Cast & Crew Talk 'Sarah Connor'

An impressive cast of cult-favorite actors, a veteran genre director, and an experienced writer-turned-show-runner put their hearts and minds into The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
The Sarah Connor Chronicles continues the story of the Terminator films as a weekly TV series. Set after Terminator 2, John Connor (Thomas Dekker of Heroes) is in high school when the latest terminator protector comes to him in the form of a teenage girl, Cameron (Firefly's Summer Glau).

Besides Glau's protector terminator, The Chronicles introduces another new main character into the Terminator storyline--an FBI agent played by Richard T. Jones (Finding Neo), who is on the trail of John and his mother Sarah (Lena Headey of 300).

The pilot doesn't premiere until January, but The Chronicles is already in production, with writers currently hammering out 13 episodes.

The first episode promises Terminator-worthy action.

"Lena Headey would go through doors and walls and smash her hands into things," said Director David Nutter (Dark Angel). "She really went for it and kicked a lot of butt, as did of course Summer and Thomas and we're getting ready for Richard to pad him up as well."

"I want to mix it with a little action," said Jones. "It's going to be fun. I'm just excited."

Dekker thinks fans should also be satisfied with the level of action on the show.

"I've never experienced anything like this," he said. "The action scenes were insane. We don't want [the pilot] to be a watered down 'it's TV, let's bang it out.' And in the series we're going to continue that as well."

But Creator/Show-runner Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds)doesn't want parents to be afraid to let their kids watch The Chronicles.

"I think that to the degree there's violence or action or anything in it," he said, "I think not only is it going to be done responsibly, but I take it very seriously because I think that's thematically what it's about. How does Sarah raise a son to be the leader of the free world? You can't do it by just teaching him to shoot guns."

However, to get in Sarah Connor mode, Headey did learn how to fire a gun for the first time. "I did a bit of gun, whatever it's called when you go in the scary booth with everyone."

While the show will provide Headey with a stunt double, she's not about to miss out on the fun. "I'm going to be doing a lot. I'm going to beg them to let me."

For the actors playing terminators in the show, there is a lot of "action" to live up to. But Nutter tried to avoid the established movie models.

"I brought in a guy, a movement specialist, to work with the actors and learn how terminators would react and do things from a machine point of view. Because of course with a terminator, you're not emotionally driven. You're information driven and data driven from the head."

"The original [James] Cameron conception [was] that terminators were infiltrators," Friedman explained. "The original T-800 wasn't supposed to be [Arnold Schwarzenegger]. He in some ways took it away from the original conception of these characters that could blend in with humanity and destroy it from within more. So [Summer's character] comes out of that spirit."

"Cameron is supposed to be the most advanced model of terminators," Glau elaborated. "She's more human than the rest. She's so hard to detect and that's what makes her special and I think that's what makes her so much fun to play."

In the pilot episode, Glau began to establish the movements of her terminator, but nothing is set in stone. "I think it's going to grow. I think she's going to become more human as time goes on, as she learns to mimic more and more accurately the humans around her."

Since John Connor is a teenager, and his new protector is so comely, the show can hopefully have fun with his hormonal thoughts, and possibly even a romance that the films never explored.

"It's amazing," gushed Glau, "it's very complicated but she does love him in her own way and admires him and worships him. He is her reason for being and so I think it already is a romance in some way."

"I think just in terms of a coming of age story for a boy becoming a man, eventually he has to let go of his mother," said Friedman. "Usually that requires a third leverage point and for most boys, that third leverage point is another girl. You can see him growing up and those two women battling for influence over him."

But all deep issues aside, sometimes the show is just fun, as when Glau got to say the famous T-movie line, "Come with me if you want to live."

"The first time I did it, I burst out laughing," she said. "I just couldn't believe that I was getting to say that line. I'm honored."

Funnyman Jones knows all about the importance of humor to the series. "They let me put like a little comic element. It's such a hard show and heavy show, we have to lighten it up somewhere."

But many die-hards aren't laughing.

Dekker has already seen criticism from Terminator fans. "However, a lot of people who have seen it, the response has been really positive. I hope I'm doing it well. We really like the show so we hope the fans will feel the same way."

And as a fan himself, Dekker wants to reassure his peers that John Connor's legacy is in good hands.

"I grew up watching both films and really knew John very, very well," he said. "He was always kind of a hero to me, kind of an icon obviously. So I'm trying to keep the essence of John while still reinventing it at the same time."

Headey felt nothing but confidence taking on Linda Hamilton's mantle.

"She's this iconic character which is brilliant and I just think it's a challenge. Linda Hamilton was absolutely superb, but I'm coming in now and it's a different stage for The Terminator. I've seen the first movie and I just take from that what [Sarah] is fundamentally which is her great humanity. And then I think the rest is down to us. It's a TV series so we're not repeating, we're not remaking the movie."

Headey already has a devoted fan in her TV son.

"I can honestly say my entire career I have not ever really liked or bonded much with my other actors," Dekker admitted. "But for some reason, [Lena]'s my favorite person I've ever worked with. It's good, I'm very grateful."

The Sarah Connor Chronicles premieres in January on Fox.
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