During the Hero Complex Film Festival in Los Angeles, James Cameron did a Q&A with his fans and discussed his first big hit, The Terminator, and what led to him coming up with the story. He also reveals that the T-1000 was in the first draft of his script, but he had to cut it due to budget constraints. Luckily, he got to make Terminator 2 where he was finally able to introduce the liquid metal killing machine. Here's the story he told thanks to /Film.
"I sat down to write the Terminator, I think it was in Fall of ’82. And I was sleeping on a friend’s couch hoping my car hadn’t been repossessed. So I was trying to write a vehicle to get a directing gig, basically. I was being very mercenary about it. I thought, “Okay. It has to take place in the streets of LA. It’s gotta be something we can shoot down and dirty – location, available lighting – all that sort of thing, and we’ll just inject.” But the my expertise came from visual effects and production design. So I knew there were other filmmakers who could just do the down and dirty production thing, probably better than me even or at least as well. What was my competitive edge? Science fiction.
"So now let’s think about what kind of science fiction story can you tell in the streets of the present day. It’s obviously not going to be a space story that takes place on another planet. So space was out. So then it was time travel. And it got really simple. See what I mean? So it was all this kind of reductive logic.
"But then my imagination went nuts and I wrote a story in which they send this endo-skeletal terminator, which was their warrior, and he gets destroyed by the Kyle Reese character halfway through the story. Then the guys in the future - the machines, the bad guys – send another robot, although its this liquid metal robotic character. And that’s the story that I wrote.
"So the T-1000, wasn’t called that, but it already existed in the original story. Then I realized there’s no way we can make that for, whatever, $4 million, so I cut the whole back half off the story and expanded the front half and that’s Terminator 1. Never dreaming there would ever be a sequel. I was just pairing it down and whittling it down."
Everything seems to work out great for him! Cameron is so successful now that it's hard to think that at one point he was struggling to make ends meet just like many aspiring filmmakers out there. Just goes to show that if you're talented and you press forward you never know what can happen.