Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
In July I visited the set of Terminator: Genisys, you can hear what I learned while on set here. While on set, we talked to the cast and crew of the new film. Over the next few days we’ll be running transcripts of these on set interviews. Wednesday we posted our interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger who again plays a T-800 in the new film, and this morning we published out interview with director Alan Taylor and now Jason Clarke, who plays John Connor in the newest installment of the Terminator franchise. Read the full Jason Clarke Terminator Genisys interview after the jump.
Jason Clarke Terminator Genisys Interview
Note: The following interview was conducted on the set of Terminator: Genisys on July 11th 2014 in a roundtable with other journalists. The full interview transcript follows.
Q: What’s it like stepping into this world? How do you kind of bond with the other cast?
JASON: Just work as hard as you can really. I mean, there’s a really good work ethic with everybody on this film. It was kind of there at the very beginning in the script that David and Dana, much like Apes in hiring Alan Taylor, with Matt Reeves. There seems to be a trend in hiring guys that really understand story. And the writers, Laeta and Patrick, there’s similarities in the script where they really attempted to really bring the work into getting the script right and trying to honor it, making it new, making it kind of real and visual and exciting. And then you just kind of match that level that they’ve done. I like to do research and reading. Read history, a lot of books and you just get yourself into the zone. I’ve seen all the films. I’ve watched a lot of Eddie Furlong as that young kid, he’s sort of good. Particularly in 2 and just the world of things to sort of it’s based in what’s been done, what’s real. And then, it’s there in the script. They’ve taken it to a very non generic place, you know. They just wanna make it real, you know? Could exist.
Q: It does. I mean, just as a follow-up, what was it about this one?
JASON: Well the role was believable. It wasn’t a John Connor that’s just lost in iconography or lost in type A. He’s a character I really thought I could do and have some fun with, some joy. And potentially stand for some time, spend the time and the effort to flesh out in a number of films. And it’s super fucking cool. … I’m not trying to match something and do that. But the story’s going to a place which is getting keep me hard for a number of films.
Q: How is this film different from the other films?
JASON: How it’s different? Well…
Q: Or how is it the same?
JASON: No, it’s… The property’s been taken over by people that are fans and that are smart and that it’s, I don’t think things get different, they just get deeper. And then the and the whole thing of the Cameron’s original idea that he thought of what it would be like to live through an apocalypse and live through technology which is overtaking us. You ever read the Singularity? You know, it’s such a great topic. I mean, the idea. I mean, we’re traveling with A.I.’s and it is going to be at a level and it will be smarter than us.
And so the source material can just literally go deeper into the subject, which is what in hiring the writers with the level of Laeta and Patrick that have done. And David’s and Dana hired them not just to write one film, but to write a trilogy with a theme. That’s also smart in terms of other films that have come before and done that whether it’s The Godfather, whether it’s, you know, The Matrix.
They’ve got the bones and they’re not writing one as a stand-alone that’s just gonna reach a certain point and where do we go from now? No, no, they’ve designed it the way that it’s got it makes sense from here to here. Which is a very warm blanket as an actor. When you know you’re part of something which is has got intelligence. And once again, like Apes, there’s a similarity. I read Apes, you know, when I saw the continuation of the first, the second and the quality of people involved. And whether the infrastructure was setup and I’ll say again, you know, David and Dana have really with the quality Skydance has brought to the production, it really, they’re treating this with the respect that I guess Jim treated it when he first came up with the idea.
Q: We’ve seen John Connor as the reluctant chosen one. We’ve seen him as the paranoid chosen one. We’ve only seen glimpses of him as like accepting his role and like owning it. And are we gonna get to see this from your character?
JASON: Oh yeah. But that’s even in Monty Python, isn’t it? Remember Monty Python and the Holy Grail, he’s the Messiah. No, he’s a, you know, and it’s like there’s such a and once again it goes down to James’ original, it’s such a big thing to touch on. There’s not just Arnold, the Terminator and technology. There’s all these other things that we do look for, fulfilling prophecy, fulfilling destiny or being on responsibility. And that’s why I looked at Eddie Furlong a lot. There’s a little legacy and a lot of things to grow and if you’re going to do a trilogy, you’re going to tell a complete story like Lord of the Ring or something, you got a source like Game of Thrones, you gotta have a complete world and a complete idea or a ride that’s taking somewhere. That there’s always going in a good version they’re gonna be rooting for John to grow and I said that’s one of the most exciting things I think in going in is who really is John Connor? And what is it to be that?
Q: So there’s still room for him to grow in this movie?
JASON: Oh there’s room for him to be really destroyed, knocked about. And psychologically, those questions that you’re asking are at the heart of movie.
Q: Are we gonna see that more mature John Connor, like it’s so easily portrayed as like that stoic kind of distant guy. Are we gonna get more into like his psyche?
JASON: Yes. Yeah, definitely, of course. When you have a battle against machines, which is ourself in a way because we created them. There’s always something that lies at the heart of that. And I think John’s very much at the center of that.
Q: Would you say he’s different in this version?
JASON: Well it won’t be Eddy Furlong…
Q: [Laughs] Yeah.
JASON: And along with Eddie Furlong. All I can say is you don’t wanna know too much. It’s John’s at the heart of what this conundrum is. And any time you’ve got you’ve gone beyond say the apocalypse, we know that it’s always hanging over us. But there is a battle for who’s gonna run the shop. Where do we want technology to go? Where is it gonna be? What does it mean? And what are we giving over? And I truly do say that John is psychologically at the heart of that. And it’s what makes him involved that’s what brings me out each day. It’s not just to make these things yourself, but also there’s a lot to do in the film. I’m not just standing there being stoic. And Alan’s slapping me around a lot. Yeah, there’s a lot to be, yeah….
