When The Terminator was released in 1984, it wasn’t exactly an instant success.
The reviews were mixed, and the box office return was solid but far from spectacular.
It ended the year in 21st spot on the US box office earnings list, below Revenge of the Nerds and Splash, and very far below the biggest films that year – Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
But the film found new life when it was eventually released on VHS, and quickly rose to cult status, where it remains to this day.
Michael Biehn played the pivotal role of Kyle Reese, a soldier from the future, who was sent back in time to stop a Terminator (arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greatest performance) from killing Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the future baby mumma of the leader of the human resistance in the robot apocalypse.
On the eve of his appearance this weekend at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Perth, Biehn remembers looking at the Terminator script for the first time, and seeing, among other things, that the film’s vision for time travel required everyone who did it to be buck naked.
“I got sent the script, and my agent, who was a good agent – he had Mel Gibson and Richard Gere – and he said, ‘Read this and tell me what you think’,” Biehn recalls.
“And to be honest, I didn’t look at it and go, ‘Wow, isn’t this awesome?’, I thought it seemed kinda silly to me.
“So, I called my agent and I went on the audition anyway, and I met (director) James Cameron and he offered me the role, and you can’t be around Jim Cameron for very long without realising there’s something very special about him.
“Around that time I learned Arnold was going to be in it, and nobody, and I mean nobody, except maybe Arnold of course, thought that guy was going to be an actor, because of his accent.”
Even though Biehn initially thought the film’s plot was a little “ridiculous”, his faith in Cameron was well placed, and he went on to star in another iconic film for the director – Aliens.
In recent weeks, a Google engineer spoke publicly about his fears that the company’s AI had become sentient, and now Biehn doesn’t think The Terminator is so farfetched after all.
“I saw that article (about the Google engineer) … and a lot of times I joke to people that, ‘Jim and I tried to warn you back in 1984, but nobody listened to us’,” he laughs.
Catch Biehn, who has appeared recently in The Mandalorian and The Walking Dead, the Weasley twins from the Harry Potter franchise and plenty more at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo at the Perth Convention Centre, which runs on Saturday and Sunday.