The potential casting choices of The Terminator (1984) have become legendary; from James Cameron‘s adamant refusal of O.J Simpson playing the role of the titular cybernetic assassin, to Arnold Schwarzenegger being eyed for the part of the hardened and weary future war soldier Kyle Reese (later to be portrayed by Michael Biehn).
Though, there are no complaints about the line-up which would ultimately hit the big screens for the theatrical release of the first Terminator movie; it’s always interesting to hear some of the behind the scenes decisions and discussions which went into making the 1984 b-movie science fiction horror, a classic – isn’t it?
Another interesting (and iconic) casting decision involved one of James Cameron’s first choices for the role of Kyle Reese, Sarah Connor‘s baby-daddy. It seems that the legendary director had his sights set on the damaged soldier being embodied by a singer… frontman of the English rock band ‘The Police‘, musician / actor Sting. But it appears that the singer wasn’t terribly enamored with the idea of working under the director of, ahem, Piranha II: The Spawning (well, one of the directors anyway).
Speaking to BFI (The British Film Institute), James Cameron stated that:
“I even met with him, I was fascinated by his look. He seemed slightly otherworldly – or at least not of this time. I felt vindicated when Sting played a major role in David Lynch’s Dune (1984) as the malevolent Feyd-Rautha. However, he wasn’t interested. I was too much of an unknown as a director at the time. I remember riding down in the elevator with him after our meeting and him sneering ‘So, Piranha 2, huh?’ I didn’t want to tell him I had gotten fired off that film after a few days of shooting, so it wasn’t my movie at all, because frankly I was better having even a bad credit than having no director credit. Or that’s what I thought at the time.”James Cameron told BFI
Well, we certainly aren’t complaining about Sting turning down the role, though it might have been interesting, in an alternate unviverse, to see what that could have looked like; we are more than happy with Michael Biehn’s moody and enigmatic portrayal of Kyle Reese.
Though one could definitely wonder if Sting himself has any regrets about rejecting the part…
BFI Film Classics: The Terminator, new edition is to be published in May 2021 and you can pre-order your copy below.
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