Well, it’s official. After weeks of whispered speculation, the planned Terminator reboot has added Linda Hamilton to its ranks. Arnold Schwarzenegger will, of course, be reprising his role with original director James Cameron also back on board. Hamilton’s second coming is, however, a little surprising. She will be both the fourth and the first actress to play Sarah Connor but it’s got people excited. Hamilton was iconic in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and her casting will represent something of a rarity in modern Hollywood: a woman over the age of 30 in a blockbuster action movie. There is optimism for the future of the Terminator franchise and that’s something of a rarity in recent history
In 1984’s The Terminator, director James Cameron utilised a small budget to create an unforgettable sci-fi movie that was as scary as it was action-packed. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is a leather jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding killing machine sent back in time by an evil robotics organisation to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of a future leader of the human resistance. It was a rampaging success both critically and commercially, grossing almost $80 million on its $6.4 million budget at the box office.
The tricky second album was sidelined for a few years but Terminator 2: Judgement Day was worth the wait. The film saw Schwarzenegger’s Terminator unit return in a more heroic role but perhaps an even bigger transformation was the character played by Linda Hamilton. Sarah Connor was back but this time she was an unapologetic badass complete with sunglasses and an assault rifle. Hamilton sitting on a picnic bench is one of the most iconic shots of any action film and should have featured heavily in the way Terminator 2 was shown in the media. Instead, the Austrian former-body builder fronted the film.
Schwarzenegger’s Terminator dominated posters and billboards as well as trickling into other merchandise. Schwarzenegger’s face covered the Terminator 2: Judgement Day arcade game developed by Midway as well as the 8-bit game by Flying Edge. Even today, Schwarzenegger dominates current products like the Terminator 2: Judgement Day casino game by MicroGaming Online. Despite being a central character and one of the best female action stars ever, Sarah Connor is almost invisible from the majority of marketing for the film.
Fast forward to today and we’ve had a number of iterations of both the movie series and Sarah Connor as a character. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released in 2003, Terminator Salvation came in 2009 and Terminator Genisys followed in 2015. They went progressively downhill with the depictions of Sarah Connor drawing particular criticism in Genisys. Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke did as much as she could with a role which felt underdeveloped and rushed.
After the poor reception to Genisys, it was announced that there would be a new Terminator reboot, with James Cameron returning to the franchise for the first time in two decades as a producer. Deadpool’s Tim Miller is set to direct the new film which will be picking up where Terminator 2 left off. Schwarzenegger is back and so, it seems, is Linda Hamilton.
James Cameron has discussed the possibility of a trilogy of new Terminator movies and it would be great if Hamilton returned as one of the central characters to this. Her casting is something of a rarity in Hollywood with few women over the age of 30 getting even supporting roles in action movies. Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, distributed by Warner Bros., is one of just a few examples while there are endless numbers of similar roles for men. As Bruce Willis prepares for another Die Hard and Harrison Ford continues his greatest hits tour, Hamilton’s casting is a welcome change.
However, it’s still unclear what capacity Linda Hamilton will be returning in. Cameron mentioned wanting “an 18-something woman to be the new centrepiece of the new story” which could limit or even spell an end for Hamilton’s Connor in the potential trilogy. That wouldn’t be the worst thing either.
Sarah Connor was one of the most memorable characters in action movie history but wasn’t exactly given the best send off. Hamilton turned down a part in Terminator Salvation because her role wasn’t given justice.
“[Sarah Connor] was a negligible character,” Hamilton claimed in 2009.
“She died halfway through and there was no time to mourn her. It was kind of disposable, so I said no thank you.”
It’s clear that Hamilton truly cares about her character and it’s unlikely that she would get back involved in the franchise if it didn’t plan on doing right by Sarah Connor. And rightly so, she portrayed perhaps the best female action hero of all time in what was a wonderful movie. The sequels and recasting choices haven’t quite done as well but there is hope for the future of The Terminator franchise. Whether she’s given a long-term role or a fitting conclusion, Hamilton’s return can only be a good thing.