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16 Things You Might Not Know About The Terminator

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The Terminator was released with little promotion on October 26, 1984. James Cameron, its little-known writer and director,  had recently been living in his car, fresh off of getting caught breaking into the editing room of his only other directorial effort, Piranha II: The Spawning. With a production budget of just $6.4 million, it eventually earned over $78.3 million, making it one of the highest grossing movies of the year. On its 30th anniversary, here are some things you might not have known about the movie.

1.THE IDEA FOR "THE TERMINATOR" ALL STARTED WITH A FEVER DREAM

James Cameron had a tumultuous experience making his directorial debut in 1981's Piranha II: The Spawning, but as he once put it, sometimes "nightmares are a business asset." While in Rome for the horror movie's release, Cameron had a fever dream of a "metal death figure coming out of a fire."

2. BUT HARLAN ELLISON LATER SUCCESSFULLY WON AN OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT OVER THE CONCEPT

According to Ellison, The Terminator was a "ripoff" of an episode of The Outer Limits he had written in 1964 titled "Soldier," itself an adaptation of his 1957 short story "Soldier From Tomorrow." Orion Pictures and the outspoken author settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. Cameron later referred to Ellison as a "parasite who can kiss my ass."

3. JAMES CAMERON SOLD THE SCRIPT TO "THE TERMINATOR" FOR $1

There would never have been any lawsuits if James Cameron didn't take a lot of risks to get the movie made in the first place. As the legend goes, Cameron's agent hated the idea of the film, so Cameron, who was living in his car at the time, fired him. An even more courageous move was Cameron's insistence that he direct The Terminator, despite only having Piranha II: The Spawning on his resume. Instead of simply selling the script that had gotten some production studios' interest for a decent sum, Cameron sold the script to producer Gale Anne Hurd for one dollar, with the stipulation that he be allowed to direct his vision. The gamble paid off in every respect, and when the North American rights to the franchise revert back to him in 2019, that car/apartment will be even more distant of a memory.

4. LANCE HENRIKSEN WAS THE FIRST ACTOR TO DRESS AS A TERMINATOR

Before James Cameron arrived at a pitch meeting with Hemdale Film Corporation producers, actor Lance Henriksen made an impression by kicking open the door and acting as the title character while wearing a leather jacket with gold foil smothered on his teeth. The performance was so believable that the secretary dropped her typewriter onto her lap. Henriksen would play Detective Hal Vukovich for his trouble.

5. THE STUDIO WANTED THE HERO TO HAVE A CYBORG DOG SIDEKICK

Because of the paltry $6.4 million budget, Cameron was mostly left alone by his financiers, Hemdale and Orion Pictures. Mostly. Hemdale's John Daly one request was for Cameron to cut out the striking final images of the movie in the factory, which earned him a '"F*** you! The film isn't over yet" in response. Cameron was a little more receptive to Orion's two suggestions, and supposedly less colorful in his responses. The first was to "strengthen the relationship" between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, which was a note that Cameron took. The other was for Reese to have a cyborg canine companion. That sadly did not happen.

6. THE STUDIO ALSO WANTED O.J. SIMPSON TO PLAY THE TERMINATOR

It's been bouncing around the Internet for so long that you probably think it's an urban legend, but Orion co-founder Mike Medavoy even admitted a few months ago that he had strongly suggested O.J. Simpson for the part of the title role, and Cameron dismissed the thought because Simpson came off as too nice of a guy.

6. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER WAS INITIALLY GOING TO PLAY KYLE REESE

When James Cameron went to have lunch with Schwarzenegger to discuss this, he had a change of heart and asked if he would consider playing The Terminator instead, after Schwarzenegger kept telling him how he thought the T-800 should act. Even though he had a lot of opinions on the character, Arnold initially didn't like the idea of playing the villain, having just found success playing the heroic Conan in Conan the Barbarian, but eventually agreed. The awkwardness returned at the end of the meal, when Cameron realized that he had forgotten his wallet.

