At Comic-Con International this year, Terminator: Dark Fate had the honor of kicking off the pop culture convention's Hall H presentations. Director Tim Miller and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Natalia Reyes, Mackenzie Davis, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta were on hand to discuss the latest installment in the franchise.
The panel began with a live stream of James Cameron on the set of Avatar, saying he'd love to be there with the panel, but he had to stay on set to work. "How honored are we at Terminator that we get to be the kick-off here," he said.
"One thing we kept circling around was 'do we want to bring Sarah back'.. and there's no Sarah but Linda Hamilton," said Cameron.
There was then a sizzle reel featuring director Tim Miller, producer James Cameron, with Linda Hamilton and Natalia Reyes speaking over clips from the film about how the movie is just unrelenting in its action.
Host Grae Drake brought out director Tim Miller, his second time in Hall H and 25th Comic-Con. "I've never gotten into Hall H except for when I did Deadpool," he joked. When Deadpool was in post, he got approached by David Elison about Terminator. And when David asked if he wanted in he said, "Fuck yeah." According to Miller, he has a bet going with Arnold -- if he says the f word five times in the panel, he owes him $20.
Now that Miller is focusing on Sarah in this film, he said "the time travel -- I loved Endgame. However, I feel like time travel with multiple realities loses some stakes... and so in the Terminator universe there is only one timeline... the most interesting story is the end of Sarah's story with Cyberdyne... Sarah's been living with the consequences of this decision."
"It's officially R-rated", Miller said about the film. "and it's because the fans kind of demanded it." "The DNA of Terminator is an R-rated fucking movie," he went on, "to not do it R felt disingenuous to the source material. I got so many takes of Linda saying 'fuck.' It's amazing."
On working with Linda Hamilton, Miller said they didn't know if she would do it in the first place, especially with him being a newer director. "I think the way she came back she was so dedicated to doing it, it was incredible."
Linda Hamilton then took the stage to much applause. She talked about how it took a while for her to agree to participate in the film. The pivotal moment for Hamilton was "it was the passage of time. The character is the time but time changes everything: what's happened, who is she now. There are so many possibilities 27 years later... there was a world of richness I could explore, and rock it as a woman of a certain age."
She worked really hard for a year for training for the role. "One day I woke up and could no longer worry about what I was because I'm so much more than I was. And that was the moment where I knew I really wanted to be on board with this... the richness of my life experience is only going to enrich the experience of this character that I get to play." "The hard work that I did was a deep exploration of a woman who's pretty much an outsider and who's lost so much. And that's the true work of exploring the interior landscape of character. I had to go to my deepest sorrow and places of deepest loss, and that's what makes Sarah Connor Sarah Connor."
Miller had to do multiple takes when Hamilton held a gun because she kept smiling during the takes.
"Teaching me that occasionally you can be strong and light... he's really good at that," said Linda Hamilton about Tim Miller's directing.
Natalia Reyes, Diego Boneta, Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna then came out.
"I'm terrified," said Natalia Reyes. "You are too many and you know too much," she joked. About her character, she said, "I"m a girl from Mexico City, I'm a hard worker, I have a brother, I have a dog-- is that a spoiler? Fuck!"
Diego Boneta talked about shooting outside for a car chase scene and how hot it was. "It was really cool to be a part of a movie that was this effects-heavy but who cares so much about the emotion of this movie."
Mackenzie Davis talked about how the film felt more like an opera than black box theater. "Tim made the acting side really intimate," said Davis. About training and who could beat who, Linda versus Mackenzie, Linda joked, "She's definitely younger and stronger, but I'm meaner."
Arnold and Diego Luna spent a lot of time in the gym together when they were shooting in Budapest. "No, you had to eventually over time keep up with him ... he's up very early," he said about keeping up with training with Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I would get these texts from Arnold.. he did more in the fucking weekend than I did in the entire past six years of my life," said Tim Miller.
Schwarzenegger was handed $20 by Diego Luna. About what he's going to spend it on, "There's lots of options right now, especially since the economy isn't doing so well because of Donald Trump," he said sarcastically. "Maybe a protein shake."
"Of course I need to come back... I'm addicted to Terminator. Terminator is the movie that launched my action movie career" he said about how why he came back. "From that moment on, everything changed in my life."
Schwarzenegger said, "I think you all will be very surprised with this movie. I was blown away when I saw it just three weeks ago for the first time."
About favorite lines, Linda's is "You're terminated, fucker." Arnold said people quote him all the time and try to imitate his accent. "Beautifully, he quotes himself sometimes," said Luna. Arnold said famous quotes of his in succession, including "get to the chopper" and "do it now."
The panel played an extended clip package. "Fuck, I'm old... that's amazing," said Linda Hamilton after watching herself in the clips. "Everybody at this table rocks."
Mackenzie said, "I'm surprised how many times I've teared up backstage. I love Linda so much... it's just really moving to see her in all of her glory."
Natalia said "Since the first day I met you, she was so generous, she was so loving.. she's a big part of the reason why I'm here" about Linda Hamilton. "The first time I saw Sarah Connor, I was like 'I want to be like her' ... it was a hige challenge for me to come here and do this, and she was so supportive all the time... I want to be just like you when I'm your age," said Natalia to and about Linda Hamilton.
Directed by Tim Miller and produced by James Cameron, Terminator: Dark Fate stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, Gabriel Luna, Natalia Reyes and Diego Boneta. The film opens Nov. 1.