Rage Against the Machines
Date: February, 2008
Linda Hamilton's big-screen evolution from a naïve waitress to the musclebound protector of mankind's last best hope remains one of those seminal sci-fi turns. They're big shoes to fill, but Lena Headey, star of new series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, is unfazed by the critics and fans waiting to pounce.
"I think there's a certain well-know, great history with the character," the new Ms Connor tells Red Alert. "There are some undeniable characteristics within her, so it's me playing Sarah but I definitely haven't stepped far away from the original character. Her vulnerability is in her love for her son and that is being challenged every day in, that he might be taken away from her. You're talking about an ordinairy woman put in an extraordinairy circumstance. She is a normal girl, who happens to have been in a mental institution and has found out that her son is the saviour of mankind so that puts her in an odd place."
The character may look the same on paper, but Headey admits she's not going for Hamilton's beefed-up T2 look. "I had this great idea of going to the gym every morning before work, but due to the fact that it's a 14/15-hour day (and I treasure my home life), there's no time for that so I'm just praying that I can look like I'm in shape. You know, I think there are always going to be people who do hold the franchise dear as a bible, so I'm not going to please everybody. It's well known that some people will say, 'That's not right! They wouldn't have done that!' But it's science fiction so it is what it is and we're doing something that is very good, in my humble opinion."
The series follows Sarah, her son John (Thomas Dekker) and Cameron (Summer Glau - see profile below), their less Arnoldy guardian Terminator, as they run for their lives from baddie cyborgs and the law - some people just don't get the breaks.
"I really love it!" Headey says of the series dynamic. "I signed up knowing that it was about a mother and son and their two journeys with another female. Summer is such a great actress and she covers everything. You don't get to see how brilliant she is because she's playing a Terminator. And Sarah comes to a realisation that Cameron is another way that her son is going to survive. It's an interesting dynamic for Sarah because when she has moments of meltdown, she goes to Cameron because she can't judge her. Sarah can take out her frustration on her and at the end of it Cameron just goes, 'I'm hungry.'"
SCC is the Brit's first regular gig on a TV series, and she admits being in LA isn't always easy. "My husband and I were just home and I do miss the culture of going out on Tuesday afternoon, sitting in a pub and having a few pints. It's a normal existence and I miss that." But apparantly the work is worth the sacrifice. "We are producing real quality stuff every week which is why it's so exhausting. The show looks fantastic and it's like a movie every week."
SFX Magazine Red Alert, February 2008
Summer Glau. From Serenity to T:SCC, she's the geek hottie du jour...
SFX Profile article by Tara DiLullo Bennett
Sitting next to the lithe, diminutive frame of Summer Glau and gazing into her huge doe-eyes as she softly speaks, it's obvious the first impression that this woman elicits is "unstoppable killer".
No? Well, while most people's first inclination towards Glau is to put a sweater on her tiny frame and hug her, there are other, more creative souls like showrunners Joss Whedon and Josh Friedman who see the ass-kicker within. Whedon cast her in his series Firefly as River Tam, the psychologically tortured waif that evolved into a one-woman killing machine by the end of Serenity. Glau's vulnerable performance and awe-inspiring kung fu moves as Tam easily earned her a place in the pantheon of sci-fi icons - as well as the eye of executive producer Josh Friedman, who was casting his new series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Departing from the film franchise's reliance on Arnie to protect the saviours of humanity, John and Sarah Connor, Friedman crafted the next generation Terminator in the form of Glau. Introduced in the pilot as a sweet, average student named Cameron Philips (yes, that's a nod to director James) looking to befriend a young John Connor (Thomas Dekker), she quickly reveals herself to be one badass teenage cyborg.
"I play a Terminator sent back to the past by John to protect him in high school," Glau explains. Smirking at the irony of her casting, Glau smiles. "I came to LA thinking I would do Jane Eyre!" Indeed, she says she was wooed to this project by Friedman's vision. "I was very intimidated, I have to say. I hadn't seen Terminator when I got the role. Well, I knew Terminator - everyone know Terminator; it's iconic and a really important film. I had an idea of what it was and obviously I thought, 'Why am I auditioning for it?' So I went in and I read Josh's script and that's what drew me to it. And then after I saw the films, it really sunk in and I can't believe I'm part of this."
"Also, to do action again!" she says, a gleam in her eye. "It's so much fun and I never get tired of that. We're going to keep the action high. It's amazing in the pilot and we're going to try and keep that going." Heavily involved in the stunt work in her previous projects, Glau says she's continuing that ethis on this show to help make the stunts look authentic. "But here's the thing, TV is different from film. In film, you can take days to shoot one scene. I want it to look the best it can look. I'm not going to stand there going [in a mock whiny voice], 'I want to drive the car!' If my stunt double is going to make it look great and she's going to get it done a lot faster than me, then I understand if they have to use her... sometimes," she grins.
"I'm always, always, always up for anything if they will let me do it. I have to say, I worked so hard to do Serenity. I did 95% of it myself. It nearly killed me, but I look back on it and I'm so glad I did it myself and that when you watch it, you know it's me. It's a privilege when they let you do that, so I'm really grateful to Joss for having that vision and allowing me that chance."
But all that testosterone-infused action is also tempered by Cameron's own contrasts. Almost the Data figure of the piece, she's wrestling with the issue of humanity on a deeper level than the films were able to. "What's interesting is that she's very dominant because she's a Terminator," Glau explains. "She can be the hero and fix problems, but then there is also a child-like quality to her. She's very naive and she absorbs like a sponge, so it's been a very interesting character to play. In my work so far, I have played very vulnerable, emotional characters. At first, playing Cameron, I was a little lost. But as I've seen more of the scripts, I understand she's still very vulnerable in her own way. Everything is very foreign to her, coming from the future."
Soft and hard in one, then - and Glau says that reflects who she is as well. "In life, I tend to be very dominant. I like to make the plans. I like to be the caretaker and make the menus. I tend to take a very proactive place. And it's interesting with Lena [Headey] and I that we are always joking that we go out and do the dirty work to hide John. The women are in charge in our household, which is interesting because he's the saviour of the world, but we have to make sure that comes to fruition."
And for those franchise purists still on the fence as to whether a TV Terminator can satisfy, Glau enthuses, "I think Lena and Thomas are phenomenal. I think they have qualities very reminiscent of their predecessors, but I think they also bring something fresh. We love the films - that's what our series is inspired by - but doing a TV show is very different. I want it to be everything Josh Friedman envisioned. I am always coming to him and making sure that I am staying on his track because I love the character."
SFX Magazine Profile, February 2008