Their future looks bright

Their future looks bright
Movie Still: Jai Courtney (R) and Jason Clarke (L) in Terminator Genisys
PHOTO: UIP

They are two character actors from Down Under whose faces you would recognise more than their names.

But that's about to change for Australians Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney, who have landed the biggest movie of their careers so far as the leading men of sci-fi action blockbuster Terminator Genisys.

Clarke, 45, last seen in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014), plays the all-important role of hero John Connor.

Courtney, 29, who appeared in action flicks like Jack Reacher, A Good Day To Die Hard and the Divergent movies, plays Connor's trusted lieutenant and comrade Kyle Reese.

The movie, which is the fifth instalment of the film franchise and which opens here tomorrow, sees Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role as the T-800, the cyborg companion of Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke).

His mission is to protect her from the evil machines sent from the future to kill her - and thus terminate the existence of John Connor, the future human resistance leader who fights against Skynet, a defence network of machines that took control of the world following a nuclear war the machines initiated.

The future John also sends Reese back in time to protect Sarah, but the time travelling goes haywire and John becomes a cyborg.

Both Clarke and Courtney, who are affable and chatty, were brimming with excitement about their involvement in the Terminator series and they told M in separate interviews at The London West Hollywood what it was like to be part of Team Arnie.

What was it like working with Schwarzenegger?

Clarke: "For me, when I was in high school, Arnold was the biggest movie star on the planet. The Terminator films were defining. When I heard him saying 'I'll be back' for the first time, it was very surreal. Arnold is like the Grand Canyon. You've been told it's so amazing and when you see it in real life, it IS amazing. He is a legend, but when you meet him, he is funny, sharp, intelligent and caring. He doesn't disappoint, he meets expectations and surpasses them."

Courtney: "There was definitely a moment and it happened when we were at the table reading the script as a cast and Arnold said some pretty iconic words. I looked up at my producer across the table and I was, like, 'Yep, here we are. We are making Terminator.' That was really cool and I think it wouldn't have been the same without him."

Jai, you also share scenes with Korean star Lee Byung Hun, who plays the new T-1000.

"He is a talented guy and I am fascinated with the work he did. His role demanded so much of him physically and it's challenging. He didn't have the most lines to say and he certainly had a very tough job. He is fantastic in the film."

Your roles in this follow-up are very physically challenging. How did you prepare for it?

Clarke: "We had many big, big sequences so we had to be very exact and precise about things. There's a scene where we were running away from being hit, and there's a big truck coming, with a massive explosion at the back and more. It's a very expensive shot, which took five to six hours to set up and I had to do it right. Otherwise, it would have taken another five to six hours. That's where it gets really pressurising, because I don't really want to hurt myself, it's a one-shot, and at the same time, I don't want to **** it up."

Courtney: "For me, getting ripped was probably the toughest. I discussed with the producers and we wanted a physique that was very slim, a little malnourished in a way. Fortunately, I am fairly athletic. I dropped (9kg) over the course of a month or two. That sucked for me as my body wants to grow naturally. To try and be slim was hard. I spent a lot of time walking uphill on the treadmill and eating more salmon than I thought was possible."

And Jai, you have a nude scene when you travel back to the past?

"When you time travel, you can't take foreign objects with you. Clothing is not essential. You don't want to turn a nude scene into something offensive. We all have great respect for each other. Everyone is sensitive to it.

We have an assistant director on set - every time someone has to take his clothes off, he'll do it as well as a form of support. That was fun. None of the stuff in our film is gratuitous, it's all plot-driven and essential for the story."

Do you feel any pressure, given that there are so many fans of the franchise?

Clarke: "It's there, I guess, but I don't have the pressure, no. The script is either good or bad. It's either on the page and I can do something with it or it's not. I hope people like it, it's too late now to worry."

Courtney: "I don't think you can set out to make a movie with the intention of pleasing everyone.

There are always going to be fans of franchise films who are sceptical, but the hope and the challenge is that we win them over in the end."

A classic franchise

You know a movie is considered a classic when, even after 30 years, there's still much interest among fans and moviegoers alike.

The Terminator was a ground-breaking event when it opened in 1984.

Not only did the sci-fi thriller kick-start the whole man vs machine theme, it also established the careers of director James Cameron and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ahead of Terminator Genisys' attempt to reinvigorate the film franchise, here's a look back at some of the best parts of this well-oiled cinematic machine...

THE MAN HIMSELF

Arnie is synonymous with the Terminator movies.

Before being immortalised as the T-800, the former bodybuilder had some success with Conan The Barbarian (1982), but it was playing the robot assassin in 1984's The Terminator that made him a global star.

The T-800 may have been the villain in the first movie, but he turned into the hero in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and beyond.

The 1991 sequel saw his character displaying more human qualities and picking up slang from a teenage John Connor (Edward Furlong).

Remember "Hasta la vista, baby"?

With the exception of 2009's Terminator Salvation, which Schwarzenegger didn't star in and didn't like because "it sucked", he's undeniably the face of the franchise, and "I'll be back" has become his signature line.

WOMAN WARRIOR

Sarah Connor (right) is as iconic as the T-800, all thanks to Linda Hamilton's unforgettable portrayal in the first two movies.

Transforming from a scared, vulnerable damsel in distress to a gun-toting, buffed-up soldier-in-waiting, she made Connor one of the most brilliant and important feminist heroines in sci-fi and action cinema.

It'll be really hard for Game Of Thrones' petite Emilia Clarke to fill Hamilton's massive shoes. GOOD TO BE BAD

The T-800 has nothing on Judgment Day's menacing, shapeshifting newer model T-1000 (Robert Patrick), made of liquid metal that allows it to morph into anything and anyone it touches.

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003) introduced the T-X, a leather-clad leggy blonde (Kristanna Loken) who also happens to be a lethal killing machine that severely overpowers our dear, outdated T-800.

The T-1000 is back in Genisys, with Korean actor Lee Byung Hun taking over the role from Patrick.

While he's still a fearsome machine, the biggest threat in Genisys is none other than John Connor (Jason Clarke) himself, who has transformed into a nanotechnological human-cyborg hybrid, the T-3000.

HEARTWARE

While it's a guns-blazing, hardcore action flick, the Terminator films possess an emotional core.

We sympathised with Sarah Connor when she was relentlessly pursued by the vicious T-800 in The Terminator and when she found out about her destiny and became a fugitive.

She also shared a touching albeit brief romance with Resistance soldier from the future Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn).

"I came across time for you Sarah. I love you, I always have" were his memorable words.

And who didn't feel that lump in the throat when the T-800 developed a strong father-son bond with a young John Connor in Judgment Day, a recurring theme in Genisys, with the T-800 becoming Sarah's surrogate dad.


This article was first published on June 24, 2015.
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