Last July I got to go to the set of “Terminator Salvation”. While there, I not only got to watch Christian Bale fight a Terminator up close, I got to see director McG prove to a lot of skeptical people that he could handle the “Terminator” franchise and return it to greatness. While I haven’t seen the final product, everything I saw in New Mexico looked fantastic, and the scope of the film seemed perfect.
But rather than have me go on and on about the film and what I saw, I suggest watching me say it, as I just posted a new video blog about my adventures on the set of “Terminator Salvation”.
Now let’s get to the reason you’re here.
While on set, I was able to participate in interviews with some of the cast and the one below is with Anton Yelchin. In “Terminator Salvation”, Anton plays Kyle Reese, who most of you will remember from the first “Terminator” movie as John Conner’s father.
In the first movie, Kyle Reese was played by MichaelBiehn, and he was sent back in time to protect Sarah Conner. In doing so, he fathered John, and the rest is history. But in the new film, Kyle is much younger, and when Christian Bale’s character of John Conner runs into him….I’ll stop there.
Anyway, while the interview with Anton is kind of short, he does discuss making the film, what it’s like to be in two huge franchises this summer, doing stunts, and a lot more. Here’s Anton:
Question: So you’re a huge fan of the other Terminator movies. How are you going to capture that feel? How hard is it for you to play this character?
Anton Yelchin: Well, it’s not so much hard as a really great challenge because Kyle Reese is a wonderful character, you know, he’s really, really a complex character and I think playing him when he’s younger allows you the ability to dig into what he was in the first one and say look, I’m going to take him apart and then sort of show you how he got to that point. And so it was like I would watch the first one and just look at every scene and see what I could take from it and then bring it to this one. And if scenes need to be adjusted to that we would adjust them, It’s just really interesting to say all right well he’s so battle hardened and tough in that one and then when he has the picture he’s madly in love with her and for the first time you see him so open. So how do I show you the openness, you know, that is in the guy that has the picture? Why is he so in love with her from just a picture, you know? How can I show you that as a kid? How do I show you him becoming battle hardened and it’s just great. It’s really a challenge. It’s a wonderful challenge for an actor. It’s so much fun and there’s a wealth of material in this script. But then there’s also this whole other material to dig into and then use so, it’s been great.
Question: It’s similar challenge in Star Trek where you’re also playing a character that had been defined before. It’s kind of now that we’re in a age of remakes and sequels, it’s something that’s going to be more frequent. When you approach it, do you always have to start the character and not what’s been done before? Because you still have to bring something to it that’s yours?
Anton Yelchin: Right, of course, of course. But I think I don’t know when I started, I started watching the first movie and the same thing with Star Trek like, I looked at all the old shows and the old movies and same here. I would look at the movie, you know, and watch it and say this is who this guy is. You know what I mean? And yes I’m going to bring of my own too because I’m interpreting what I think he is and how I see how he became that. So I’m obviously interpreting it but I do look at the old movie because there is so much there. Before you even get to this script, I have to know who he is and who he was and who everyone wants to see. And then bring that to this, you know, and make sure that’s there. And make sure that people can see what I did but also see hey, yeah, that is Kyle Reese, you know, that’s not just anybody that’s Kyle Reese. And Kyle Reese is in the first one and he is defined in the first one.
Question: We saw some of the selects, McG showed us some footage. And it seems like there’s a lot of physicality with your role. Can you talk about the challenges of getting ready to play this part and what you did?
Anton Yelchin: Well truthfully it’s just like all that the action sequences and all the– it’s like a big day long workout. You know what I mean? ‘Cause, you know, like jumping around stuff 30, 40, 50, 60 times. Every setup we do however many takes then just go to a different thing. But you’re still doing it, it’s weird there wasn’t so much prep for that like I guess I’m relatively in shape or I don’t want to say I’m ripped, you know, but whatever I’m relatively in shape, like I can do that stuff but it’s more of just incredible fun. It’s like being a little kid. It’s like what I would do when I was three. Pretending to be Schwarzenegger in T2, you know, ‘cause that was really big when I was a little kid. ‘Cause it came out in 92’, I probably started watching it when I was about five, around 94’ or something, you know. So it’s like being a kid you run around with guns and shoot them and you pretend someone is trying to kill you, it’s great.
