James Cameron is a director who only releases hits. The guy has vision and enacts them on every level. But it turns out some of those visions are of a chemical nature.
The Ringer published an amazing 30th-anniversary article about the oral history of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, in which Cameron opens up about his creative process and how he came up with the idea for the Terminator sequel.
Turns out, he was high on ecstasy.
“I remember sitting there once, high on E, writing notes for Terminator, and I was struck by Sting’s song, that ‘I hope the Russians love their children too,'” Cameron said. “And I thought, ‘You know what? The idea of a nuclear war is just so antithetical to life itself.’ That’s where the kid came from.”
Turns out, John Connor was the son of Kyle Reese and drugs.
When it comes to the melting T-1000, Cameron said, “I talked to Dennis Muren at ILM... I said, ‘I’ve got an idea. If we took the water character from The Abyss, but it was metallic so you didn’t have the translucency issues, but you had all the surface reflectivity issues and you made it a complete human figure that could run and do stuff, and it could morph back into a human, and then turn into the liquid metal version of itself, and we sprinkled it through the movie, can we do it?’ He said, 'I’ll call you back tomorrow.'”
Cameron continued, “Tom Sherak ran all distribution for Fox for years, and he said, ‘Who would have known that we made a $60 million movie that was just a test run for Terminator 2?‘ They were still stinging a little bit from the fact that The Abyss broke even, just barely.”
'Terminator 2'Credit: Tri-Star PicturesAs Cameron brainstormed a new bit to make this movie special, he had to make sure the star of his first film, Linda Hamilton, would reprise her role.
“I called her up and I said, ‘Look, they want to pay us a lot of money to make a sequel. Are you in or are you out? But just between you and me, I don’t really want to do it if Sarah doesn’t come back and I don’t want to recast Sarah, so you got to say you’re in.'”
Wow, what a sweet talker. But it has to feel good that the entire sequel to a movie rests on your shoulders.
Cameron continued, “And so she said, ‘Yeah, in principle, I’m in, but I want to be crazy.’ I said, ‘Well, what do you mean, crazy? How crazy?’ She said, ‘Crazy, like I’ve been driven crazy.’ I said, ‘Like you’re in an insane asylum, like you’re institutionalized?’ She said, ‘Yeah, sure. Let me play crazy. Let me go nuts.’ I said, ‘All right. Well, you’re going to get my version of nuts,’ and she said, ‘All right. I’m down.'”
And there you have the principal pieces of what would eventually become the greatest sequel of all time. Those little plot points allowed Cameron to take the time and build out the story into something so much more.
The Ringer’s website has the rest of the story. Check it out!