Interview With Marianne Muellerleile; The Wrong Sarah Connor

By: Endo Morgan On June 7th, 2015


Marianne Muellerleile is the first Sarah Connor (the “wrong” Sarah) killed by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in The Terminator (1984)- Marianne also has an extensive and diverse acting career under her belt; as well as giving a lot of her time to charitable organizations and projects dedicated to helping those in need.

We sat down and asked Marianne some questions about her career and involvement in the legendary Terminator franchise,- here’s what we asked and what she had to say:

T-800 Wrong Sarah Connor

What was involved in the auditioning process for your role (as the “wrong Sarah Connor”) in The Terminator (1984)?

It was an ordinary audition in that I received the appointment from my agent and showed up as prepared as I could be for what was a small, straight forward scene.
If you recall, I only say ONE WORD in the scene. “Yes.” The rest is an expression. What was extraordinary, is that I had two callbacks!
What Jim Cameron had me do in the callbacks was –say yes, see the gunman pointing a gun at me, see him advancing, then a silent scream. That was it.
What was also unusual is that it was a very small room and I only had about 2 feet to back-up as I see him advance, then my back hit a wall, where I did the silent scream.

Marianne Muellerleile Wrong Sarah Connor

You have an extensive and eclectic acting résumé- do varied roles help keep you passionate about your work?

Yes. As a young actor, in my 2nd year of graduate school, I set my goals for my career: variety, constancy and longevity. The goals have never changed. They are my goals today.

What was it like being terminated by the Terminator?

I didn’t think a thing about it. You see, I was not given the entire script, just my scene. No one knew the movie was going to be a big deal, but they were excited about it, and the script was not circulated. For me it was a day job. No big deal.

Marianne Muellerleile

When did you first realize how big The Terminator (1984) had become?

TERMINATOR 2: PureArts T-800 Battle Damaged Edition 1/1 Scale Art Mask

I told my Mom about getting the job (on The Terminator) but I also told her it was only one scene and I didn’t think the movie would be her cup of tea.
Imagine how thrilled I was when my scene was what they used to promo the movie. It played constantly. My favorite was walking with my Mom in NYC’s Times Square and seeing TV monitors playing my scene in front of loads of small tourists memorabilia stores that dotted Seventh Avenue. THAT was the greatest.

Do you think that R-rated movies still have a place in today’s more child-friendly cinema?

Yes, I do. R rated movies are meant for 17 and above. Someone this age should be mature enough to understand the elements of violence, evil, sex, brutality, ETC. and how they are a part of life.
R rated movies often explore the darker side of life which should be explored and understood. Some of my favorite R rated movies are SCHINDLER’S LIST, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, among others. I do advocate for stronger monitoring at the ticket booth. Sadly cinema owners are more interested in their bottom line, than the emotional maturity of their audience members. Even worse is the fact that many parents don’t bother monitoring their children’s movie consumption.

Terminator Genisys Rated R

You have starred in a lot of Feature films, plays and TV shows- which do you find more appealing and engaging?

My standard answer to this question, is the job I am doing. Each job has its merits. I’ve also done loads of commercials, voice overs, print work, modeling, musicals and even opera. I love it all.
With all that said, what I actually love the most is a great sitcom. It’s a little 23 minute play that is fun to do.

You also had a role in another movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger- Jingle All the Way (as the tow-truck driver)- what was it like working with the action star for a second time?

I did not remind Arnold that we had worked together before and I don’t believe he remembered. The fact was moot.
It certainly was different than working with him on TERMINATOR. He was a relative unknown then, a young, eager body builder with lots of charisma. I actually had a terrific time with him on TERMINATOR. We spent some personal time together as he invited me to have lunch with him in his trailer which I did. It was lovely. I was so surprised when he had a glass of white wine with lunch. And then I remembered he was European.
On JINGLE he was a huge star married to a Kennedy. He had arrived in a big way. I remember when we were sitting in the tow truck waiting for a new set-up I asked him about his love of Humvee’s. He said he truly loved the vehicle and in fact had one for each day. When I asked him why, he replied, “why not!”.
While on JINGLE I gave him a grant proposal I had written for the non profit free after school program my husband & I ran from our home. We wanted to buy a building for the program and I asked him for $250,000. He happily took it and handed it to his assistant. He said I’ll get back to you on this.
And he did. He sent me a excellent rejection letter, the best I have ever received for a grant submission. In it he first praised our program, then said why he concentrates his philanthropic dollars on his own projects (Special Olympics and at that time After School Sports Programs–I think he was the Presidents Fitness Ambassador, or something like that), and closed by saying if we should have a charity fundraiser he would be happy to send along some memorabilia.
Years later when I was chairing my church’s annual black tie fundraiser, and Arnold was Governor of CA, I pulled that letter out and contacted his production company via the phone. He person put me on hold, called his person in Sacramento, then got back to me and said fax a cover letter and the original letter to such and such person. She’ll take care of it.
I did that on a Friday, Monday was a national holiday, and a FedEx package arrived from the Governor’s office on Tuesday. Enclosed was on lightweight monogrammed Governor’s Jacket which did VERY WELL at the live auction. Enclosed in the box was a note saying the jacket was worn by the Governor and I should send the tax receipt to Mr & Mrs Schwarzenegger at such and such address. I absolutely loved it!

