The New Terminator Comes With a Latin Accent

Arnold Schwarzenegger has once again made good on his promise, "I’ll be back!” 

WORDS Jeanne Wolf
Octubre / Noviembre 2019

But there’s a new direction in the latest Terminator sequel, Terminator: Dark Fate;” a Latin flavor that comes from a lot more than just “Hasta la vista, baby.”

The cast is largely Hispanic, including the stars. And much of the bone-crushing action and spectacular chases take place in and around Mexico City.

The sixth film in the Terminator franchise, and the first produced by James Cameron since Terminator 2 – Judgement Day, (1991) was directed by Timothy (Tim) Miller, known for his special effects.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie in 1984

Arnold made T800, the original killing machine from the future, famous. Now he’s a supporting player to a new bad android, Rev 9. The super hi-tech liquid metal model is played by Gabriel Luna (Marvel’s Ghost Rider). The mission is to annihilate Dani Ramos, played by Colombian actress Natalia Reyes who has replaced Sarah Conner as the target for termination. Dani’s brother is played by Mexican actor Diego Boneta, currently starring on Netflix as Luis Miguel, the iconic Mexican singer.

And then, there’s Sarah Connor, who after 27 years of saying no to the other hit and miss Terminator sequels returns for this one. As for getting in shape for those jaw-dropping stunts (she’s past the big 6-0) she teases, “It’s not getting knocked down. It’s getting up again,” says Hamilton, who teaches Dani, her young protégé, how to defend herself.  

We brought together Luna, Reyes and Boneta for a friendly conversation amongst friends in Los Angeles, where they shared the same easy camaraderie they had on the set of the biggest movie of their young careers. Luna and Boneta seemed very protective of Natalia though she swears she is the tough one.

But they agree on one thing: Although Arnold is not the main man in Terminator: Dark Fate, the young actors saw him as a driving force. “Of course I had to come back,” he told EW. “I’m addicted to Terminator. It was the movie that truly launched my career as an actor. My life changed after that.”

Now, change may also come to these three young stars.

NEXOS:  Arnold can be a little overpowering. Did he intimidate you?

GL Luna: No, it’s wonderful. It’s what I love about him. When Arnold enters a room, he controls and sets the tone. He’s a truth based individual, which I love. People, we're in the post-truth era. I call BS on that, especially when Arnold is around.

NR Reyes: But Arnold, like a lot of Americans, can also be very reserved. We Latins were always hugging and kissing and we touched each other a lot.

DB Boneta: At first Arnold was so American.

NR Reyes: Yeah, he was like, “How are you? Nice to see you.” but in the end, he was getting into it. We were hugging each other for six months. It was a touchable environment.

NEXOS: I have a very important question. I just watched T1 and T2 again and we saw ALL of Arnold. In fact, we saw all of Patrick. Are we going to see all of you, Gabriel?

GL: You can't arrive from the future with clothing or weapons or anything. You literally have to come naked. We shot my arrival scene the very first day which is an excellent way to introduce yourself to the crew.

NR: It helps to break the ice. 

GL: I'm not a shy person and I knew people expect whoever arrives from the future to be in their birthday suit. I just wish that we'd shot that scene a couple of months later because, by then, I had put on 14 pounds of muscle mass. I was a specimen.

NEXOS: How much teasing did you get?

GL: We were all very professional. My wife was there with me. But she’s seen it all before.

NEXOS: Did you get a look at the scene afterward?

GL: Oh yeah, I ran straight over to the monitors. That's the beauty of digital cinema. Go check on it and make sure everything is in the right place.

NEXOS: What does it take to move like a robot?

GL: You practice and practice your movements. When you’re playing a human character you go to your emotional bank. To move like a Terminator, you have to very aware of making every joint move smoothly so your focus is on your body. Arnold said to me, ‘You have to make it look effortless.’

NEXOS: Do you judge your Terminator for all the havoc he creates and the body count?

GL: It’s beyond my control. I was programmed with a very clear objective. I’m just a machine that’s been designed to function in a certain way and is being true to that design.

NEXOS: Do you get more than seventeen lines in this movie? Arnold said he originally turned down the part in Terminator because that was all the dialogue he had. He was afraid it would ruin his career.

GL: I’m a chatty Cathy in this one. And I don’t think it’s going to ruin my career.

NEXOS: There was a very special guest that followed your Terminator presentation at Comic Con.

GL: Yes. Diego's good friend, Tom Cruise.

DB: The first movie I ever did was with Tom. I was 20 years old. I was petrified. And looking back at it, I definitely wasn't ready. I was able to do it because he took me under his wing and mentored me. He was like, “This is what I wish I knew when I was 20-years-old. This is where I screwed up.”

NEXOS: Natalie, Linda Hamilton is finally back after turning down a lot of chances to reprise her role as Sarah Connor. You spent a lot of time with her both on and off the set.

NR: It was fascinating. Linda told me when she was an actress in New York trying to get ahead and not getting good roles. Then she went for what she thought was just another audition for this movie called Terminator. It was, of course, the big break when she got the starring role. Suddenly she was Sarah Connor.

NEXOS: Speaking of auditioning – they were searching for a young Latin cast. What was it like trying to get their attention?

NR: I actually didn’t know about it. I live with my husband on an island off Cartagena where we have a beach hotel. I’m kind of isolated from the world. My manager sent me an e-mail about casting for this untitled project and I sent a tape. I don’t think I was at my best but a week later they said they liked it.