7. STING WAS OFFERED $350,000 TO PLAY KYLE REESE

At the time, Sting was still playing bass and writing songs for The Police, and was committed to star in Dune. Another musician, Bruce Springsteen, was considered, even though he had no movie acting experience, as well as Matt Dillon, Kurt Russell, Tommy Lee Jones, Mickey Rourke, Michael O'Keefe, Scott Glenn, Treat Williams, Christopher Reeve, and Mel Gibson. Bruce Willis was another young actor viewed as the potential good guy cyborg that didn't get the part. Jai Courtney, the actor who played Willis' son in A Good Day to Die Hard, will play Kyle Reese in The Terminator reboot Terminator: Genisys.

The role of Kyle Reese went to Michael Biehn, despite disappointing producers by using a Southern accent in his initial audition. Once his agent explained to the producers that the accent came from practicing for a part on a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof stage production which he didn't even get, Biehn got another shot and won the part.

8. THE PRINCIPAL ACTORS HAD DOUBTS ABOUT THE MOVIE

According to Nigel Andrews' book, True Myths of Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Life and Times of Arnold Schwarzenegger, from Pumping Iron to Governor of California, while being interviewed on the set of Conan the Destroyer, Schwarzenegger referred to The Terminator as "some shit movie" he was doing. Linda Hamilton admitted that she was "a little snobby" and had Shakespearean aspirations for her career, and had doubts about the movie she was about to do. When Michael Biehn told his actor friends he was doing a movie with Schwarzenegger, they sarcastically told him, "Well, good luck with that."

9. SCHWARZENEGGER TRIED TO CHANGE THE LINE "I'LL BE BACK"

Thinking he had trouble pronouncing "I'll" properly, Schwarzenegger asked James Cameron if he could say, "I will be back" instead, with the reasoning being that The Terminator would not speak in contractions. After Cameron shot back with, "I don't tell you how to act, don't tell me how to write," he assured his star that they will shoot ten takes and pick the one that sounded best. In Shawn Huston's novelization of the film script, the line is "I'll come back."

10. SCHWARZENEGGER ONLY HAS 58 SPOKEN WORDS IN THE MOVIE

Technically, The Terminator says more than Arnold's 17 sentences, but one is an overdubbed voice of a cop, and the other is in Sarah Connor's mother's voice, when the Terminator was trying to trick her.

11. LINDA HAMILTON BROKE HER ANKLE BEFORE SHOOTING

To work around this, all of the scenes where Sarah Connor runs from The Terminator were shot at the tail end of the shooting schedule. In one draft of the screenplay, Cameron wrote that Connor had an old figure skating injury that required surgical pins in her tibia. When the T-800 kills the first two Sarah Connors, he cut their legs open to look for the surgical mark. This was taken out of the final cut.

12. YOU CAN ACCESS THE TERMINATOR'S POINT OF VIEW IF YOU STILL HAVE AN APPLE II

If you own an Apple II, and you enter "] call -151 *" p at the basic prompt, you get The Terminator's view.

13. IN POLAND, THE FILM WAS RELEASED AS "THE ELECTRONIC MURDERER"

The Polish word for "terminator" loosely translates to "apprentice," which doesn't really capture the essence of what James Cameron and company were going for. When the movie became popular in Poland, the subsequent films stuck with the original titles.

14. THE LOW BUDGET CAUSED A LOT OF PHYSICAL PAIN FOR THE CREW

When The Terminator's hand is getting pummeled by a lead pipe by Kyle Reese, it was Tom Woodruff Jr., who worked special effects, allowing his hand to get the beating of a lifetime. Naturally, he lost feeling in his fingers. As a reward, James Cameron sent him a Christmas card that read, "Merry Christmas. Hope the feeling comes back to your fingers someday.”

15. DAVID HYDE PIERCE HAS REPEATEDLY DENIED THAT HE IS IN THE MOVIE

IMDb still lists David Hyde Pierce's first role as the co-driver of the tanker truck hijacked by The Terminator, even though the actor has gone out of his way to point out that it was a different actor with the name David Pierce.

16. THE TEASER TRAILER WAS NARRATED BY THE VOICE OF OPTIMUS PRIME

Peter Cullen was the original voice of Optimus Prime, and reprised his role for the new Transformers movies. Cullen has range—he also was the voice of Eeyore from 1988-2010.

