mackenzie davis terminator

Terminator: Dark Fate, the sixth movie in the sci-fi franchise, still has a lot of work to do if it’s going to win people over. Audiences have been burned by Terminator sequels so many times now that it’s going to take something special to get them to engage again. And though this will again feature the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to one of his most iconic franchises, director Tim Miller (Deadpool) thinks he’s found that X factor in the film’s female characters.

Linda Hamilton is coming back to play Sarah Connor in live-action for the first time since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (she did some voice work for Terminator Salvation), and Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire) is playing a new character who, according to Miller, will “scare the fuck out of” misogynists in the audience.

Miller is saying all the right things so far, including the fact that he totally gets why people are skeptical about yet another new Terminator movie. In an interview with Variety, Miller pointed out that the aspect that got him excited about this movie was Hamilton’s triumphant return to the franchise:

After Deadpool there were a lot of projects I could’ve chosen, but I really wanted to see Linda Hamilton come back to personally continue her story as Sarah Connor. Like James Cameron, I always find stories about women are much more interesting than men picking up guns. Jim’s movies are grounded in reality and character and just happen to have time travel and robots. I’m wired the same way. I want to give the audience a story about Sarah and these new characters and make everything else as realistic as possible. I want to sit in the audience and believe that this shit could happen to me. That’s how I’m approaching it.

As for Mackenzie Davis’s character, who’s named Grace, Miller calls her a “machine fighter” and says that the idea for that role sprouted from Joe Abercrombie, a novelist who wrote the “First Law” series and who was part of an early writers’ room of novelists that he gathered to utilize their world-building skills to help craft the story:

Joe came out with this idea that a new protector from the future is a machine fighter. It’s a painful life, and they’re scarred and take a lot of drugs to combat the pain of what’s been done to them. They don’t live a long time. It’s a very sacrificial role; they risk death to save others. And from the very first suggestion it was always a woman. We had to look for someone who has the physicality, but I’m very sensitive to actors. I didn’t just want a woman who could physically fit the role but emotionally as well. Mackenzie really wanted to do it; she came after the role. She worked harder than anybody.

Terminator: Dark Fate is getting its own Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con next week, and when Variety asked if he thought Davis will be well-received at the convention because of early hate speech that’s sprouted up online about the women in this movie, Miller didn’t hold back:

If you’re at all enlightened, she’ll play like gangbusters. If you’re a closet misogynist, she’ll scare the fuck out of you, because she’s tough and strong but very feminine. We did not trade certain gender traits for others; she’s just very strong, and that frightens some dudes. You can see online the responses to some of the early shit that’s out there, trolls on the internet. I don’t give a fuck.

The idea of not swapping some gender traits for others is encouraging, because a case could be made that even Sarah Connor herself lost a bit of her femininity in the drastic transformation between the first two films. Here’s hoping this sequel is a return to form for the franchise – and maybe even gives it a definitive ending once and for all.

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