Terminator Salvation wasn’t bad enough that it killed the franchise. But it never got a sequel, with the series instead rebooted to include more Arnold Schwarzenegger. Terminator Salvation was the fourth movie in the saga, and it picked up in the future as John Connor became the leader that was prophesied in the early movies. It was supposed to set up a trilogy that never happened. And star Christian Bale is probably grateful for that. As he looks at the movie as one of his biggest career regrets.
The actor recently admitted that he took on the role simply out of spite, and it blew up in his face. He wanted the movie to go well from the moment he stepped on set. But it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen. In a recent interview, Bale discusses what went wrong with Terminator Salvation, and why it’s considered a stain on his resume.
During this recent chat, Bale was asked why he decided to take on the role of resistance leader John Connor. His reasoning revealed some interesting new information that hasn’t really been discussed before. As Bale tells it, he turned down the movie no less than three different times. He ultimately took on the job because he wanted to silence a few haters that were eating away at him.
“I said ‘no’ three times. I thought that the franchise…I went, ‘Nah, there’s no story there.’ I’d seen the first one and enjoyed that back in England, I’d been to the movies and seen the second one. It was an unfortunate series of events involving the Writers Strike, involving Jonah Nolan, who was able to come on and really start to write a wonderful script and then got called away for a prior commitment that he had. It’s a great thorn in my side, because I wish we could have reinvigorated that, and unfortunately during production you could tell that wasn’t happening. It’s a great shame. There’s also a perverse side to me where, people were telling me there’s no way on God’s Earth that I should take that role, and I was thinking the same thing. But when people started verbalizing that to me, I started to go, ‘Oh, really? All right. Well, watch this then.’ So there was a little bit of that involved in the choice, too.”
Some may have forgotten that Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan Nolan was involved with figuring out the story for Terminator Salvation, the lore of which was explained in James Cameron’s 1984 original, and further pushed along in two more sequels and a TV show. At the time of signing onto the project, Christian Bale had already worked with Nolan on The Prestige and The Dark Knight, both successful movies. So it’s understandable why the actor thought the writer might be able to bring a fresh take to the franchise.
If there is anything to be learned here, it’s that an actor should never just take on a role for spite. During production, someone recorded an epic melt down Christian Bale had on set. And that has lived on infamy. Obviously at the point the recording was made, Bale was quite frustrated with how the movie was going.
During the Happy Sad Confused Podcast, Bale touches on that viral moment, calling it a ‘very unusual occasion’. he also said it was a ‘great learning lesson’. And that ‘no matter how much you lose yourself in a scene, you do not allow yourself to behave that way’.
Christian Bale can look back on the whole thing with a touch of humor. He says people still bring it up, and he finds it funny, especially when he gets made fun of. While Terminator: Salvation never got a sequel, neither did the quasi-reboot/sequel Terminator: Genisys, which was also part of proposed trilogy. Now, James Cameron has the rights back and is producing another sequel, with original Sarah Connor actress Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger both set to return. Perhaps they can find a way to squeeze in a Christian Bale cameo so all is not so lost.