The new Terminator: Dark Fate trailer has Sarah Connor uttering an infamous line: “I’ll be back.” But for actress Linda Hamilton, who plays the chiseled action hero, a return to Hollywood and the franchise that made her famous took some convincing.
“It’s not that I was afraid to let the fans down,” Hamilton tells New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan in a new profile about her role in the Tim Miller-directed sequel. “I was afraid to let Sarah Connor down.”
Following a 1999 divorce from original Terminator and T2: Judgment Day director James Cameron — though she admits the pair were “terribly mismatched,” the split left her “completely devastated” — and a self-imposed exile from Hollywood, the 62-year-old was enjoying a ”lovely, authentic life” in New Orleans when Miller approached her about signing on to play Connor again.
“I love my alone time like no one you’ve ever met,” says the twice-divorced star. “I’ve been celibate for at least 15 years. One loses track, because it just doesn’t matter — or at least it doesn’t matter to me. I have a very romantic relationship with my world every day and the people who are in it.”
Though she was hesitant to let fame “creep into my life again,” she agreed to play Connor a third time. As with the 1991 sequel, the role required a grueling physical transformation, this time brought on by muscle-building bioidentical hormones and workouts with Green Berets that left her with ear infections.
“This was 10 times the effort I put into the second one,” she says of playing the “broken” Connor in her 60s. “I had a true village of experts trying to get the most out of this body ... I don’t think there’s going to be one person who comes up to me who says, ‘You look so great for your age.’ I threw that into the Mississippi River, because that’s not what this is about. I want people to see me and go, ‘Oh my God, she got so old!’”
Hamilton also opens up about her work on the previous Terminator films, from battling depression after wrapping up the 1984 original — “it was hard on the psyche,” she says of playing the hunted heroine — to doing the 1991 sequel right after having a baby and splitting from first husband Bruce Abbott.
“Having been left, I just needed to get up on my feet and be strong and do nothing but mother my child and get ready for this film,” Hamilton says. “You wake up all alone with your body and go, ‘Hmm, these aren’t hips anymore — they’re flanks.’ To give myself permission to be that powerful, strong woman was necessary for my survival.”
And while she’s enjoyed a string of TV appearances over the years, the success of Terminator failed to drum up opportunities outside of the action genre. Hamilton wanted to work in comedies, but Hollywood, as ex Cameron put it, saw her only as “the female Bruce Willis” — which she says is “not my idea of acting.”
“Nobody looked at it like, ‘She can do anything,’” she says. “Instead it was, ‘She’s going to eat us alive!’ People really did not know what to do with me ... My answer to being that ‘overnight success’ was to go and get pregnant with Jim Cameron and completely disappear. What timing!”
Nearly three decades later, she’s back in the frame and calling her Dark Fate return the “hardest thing, and the greatest thing.”
Terminator: Dark Fate will be released on Nov. 1.
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