Insert “I’ll be back” joke here.
With Paramount reviving the blockbuster “Terminator” movie series (through a partnership with Annapurna Pictures and Skydance Productions) to deliver a new stand-alone trilogy of killer-cyborg-from-the-future films beginning in June 2015, Hollywood watchers and fans of the franchise have remained fixated on a blast from the past: Will Arnold Schwarzenegger return to reprise his role as an unstoppable T-800 in the new movies?
To be sure, the former Governator attached himself to a previous “Terminator” reboot two years ago with “Fast & Furious 6” filmmaker Justin Lin in the director’s chair. But Schwarzenegger, 65, bailed on that project after admitting having fathered a child out of wedlock with his family’s housekeeper.
In the interim, the Austrian-born former Mr. Universe – who indelibly portrays a monster cyborg in the first three “Terminator” films but sat out its fourth, Christian Bale-starring installment, "Terminator Salvation" --has been taking tentative steps to reestablish himself within the movie milieu that made him one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars throughout the '80s and '90s.
He took on bit parts in the popular but schlock-y “Expendables” films (in 2010 and 2012) and inhabits a starring role as a small-town sheriff battling a murderous drug cartel in the January flop “The Last Stand” -- Schwarzenegger’s first lead part since 2003’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines."
But in December, the action icon gave a clear indication of his willingness to revisit his movie past in pursuit of future multiplex conquests. He signed on to appear in a sequel to “Conan the Barbarian” (1982), reclaiming the part singularly responsible for setting Schwarzenegger down the path of Hollywood stardom.
Screenwriter-producer Chris Morgan (“Fast & Furious,” “Wanted,” “Fast 6”) sold the Governator on “The Legend of Conan” (as the new film will be known) by framing the project as the pop cultural equivalent to catching up with an old pal: “Not a reboot, not a remake. Just an update,” Morgan recalled telling Schwarzenegger. “Where has the character been all this time? A catch-up with Conan.”
So, could the same nostalgia factor entice Schwarzenegger to slip back into his T-800 motorcycle jacket and wraparound shades?
Hard to say for sure, considering the former governor is certifiably a senior citizen now. And any movie in which he might portray a Terminator would have to necessarily take into account both the ravages of age and the star’s now less-than-steroidally enhanced physique.
The question of whether Paramount would even want him -- and if so, in what capacity -- remains unanswered. The studio said Friday that it "cannot confirm casting specifics at this point."
Also unclear is whether Lin is still on board the project. When Movies Now interviewed the director in March, during post-production on “Fast 6,” Lin mentioned pursuing a film about the Los Angeles riots in the near future but made no mention of his involvement with any new “Terminator” film.
But with the four previous “Terminator” installments having cumulatively grossed more than $1.4 billion, and a script being whipped into shape by Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”) and Laeta Kalogridis (“Avatar,” “Shutter Island”), Schwarzenegger has said he’ll be back while speaking at the 21st Century Financial Educational Summit in Australia earlier this month.
“The studios want me to be in ‘Terminator 5’ and to star as the Terminator, which we start shooting in January,” Schwarzenegger said.
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