Do you have any upcoming roles which you’d like your fans to know about?

I currently have three commercials airing, a national one for CHEX MIX and a regional one for DIRECT AUTO INSURANCE and a PSA for LISTEN TO A VETERAN. I recently shot a national commercial for BANK OF AMERICA which is to air in September. I also just booked a job on a new show called RECOVERY ROAD. I haven’t shot it yet so I don’t know when it will air.

You’re very invested in your charity work- what organizations are you involved with at the moment?

For thirteen years I have been deeply committed as a donor and very active volunteer for HEIFER INTERNATIONAL; whose mission is to end hunger and poverty while protecting the earth. We also support our church, our alma maters, veteran causes, chronic pain research as well as several smaller charities that are important to our closest friends.
If you would like to know what I am doing with Heifer International, please go to my personal Heifer page:

Marianne Muellerleile Heifer International

You clearly care deeply about the welfare of others; does your empathy help you to step into the shoes of the roles you portray?

Every actor is called upon to understand the human psyche, to know themselves, to continue to grow personally, if they expect to be able to portray characters that are believable.

If you were to be asked back for another role in a Terminator movie would you be interested in taking up the opportunity?

Absolutely. But I’d say yes to any opportunity that was not morally or ethically unacceptable.

The (31st) Anniversary of The Terminator (1984) is coming around again this October- do you have any plans to celebrate the birthday of The Terminator?

Yes, I’m celebrating it by speaking to you about it. I am flattered that you wish to speak to me about this experience, and I am happy to respond.

Marianne Muellerleile Terminator

Do you have any advice for anyone aspiring to become an actor/get in to the industry?

I suggest anyone who wants to be an actor should go to school to learn everything they can about acting (by doing it), theater, literature, film, ETC. Once they are ready to dive in, continue to take classes, get in a small theater company, get a straight job and dig in for the long haul. It’s going to be quite a ride and worth every bit of it.

How many takes did it require to get the scene in which you were gunned down in The Terminator?

Not long. I’m gonna guess maybe 6 times on one set-up and another 6 on the other set-up. That’s just a guess, but it went very quickly.

How long did the process take (hours/days) ?

I remember it was a half a day from my call time, then I had lunch with Arnold. I was off the clock then. So that would mean 6 hours.

Were any blood squibs used?

There is no blood. That’s one of the amazing things about it. I’ve been asked that question before. Also asked what was it like to be shot. I wasn’t shot. You see the laser on my forehead, you see the gun, then you hear the shot. You don’t see it or any blood. But everyone thinks they did.

Was it noisy (gunshots) in the neighborhood the day the scenes were shot (in The Terminator)- or were the sound effects added later?

Added in post.

What kind of movies do you enjoy watching?

As a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences I see about 100 movies a year as part of my Oscar voting duties. I like any movie that emotionally engages me. I have a particular fondness for period pieces and historical movies.

What made you want to act?

I didn’t actually. I thought it was way too impractical, and it is. But I was in a graduate school production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, playing Eunice the upstairs neighbor, when the

playwright Tennessee Williams, a friend of the director’s, attended a performance. At a party after the show, he told me “My de-ah, you will awlways work.” I told him I wish I had a tape recording of that. Two days later in a newspaper interview he mentioned the three female actors, by name, and regional theater directors came to see the show. All three of us were offered union contracts.
I told the artistic director I was in the first year of a 2 ½ yr masters program. I asked him if he would ask me again the following year. He agreed. In that 2nd year I shifted my concentration from teaching to being a professional actor.

Who do you look up to in the film industry?

I admire a lot of people for their talent, integrity and personal character. They also happen to be my personal friends who are working actors: Mary Pat Gleason, Winnie Freedman & Dale Raoul, among others.

With your experience in the industry- would you ever swap acting for directing?


Is there anyone you would like to work with?

Anyone with talent, integrity and personal character. If they are funny, all the better.

Big Thanks to Marianne for being so open and honest with us. Check out her website and her charitable cause at the links below.

Marianne Muellerleile Official Website


Categories: AnniversaryArnold SchwarzeneggerBehind The ScenesCastCharactersCharityDirectorsEventsHemdaleInterviewsJames CameronLocationsMarianne MuellerleileMGMMoviesOrionScience FictionScriptsThe Terminator (1984)Wrong Sarah Connor


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6 years ago

Good interview! We hear from the big guns so often, so it’s always interesting to hear the perspective of the minor players when it comes to Terminator.