Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released on this day in 1991, redefining action spectacle as well as dragging the VFX industry forward tenfold. James Camerons’ follow up to his original hit was the third time he had directed a sequel in a film franchise (the other times being the embarrassing Piranha II and the embarrassingly good Aliens) but the first instance where he had also helmed the original.
Arnie returns as the hulking Austrian accented killer-robot from the future, along with Linda Hamilton as a now kickass Sarah Connor and her ultimate 90’s kid John Connor (played by a rapidly ageing Edward Furlong). Robert Patrick effortlessly enters movie villain history with his terrifying upgrade over Arnie’s T-800 model death robot, the T-1000 – noticeable for its liquid metal frame allowing it to morph at will, requiring the team at ILM to develop groundbreaking digital effect techniques and expand their ranks from six to 35 to pull off the first partially CG main character with humanlike movement in a film (after ILM’s first pass with Young Sherlock Holmes). T2 was the most expensive film ever made at the time, but it paid off with an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and became the highest-grossing film in 1991. This is how you make a sequel.
But did you know…
- It’s hard to imagine anyone but Robert Patrick and that ice-cold stare as the T-1000, but Billy Idol (yes, Billy Idol) was originally considered. Cameron brought him into Stan Winston’s workshop to discuss the role but had to sideline him when it became apparent that his limp (caused by a recent road accident) would impede his ability to run properly.
- Linda Hamilton has an identical twin sister, Leslie, who doubles for her in the film. She appears when the T-1000 mimics Sarah Connor, and also in a deleted scene where she plays Sarah Connor’s reflected image in a mirror.
- As well as cutting edge computer effects, Cameron used amazing in-camera stunts/effects. The helicopter flying under the overpass, mere feet from the ground? That is an actual helicopter flying under the overpass, mere feet from the ground. It was considered so risky that the camera crew scheduled to shoot it pulled out, leaving Cameron to lens it himself.