Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation

RT sits down with the much-maligned director planning to make good.

by | March 26, 2009 | Comments

Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation

The news that one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time was to get a full-fat reboot predictably sent cyborg fanboys into paroxysms of joy. For about 10 minutes. That Arnie, otherwise engaged running the world’s fourth largest economy, wouldn’t be back was partly compensated for by the casting of Christian Bale. But the revelation that McG was to be at the helm put an abrupt stop to the celebrations. Recently, though, the tide’s been turning with trailers and longer assemblages revealing a gritty war movie with more in common with Mad Max and Children of Men than Charlie’s Angels. RT talked exclusively to the much-maligned McG about the rise of his machines…


Terminator Salvation

[tomatometer]MuzeID=1197277[/tomatometer]

Pitch Terminator Salvation to us.

McG: The whole idea for doing this movie is to honour the first three movies but begin again. The big difference is we’re post-Judgement Day, whereas the other pictures were all contemporary, with Terminators coming back in time. It’s deep post-Judgement Day, it’s a new beginning, and because the future is malleable, there are a great many places to go.

One of the joys of this picture is it explores the space between Judgement Day and the becoming of the T800. So we get to see all the research and development that went into the proficiency of the T800. It’s like an Apple computer; the first ones you got 15 years ago had 2 megs of memory, and they weren’t so fast. And now today it’s the Macbook air and it does back flips. You know, it’s the same thing with the Machine world. And it suggests a world that’s less based in science fiction than it was when Jim Cameron was making the movies.

How do you mean?

McG: Well we live in a time where if you have an arthritic shoulder, they’ll give you a new one. We can make a 70-year-old woman pregnant, and deconstruct the human genome. And certainly the days of talking to a psychiatrist about your mommy and daddy issues are over — they just want to manipulate your serotonin levels. And therefore it’s real — it’s here. It’s now. That wasn’t the case when Ridley Scott made Blade Runner, or the first Terminator pictures, or even when the first Matrix came out. So in response our film was designed to have that tactile reality of Children of Men, or even the Bourne franchise.

Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale and Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation.
Click here for more Terminator Salvation images.

Are there obvious elements in the previous movies that have to come back into play in yours?

McG: Certainly. We pay off a great many things that are established — particularly with Kyle Reese. We talk about the mythology of his shotgun strap, his proficiency for stealing cars, and we see where he learned a lot of these skills. And it wasn’t from Connor, it was from the Marcus character, which is one of the joys of the picture. We cite “Pain can be controlled, you just disconnect it,” you know, and we realise where he got that, and there’s a great many tidbits for the hard-core fans out there. But it’s designed as well for people who don’t know that much about the ins and outs of the first films.

Any “Hasta la vista, baby” moments?

McG: We’re working on a few. But I would never be so bold as to say we’ll have that good fortune of, you know, stuff sticking around to that degree. [Laughs]

You’ve got a really talented team of writers on board.

McG: Yeah, we wanted it to be written with the deftest pens possible. There’s a writing team called Ferris and Brancato that wrote the original draft. Then when I got involved, I brought in Paul Haggis, we worked for about 2 months on the script, with Christian as well. He taught us a great deal about character. Then we brought in Jonathan Nolan — who wrote the Batman pictures, Prestige, and largely Memento. So it’s a very cerebral bunch that’s here to make a film of the highest quality.

Continue onto the next page as McG talks about the challenges of shooting the film, his approach to CGI and whether he could take Linda Hamilton in a fight.

Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation


Terminator Salvation

[tomatometer]MuzeID=1197277[/tomatometer]

What were the most complicated scenes to shoot?

McG: Well a lot of the scenes take place in one shot, and figuring out places to hide the cuts… Again, I go to Children of Men — the car sequence, where the motorbikes come, and Julianne Moore is shot, and the whole thing plays in one shot. Figuring that out is very difficult, and you’ve got to figure out exactly where you’re going to have your blend points; you need to measure everything off, and consult with the visual effects people.

There’s a big gas station sequence that had that, and that was very, very tedious, and very, very technical filmmaking. And that’s why I love this film — one day we’re shooting a very intimate, character-driven scene, and there’s nothing going on but Connor and his wife in a room, and she’s the only one he can talk to about what’s on his mind. And then the next day we’re, you know, blowing up half of New Mexico, and going to a place of extraordinary action. So those are decidedly different hats to wear, day in, day out.

Do you deliberately do as much physically as you can? George Lucas would shoot the whole thing on a green screen, with guys wearing ping-pong balls…

McG: I say with respect to George Lucas, who I adore, I don’t like that at all. This is why Stan Winston‘s team is here. We do as much practically and in camera as possible. I want the machines to be real and we built all the machines. We built all the prosthetics. And then they’re accentuated and added to, certainly.

Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation.
Click here for more Terminator Salvation images.

McG: I believe in visual effects completely. But I just don’t believe in saying, “throw up the green screen, and let’s make it happen.” I think the audience has become so skilled in recognising that – they sniff it out and it loses its potency. We’re going to have 800 CGI shots in this — I mean it’s a CG festival, that’s why I brought in the best minds in the business to come in and get it done – but we don’t just say, “put a blue sleeve on the Marcus character,” I mean — the guy spent six hours in make-up.

How do you inject humour and warmth into this universe?

