Just who is Matt Smith playing in Terminator Genisys?

Matt Smith's role in Terminator Genisys is being kept under wraps. But we've got a theory...

This article contains revealed spoilers for Terminator: Genisys. The rest is pure speculation on our part.

Paramount has begun to take the wraps off its reboot for the Terminator series, Terminator: Genisys, last week. It was courtesy of an Entertainment Weekly article and cover that revealed what, at first glance, looks like weighty spoilers for the film. If you missed them, you can find them here. Do be warned, we are going to have to discuss them further down, though.

In spite of the reveal, there’s still a sizeable question that remains over the film, and that’s involving the role of one-time Doctor Who star Matt Smith. He’s clearly a key member of the cast – we’ve certainly been told so – but just who or what he is remains a mystery. In fact, on the cover of said issue of Entertainment Weekly was the following line…

Turning to page 20 did not help.

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So then: just who is Matt Smith playing? And why is his the only character the production team seem to be going to great lengths not to name?

The Announcement

When Smith’s casting was first announced, it was revealed that he would be starring in all three parts of the planned new Terminator trilogy. That’s assuming, of course, that director Alan Taylor’s Terminator: Genisys does well enough to get to films two and three. McG’s Terminator: Salvation was supposed to be the start of a new Terminator trilogy as well, of course. But that didn’t go quite to plan. No wonder Terminator: Genisys signed Arnold Schwarzenegger up, himself in a big role, before it got going.

Back to Matt Smith, though. Since his casting was first announced, we’ve been told that he’s going to take a smaller role in Terminator: Genisys, and that his character will become more prevalent as the series progresses. From the start, we’d been told that it’s a “major” role that Smith has taken on, but presumably Genisys needs to put its other pieces into place before introducing Smith. That in itself would suggest his character is an important catalyst for something.

The Paramount press release that formally announced Smith’s casting started to add some proverbial meat to the bones. “Smith will play a new character with a strong connection to John Connor, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi and Byung Hun Lee,” it read.

A “strong connection,” then. Hmmm.

John Connor is played by Jason Clarke in Terminator: Genisys, and of the two covers that Entertainment Weekly put out, Smith and Clarke were pictured together on one of them. You can see it above, with an exoskeleton Terminator in the background. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Connor nded up relying on such a Terminator. As he did in Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. As a result, he’s not as distrusting of robots as his mother once was.

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Go down the announced cast list then of Terminator: Genisys, and the key returning roles have all been named. We know that Arnold Schwarzenegger is an old model Terminator. We know that Emilia Clarke is Sarah Connor, that Jai Courtney is Kyle Reese, and Jason Clarke is the aforementioned John. We’re told that a new model Terminator will be played by Aaron V. Williamson, whilst Dayo Okeniyi has another lead role, as Danny Dyson. He’s the son of Miles Dyson, the man who effectively put in place the building blocks for Skynet. He died in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and at one stage in that film, we see infant Danny watching Sarah Connor trying to kill his father – before John and the T-800 intervene.

Basically: every lead role in Terminator: Genisys has a name to it, apart from Matt Smith’s. There’s a big secret that’s being kept, and revealing the character’s name would presumably blow said secret.

With that, you can pretty much instantly rule out Smith playing a new character that’s unrelated to the Terminator world. Else why would simply revealing his name blow his cover? One of our number (not me) had the fortune to visit the Terminator: Genisys set, and whilst we’re not allowed to discuss that yet, we can say that the large net of secrecy around Smith’s character was very firmly in place. We can’t tell you anything about the role that he’s playing, because we simply don’t know.

But maybe it’s the fact that the secret is being kept that gives us the biggest clue. He’s either going to be playing someone related in some way to the existing character base, or he’s going to be playing a Terminator.

Appreciating it’s a time travel movie, he might be John Connor’s son, then: it’s known that the film goes into the past and future. But if that was the case, then the name of Dayo Okeniyi’s character has been named, and it’s known he’s related to another face from the Terminator films. So surely, if Smith was a Connor relative – a character he has a “strong” connection too, remember – he would have been named.

Here’s our theory, then. His character doesn’t have a name: it has a model name. We’re betting that Matt Smith is playing a Terminator.

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The plot reveal that came out last week regarding Terminator: Genisys may have nearly burned down the Internet, but it did suggest a different approach is being taken to the Terminators. In this case, we learn that Sarah Connor, from a young age, was raised by Schwarzenegger’s T-800. She calls him “Pops.” And he is programmed to guard rather than kill.

So wouldn’t it make sense that Smith’s Terminator would take on a similar role? That he would be programmed to guard John Connor, to protect him at all costs? Could Terminator: Genisys be a sort-of buddy movie in that sense?

Furthermore, scroll back up and look at what Smith is wearing: it’s the same resistance fighter outfit as John Connor. Carrying on our speculative thread then, if he is a Terminator, is he a reprogrammed one fighting on behalf of the resistance? Or is he an ‘undercover’ Terminator, who will turn on them? Could it be that they don’t know he’s a Terminator when they first join forces, and the twist at the end of Terminator: Genisys is that he’s the foe amongst the resistance?

It’s no secret that the new Terminator trilogy will expand on the models of Terminator that we’ve seen so far, as each sequel to James Cameron’s original has done. Smith’s casting would certainly fit into that, and it would also seem to be the kind of secret that the Genisys team would be keen to keep under wraps.

Again: we don’t know the answer to just what Smith’s role is. It’s just that in the midst of saying nothing about where Matt Smith fits into Terminator: Genisys, they might just be telling us everything…


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