It’s hard to think of James Cameron‘s THE TERMINATOR starring anyone other than Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger as the killer cyborg from the future. But what if Sting was the one traveling back to the early ’80s to prevent the machines from taking over? Or Bruce Springsteen on the run with Rosanna Arquette?
Reading through the comprehensive TERMINATOR VAULT: THE COMPLETE STORY BEHIND THE MAKING OF THE TERMINATOR AND TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY by Ian Nathan (with a forward by Ah-nuld himself), it’s fun to ponder the “what if?” casting possibilities revealed in production memos and other documents from the capricious pre-production process…
Back in January of 1983, an offer of $350,000 went out to Sting to take on the role of Kyle Reese, but the Police frontman was not able to accommodate with a world tour coming that June as well as a May 13th commitment to star in DUNE (the world would definitely not want to miss seeing him in that spiky red hair and infamous spiky Speedo, right?).
Yet to break out into major stardom with DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN opposite Madonna, Rosanna Arquette was keen to star in TERMINATOR as Sarah Connor after the idea was pitched to her in an elevator, but her agent’s $250,000 salary request was shot down and an agreement couldn’t be reached. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE star Melissa Sue Anderson was considered “young, eager” and “seems right” for the part, but that did not work out either, nor did it for Jessica Harper or Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Other stars considered for the role of Reese included Christopher Reeve (who had a $1 million price tag, but ultimately passed on the project), Mel Gibson, Matt Dillon, Kurt Russell, Treat Williams, Tommy Lee Jones, Scott Glenn, Mickey Rourke, Michael O’Keefe, and even Bruce Springsteen, in what would have been his big-screen debut. But agents thought the film’s schedule would conflict with The Boss’s tour rehearsal and thought his answer “would be negative.”
With none of the hot names in Hollywood thrown around able to be roped in for various reasons, then-unknowns Hamilton and Biehn were cast opposite Schwarzenegger, the biggest name of the cast following his box office success as CONAN THE BARBARIAN. A big “CONAN freak,” Cameron always wanted the Austrian bodybuilder to play his relentless killing machine character.
Good thing another, bigger name at the time bandied about by agents to play the relentless T-800 was ultimately passed over for the action project: O.J. Simpson.
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