Question: Can you talk a little bit about the fact that you’ve done a lot of indie movies and then your last two projects have been rather large. Can you talk a little bit about how your career has shifted over the last few years?
Anton Yelchin: I don’t know. I mean I’m really lucky to be a part of these like I think it’s really– it’s got great characters first and foremost and then second of all they’re great projects. But I sort of just approach them the same way. I study every character and it doesn’t matter that it’s Chekhov or that it’s Kyle Reese, that it’s a huge blockbuster or it’s a tiny movie. You approach the character, study and everything the same way. In addition to that in a movie like this you just get to have a blast, you know.
Question: What’s the most shocking thing that we don’t know about Kyle Reese?
Anton Yelchin: What’s the most shocking thing that you don’t know about Kyle is, I don’t know. I mean, I know I mentioned this before and I don’t know if you know it but the thing that– the way I feel about the first film is, you see a lot of potential for like a really complex character. But the magic of the first film is that it’s really layered. You still are having so much fun the entire time. So for me it was like taking, like I said, that moment with the picture. Do you know where that comes from. How do you know why Kyle Reese is so sensitive about that one thing. And I think in this movie we get to explore that and that’s when people are going to say oh look, look Kyle Reese grew up to be a bad ass and grew up to be a guy that could take on, you know, Terminator. But look as a kid like he also was bad ass but then there are parts that, you know, he grew up without a family. Like all of these things, you know, that I think are really interesting to look at from just a– like I said I look at every character, it’s like a human being, it’s not Kyle Reese the really cool guy from Terminator. It’s Kyle Reese the human being that has to go through all these things.
Question: How do you deal with extra pressure of bringing a character like this to life whose been played before and everybody knows this character? So isn’t there extra pressure on you?
Anton Yelchin: Yeah, I mean I guess there is but I guess to do a good job you have to block it out. You just sort of have be like I have to do a good job regardless. I have to do a great job every time whether there’s no pressure or a lot of pressure so I treat it the same way.
Question: How old is Kyle in this movie?
Anton Yelchin: I want to say late teens. Truthfully we haven’t shot the scenes where they talk about his exact age yet so I think, unless McG says something else when you guys talk to him. I’m saying is he’s in his late teens. He’s like my age, you know, whether it’s time wise– there’s a whole complex timeline that’s like insane and we, like I said, we haven’t shot the scene where they actually mention his age ‘cause I’m never like, “Hey I’m Kyle Reese I’m this,” you know– but so late teens.
Question: What’s the most challenging scene or action set piece you’ve done so far and what is the most challenging thing you think is on the horizon?
Anton Yelchin: I know you guys saw the reel right and there’s that truck, in the truck we shot for like five days I think. At one point I fell off of it. I was like hanging– like it was moving and I fell off it. I had a harness and I was just like hanging upside down and like the road– my hands hitting the pavement and that wasn’t challenging so much as it scared the shit out of me. You know I got off and I was like, “I’m okay, you know, I’m all right. I’m Kyle Reese, I can handle that,” but it was…
Question: Did everyone freak out around you?
Anton Yelchin: Yeah, I mean people freaked out until they saw that I was okay, ‘cause I wasn’t like, “Oh my God I’m dying,” you know, I just fell, got back up and it hurt like a bitch and then I was fine.
Question: I wanted to know more about what might be the most challenging thing in the future?
Anton Yelchin: You know a lot of the scenes that we have left to shoot are actually, we’ve done most of the epic sort of action sequences because I think we’re moving into the studio to shoot interiors or whatever. So like I said the truck was all– it was real. There’s I mean very, very, very, very little like maybe one shot of green screen or blue screen or whatever. So, that was probably the most challenging thing ‘cause I was like literally climbing around in this truck, and the truck’s moving. You go from here to the back, you fall, you slip whatever, so that’s probably the most challenging thing that has happened and if you had asked me that question before we shot it I would say, that’s what was coming up. But at this point we’re pretty much done with that.
