One of the coolest new characters ever to be introduced into the Terminator cinematic franchise has to be Police Detective O’Brien from “Terminator Genisys”. Played by two actors at two different points of time, this fascinating character witnesses a deadly liquid metal machine (from an unimaginable future) kill his partner in 1984 which forces him to grapple with that unbelievable event for over 30 years. Considered a drunken lunatic by all of his peers, it’s not until two time-travelers arrive in 2017 that O’Brien’s fantastic tale of horror he witnessed that fateful day was validated. So needless to say, when we got the opportunity to speak with actor Wayne Bastrup (who played the younger version of this fantastic character in the ever expanding Terminator lore), we were thrilled! Here’s how it went:
SKYNET’S ARMY : Wayne, thanks for sitting down with us today. We first would like to say.. we’re sorry about Garber. He seemed like a good partner and it was sad to see him go out that way. Skewered by a T-1000, on your first day no less! (smile)
WAYNE : I suppose there are worse ways to go out. Or maybe not. And alas, he was just one day shy of retirement, too! Doug Griffin, who plays Garber, dies like a champ in that scene. He was worried when we were filming whether or not it looked realistic or not. I don’t think he needed to worry. I do wish we had a few more scenes together, though. If not just to hear Garber’s dry wit.
SKYNET’S ARMY : So long before you partnered with Doug as O’Brien in “Terminator Genisys”, you attended the University of Washington and earned your Masters Degree in Architecture. Was that career always equal to music and acting for you, or has architecture always been secondary to your passion for the arts?
WAYNE : For a long time architecture quenched my creative thirst. And that time frame really only lasted when I was in school. The degree demands a high level of focus and time. It doesn’t leave you with much outside of that. But I did enjoy it – the creative process, building models and presenting ideas. But that changed quickly the minute I graduated and entered the real world. The profession of architecture doesn’t much resemble what it does in academia and I found myself stifled and looking for a way out. Acting and music were my “other” creative outlets and up to that point I had never really considered them any more than hobbies (with little chance either would lead to a career). Since working full time, I had found myself steadily doing more and more acting work – short films, local commercials, student films, theatre…you name it. It was the only thing keeping me sane from the 9 to 5. But in 2009 when the Great Recession started, I soon found myself out of my architecture job and unable to find another. In less than 6 months I found myself packing up my apartment and moving to L.A. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
SKYNET’S ARMY : There seems to be a lot of actors who started in architecture. Jimmy Stewart. Anthony Quinn. Harrison Ford to name a few. You appear to be in good company!
WAYNE : Now if only I could have a fraction of their careers! They did just find their new Han Solo for the upcoming Star Wars origin film. I never got called in to audition, though. Oh well – I’m more Luke Skywalker anyway.
SKYNET’S ARMY : Speaking of roles that suit you, when you were cast as a young O’Brien in “Terminator Genisys”, was it easy to see yourself as a younger J.K. Simmons?
WAYNE : At first, not at all. After getting the audition, I remember reading the breakdown for the character and thinking “well, I won’t get this one.” The description they gave was “looking for a young J.K. Simmons.” It never had occurred to me that I might resemble him. Alan Tudyk? yes. J.K. Simmons? No.
WAYNE : (continued) I remember I asked my wife and she then reassured me that, yes, I do kind of resemble him…from some angles. I still wasn’t convinced, but I set off on my homework, nonetheless. I watched a few episodes of the “Closer” and “Oz”. Then I got worried. J.K. has such a distinct voice (I mean come on, he’s the voice of the yellow M&M). There was no way I was going to try and match that. But he does have some distinct facial expressions (like we all do). So when I went in to read for the part, I made sure to subtly throw a few of those in. It apparently worked.
SKYNET’S ARMY : It sure did! Did you get a chance to meet each other at the premiere?
WAYNE : Unfortunately, no. Apparently one of his son’s, I believe, is in the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra and was attending a concert in Prague at the time.
SKYNET’S ARMY : You got to unload a clip in to a T-1000 Terminator. How surreal was that to see it on screen?
WAYNE : Much different than when you’re there doing it. There are so many safety precautions and choreography that goes into even the smallest scene that involves firing a weapon: from the angle and direction you point the gun to how close you’re allowed to get to the other actor. You have to be aware of these things constantly, all the while giving a performance. It’s a lot to take in. Although receiving the icy glare of Byung Hun Lee as the T-1000 made giving the performance quite a bit easier.