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20 Facts About Your Favorite Coen Brothers Movies
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Gramercy Pictures

Ethan Coen turns 60 years old today, if you can believe it. Since bursting onto the scene in 1984 with the cult classic Blood Simple, the younger half of (arguably) the most dynamic moviemaking sibling duo in Hollywood has helped create some of the most memorable and quirky films in cinematic history, from Raising Arizona to Fargo and The Big Lebowski to No Country For Old Men. To celebrate the monumental birthday of one of the great writer-directors of our time (though he’s mostly uncredited as a director), here are some facts about your favorite Coen brothers movies.

1. THE COENS THINK BLOOD SIMPLE IS “PRETTY DAMN BAD.”

Fifteen years after Blood Simple’s release, the Coens reflected upon their first feature in the 2000 book My First Movie. “It’s crude, there’s no getting around it,” Ethan said. “On the other hand, it’s all confused with the actual process of making the movie and finishing the movie which, by and large, was a positive experience,” Joel said. “You never get entirely divorced from it that way. So, I don’t know. It’s a movie that I have a certain affection for. But I think it’s pretty damn bad!”

2. KEVIN COSTNER AND RICHARD JENKINS AUDITIONED FOR RAISING ARIZONA.

Kevin Costner auditioned three times to play H.I., only to see Nicolas Cage snag the role. Richard Jenkins had his first of many auditions for the Coens for Raising Arizona. He also (unsuccessfully) auditioned for Miller's Crossing (1990) and Fargo (1996) before calling it quits with the Coens. In 2001, Joel and Ethan cast Jenkins in The Man Who Wasn't There, even though he had never auditioned for it.

3. THE BROTHERS TURNED DOWN BATMAN TO MAKE MILLER’S CROSSING.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

After Raising Arizona’s success established them as more than one-hit indie film wonders, the Coens had some options with regard to what project they could tackle next. Reportedly, their success meant that they were among the filmmakers being considered to make Batman for Warner Bros. Of course, the Coens ultimately decided to go the less commercial route, and Tim Burton ended up telling the story of The Dark Knight on the big screen.

4. BARTON FINK AND W.P. MAYHEW WERE LOOSELY BASED ON CLIFFORD ODETS AND WILLIAM FAULKNER.

The Coens acknowledge that Fink and Odets had similar backgrounds, but they had different personalities: Odets was extroverted, for one thing. John Turturro, not his directors, read Odets’s 1940 journal. The Coens acknowledged that John Mahoney (Mayhew) looks a lot like the The Sound and the Fury author.

5. THE COENS' WEB OF DECEPTION IN FARGO GOES EVEN FURTHER THAN THE OPENING CREDITS. 

While the tag on the beginning of the movie reads “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987,” Fargo is, by no stretch of the imagination, a true story. During the film's press tour, the Coens admitted that while not pinpoint accurate, the story was indeed inspired by a similar crime that occurred in Minnesota, with Joel stating, “In its general structure, the film is based on a real event, but the details of the story and the characters are fictional.”

However, any and all efforts to uncover anything resembling such a crime ever occurring in Minnesota come up empty, and in an introduction to the published script, Ethan pretty much admitted as much, writing that Fargo “aims to be both homey and exotic, and pretends to be true." 

6. THEY WANTED MARLON BRANDO TO PLAY JEFFREY LEBOWSKI.

According to Alex Belth, who wrote the e-book The Dudes Abide on his time spent working as an assistant to the Coens, casting the role of Jeffrey Lebowski was one of the last decisions made before filming. Names tossed around for the role included Robert Duvall (who passed because he wasn’t fond of the script), Anthony Hopkins (who passed since he had no interest in playing an American), and Gene Hackman (who was taking a break at the time). A second “wish list” included an oddball “who’s who," including Norman Mailer, George C. Scott, Jerry Falwell, Gore Vidal, Andy Griffith, William F. Buckley, and Ernest Borgnine.

The Coens’ ultimate Big Lebowski, however, was the enigmatic Marlon Brando, who by that time was reaching the end of his career (and life). Apparently, the Coens amused themselves by quoting some of their favorite Jeffrey Lebowski lines (“Strong men also cry”) in a Brando accent. The role would eventually go to the not-particularly-famous—albeit pitch-perfect—veteran character actor David Huddleston. In true Dude fashion, it all worked out in the end.

