James Cameron sold the rights to The Terminator for $1 (and 19 other interesting facts about The Terminator)

Even communist filmmakers that hated Hollywood cinema loved The Terminator. For example, Tarkovsky, a crazy Russian auteur, who famously usually hated any film that was for a large audience, said its “vision of the future and the relation between man and its destiny is pushing the frontier of cinema as an art.” This trend of high praise has continued into present day; The Terminator still has a rare 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, for example.    

Seeing as The Terminator is something that even the harshest critics have praised, it’s not hard to imagine that there are many interesting, strange and incredible facts about its making, release and reception.

Here are the things you may not have known about The Terminator:

  1. The idea for the movie came from a nightmare director James Cameron had. Cameron had dreamed of a solid chrome torso crawling out of an explosion. After he woke up, he wrote up the story for The Terminator.
  2. Cameron’s other inspirations for The Terminator included 1960s TV series The Outer Limits, Halloween, The Driver and Mad Max 2.  
  3. Cameron’s agent hated the concept for The Terminator and insisted that Cameron work on a different project. Cameron refused and fired his agent.   
  4. The Terminator was only Cameron’s second full length film. His first was Piranha II: The Spawning. However, Cameron later stated that he doesn’t consider Piranha II as his first movie, due to not having much of a say during the production.  
  5. An early idea was for two terminators to be sent back in time. This idea was used in the movie’s sequels.
  6. Cameron wrote the film with his friend, Bill Wisher, long distance. They would discuss what they were writing by telephone and record the conversations.
  7. Cameron sold the rights to The Terminator for $1. He made Gale Anne Hurd, whom he sold it to, promise that he would direct the film in exchange for this very low price.
  8. During the pitch meeting for the movie, Cameron had actor Lance Henriksen, who plays detective Hal Vukovich, dress as the Terminator. Henriksen broke down the office door while wearing a ripped shirt, combat boots and foil. Executives loved the gimmick and greenlit the movie.
  9. The studio originally wanted O.J. Simpson to play the Terminator. The part was also offered to both Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson, but after a successful meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cameron knew he was right for the role.
  10. Cameron stated that O.J Simpson was not right as the Terminator, as he didn’t feel Simpson was believable as a killer.
  11. Initially, Schwarzenegger did not think that The Terminator would be very successful. He stated in his memoir that “it took a while to figure out that Cameron was the real deal.”
  12. And Sting was considered for the role of Kyle Reese before it went to Michael Biehn.
  13. Biehn researched the resistance movement in Poland in World War II to get into the character of Reese.
  14. Seven artists worked on the Terminator skeleton puppet. It was made out of clay, plaster, urethane molding and an epoxy and fiberglass casting. It was then chrome-plated and distressed.
  15. In a gap during production of The Terminator, Cameron wrote the script for Rambo: First Blood Part II.
  16. One week before shooting started, Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah Connor, sprained her ankle, which led to last minute scheduling changes so she could recover. Nevertheless, she spent most of the shoot in pain.
  17. Schwarzenegger had difficulty pronouncing the line, “I’ll be back” and tried to change it. He wanted it changed to, “I will be back,” but Cameron refused.
  18. When the movie finished editing, Orion Pictures, the studio, did not have much faith and thought it would get very negative reviews.

  19. Harlan Ellison, a writer, threatened to sue The Terminator, as he thought it infringed the copyright of an episode of The Outer Limits that he had written. Despite the threat, he still said that he loved the film.
  20. Orion settled Ellison’s infringement claim out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.