Q: How is it working with Arnold?
JASON: Great. Yeah. Have you guys met Arnold?
Q: Not yet.
JASON: Oh, you know, you’ll see. He’s a wonderful, I mean, truly a wonderful man. There was the read-through and I was sitting next to him. You see his little name there and you just think and then you kind of go… and he came in with the boots and the ring and then when he sits down and says those lines, fuck, man, this is really weird. And it is,because it does remind you that I was what… when did the first one come out? ’84? It’s there in my understanding of film and in the second one was such a, the first one was a incredible surprise. Like Rise of, but somebody said and then the second one was just a bigger, more complete version of that with the money was wisely spent and you grow up with Arnold. And then he’s been the Governor. And then he’s just he’s a great man to have in the makeup trailer at the beginning of the day, and a real leader on set. A calm sensibility on set. A guy that delivers, that knows his part, that loves his part. And he’s a good. He’s a great chat, you can talk about anything with Arnold. Wonderful man. He’s been a great life force and spirit.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Kyle Reese in the movie?
JASON: Jai, you know, Reese is my right hand dude. And then their relationship is very complicated. And as you can imagine.
Q: So he’s self aware.
JASON: I keep forgetting yeah, but there’s a lot of that. Cameron has really created a very Biblical piece. I just watched the short for Exodus. You know, a lot of these good stories with good characters like The Iliad are just grounded in something that resonates. And so then there’s a lot of stuff for us to call on… what really happened. See? And then I have my boys, my team of soldiers with… there really are some surprises in this movie. Truly amazing surprises. In Zero Dark, the whole idea that it was a woman and it actually was a woman.. There’s some things that are surprising…Films are coming out that you can get true twists and turns out there – you know, you would assume the moviegoer moves so quickly – to allow us to kind of experience something fresh.
Q: I wonder, the first movie’s so iconic and such a breakout sort of… Do you have fears about the way the audience perceives another one? With yet another set of characters or actors?
JASON: Not really. All you can do is go I always think of scripts of films as the script. And this script is good. It’s really good. And then you want integrity, smart people to back it up. And smart, but also diligent, hard working people which what reason that guy showed up and you go through a take or two and you, he was always just crafting that stone. And in David and Alan, they’ve got it. People are invested in this. They really are. To, you come out of explosions and, you come out of a great day, it’s exciting. I’m doing things that it costs a lot of money to go and do all this. So I don’t have any fears much like Apes that there’s you guys out there. I think you’re starting to see a much smarter way of progression with these big blockbuster films. Yeah, you can have your straight up popcorn. Yeah, you can have your popcorn and depth. You know, like Star Wars, the good Star Wars, I’m your Father. You know, there’s things that drop back. And they’ve created this world now particularly with the trilogy rather than a one off, hey, let’s try and cash in. No, it’s where you can have deep drops of resonance and just go, oh my God, oh that connects from that. You know? Remember in The Sopranos, you guys seen The Sopranos? Wen Christopher has to kill his girlfriend, Adriane, you just go back through five years, you just go oh my God. So there’s a library now and the way that they’ve written this it’s just well written that will give resonance I think rather than we’ll play against all this world.
Q: Is there more to keep on sort of how technology and A.I. is changing the world?
JASON: There’s way more to go I think yeah. I think there is. I think it’s a fine line between trying to dictate or letting you show and demonstrate to the point where people can use their own imagination to go. And I think that’s one of the great things about when he first came back and it’s just like wow, what if? You know, the shark in the oceans, you know. There’s an element of if you allow people to go yeah, I think about this. I mean, we’re all, you guys are, you’re all on the edge of it each day. And it’s like the singularity. He made his stab at it. And I think there’s a line that we very truly know and that also gives us the moral questions about what we’re doing now, about what we decide to do. There is the iPhone thumbprint. What do I wanna do about that? Do I wanna do that or do I not do that? You know? I think it strikes a nice balance of where it’s not, we’re not dictating that this is how it’s gonna be. But it’s imaginative like Blade Runner to go okay, what if, oh okay, this is a representation of a complete world. And I think that’s really exciting to do in sci-fi.
Q: Bouncing off that, you know, you relate it a lot to Apes obviously in the press for it, but the reason I think Apes worked so well is because it has realistic themes about humanity and reality.
Q: So what do you think is the theme of this movie then?
JASON: Same things, any good story’s there’s a heart, there’s family, there’s extended family, there’s community. And there’s your moral questions about who you are and what we give and take from this world and what responsibility we hold. And Apes or a film like this there’s big questions. Even wait to see where they went with the Terminator. It’s really interesting. Like it really is. The other thing though why I think Apes works and why I think this works is that you stick to your rules. As an actor, you wanna get your ducks in a row. If that makes sense? This follows this, this follows this, so I’m trying to work going oh you know what, I can’t do this because that just does not make fucking sense to me. If you create your world and you order it throughout the film, you don’t always have to have some big set piece which just comes out of nowhere to solve the problem to make an exciting ending. Like at the end of the World War Z, when it went back to that small thing again, it just brings a believability and a reality to it which you then can relate to and it takes you deeper into the story. And I think there’s no point in this one going this just doesn’t make sense. This is just a scene because we need this scene, you know. Come on, seriously?
Q: That’s good.
JASON: And that’s why Apes worked. There’s apes on horses and all that but it stays true to its rules and its world and it’s well written. It’s a very good film. Reeves worked so hard on that. Yeah.
Q: Thank you so much.