My manager called and said the film was Terminator something or other. I was like, ‘What is that? Is this a serious movie? A remake?” Anyway, I auditioned with six other girls.  I walked into the studio and this beautiful woman asked if I wanted tea and showed me where makeup was. She was so nice. Then Tim Miller came out and he was like, “Did you meet Linda Hamilton, our star?” And I thought, ‘Oh my god, that lady was Sarah Connor.” I hadn’t recognized her.

As a Colombian or a Latina actress, you think that if it’s a big movie they probably want to you play the maid. When I found out Linda was auditioning with me, I thought, ‘Wow. This must be an important maid.’ I got the script and realized it was actually a big part for a woman who is powerful and strong. I read a scene with Linda – it was a really emotional scene – I was crying and Linda was crying. Finally, she said, “Tim, I don’t know if I get to say anything but she’s the one."

DB: I was in Mexico City when I was reading for the role. I was shooting a show for Netflix called “Luis Miguel” based on the famous singer. I had bigger hair, long hair and a gap in my teeth. I actually was up for GL’s role. When I met Tim Miller, he was like, “Dude there’s no way I can take you seriously with that hair those teeth.” I said, “But I have to be in this movie. This is not how I really look.” Finally, he said, “There is actually a role for a character with your name, Diego. Maybe we can make that work."

GL: I auditioned several times and it was all very secret. I remember the scene they gave me to read was from Arnold’s old movie “Collateral.” There were long waits in between so I decided to start to get in shape even though I hadn’t heard for sure. I was glad I gave myself a head start because I really had to work hard in the gym to get ready.

NEXOS: Some people were surprised that they wanted this young Latin cast for a new Terminator set in Mexico.

DB: Sarah Connor has a very strong connection to Mexico. In the first film, she goes there for sanctuary after she has this crazy battle with a robot from the future. Then in T2, she has to go down to Mexico from Los Angeles to regroup with her friends while she’s trying to take out the bad guys. Our story begins in Mexico City where the Terminator is sent back so it continues the continuity as we pick things up 27 years later.

Being from Mexico City, having been born and raised there, I think it’s fantastic to see a movie set there that has nothing to do with drugs. What’s kind of funny is that while the movie was set in Mexico City we shot in Madrid for Mexico and Budapest for Mexico.

I was the only one from Mexico City. Spanish people speak with a little lisp and different accent the same way that British people speak with different accents. Tim Miller was like, “Dude, you need to sit down with these Spanish actors and make them sound Mexican.

GL: My Spanish is OK but I grew up in Austin so Diego helped and Natalia helped me quite a bit.

NEXOS: Diego, your character spends a lot of time watching out for Dani. You know she’s in danger.

DB: Well, I think in the movie, she’s taking more care of me than I am of her even though I’m older.

NR: I’m the little one of the family but I’m in charge. I’m the boss.

GL: That was true the whole time we were filming. You were like the road manager for all of us.

NEXOS: Natalie, I like how you said, “I’m small but I’m brave.” Are you really brave?

NR: Yeah. I think I am like the character. I’m tiny but I feel like I’m brave. Dani says what she thinks and she gets what she wants and she goes and talks to whoever she needs to.

I’m also the little one in my family. I’m the smallest one. I was always independent and I was never asking for help. I was already there so it fits.

NEXOS: Natalia you’re a Latino actor starring in a blockbuster movie set in Mexico and you’re wearing a t-shirt that says -- “I Am An Immigrant.” There’s a lot of controversy around that word immigration right now. Are you hopeful for the future?

NR: Absolutely. As Latinas, we’re not used to seeing ourselves in these kinds of roles. It’s usually a stereotype. It typically has to do with drugs or sex.

GL: Sex isn’t so bad.

NR: From the moment I read the script, I knew this was an important character. I’m a Latina but I’m there in the whole movie.” That’s already a change. This movie is not a response to a political movement. I think this is just a reflection of the world right now. I think things are changing. Hollywood is changing. We’re all immigrants. Humans are all moving around the world. Just as important, this movie is driven by strong women –  different women from different countries. But you know what? We got together, we got along well, we were helping each other. I think this is just a reflection of what is coming in the world.

GL: That’s the beauty of just showing the world as it is. You have to continually pop the lid on potential. The human potential, the potential of us as a people and when you see it, hopefully, it will empower people.

NEXOS: We know there are lots of fight scenes. Did you leave the set black and blue?

NR: We had tons of stunts but it’s pretty safe. Everything on set is so controlled.

GL: Our stunt team was fantastic. But you should have seen Natalia doing her thing. She’s wearing slim jeans and a t-shirt. She’s not wearing anything where you can really hide pads. Everything she is doing like the rolling around and the fighting, she’s doing with no real protection. In terms of bruises and scrapes and bumps, she certainly got them, and Diego as well. All of us. Some of my stuff, I had a flight suit or a jumpsuit on. There’s a place I could slip a skinny pad in there but as Arnold told me in a story when he was doing Commando, they had him doing 15 takes crawling under this barbed wire and his elbows are scraped and everything else and they’re walking on eggshells to ask if they can please get that sixteenth take and he said, [Arnold's voice] “Stop it. The pain is temporary. The movie is forever.”


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