Question: Have you done most of your own stunts?
Anton Yelchin: Yeah, there’s some stuff that like– the stunt guy’s are like incredible. Really, really incredible what they do and like I’ve done some of them. I was on a truck and it was moving, you know, but I don’t want to take credit for what I didn’t do because I really have so much respect for those guys. I think they’re incredible, incredible at what they do. And Logan Holladay was my stunt guy. He’s my age, he’s 19 and he’s like this fuckin’ incredible dude that just does all this stuff. It’s really amazing. So I don’t want to take any credit away from them that they justly deserve because they are incredible at what they do.
Question: Obviously Star Trek and Terminator are both giant iconic science fiction franchises. Are you a science fiction fan in general or genera is it more you’re drawn to the role?
Anton Yelchin: It’s more the characters. With Terminator though, I was a huge fan of it. Like I said it came out sort of the perfect time for me to be obsessed with it. I was a little kid and T1 came out before I was born but then I watched T1 after T2, you know. And so Terminator I love. Like, I have all the Terminator’s you see around you, I had action figures. So I was a huge fan of Terminator. So for me it was like, “Holy shit,” you know, I’m on the set with the, you know and I…
Question: Is it in your contract to take any of these home?
Anton Yelchin: I don’t know, God I hope so.
Question: Is it in your contract to do the other two films after this?
Anton Yelchin: I don’t know. I don’t know how many films they’re going to do. I’m not sure.
Question: We’ll worry about this one.
Anton Yelchin: Exactly we’ll worry about making this one great and then when this one’s great we can start the next ones.
Question: I wanted to know, next May with the Star Trek release date getting shifted to May, you have this and Star Trek in the same month. Are you prepared for being in two of the arguably biggest films of next summer?
Anton Yelchin: I don’t know. I don’t know what preparation I’d have to do. Like I think my prep is here, you know. This is what I do and then the rest is like it comes out, it does, hopefully, you know, knock on wood it does well and it’s a great movie and that’s all I care about. I don’t want to spend time prepping for that, I should prep for this.
Question: Were you shooting anything before this? In between Trek and what have you been doing?
Anton Yelchin: Well actually I only finished Trek in… like my last shot in Star Trek was in March and then I came here at the end of April. So…
Question: It’s been one to the other?
Anton Yelchin: Yeah pretty much. Yeah pretty much.
Question: I was going to say have you had a lot of people asking you to do a certain accent when you meet them on the street? Does everyone realize you’re in the movie, does fandom, have they already started?
Anton Yelchin: No, not really. I mean people that ask me like… I think one time I was actually when I first got to Albuquerque I went into like it was a noodle place. This guy came up to me and he was like oh man, the cashier or whatever is a huge Trekkie. She knows you were in Star Trek. Could you, you know, sign something for her and I was like sure, yeah, I mean I think that’s really cool, you know. It’s like if I were sitting somewhere or working somewhere and like I don’t know someone came in from a band or a movie and I saw them, it would make me so happy. So it’s really nice, you know, to be able to please someone like that. The only bummer about Star Trek is like when people ask me to do the accents, I can’t. Because it’s like I always have to say no you have to see the movie because it’s like very secret but it’s really fun ‘cause I get– Trekkies are really, really, you know, they’re very, I guess, possessive and they love it so much. But that’s the first time that what I just described is the first time I’ve ever had that happen as a result of Star Trek. It felt really nice. It was like damn I can make this person really happy right now, you know. So it was great.
Question: Did you take home anything from the set?
Anton Yelchin: No, like I said it’s top secret. Like, I don’t even have pictures of me from that set.
Anton Yelchin: Yeah, it’s very secret. I guess it’s all the more that people will want to see it, you know.