HomeMoviesWho Was The Early Choice For 'The Terminator' Before Arnold Schwarzenegger?

    Who Was The Early Choice For ‘The Terminator’ Before Arnold Schwarzenegger?

    Thanks to his titular role in James Cameron’s The Terminator,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger became an international star. The film was a massive success and spawned a widely successful franchise with six movies and a television series, not to mention the cash it raked in through merchandise sales worldwide.

    Believe it or not, he was not the first name on the list to play the fearless cyborg assassin. There was a time when the part was offered to former NFL running back turned actor O.J. Simpson.

    Related: Is O.J. Simpson The Father Of Khloé Kardashian?

    Who Was Supposed To Play ‘The Terminator’ Initially?

    O.J. Simpson

    Initially, James Cameron had pitched the concept of ‘The Terminator‘ to a room full of executives with the help of his friend, a bodybuilder names Lance Henriksen. For the benefit of the room’s imagination, he had Lance come in full gate up. It worked, with HBO and Orion Pictures joining a partnership to back the film.

    Orion Pictures were looking for an actor with a foreign appeal, but at the same time, someone whose star was just on the rise back in America. Many names were thrown in the hat, but Mike Medavoy of Orion Pictures settled on O.J Simpson, who had retired from a long, accomplished career in professional football.

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    How Arnold Schwarzenegger Got The Part Of ‘The Terminator’

    Arnold Schwarzenegger played ‘The Terminator

    As soon as James Cameron heard about Simpson, he panicked. He expressed his fears of social outrage, claiming, “I was like, ‘Hey Mike, Bad idea! You’re going to have this black athlete chasing this white girl around LA with a fricking knife and a gun? We’re not doing that.” In retrospect, it seems like a great call, as Simpson served 33 years in prison for robbery and kidnapping charges and was granted parole on July 20, 2017.

    Ultimately, he cast a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger for the part of the killer robot. Initially hesitant, the Canadian filmmaker changed his mind about Arnold as they both deliberated about the character motivations and a narrative structure for the story. Cameron had envisioned his friend Lance as The Terminator and wanted Arnold for Reese, but soon changed his mind for the better. We are all thankful, as it’s difficult for the fans of the franchise to picture anyone else but him in such an iconic part.

    Always looking to reinvent cinema, Cameron has once again captured our minds with his latest release ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water.’ Always a man on the move, he’s said to be brainstorming about exploring more realms in his ‘Avatar‘ universe. 

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    Shaurya Thakur
    Shaurya Thakur
    Shaurya Thakur is a Content Writer at First Curiosity, who, in his personal time, is writing the greatest "overcoming post-academic slump existential crises" story. His current obsessions are John Cassavetes and Jack Kerouac; musically, he belongs to Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.

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