A lot has changed in the 28 years since we last saw Linda Hamilton play Sarah Connor in 1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Now there seem to be more women like her on screen than ever, characters with real agency who drive the story and who are capable of looking after themselves, not just being a helpless damsel in need of rescuing. And in our fully connected world, technology rules just about every aspect of our lives, gathering data about our habits, listening in on our conversations, and even predicting pregnancy.
Den of Geek spoke to Linda Hamilton about her decision to return to the franchise in the new film Terminator: Dark Fate (out Nov. 1), not disappointing Sarah Connor, and how the woman who faces Skynet would view 2019’s hyper-connected world.
It might surprise fans to know that Hamilton was uncertain as to whether or not she wanted to come back to the role she is perhaps best known for. “There had to be something new to say, or something new for me to play as a character, because I’m not going to just do this endless loop.”
An ironic turn of phrase, given the nature of the film series’ time travel, but certainly a sentiment that audiences can get behind, in this time of never-ending reboots and sequels. “It had to be good, to not disappoint the fans, and not disappoint Sarah Connor herself, who lives inside of me somewhere.”
“She’s been mine for 35 years, and I just wanted to make sure that it would be in the running of the first two films, or I would be terribly embarrassed. And it would look like a shameless money grab. It’s like, I’m not about that.”
Sarah Connor has been the soul of the Terminator universe, in some ways even moreso than the terminator himself, though Arnold Schwarzenegger will return in Terminator: Dark Fate as well. As an audience surrogate, Hamilton has always been the most relatable character, and her evolution from student and waitress to hardened warrior is both an impressive physical feat and a stunning psychological journey.
Hamilton took that legacy seriously as she worked to portray the next chapter for the woman we last saw struggling with her humanity at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. She told Dark Fate director Tim Miller, “I don’t want to be a figurehead. I don’t want to be like I’m just here because you’re using my name to sell [the movie].”
Luckily, that was not the case. “And boy, was I ever wrong. I worked so hard, and they came up with great stuff. I’m not a figurehead or a cameo here.”
So what would her character Sarah Connor, the woman who faced down the original Terminator, have to say about today’s world?
“I told you so.”
“It might have seemed a bit far-fetched in the ’80s, but it is not at all far-fetched. I mean, AI stalks.” Well, if anyone would know, it’s the woman who managed to outsmart AI in the first two movies of the Terminator franchise. It’s not hard to imagine a future, potentially one in our lifetime, when these movies are seen less as wholly imaginative works of science fiction, and instead something a bit closer to home.
“There is just so much going on in today’s world that mirrors the prophecies that we told back then. And, you know, we’re not even that far from time travel. We’re close to sort of bringing it all right into today’s world.”
Terminator: Dark Fate is out November 1.
Listen to highlights from the Terminator: Dark Fate panel at San Diego Comic Con 2019 on The Den of Geek Podcast:
Read and download the Den of Geek SDCC 2019 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Delia Harrington a freelance writer and photographer focusing on social justice and pop culture through a feminist lens. She loves post-apocalyptic sci-fi, historical fiction, and feminist comic books. You can follow Delia @deliamary.