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Christian Bale turned down Terminator Salvation three times

01.10.2018

Christian Bale Terminator Salvation

There was a time, believe or not, when TERMINATOR SALVATION was set to be the first of a new trilogy which would revitalize the franchise. Christian Bale starred as John Connor, and in a departure from the previous films, TERMINATOR SALVATION took place after Judgment Day during humanity's war against Skynet. Following his roles in BATMAN BEGINS, THE NEW WORLD, 3:10 TO YUMA, and THE DARK KNIGHT, signing on to star in the fourth TERMINATOR film seemed like an odd move, but as Bale explained while speaking on Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, he actually turned down the role three times before accepting out of spite.

I said no three times. I thought that the franchise…I went ‘Nah, there’s no story there.' I'd seen the first one and enjoyed that, back in England, I'd been to the movies and seen the second one... There’s a perverse side to me, where people were telling me that, there’s no way on God’s Earth that I should take that role, and I was thinking the same thing. But when people started verbalizing that to me, I started to go, ‘Oh really? All right, well watch this then.’ So there was a little bit of that involved in the choice.

When Christian Bale did finally sign on, he had every reason to believe that the film could be something special, especially as Jonathan Nolan had come aboard to write a "wonderful" script. But after Nolan's departure due to a prior commitment, combined with the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike, it was clear that the production was in trouble.  "It’s a great thorn in my side, because I wish we could have reinvigorated [the franchise]," Bale said. "And unfortunately, during production, you could tell that wasn’t happening. It’s a great shame." Those issues weren't the only noteworthy moment during the production of TERMINATOR SALVATION, as audio later leaked of Christian Bale screaming obscenities at director of photography Shane Hurlbut for walking onto a set during a scene. "That was a very unusual occasion. Great learning lesson for me," Bale said of the incident. "No matter how much you lose yourself in a scene, you do not allow yourself to behave that way. And yeah, of course I’ve got enormous regrets about it."

It's far from perfect, but TERMINATOR SALVATION has improved on subsequent viewings for me, and I can't help but wonder what the future of the TERMINATOR franchise would look like if Christian Bale and company had been able to complete their trilogy. As we're now on our third reboot of the franchise following the failure of both SALVATION and TERMINATOR: GENISYS, I can only shake my fists towards the heavens and hope that James Cameron and Tim Miller can finally get this franchise back on track with their upcoming reboot-quel.

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