Arnold Schwarzenegger has revealed that film producers originally had another celebrity in mind to play The Terminator — none other than OJ Simpson.
The former California governor discussed the casting decision that made him a film star in the 1970s in a new Netflix docuseries about his life, telling how producers had originally thought he should play the role of rebel fighter Kyle Reese and then-football star Simpson should play the killer robot.
But as the production moved forward, Schwarzenegger said, ‘no one’ at at Orion Pictures —which distributed the blockbuster movie — thought Simpson would be believable as a ‘killing machine.’
James Cameron, the director, then pushed him to take on the role, but the now 75-year-old said he was reluctant to do so.
It is just the latest revelation from the docuseries, which chronicles Schwarzenegger’s life, acting career and his transition to politics.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 75, revealed in his new Netflix docuseries how OJ Simpson was originally cast to be the Terminator
As the production moved forward, Schwarzenegger said, ‘no one’ at at Orion Pictures —which distributed the blockbuster movie — thought Simpson would be believable as a ‘killing machine.’ Simpson is pictured in his heyday as a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills
Schwarzenegger was originally cast to play freedom fighter Kyle Reese, which was later given to Michael Biehn
In the series, which is set to premiere Wednesday, Schwarzenegger was joined by Cameron as the two reminisced about his rise to fame in the late 1970s.
During their discussion, Cameron recounted how Mike Medavoy, the cofounder of Orion Pictures, whittled down the cast to Simpson as Terminator and Schwarzenegger as Kyle Reese — who was later played by Michael Biehn.
‘I had been told by Mike Medavoy that the movie was all cast,’ Cameron said, recalling how Medavoy told him: ‘I got this all worked out. OJ Simpson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.’
‘I said, “Well, which is which?” Those two names just sounded so wrong to me.’
Then when Schwarzenegger appeared on set, Cameron said he was instantly struck by the body-builder’s looks.
‘I’m just sitting there watching him. It’s like when the sound goes down, and I’m just seeing how the lights kicking off the glass windows is hitting his face when the door opens. I mean I’m thinking, “He’s got a hell of a face,”‘ the famed director said.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger says in the documentary, ‘no one’ at Orion Pictures was convinced Simpson could pull off a killer.
‘During our conversation, it became clear no one was hooked to OJ Simpson playing Terminator because he could not be sold as a killing machine,’ the actor said.
But Simpson would later become infamous when he was implicated in the murder of his wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman just one decade after The Terminator was released.
Simpson was acquitted of the crime in 1995, but a civil lawsuit against the once well-liked footballer found him liable in their deaths just two years later.
Schwarzenegger shared how he became the titular bad guy when he discussed the role with director James Cameron
Simpson would later become infamous when he was implicated in the murder of his wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman
The decision to cast Schwarzenegger in the titular role only came later, when he approached Cameron about the role.
‘I said, “Look, whoever it is, he has to go and be totally unlike a human being. The way he steps on the motorcycle, the way he runs, the way he gets up. Everything has to be exactly like a machine.”
‘He said, “Why don’t you play the Terminator? You totally understand that character. You are the machine.”‘
At first, Schwarzenegger said he rejected the idea, telling Cameron: ‘No, no, no, I don’t want to play villains. The character only has 26 lines.’
‘I started fighting him about it, and he calmly just said, “Well think about it.”
‘I thought for three days, then I called him back and said, “Every time I re-read it, I visualize myself more and more playing Terminator.”
‘I told him I’m in and we started prepping.’
In other parts of the documentary, he spoke about growing up with a decorated Nazi for a father
In other parts of the documentary, Schwarzenegger spoke about what it was really like for him and his late brother to grow up as the son of decorated Nazi soldier, who returned to Austria from the war as a broken man and went on to unleash abuse on his family.
‘Our upbringing was very tough. The brutality that would be at home, the beatings that we got from our parents sometimes,’ the True Lies star stated.
The former governor of California explained that children in his town all grew up feeling the after effects of the war because Austria became a country of ‘broken’ men.
Arnold revealed his belief that his ‘tyrant’ father may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, which was revealed in the way he would ‘smack’ his children and hit them with ‘the belt’.
The Predator star also revealed how his father had ‘schizophrenic behavior ‘ which meant his children never knew if they would be getting the ‘kind father’ or the one who would come home ‘drunk’.
‘He would scream at three in the morning and we would wake up and our hearts were pounding because we knew that meant,’ he recalled. ‘He could, at any given time, strike my mother or go crazy. So there was this strange violence.’
He explained that his father became the chief of county police after the war and described him as a ‘tyrant’ who was ‘very tough’ in his role.
Gustav treated his home in the same way and made sure that they were ‘no screwing around’.
‘He thought he should create discipline in the house… you had to “earn” breakfast,’ Arnold recalled.
Meanwhile, his mother would obsessively clean the home, making sure that ‘everything was perfectly placed’ otherwise she would ‘go nuts’.