Skynet only knows how many times Terminator: Dark Fate director Tim Miller has sat through the ending of the final chapter in Sarah Connor’s long and winding time-bender by now. But every time he makes it to the end credits, he still has to hold back a tear or two.
Speaking to Fandango recently for a broad-ranging interview about next month’s release of Dark Fate — which returns both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton to updated versions of the roles they made famous in James Cameron’s original — Miller said the end of Sarah Connor’s saga packs an emotional punch, and fans can expect a human story that just might leave them saying, “I’m not crying... you’re crying!”
“Oh, I think it's hugely emotional, and I'm not making this up when I tell you I just watched the ending again this morning because I was showing someone, and I cried,” said Miller. “I still cry almost every time. It's really powerful at the end and I think it's a testament to the story, but also what the actors brought to it.”
Miller said luring Hamilton back to the Terminator franchise for a final go at giving Sarah Connor a chance to fix the future wouldn’t have been possible without a solid story she could sink her teeth into. “She's not a person who wants it to be an easy ride,” he explained. “She didn't want Sarah to walk an easy path. She likes it to be dark and interesting.”
While we’ll have to wait for the movie’s release next month to get the full scope of how (and whether) Sarah finds a way to redeem missed opportunities in the timeline of the original movie, as well as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Miller said the key to her story is remembering that fixing one aberration in Skynet’s dystopian future is likely to have unintended and unforeseen implications for the timeline that Sarah, John, and Ah-nold’s T-800 managed to salvage in Cameron’s 1991 sequel.
“I always looked at it as examining the consequences of the choices [Sarah] makes,” Miller said, explaining that she never could have anticipated how winning the final battle in Judgment Day might also mean earning the planet a decisive setback in a larger timeline — one that Skynet might have been prepared for all along.
“At the end of T2 Sarah thought that her actions may have averted judgment day, but it didn’t,” he said. “And what we find in our movie is that the rise of AI is inevitable and judgment day is inevitable. She just kicked the can down the road.
“…When Sarah destroyed Cyberdyne at the end of the second movie, that changed the future," Miller continued. "The change rolled forward through time and overrode what was there before and wrote a new future. It just so happens that that future is similar, and perhaps even darker than the one that had been there before she did that.”
With a fearsome new Terminator (Diego Luna) that combines the most badass qualities of Schwarzenegger’s T-800 and Robert Patrick’s T-1000 in Judgment Day; and Edward Furlong coming back to reprise his role as John Connor, Dark Fate is poised to bring the dysfunctional Terminator family back for a dystopian reunion. As a direct sequel to Judgment Day, the new movie promises to decisively finish Sarah Connor’s legacy as a piece of franchise canon for any future sequels (which Cameron already has said are definitely in the planning stages, if Dark Fate scores a big box office success).
Just be sure to bring some tissues. Terminator: Dark Fate arrives in theaters to make you cry (in the most dystopian of ways) when it debuts on Nov. 1.