Jai Courtney is Taking a New Approach to Kyle Reese in TERMINATOR: GENISYS

     March 19, 2015

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In today’s obvious news, Jai Courney‘s interpretation of Kyle Reese in the upcoming Terminator sequel Terminator: Genisys is not modeled after Michael Biehn‘s iconic incarnation of the character in James Cameron‘s original film. It has been pretty obvious since the first character portraits and plot descriptions that the character in Genisys are living in a different universe than the other films, but how different will Reese be?

In an interview with Hero Complex Courtney made it very clear that he’s not basing his work on what Biehn built in the 1984 classic.

To be honest … I don’t pay any attention, really, to how the role has been played before. I might watch [previous works] for a point of reference as far as the world or the style [and] genre of filmmaking, but I [have been] asked if I studied Michael Biehn’s performance [as Kyle Reese] in the first “Terminator” and I’d be crazy to go and do that. It’s not going to translate, and I wasn’t hired for the job to emulate someone else’s performance. It’s a standalone film and the character’s changed. The writing’s changed.

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Image via Entertainment Weekly

However, don’t expect Kyle Reese to do a complete 180. Courtney pointed out that the barebones archetype for the soldier remains the same.

It’s not to say we abandoned all the setup. He’s still a soldier in John Connor’s army fighting the resistance, and he still has the task of saving Sarah Connor, but that’s virtually all that links the two. I just can’t see it being interesting as a performer nor it being interesting for the audience if I was trying to go in there and just steal things from someone who’d played that role already. I think there’s archetypal similarities you’ll get with doing a role like that, and you can pluck influence from other actors or other performances, but it certainly wasn’t a concern of mine to try and hit specific things.

This lines up with what Courtney told Steve last October, when he described the approach filmmakers were taking to the story, and explained that you won’t have to see the originals to enjoy the new film.

“I think it’s going to be really cool what they’ve done with it.  It’s curious, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we actually frame—people want to know if it’s a sequel or a reboot.  A word that kind of came to me is that it’s more of a ‘reset.’  That’s the awesome thing about when you play with time travel.  We can kind of get away with, you know, maybe we’re introduced to a world that audiences know but circumstances can change and that shifts the course of everything.”

Again, this is all to be expected. Terminator: Genisys falls into the hard-to-wrangle category I call the prebootquel, which takes the concept and characters of the story and runs wild with it. It more or less amounts to professional fan fiction. Sometimes that can be awesome (Hannibal), and sometimes not so much (Texas Chainsaw 3D). We’ll find out where Terminator: Genisys falls when it hits theaters July 1st.

What do you think? You want to see more of the same ol’ same ol’? Are you glad they’re shaking things up? Just wish they’d leave the The Terminator alone? Sound off in the comments.

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