How Terminator's Christian Bale helped beef up John Connor's role

Contributed by
Jul 4, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

Christian Bale, who stars as John Connor in Terminator Salvation, told a group of reporters that the role was beefed up after he signed on, and that he was happy to take a larger role in order to improve the story. An early draft featured Connor in a much smaller role in a story that revolved around Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington). Now the characters are equally protagonists in the film.

"Connor was a character who appeared very, very briefly in that original, which I was happy to do if the story could become something worthy of reviving this mythology," Bale said in a group interview on Friday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "However, we had a few writers because of the whole situation with the writers' strike and coming off of that. We were very lucky, for the short time that he was able to work on it, that my friend Jonah Nolan came in. Jonah said to me, 'Christian, do you want me to write this with the same involvement that Connor has in the original one, or do you want me to increase it?' And I said, 'I don't mind what you do. Just whatever the best story is. I don't want to work for one week, which was originally all I was meant to do, on a movie that has no chance.' And I think it was true. He couldn't find a way that made sense and that also gave a connection to the previous movies without having Connor involved more than he was in that original [draft]."

John Brancato, co-writer of the first draft with Michael Ferris, added that they conceived the Marcus-centric version before a star of Bale's clout became attached. "Frankly, this was after we were involved with the picture," Brancato said in a separate interview the same day. "We read about Christian Bale being cast back in November [2007], I think, and that was during the writers' strike. They were still working off our draft. They cast pretty much the whole picture off our draft. After the writers' strike, different writers were hired during production, and most of what they did is they added the John Connor part to scenes where he wasn't before so it becomes more of a two-hander. We always planned it as much more of Marcus' movie, with John Connor being a secondary character, that he was more the star."

The film's director, McG, ordered rewrites when Bale declared his preference for the role of John Connor. "What can you do when you go and say, 'Hey, Christian, I want you to play Marcus,' he says, 'I want to play Connor'? You say, 'Maybe we need to go back and make this a little bit more of a two-hander,'" McG said.

Bale added that there was nothing personal against the Ferris/Brancato draft. "I've read in a few places that people said that I was unhappy with the original script, and I wasn't the only one," Bale said. "Everybody was saying that there needed to be changes made to it." Nor could he recall why he gravitated toward John Connor. "I can't really remember why it was, why the difference between those two characters, and that choice."

Terminator Salvation opens May 21.

Make Your Inbox Important

Like Comic-Con. Except every week in your inbox.

Sign-up breaker