. Once the scripts started coming in, it started actually becoming a real thing. And I'm getting nervous. And Mali, she just believed in me."
Cameron says, "I remember when we made the final decision, I said to Mali, 'I'm going to pick up this phone, I'm going to call this kid. It's going to change his life.' And that's a responsibility." Furlong agrees, "It's basically one of those life-changing events."
They just needed their T-1000. Cameron shocks with the first choice, "I dallied briefly with Billy Idol in that role because I thought he had a really interesting look and presence." They wanted to look at Robert Patrick. They were looking for someone physically opposite of Schwarzenegger, lean and intense.
Cameron found his T1000 in Patrick. "He's chameleonic. He has to physically touch things to be able to read them. And so he just did this acting exercise in front of me where he was touching the floor and he was touching the wall and he was in a mental state of being a hunter. I said, 'And it's emotionless. You only project emotion when you need to.'"
And so the final four were chosen. The movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a 520 million dollar box office summer blockbuster. The Terminator was billed as an action sci-fi thriller. The Terminator 2: Judgment Dayintroduced a family bond that elevated the film ,engaging the audience in a way that we've come to know Cameron for, movies that move us. It's time for a re-watch. This news arrives from The Ringer.