7. JOEL COEN WOOED FRANCES MCDORMAND ON THE SET OF BLOOD SIMPLE.

Ethan Coen, Frances McDormand and Joel Coen at the Oscars
Ethan Coen, Frances McDormand, and Joel Coen celebrate their Oscar wins in 1997.
KIM KULISH/AFP/Getty Images

Coen and McDormand fell in love while making Blood Simple and got married a couple of years later, after production wrapped. McDormand told The Daily Beast about the moment when she roped him in. “I’d only brought one book to read to Austin, Texas, where we were filming, and I asked him if there was anything he’d recommend,” she said. “He brought me a box of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler paperbacks, and I said, ‘Which one should I start with?’ And he said, ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice.’ I read it, and it was one of the sexiest f*ckin’ books I’ve ever read. A couple of nights later, I said, ‘Would you like to come over and discuss the book?’ That did it. He seduced me with literature. And then we discussed books and drank hot chocolate for several evenings. It was f*ckin’ hot. Keep it across the room for as long as you can—that’s a very important element.”

8. O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? WAS ORIGINALLY INSPIRED BY THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Joel Coen revealed as much at the 15th anniversary reunion. “It started as a 'three saps on the run' kind of movie, and then at a certain point we looked at each other and said, 'You know, they're trying to get home—let's just say this is The Odyssey. We were thinking of it more as The Wizard of Oz. We wanted the tag on the movie to be: 'There's No Place Like Home.’”

9. THE ACTORS IN FARGO WENT THROUGH EXTENSIVE TRAINING TO GET THEIR ACCENTS RIGHT.

Having grown up in Minnesota, the Coens were more than familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the “Minnesota nice” accent, but much of the cast—including Frances McDormand and William H. Macy—needed coaching to get the intricacies right. Actors were even given copies of the scripts with extensive pronunciation notes. According to dialect coach Larissa Kokernot, who also appeared as one of the prostitutes Gaear and Carl rendezvous with in Brainerd, the “musicality” of the Minnesota nice accent comes from a place of “wanting people to agree with each other and get along.” This homey sensibility, contrasted with the ugly crimes committed throughout the movie, is, of course, one of the major reasons why the dark comedy is such an enduring classic.

10. NICOLAS CAGE'S HAIR REACTED TO H.I.'S STRESS LEVEL IN RAISING ARIZONA.

Ethan claimed that Cage was "crazy about his Woody Woodpecker haircut. The more difficulties his character got in, the bigger the wave in his hair got. There was a strange connection between the character and his hair."

11. A PROP FROM THE HUDSUCKER PROXY INSPIRED THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE.

Billy Bob Thornton in the Coen brothers' 'The Man Who Wasn't There' (2001)
© 2001 - USA Films

A bit of set dressing from 1994’s The Hudsucker Proxy eventually led to 2001’s The Man Who Wasn’t There. In a barbershop scene, there’s a poster hanging in the background that features a range of men’s hairstyles from the 1940s. The brothers liked the prop and kept it, and it’s what eventually served as the inspiration for The Man Who Wasn’t There.

12. GEORGE CLOONEY SIGNED ON TO O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? BEFORE EVEN READING THE SCRIPT.

The brothers visited George Clooney in Phoenix while he was making Three Kings (1999), wanting to work with him after seeing his performance in Out of Sight (1998). Moments after they put their script on Clooney’s hotel room table, the actor said “Great, I’m in.”

13. A SNAG IN THE MILLER’S CROSSING SCRIPT ULTIMATELY LED TO BARTON FINK.

Miller’s Crossing is a complicated beast, full of characters double-crossing each other and scheming for mob supremacy. In fact, it’s so complicated that at one point during the writing process the Coens had to take a break. It turned out to be a productive one: While Miller’s Crossing was on pause, the brothers wrote the screenplay for Barton Fink, the story of a writer who can’t finish a script.

14. INTOLERABLE CRUELTY IS THE FIRST COEN MOVIE THAT WASN’T THE BROTHERS’ ORIGINAL IDEA.

In 1995, the Coens rewrote a script originally penned by other screenwriters, Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, and John Romano. They didn’t decide to direct the movie, which became Intolerable Cruelty, until 2003.

