McG brings out the big guns in ‘Terminator’

By Cielestia Calbay

Ask director McG what his goal was in creating “Terminator
Salvation,” and he’ll tell you it was to “reinvigorate” while
remaining true to the original movies.

In the fourth “Terminator” film, McG says the biggest challenge
was honoring the credibility of James Cameron and Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s work in the original “Terminator” movies.

“I think the film had lost its way after the third film, and all
of the fans were hoping for a reinvigoration. And we were hoping
to reinvigorate to the degree that Chris Nolan and Christian Bale
certainly captured that credibility in the relaunch of the Batman
series,” said McG in a conference call. “And that’s what we aim to
do with ‘Terminator’ by making a credible film that comes with a
story first that passionate fans can believe in.”

McG had a clear vision about how he wanted to approach the
fourth film, in that he wanted to do something different with
“Salvation” that didn’t involve another Terminator hunt, as seen in
the first three films.

“I didn’t want to just make a fourth picture that was
effectively a transvestite to haunt one of the Connors in the
fourth one,” said McG.

Despite the fourth installation’s slight face-lift, McG aimed to
keep original elements in the film as a respect to the film’s loyal
fan base.

“We always want to try to find that balance between how much do
you call back the first three movies and how much do you work to
create your own identity,” said McG.

With the film’s heavy visual content, green screens and computer
generated material would, typically have to be incorporated. But
that’s not the direction McG was striving for, as he says those
elements detach audiences from the film.

McG hired Stan Winston, who worked special effects in “Iron
Man,” to build all of the machines and sets.

The crew used giant arid landscapes and literally blew it up.
Most of the film was shot in Albuquerque to get the vast desert

But any time an actor had to interact with anything physically,
it was done so with the machines that were built.

“We wanted to honor the audience by having it feel real at every
turn. And we didn’t want to just hang green screens and say, ‘Hey
Christian, just pretend like that’s the scary face of the
terminator’ – that doesn’t get you as good a performance as having
a seven foot terminator breathing down your neck” said McG. “We
built all of those elements, and I think that’s what gives the film
grit that you experience when you see it. It’s the defining
characteristic of the picture that people get excited about.”

Tapping Christian Bale as the lead was also a challenge, as the
actor has said summer blockbusters are not usually up his

McG says he talked to Bale about the responsibility of the
character to have a destiny in the film, as his role is to lead the
crew into “salvation.”

“There’s a real responsibility with when somebody taps you on
the shoulder and says you’re the one,” said McG. “Watching
Christian Bale manage that burden is the joy of the picture.”

In regards to the media frenzy surrounding Bale’s outburst on
set, McG says it was taken out of context.

“It’s something that was taken out of context that all of us are
guilty of at our Sunday night dinner tables,” said McG. “At the end
of the day, Christian is really good guy and just a very focused
actor. And I think it flatters everybody involved in the making of
the picture, and that you have an actor that cares as much as
Christian does.”

As for releasing a fifth film, McG says it’s in the hands of the
fans. Though he and Bale are signed on for another project, he says
they would never be so bold as to presume a second picture.

“If fans get online and talk about how they want another one,
[then] we’re going to be ready to talk about what happens next,”
said McG.

Reach Cielestia Calbay at

McG brings out the big guns in

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McG brings out the big guns in ‘Terminator’

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