Linda Hamilton on de-ageing and filming a key scene in Terminator: Dark Fate

Hamilton tells Den Of Geek about the experience of filming a key scene in the latest Terminator sequel. Beware: huge spoilers ahead!

This article contains major spoilers for Terminator: Dark Fate.

Linda Hamilton is back for a belated third outing as Sarah Connor in the recently released Terminator: Dark Fate, in which she’s drawn into a race to save unwitting future hero Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) from a new model of time-travelling cyborg assassin, the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna).

Den Of Geek recently sat down with Hamilton to chat about her return to the franchise that made her a star, in which she talked about her sense of duty to the character of Connor. “I owe her something,” she said. “I did not want to let Sarah Connor down. Because, somehow, she’s become very real for me.” (You can read the full, non-spoilery interview here.)

During our chat, Hamilton also talked about the current Hollywood trend of digital ‘de-ageing’ and how it affected a pivotal scene in Dark Fate (it was so spoilery, we left it out of our main interview piece). Read on to find out what she had to say about the matter but, beware – if you haven’t seen the film yet, you might want to avoid scrolling past our resident spoiler squirrel (chipmunk?)…

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Tim Miller’s movie positions itself as a direct follow-up to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in which Hamilton’s Connor – along with Arnie’s ‘good’ T-800 – successfully saved her son John (Edward Furlong) from termination and destroyed the birthplace of sentient AI Skynet, thus averting a disastrous future war between humans and machines.

However, Dark Fate’s opening scene, set in 1998 and featuring a digitally de-aged Hamilton, carries a sting in the tail to T2’s ‘happy’ ending. Relaxing in a beach bar in Guatemala, Sarah is horrified when another T-800 emerges to carry out its original mission, and guns John down in front of her. It’s a gut-punch of an opening, made possible by advances in visual effects recently honed on everything from the Marvel movies to Martin Scorsese’s upcoming gangster epic, The Irishman.

“It’s fantastic that they can do that from a storytelling perspective,” Hamilton admits. “They can now tell a story with the same actor playing the part.” But, she says, the process has pros and cons – especially from an actor’s point of view…

“At the same time, it’s really difficult to not be able to command those scenes,” she continues. “I don’t like to take one moment of film away, because I know Sarah Connor. And you cannot always count on the technicians or the body double. I mean, that scene was a body double, and then they CGI-ed my face onto the body double. I had no place in that scene – and yet it is a completely critical scene to the story.

“I was there [when it was being filmed]. It was sort of before we really officially began – we went and did that scene before production started. And I was there watching the body double, who was not a stunt double – she was an actress. Her body was fantastic, her work was great – but she’s not Sarah Connor! And I was just on the side thinking, ‘No, don’t grab that, grab the arm of the gun! Fight, bite, scratch, claw…!’ How do you teach somebody to do that in a day? You know, and it’s painful. I mean, I had nothing against her and I haven’t seen the movie so I don’t really know how well it works. But I cried my eyes out when I left that day, just going: ‘But she’s not me!’”

It’s worth pointing out that Hamilton was in good spirits while telling the anecdote and even let out a few laughs, so she clearly hasn’t been burned by the experience – and, as she says in the rest of the interview, she relished the process of playing Sarah for a third time on screen. It’s fair to say that the scene itself looks pretty flawless, too. But it certainly does raise an interesting point about how the process works, and how much the actors are involved.

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What did you think of the scene? Let us know in the comments below…