The star and consulting producer of the show talk about the upcoming series
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is bringing the popular Terminator film franchise to the small screen for the first time. I was fortunate enough to be in on a conference call with the series' star Lena Headey, who steps into Sarah Connor's boots, and consulting producer James Middleton. Here are some highlights from that conference call.
What sort of place does Sarah Connor evolve to by the end of this first season?
Lena Headey: That's a tough one. It's such an ongoing evolution. I think our relationship with John is sort of reaching new depths. She's learning to be a mother, she's learning to live like this. I think it's a complete realization of what's going.
How does the new Terminator movie coming out affect the series?
James Middleton: Well, I think that they will naturally cross-promote each other. But, in terms of narrative timelines, what we've done with the television show, is create an entirely new timeline. We will be following Sarah's journey through a different timeline. It's a completely new expression of the franchise, in that way, by (series creator) Josh Friedman.
Is the fact that, from the third Terminator movie, we know that Sarah Connor is going to die, did that play any factor in the role?
James Middleton: Well, I would say this about Sarah. Sarah is always concerend about her mortality, from the standpoint that she worries if she dies will her work be done. So that's always going to inform her character. In terms of our show, the premise of our pilot establishes that we really move away from Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. We create a whole new timeline, a different future, really, a new fate for Sarah. So, the series is really going to be informed more from Terminator 2: Judgement Day than from Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines.
Do you have any plans to bring people, like say Robert Patrick, or anyone from the movies in as cameo roles?
James Middleton: We're just gonna leave that to the future. We don't have any immediate plans for that. Robert Patrick is a fantastic actor and, you never know.
Lena, were there any superhero fantasies that were fulfilled in the filming of this series?
Lena Headey: I think even when it's not physical, that Sarah has so much going on. There's so much adrenaline in her body, constantly. I love the physicality of the show, and I think it only serves to see the emotionaly intensity of it all.
You reshot the pilot episode due to the Virginia Tech shootings. Given that we're so removed from the event, do you think the network would require you to reshoot it now? Were you upset about it, or did you think that your artistic freedom was taken away as a result?
James Middleton: No, we found very clear-headed people at the network and at the studio, and we all were horrified by Virginia Tech. We did make adjustments in the pilot to reflect the sensitivities that people had about it. One must remember that the premise of our show is of Terminators and others from the future, coming to kill a child, and that may happen in public places. One thing that we do in the show, which may not happen in other action shows, is that our show really values human life. This is something that Sarah, as a character, is very conscious of as the series progresses as who must die, and how to prevent that, in her battle against Skynet.
What kind of changes and what kind of differences did you have to make for not only a television audience, but a 2008 audience?
James Middleton: The themes of Terminator are just as relevant today as they were when T2 came out. Technology in terms of robotics are increasing on just an astonishing rate. People are working on artificial intelligence in many different quarters. I think people, in general, feel powerless over this technology and don't understand it. I think there's a natural paranoia that comes with that. It makes our show really relevant, if not more so, than when T2 was released. Another thing is the theme from the movies is that a small person, lets say Sarah Connor, a former waitress, can have an amazing impact on the future. I think everyone wants to believe that there's a calling for them, that they can have a positive impact and that their existence means something. I think that is very relevant for the new audience. In terms of the show itself, what that provides us is the ability to deal with Sarah Connor's character more than you could in a movie. It also allows us to have that character more pro-active instead of just being chased. Sarah is basically pro-active and on the hunt, and investigating this very mysterious and very tense world.
Is Jim Cameron involved on any level at all?
James Middleton: Jim Cameron has not been involved in the franchise since 1998, when the franchise was sold to C2 Pictures. But, obviously, he's an inspiration to us every day. David Nutter, I think, put it really well when we were working on the pilot. Whenever there was an empty chair in the room, he would say, 'That's Jim Cameron's chair.' We acknowledge that what we're working on was created by a master filmmaker.
If you had the power, what would you change, now, to make a better future?
Lena Headey: It's hard to answer this one. I guess mine would involve world politics.
James Middleton: I would go back to a certain political election in the year 2000 and make some changes there. That's all I'll say.
Lena Headey: I think that's what I was trying to say, but you put it more eloquently.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premieres on the Fox network on Sunday, January 13 at 8 PM ET.