Let's talk about The Terminator. A simple tale of a murderous robot sent back in time to kill the mother of the man that will one day lead the humans against the machines became one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood history. It's the movie that turned James Cameron into a budding science fiction icon and Arnold Schwarzenegger into an actor on a meteoric rise.
One of the most iconic images from The Terminator comes near the end of the movie when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) are chased into a factory by the T-800, which has lost its human skin and revealed its inner workings, a skeleton-inspired frame with gleaming red eyes, now one of the most recognizable villains in cinema. Shockingly, this sequence almost didn't take place, according to the movie's co-screenwriter and producer Gale Ann Hurd.
“We got notes to end the film before the end of the film,” Hurd reportedly said at a Screamfest Q&A, prior to receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award. “Not even have The Terminator rise out as the endoskeleton, but just end with Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor hugging.”
She revealed that she had to rage against the studio, which did not want to fulfill her and Cameron's vision. This was especially difficult since it was Hurd's first major project in the entertainment industry.
“I mean, [it's] your first movie and you’re telling people, ‘No, you’re wrong.’ It’s not an easy thing to do,” she said. “We can spend all night talking about the 99 rejections, and we kept persevering until the 100th time we pitched it, somebody said yes."
If the studio had gotten its way, Kyle Reese (the father of John Connor) would not have died, the film ending after the T-800 catches fire. As /Film points out, Reese could have played a major role in the sequel, having gotten to raise his unborn child.
In the end, though, turning Sarah into a single and battle-hardened mother was the right choice, particularly when you consider the sequel. At the same time, we were introduced to one of the most terrifying sci-fi horror antagonists, the skeletonized T-800.
Hurd and Cameron stood firm and got their way with much-needed back-up from Lindsley Parsons Sr. and Roger Corman, both of whom believed in the movie.
"We could have bowed to the pressure. Or, we could have been wrong and not listened to the things that made the film better. Luckily we had each other’s backs," added Hurd.