Biehn is back in cameo-size T2 role
By: Sheldon Teitelbaum
Michael Biehn is back in a cameo-sized role now that Schwarzenegger's the hero.
Michael Biehn did not survive the mayhem of director James Cameron's 1984 film, The Terminator. Yet the 33-year-old actor will be appearing -albeit extremely briefly- in Cameron's upcoming sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, set for release July 4 from Tri-Star. Biehn revealed he will reprise his role as a far-future freedom fighter as a cameo. How big a part is it?
"Let's put it this way," said Biehn. "It's a six-month shoot and my sequence required two days of work."
Biehn is not complaining about his limited involvement in the production but is less than pleased. With Arnold Schwarzenegger cast in the sequel as a heroic Terminator fighting to save mankind, there was no need to bring back Biehn's resourcefull commando, the hero of the original. Biehn said he learned of the reduced role he would play in the sequel while filming The Abyss with Cameron.
"Jim (Cameron) and I had talked about bringing my character back," recalled Biehn, who stars in MGM/UA's Nameless, to open in May. "People said, 'Well, it's a time travel piece, sure you can work him back in.' But we couldn't figure out a way to do it intelligently. Believe me, we tried. You'd either have to go far into the past or far into the future to work it out, and neither way made any sense."
Linda Hamilton returns in Terminator 2 in the role of Sarah Connor, raising Biehn's son John, who will ultimately defeat the machines oppressing mankind that sent Schwarzenegger back in the original to kill her. Twelve-year-old Edward Furlong plays Hamilton's son, a tough, rebellious kid with a juvenile police record, older and wiser than his years.
"One of the things I liked about The Terminator is that it was lean," said Biehn. "It had a heart -this great relationship between me and Linda (Hamilton). Of course, I've been supplanted- the movie is about Arnold (Schwarzenegger's) relationship with Hamilton's boy. This time he's a good Arnold, his role is better."
Some sources suggest Schwarzenegger's switch from villain to hero was at the actor's request. Terminator 2 unit publicist Steve Newman declined to set up interviews or provide information about the secretive production. It's interesting to note, however, that Cameron originally sought to cast Schwarzenegger in the heroic Biehn role of the original, with Jurgen Prochnow to have played a more normal appearing, less protean Terminator. That is now the basic scenario of the sequel, as scripted by Cameron with William Wisher.
Opposing Schwarzenegger is Robert Patrick as T-1000, a cyborg from the future with the stature of a David Bowie, armed with fantastic powers to seek and destroy Hamilton and her son. The film's new killer cyborg is being rendered as an eye-opening special effect by ILM using the kind of Computer Graphics Imaging technology employed on the amazing water tentacle of Cameron's The Abyss. T-1000's superior advanced nano-technology allows the cyborg to control its own morphology on a cellular, molecular or even atomic level. CGI effects by ILM will depict T-1000 melting down into a puddle to go under a door to pursue its quarry. In one scene the cyborg has a pipe slammed into its chest, which it pulls out effortlessly, closing up the hole.
But ILM's effects razzle-dazzle doesn't come cheap, nor did the sequel rights, bought from Helmdale for Cameron by Carolco. An early ILM bid to handle all the film's effects work reportedly came in at $26 million, prompted by Cameron to farm out most of the film's non-CGI work to Fantasy II and an in-house effects unit headed by Bob and Dennis Skotak. The budget for Terminator 2, according to Variety, has now escalated to $82 million. A source close to the production revealed that Cameron was already $5 million over the film's original $65 million budget after just the first five weeks of shooting, prompting executives at Carolco to hit the panic button. Variety speculated that Carolco is having difficulty covering the film's costs with foreign presales, as has been their habit with runaway productions in the past like last year's Total Recall.
But whatever the financial Sturm und Drang taking place behind the scenes, Biehn, who also worked for Cameron as the star of Aliens, predicts that Terminator 2 will be a treat for audiences. "It's going to be a brilliant movie," said Biehn. "It will play like Aliens played to Alien -it's a roller coaster ride, more and better, with some $60 or $70 million invested in it. Of course much of that went into the pockets of Arnold (Schwarzenegger) and Jim (Cameron) himself. But there's still some $40 million that will find its way onto the screen."