DVD Release DateArnold Schwarzenegger Reveals Disgraced Star Initially Cast as The Terminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals Disgraced Star Initially Cast as The Terminator

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger almost didn’t play The Terminator in James Cameron’s 1984 movie, as he originally wanted to play Kyle Reese.
  • OJ Simpson was initially set to be cast as The Terminator, but his enthusiasm was considered excessive for the role.
  • Schwarzenegger’s mechanical portrayal of the T-800 character contributed to the success of the Terminator franchise.

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently spoke about how he nearly missed out on playing The Terminator in James Cameron’s iconic 1984 film. During an appearance on the Smartless podcast, the 76-year-old action movie star discussed how he originally wanted to play the role of Kyle Reese and that another actor, none other than OJ Simpson, was being considered for the role of the cyborg from the future.

In discussing his career, Schwarzenegger, also known as the “Austrian Oak,” mentioned the story of how former NFL player turned Hollywood actor OJ Simpson was almost cast as The Terminator. Simpson later gained fame for his comedic role as Norberg in The Naked Gun films and even more notoriety for his infamous 1995 trial and later civil trial regarding the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.

During the podcast, Schwarzenegger explained, “I think OJ Simpson was cast, not yet a contract signed, but was cast already to play The Terminator. So Cameron was trying to talk me into playing the Terminator and I said, ‘Nah, I want to play Reese.’ He said, ‘No, you understand the Terminator. You talk about how he has to walk and turn his head like a machine. That’s exactly what he has to do.’ “Anyway, he talked me into it.”

According to Schwarzenegger, Simpson’s enthusiasm eventually cost him the role, while Schwarzenegger’s ability to portray a cold, unfeeling killing machine made him perfect for the iconic role he would continue to play for over three decades.

It’s difficult to imagine the Terminator franchise achieving the success it did without Schwarzenegger’s mechanical portrayal of the T-800 at its core. The idea of OJ Simpson in that role and Schwarzenegger as Kyle Reese seems like a casting decision that would have sunk the film before it had a chance to spawn one of the best movie sequels of all time. This demonstrates why James Cameron is considered one of Hollywood’s greatest directors, with an innate ability to assemble the right cast, craft a compelling script, and pay attention to small details that have led him to hold three spots in the top five highest-grossing movies chart.

While the careers of Schwarzenegger and Simpson couldn’t be more different, it’s impossible to know how a change of casting in The Terminator would have affected their respective trajectories. However, for the sci-fi franchise, it’s hard to imagine a more successful outcome without Schwarzenegger leading the way.

The Terminator movies are available to stream on Max and Netflix in some regions. Additionally, Netflix is set to release an anime Terminator series in 2024.