McG: I don’t. There’s not a great deal of humour and warmth in this universe. It’s very largely influenced by the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road. It’s designed to feel that way — detached and existential, it’s got a great deal of Camus’ The Stranger in it. But there’s a gallows humour. We could all be in a bunker somewhere, and every now and again, you elbow the guy next to you and you make a wisecrack — what else are you going to do? It’s one of the defining characteristics of being human, even in the face of death. But the movie is designed to be very serious and very credible.

Could you take Linda Hamilton in a fight?

McG: Most certainly not. After those pull-ups in the psychiatric ward, I don’t think I could make that happen.

Terminator Salvation is released in the US on 21st May, in the UK on 3rd June and in Australia on 4th June.

Tag Cloud

cops universal monsters cancelled TV shows miniseries VICE YA romance Nominations Family CW Seed Captain marvel Apple Paramount Network directors Television Academy hist natural history OWN Action singing competition dragons Valentine's Day dc halloween transformers teaser docudrama MTV ratings breaking bad Video Games Tarantino Black History Month Rocketman Horror Comics on TV Sony Pictures green book Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt mockumentary screenings Opinion SXSW Marvel Studios CMT romantic comedy politics facebook supernatural cancelled Emmys Acorn TV 20th Century Fox true crime Awards Tour richard e. Grant Spectrum Originals cancelled TV series Musicals screen actors guild BET Calendar 2017 Netflix Thanksgiving Writers Guild of America nature psycho talk show Cannes Amazon Studios south america Mary Tyler Moore See It Skip It blaxploitation Shondaland space Oscars Mudbound Teen USA Network franchise psychological thriller Drama Holidays Premiere Dates VH1 cancelled television Heroines National Geographic werewolf toy story HBO Max CNN USA Freeform FXX Rocky Women's History Month Superheroes Netflix Christmas movies political drama golden globes Warner Bros. Columbia Pictures Nat Geo NBC renewed TV shows cults social media Film Festival The Witch batman Lionsgate Interview Quiz Superheroe Nickelodeon BBC America Character Guide Year in Review Country Baby Yoda ABC Shudder APB binge Pet Sematary E3 The Walking Dead YouTube Premium Endgame First Reviews Rock Brie Larson anthology Trophy Talk Fantasy Crunchyroll Schedule Elton John Western Christmas Walt Disney Pictures biography Disney streaming service war police drama Pride Month game show Mary poppins Emmy Nominations Crackle Hallmark Food Network A&E christmas movies Sundance Now IFC Binge Guide cinemax Amazon Prime sports Apple TV Plus Summer cats reboot Music Star Trek RT History El Rey strong female leads cartoon Awards 2015 name the review serial killer Sundance TV Turner CBS Mystery Comic Book comics Certified Fresh composers children's TV FX blockbuster spinoff Vudu video DC streaming service sitcom dogs Black Mirror boxoffice Lifetime Christmas movies science fiction spain OneApp what to watch GoT ITV Infographic WGN spanish language Spring TV dceu Comedy hispanic quibi technology Amazon Kids & Family 21st Century Fox TCA Winter 2020 Lifetime ghosts Dark Horse Comics Countdown Tubi YouTube Red scary movies Disney Channel justice league Disney+ Disney Plus Disney DC Universe Pixar zombie SundanceTV 2020 TCA Hallmark Christmas movies Lucasfilm anime Chernobyl series foreign Syfy TIFF streaming TCA 2017 unscripted The Purge indie sag awards harry potter Peacock Britbox comic Election festivals President ESPN book Reality Competition movie LGBTQ zombies television American Society of Cinematographers canceled TV shows thriller Martial Arts Travel Channel Polls and Games crime thriller GLAAD Tumblr Red Carpet Box Office robots 45 Mindy Kaling Marathons Showtime Esquire game of thrones Watching Series theme song Paramount Trivia free movies TV versus SDCC Anna Paquin NYCC cars PBS TV Land finale Cartoon Network DC Comics Spike vampires medical drama based on movie witnail Tomatazos disaster movies Fox News rotten movies we love Logo 24 frames canceled Trailer aliens Epix TCM San Diego Comic-Con 007 2018 mutant TLC Avengers Sneak Peek CBS All Access MSNBC Ghostbusters Creative Arts Emmys slashers New York Comic Con Amazon Prime Video Extras Apple TV+ independent zero dark thirty Podcast Disney Plus History Ovation joker The CW RT21 Sundance TruTV historical drama Winter TV Star Wars Hulu PaleyFest period drama diversity FOX dramedy Musical HBO First Look crossover Set visit sequel discovery DirecTV Bravo Winners Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Grammys Comedy Central TBS Biopics Fall TV TNT adventure Classic Film Pop TV Best and Worst award winner casting Cosplay Ellie Kemper adaptation Super Bowl spider-man tv talk AMC animated elevated horror Marvel Television crime drama travel cooking Mary Poppins Returns X-Men spy thriller reviews FX on Hulu The Arrangement Starz Animation Sci-Fi Adult Swim LGBT documentary YouTube Turner Classic Movies E! kids WarnerMedia Photos GIFs Discovery Channel Rom-Com A24 MCU latino Film 2016 2019 Marvel Masterpiece Toys Stephen King Holiday Pirates TV renewals Funimation DGA doctor who revenge crime Universal stand-up comedy Song of Ice and Fire BBC IFC Films Reality 71st Emmy Awards jamie lee curtis comiccon Arrowverse Pop Academy Awards ABC Family