Date: December, 2007
By: Kathie Huddleston
"I'm afraid of spiders," says Lena Headey. But when it come to Terminators, the British actres has no fear. She can't wait to take on any Terminator that comes her way. "Now, if they were Terminator spiders, that would be different. I'd be out of here," she laughs.
The beatiful actress, who just starred as King Leonidas' herioc Spartan queen in the hit 300, is ready to do something a lot harder than terminate Terminators or even deal with spiders. She's going to take on the classic role of one of the greatest female film icons of our time, Sarah Connor.
"I love this character," says Headey with a notable English accent. But "obviously I've stepped in some very big shoes."
Based on the Terminator movies starring Arnold Schwarzegger and Linda Hamilton, Fox's new series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles picks up where Terminator 2: Judgment Day leaves off, with Sarah Connor and her teenage son, John, living in hiding with hopes they have stopped a future war between man and machine that would bring armageddon to the human race.
As the series begins, however, two Terminators show up. One tries to kill John, who will be the future leader of the human resistance. The other Terminator is a girl named Cameron, who is there to protect him. Before they know it, mother, son and good Terminator are on the run once again. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles stars Headey, Thomas Dekker as John Connor, Summer Glau as Cameron and Richard T. Jones as FBI agent James Ellison.
"I don't like to compare them," says executive producer Josh Friedman. "Linda Hamilton was great, and Lena is fantastic as well. That's part of the challenge of a series. You have to play this character in many different days and many different situations and episode to episode. I think her character naturally has to move and evolve on its own. It's nor really fair to compare them. It's like someone does Hamlet this way and someone does Hamlet that way. But they're both completely legitimate ways to do Hamlet."
While Headey has a high regard for Hamilton, she agrees she doesn't see any comparison. Especially not when it comes to the physically buff Hamilton in T2.
"I'm in training and just doing regular workouts," says Headey. "I think you have to have somewhere to go. You know what I mean? This series is going to develop, and along with that so will her physicality, because we find them at a different point." What it all comes down to is making the characters your own, she says. Being able to take Sarah Connor to the new places based on the events of the series frees her to dig deep as her character moves to new levels.
"This is a story of two people you want to find out what going to happen to," says David Nutter, who directed the pilot. "How is John Connor going to grow up? How is Sarah Connor going to take care of him? This is a mother-and-son show."
The series hopefully will work on multiple levels," says Friedman. "At the core it's a show about this family, and they have the weight of the world on them. I consider Summer's character to be part of the family."
However, they are not remaking the movies, says Headey. The two movies the series is based on add up to four hours. In the series, Sarah Connor will have time to explore what sets Sarah and John apart from the Terminators who hunt them. But Terminator fans expecting the trademark action of the movie series won't be disappointed, promises Nutter. "When this gets on the air, there will be adjustments made" to accomodate television. But it won't be a watered-down version.
Nutter attributes what he feels is a successful mix of action and character to the actors at the series' core. "Four better, stronger and more ready actors than these four, they're not out there. Lena Headey... she went through doors and walls and smashed her hands into things. She really went for it and kicked a lot of butt and had a lot of scrapes, as did, of course, Summer and Thomas. And we're getting ready for Richard, to pad him as well. It's all about telling the truth and trying to do something honestly and do it the right way."
For the cast and crew of this new Temrinator, this new series is T3, Friedman says. For them it's the Sarah Connor trilogy, and anything that happens after T2 is fair game. And according to Friedman, he doesn't need Linda Hamilton because he has his own "mother of the future" in Lena Headey.
"I think that she has an internal kind of strength that I think is extremely important for the character ... that's Lena. She's a very, very strong, intelligent woman, and that comes across. In the movies, Sarah Connor, certainly in the second movie, is know for her physicality. But I think there's an intelligence and emotional component to that character that can't be overlooked, and I think Lena really has tapped into those things. It's a very physically demanding role for her, and she does almost all of her own stunts - and she can be scary," Friedman laughs.
As for Headey, she has not fear she'll be typecast as the mother of the future, any more than she worried about taking roles in the period pieces Remains of the Day, The Brothers Grimm and 300. Come what may, she's ready to take on one of the toughest and most challenging roles of her career.
"I see it as my job. I get a real kick out of doing it, and it's an instinctive thing for me," says Headey. "So going from one genre to the other is just, it's just opening another door. And in terms of the onslaught - bring it on!"