Arnold Schwarzenegger is 66-years-awesome, exactly twice the age he was when he first starred in the original Terminator. For a franchise rooted in cyborgs, time travel and punk Bill Paxton, that might pose a problem. That’s because humans and machines tend to get decidedly less effective as they reach their sixties.
But this is Arnold! After years of governing my home state, he parroted his way through an Expendables sequel before putting in an honest-to-god, good “Arnold performance ” (not the same thing as regular acting) in Escape Plan (not the same thing as a regular movie). He’s clearly ready to work again, and I think he’s still got the screen presence necessary to make a late career comeback work. The age thing, though…
Regardless of how game Schwarzenegger is, someone is still going to have to have a bad, expository scene explaining why Skynet made a killing machine that ages. Always a team player (willing to publicly defend his paycheck), Schwarzenegger explained the decision to an uncharacteristically manic Chris Hardwick (wink!) on his Nerdist podcast.
The director wants me to be exactly the same as I was in 1984. Because the person — I have human flesh, underneath is a metal skeleton — but the human flesh ages just like everyone else does. The skeleton doesn’t change. So it has to be the same body, physically the same thing, even though you may have show a little grey and all those things… So it’s very important that now I step it up with the workout.
I [need to] gain an extra 5-7 pounds of pure muscle and get that body back that I had then so we can switch from Terminator to the character I play now, kind of a Terminator-protector character, so we can switch back and forth to a 25-year old versus a 35-year old versus a 55-year old, when it’s in the future of 2029. So all of this and then play around with it, the body will stay the same but the makeup will change and the hair will change.
That’s a fucking mouthful! Luckily, the “living tissue over a metal exoskeleton” has an established precedent in the franchise. Unfortunately, someone in the movie is still going to have to give an condensed explanation of what Arnold just said, which is the kind of shit that stops most movies cold.
The original concept behind the Terminator was to make the T-800 look like a normal dude, so I don’t actually mind the idea of an “old man” cybernetic organism, blending in to more effectively stalk his prey. Why does he still looks like an Austrian body builder? I can’t begin to guess. Why the long con of making him young, only to age over time? That’s easier to explain in a time travel story, I guess. At any rate, this is the justification they’re going with. So there.