Back to the future for the Terminator movies
Date: October 27, 2000
By: Daniel Fierman
Schwarzenegger's interpretation of a stoic cyborg launched his -and Cameron's- careers. Jamers Cameron's science-fiction mind bender The Terminator premiered 16 years ago. It looked horrid. A time-twisting sci-fi script directed by a Roger Corman vet and starring a former Mr. Universe. Little did anyone know that the opening of The Terminator on October 26, 1984, would herald the arrival of popculture titans James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would go on to dominate multiplexes for the next 15 years.
"No one knew who (director-cowriter) Cameron was," remembers Michael Biehn who starred as Kyle Reese, the futuristic guerrilla sent back to 1984 L.A. to protect revolutionary mom Sarah Connor ( Linda Hamilton) from Schwarzenegger's nigh-invincible cyborg. "And when I would tell my friends I was doing sci-fi with Schwarzenegger, they would snicker and go, 'Hey... greeeaat.'".
But it turned out to be a masterstroke. The claustrophobic, ultraviolent movie grossed $38.4 million in theaters, won a devoted cult on video, and was enshrined as a pop classic when the 1991 sequel grossed over $200 million. (A third is currently in the works, with Schwarzenegger slated to reprise his role.)
Cameron's career exploded after the film, as he evolved into one of Hollywood's action avatars, helming Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies - before his tiny little romance called Titanic swept the Oscars. Oh, and the schlocky guy Biehn's friends snickered at? He'd be back too.
What ever happened to Michael Biehn
"I'm always a cop or a soldier, or a former soldier, or secret agent, or former soldier/secret agent," laments Michael Biehn. "Terminator did that to me."
The Alabama-born 44-year-old may have found his most famous rol as the lovestruck time-traveler in James Cameron's high-rech opus, but he's been working steadily ever since, popping up in The Rock, Tombstone, CBS's The Magnificent Seven, and Cameron's own Aliens and The Abyss.
"I play basketball, watch sports, hang out with my kids, and work as much as possible because I have to put them through college," he says. Currently wrapping up the sequel to The Omega Code, Biehn confesses Terminator did have at least one welcome effect. "I was in England doing Aliens and this woman saw me in a bar and said: 'Hey, you're that Terminator guy!'" he remembers warmly. "Thats my wife -15 years ago- and I've been with her ever since."