The Terminator franchise is unstoppable and Dark Fate, the sixth film in the series, rolls in to cinemas this week. Ignoring the events of Rise of the Machines, Salvation, and Genisys, Terminator: Dark Fate is a direct sequel to 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day and it’s the most feminist film of the franchise to date.
That’s partly due to the contributions of its stars Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton. As Grace, a protector sent to defend Natalie Reyes’ Dani from a new Terminator (Gabriel Luna), Davis shares many scenes with Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. Davis says she worked with the writers and Hamilton – returning for the first time as Connor since T2 – to fine tune the exchanges between their characters.
Though she admits Grace was “pretty well-formed” in the script which is credited to six men (David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, Billy Ray, James Cameron, Charles Eglee and Josh Friedman), Davis told us that they worked on how their characters interacted and make it less catty.
“I think the thing Linda [Hamilton] and I were focused on is when we started our characters were real antagonists, and they still are in the film, but there was some stuff that we didn't quite understand and couldn't justify,” the Blade Runner 2049 star explained to Yahoo Movies UK.
Read more: First reactions to Dark Fate
“[There was] a constant sniping at each other and we just wanted our rivalry to be rooted in a real relationship [where] there was nothing superfluous about [it] or just hateful without a basis.
“We both have a mission and any sort of antagonism needed to come out of that mission and not be extraneous to it, so that's something that we focused on,” Davis added.
Gabriel Luna was privy to these conversations and said it was important that his co-stars were able to get their opinions across.
“I think that's a huge contribution you guys made,“ he said. “I remember being around when those conversations were being had and, yeah, there is that competition but then there was this really wonderful shared duty to Dani.”
It’s not uncommon for actors to have input on their character’s motivations or dialogue, and it seems particularly wise to have it on a film which boasts three female leads like Dark Fate. Just recently, Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge was drafted in to help with rewrites on No Time To Die, the next James Bond film, and was tasked with paying particular attention to the film’s female characters.
“I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that Lashana [Lynch], Léa [Seydoux] and Ana [De Armas] open them and go, ‘I can’t wait to do thatm,’” Waller-Bridge told Deadline. “As an actress, I very rarely had that feeling early in my career. That brings me much pleasure, knowing that I’m giving that to an actress.”
The Dark Fate stars also responded to comments made by Martin Scorsese regarding what defines cinema.
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“I think that the collective experience of going to see a movie altogether is really important to me,” Davis said. “If we're living through a period of time where those happen to be really big movies, the stories can still be small and personal.
“There are so many opportunities to be alone and absorb entertainment in a really solitary, intimate way, it's so lovely to go to a theatre and be scared together, and laugh together, and have all the emotions that you have,” she continued. “I don't really see the point of saying things are and are not cinema.”
Luna, who appeared as Ghost Rider in Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., agreed.
“I've worked for Marvel so I'm a little biased but I completely agree with Mackenzie,” he said. “It's just the ritual of us coming together and having a story told and watching it flicker before our eyes.
“This film is all the things that Marty [Scorsese] was talking about,” Luna added, “the human connection and human relationships you have in our film, which is really great, and as extraordinary as the circumstances are we are still able to maintain this nice strong skeleton of a human story and I'm really happy that too.”
Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger return in their iconic roles in Terminator: Dark Fate, in cinemas from Wednesday, 23 October, directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and produced by James Cameron and David Ellison.
Dark Fate also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Diego Boneta.
Watch a trailer below.