Terminator Salvation - Poster artwork
Terminator Salvation - Poster artwork ©2008 T Asset Acquisition

McG made his feature film directorial début in 2000 with Charlie’s Angels, bringing in over $40 million domestically making it the largest opening weekend for a first time director. He has now taken on another iconic franchise with Terminator Salvation.

The year is 2018, Judgment Day has come and gone, and Terminators roam the post-apocalyptic landscape. As John Connor (Christian Bale) is waging war on Skynet, the artificial intelligence which controls the Terminators, he encounters Marcus (Sam Worthington), whose last memory before awakening to this strange world is being on death row, and Connor must decide whether to trust him or not.

Can you talk a little about casting Christian? He was in one of the biggest franchises, Batman, and you’re asking him to do another franchise. I wouldn’t have thought you’d have gone to him.

Terminator Salvation - McG and Christian Bale
McG and Christian Bale © Warner Brothers

That’s exactly why it was appealing, because he’ll say of himself he’s bloody minded and he always likes a challenge. I went over to England and I saw him.

I wanted him to play Marcus. He was more interested in playing Connor and we went about the business of working on the script. You got to understand, Christian Bale is so passionate about acting and about his craft.

He has no entourage. He’s got no assistant standing out there in the hall. He drove here in a beat up pick-up truck. He is about the work. That’s who he is, and to work with an actor who’s that focused and that intense, I think, is to all of our benefit.

Do you think your use of practical effects in this film is going to possibly move the industry toward more organic productions of action films?

I don’t like trying to get performances out of characters when I’m saying, ‘Hey Christian, see that tennis ball? That’s a 7-foot robot trying to kill you and that green screen is ultimately going to be a post apocalyptic downtown Los Angeles.’ That’s bullshit.

I think that’s a cop out. You can’t reach your highest level of performance in the absence of a tactile environment. I think from a place of performance, from a place of feeling the heat, it’s in the interest of building everything, creating as much as you can in camera, and honoring the audience in that respect.

Has Jim Cameron seen the movie?

Terminator Salvation - Director McG
Director McG © Warner Brothers

I don’t believe he has seen the movie. I look forward to showing it to him. He was the first guy I talked to when I was considering making the movie. I went down there out of a position of respect to kiss the ring, and told him what my intention was.

He says he reserves the right to like or not like the movie. I said I reserve the right to like or not like Avatar, and we both giggled and went on our ways. But he told me a story, and I’ve told it many times, about his following the great Ridley Scott in the Alien picture.

People said, ‘Who’s this guy who made Piranha 2 think he is, following Ridley Scott.?’ He thought I can honor the mythology and tell the story. I think we’re all glad that Aliens got made. Hopefully we’ve done our job and created a new idea in a world that Jim most certainly created.

Where do you want to see future Terminators? Where do you want to see this story go?

Well I wouldn’t be so bold as to say there’s going to be another one. I think it’s up to the people.

I’m just saying what if?

Terminator Salvation
Terminator Salvation – The future? ©2009 Warner Brothers

I’ve arced out a second film and a third film. We’ll see what the appetite is. If the people jump up and say we want more, we’re certainly going to be ready.

There are a great many places to go in a world, where what was once Science Fiction is now upon us.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.