Christian Bale on how Terminator Salvation guards the legacy

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Jul 4, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

Christian Bale, who plays John Connor in Terminator Salvation, told reporters that he felt the fourth film needed to be a reinvention of the franchise. Director McG ultimately convinced him that it would cover new territory by telling a story of the future war between man and machine.

"The idea of doing another one didn't seem to be smart to me, but in the same way, it seemed that way with the initial idea of reviving the Batman movies," Bale said in a group interview last Friday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "There's no other similarity between the [Terminator and Batman] movies, because I really don't mean to compare. I don't like to compare, and even though they're very different sensibilities, I came to believe that there were some potentially good stories here and that I enjoyed it enough that I'd like to see it revived."

Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Connor's wife, Kate, added that the original James Cameron films asked questions that could still be analyzed today. "For me this is a defining franchise," Howard said in a separate interview. "We're all huge fans of it. It was really unique, and I think it really captured a certain fear or question that people were going through 20 years ago with technology advancing and seeing what the potential consequences of that would be. Obviously, people hooked onto that, and this story somehow expressed it in a really articulate and compelling way, so it's continuing on. It's incredible to be a part of something that's almost cinematically historical."

Anton Yelchin, who plays Kyle Reese, said that he felt he could return to the heart of the original 1984 Terminator by reprising the character. In the first movie, Reese died protecting Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), but in this film's version of the future, Reese is still a young man who has yet to travel back in time.

"I was just always a huge fan of the first two films, definitely," Yelchin said. "They had a profound impact on me when I was younger. Arnold [Schwarzenegger] was the archetypal '90s hero. If you were growing up and you're 4 or 5 years old and you see Arnold, it just has a profound effect on you. To play Kyle Reese, who's another one of those heroes that you look up to when you're younger and have action figures of and pretend to be, was also an honor. I was also really touched. Every day on set I would be so touched by the chance to be there and to cock a shotgun one-handed and say, 'Come with me if you want to live.'"

Terminator Salvation opens May 21.

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