15. THE LADYKILLERS WAS WRITTEN FOR BARRY SONNENFELD TO DIRECT.

A still from the Coen Brothers' 'The Ladykillers.'
Melinda Sue Gordon, SMPSP - © 2004 - Touchstone Pictures. All rights reserved.

The Coens effortlessly jump from crime thriller to comedy without missing a beat. So when they were commissioned to write a remake of the British black comedy The Ladykillers for director Barry Sonnenfeld, it seemed to fall in line with their cinematic sensibilities. When Sonnenfeld dropped out of the project, the Coens were hired to direct the film.

16. BURN AFTER READING MARKED THE FIRST TIME SINCE MILLER’S CROSSING THAT THE COENS DIDN’T WORK WITH THEIR USUAL CINEMATOGRAPHER, ROGER DEAKINS.

Instead, eventual Academy Award-winner Emmanuel Lubezki acted as the director of photography. The Coens would work with Deakins again on every one of their films until 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis.

17. IT TOOK SOME CONVINCING TO GET JAVIER BARDEM TO SAY “YES” TO NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Though it’s hard to imagine No Country for Old Men without Javier Bardem’s menacing—and Oscar-winning—performance as antagonist Anton Chigurh, he almost passed on the role. “It’s not something I especially like, killing people—even in movies,” Bardem said of his disdain for violence. “When the Coens called, I said, ‘Listen, I’m the wrong actor. I don’t drive, I speak bad English, and I hate violence.’ They laughed and said, ‘Maybe that’s why we called you.”’

18. PATTON OSWALT AUDITIONED FOR A SERIOUS MAN.

Patton Oswalt auditioned for the role of the obnoxious Arthur Gopnik in A Serious Man, a part that ultimately went to Richard Kind. Oswalt talked about his audition while appearing on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, in which it was also revealed that Maron was being considered for the lead role of Larry Gopnik (the role that earned Michael Stuhlbarg his first, and so far only, Golden Globe nomination).

19. THE CAT IN INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS WAS “A NIGHTMARE.”

A photo of Oscar Isaac in the Coen brothers' 'Inside Llewyn Davis' (2013).
© 2013 - CBS Films

Ulysses, the orange cat who practically stole Inside Llewyn Davis away from Oscar Isaac, was reportedly a bit of a diva. “The cat was a nightmare,” Ethan Coen said on the DVD commentary. “The trainer warned us and she was right. She said, uh, ‘Dogs like to please you. The cat only likes to please itself.’ A cat basically is impossible to train. We have a lot of footage of cats doing things we don't want them to do, if anyone's interested; I don't know if there's a market for that.”

20. THE COEN BROTHERS PROBABLY DON’T LOVE THE BIG LEBOWSKI AS MUCH AS YOU DO. 

We’re assuming the Coen brothers are plenty fond of The Dude; after all, he doesn’t end up facing imminent death or tragedy, which is more than most of their protagonists have going for them. But in a rare Coen brothers interview in 2009, Joel Coen flatly stated, “That movie has more of an enduring fascination for other people than it does for us.”

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Brush Up on Your Film Trivia With This Website Dedicated to First and Last Lines From Popular Movies
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Few elements of a film are more important than its opening and closing lines. In some cases, they divulge pivotal truths or serve as bookends to establish the movie’s overall tone. In others, they provide important context or reveal key information about the lead characters.

No matter which purpose these snippets of dialogue serve, the most iconic establishing or concluding film lines are perhaps the most quotable ones. (After all, how many Citizen Kane fans can hear the phrase “Rosebud” without being reminded of Kane’s favorite childhood sleigh?) But if you can’t remember the openers and closers from your own favorite flicks, a new website is here to help you brush up on your pop culture knowledge.

Made by the team over at AT&T Internet, the fun reference site takes iconic blockbusters and presents their first and last lines of dialogue using typography and the occasional illustration. The site “is a way to recap the last 50 years of movies into a slideshow,” communications manager Alex Thomas tells Mental Floss.

You can check out AT&T Internet’s online slideshow of first and last lines—featuring bits from 1972’s The Godfather, 1999’s The Sixth Sense, 1994's The Shawshank Redemption, and more—here.

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