SKYNET’S ARMY : Byung was terrific! We feel he really lived up to Robert Patrick‘s iconic performance. Did anything you film end up on the cutting room floor?
WAYNE : Byung was great. I think the T-1000 is the hardest character to do in the entire franchise and he captured it perfectly. And Garber and O’Brien have some good shop talk while on the beat prior to our altercation with forces unknown, but for the most part, everything stayed in the final cut. I always tried to imagine O’Brien writing up his report and trying to explain what happened. And the years of therapy and hard drinking he must have endured – but all of that was for J.K. to develop.
SKYNET’S ARMY : Actually that would have been great to see. Just a couple minutes of O’Brien trying to wrestle with what just happened, and the demons that rose from that very obsession. But maybe that would have spoiled the big reveal later on in the film. It’s interesting, last summer when the remaining release dates of the Genisys trilogy was still in question, J.K. was interviewed and hoped for a sequel and implied there would be more O’Brien to see. Since we’re dealing with time travel, I wonder if a young O’Brien might have returned as well.
WAYNE : You never know, I guess. I certainly would love to return as the younger version of such a great actor. And to be able to work again with such a terrific cast and crew. I sincerely hope they are able to continue the story. Genysis, I felt, set up an intriguing plot line with loose ends that need to be followed up on. A new trilogy was slated, as you mentioned, but I haven’t heard anything to date. It might be up to us to get the fan base riled up to create enough noise for them to get going on the next one.
SKYNET’S ARMY : We’re trying! So we see you’ll be in the upcoming film “Sully” this fall staring Tom Hanks and directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood. Can you tell us anything about that?
WAYNE : I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this film. I had never even entertained the thought that I would get the opportunity to meet Clint Eastwood, let alone call him boss for a few months. He’s extremely gracious and attentive – certainly an actors director (which I suppose is obvious after forging such an iconic acting career). The film is based on the life of Chesley Sullenberger who piloted his US Airways plane to a safe landing on the Hudson River in New York and the controversy that followed after. I play one of the rescuers who fish out passengers after the emergency landing, including Tom Hanks as Sully. I was able to spend some incredible days out on the Hudson in New York involved in the re-enactment of that day. Surreal is one way to describe it. Most days I’d see Clint maybe sit down once to rest – but for the most part, he was up and intimately involved with every aspect of the process. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, it’s shaping up to be a very intense film.
SKYNET’S ARMY : The trailer looks fantastic! There really seems to be an interesting untold story there beyond the headlines. And Eastwood directing at the age of 86 is such an inspiration! I’ve heard he’s such a down to earth guy. Someone you can just sit and have a beer with. (We heard the same thing about Jai Courtney as well).
WAYNE: Or stand and have a beer with! [presents us a picture]
SKYNET’S ARMY : (laughs) Wow, that is awesome Wayne!
WAYNE : But yes, he is very down to earth and willing to chat about anything of interest. At one point when I was waiting for one of the skiff’s to bring us back to shore after a scene, we talked cars for about 25 minutes. And I’m not much of a car guy, but he made it interesting.
SKYNET’S ARMY : That’s exactly what we heard about him. Very personable. What a memorable experience that must have been!
WAYNE : Absolutely. And not to ignore your point about Jai, but he, too, is a great guy. You can tell he loves what he does and brings that energy to set every day. He actually had a bit of a mishap during our scene where he got his hand injured by one of the special effects. It was serious enough to where they had to stop filming and he had to go to the hospital and get stitched up. But he was right back to filming soon after and now, with a little battle scar to remember our time together.
SKYNET’S ARMY : Wayne, before we ask our final question we would like to thank you and say we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. You’ve been terrific!
Although some critics were pretty harsh towards the film, many fans feel the same way James Cameron admitted to feeling in regards to “Terminator Genisys” that it both respected and was a worthy follow up to the first two films. Now a year removed since the film’s theatrical release, what is your own perspective towards it’s reception and place in Terminator lore?
WAYNE : Thank you for having me. Being part of a movie like Genysis brings you into a family of moviegoers and fans that you instantly share a bond with. It’s always great to speak not only as an actor, but also as a fan to help share stories about the process and to join in the enthusiasm for the film.
The first two Terminator films have become two of the greatest action movies of all time. And when movies reach that kind of status, it generates fierce loyalty to the original vision. Which is completely understandable. However, what I think is great is, because of this type of success, it leads filmmakers to want to create more. And this can lead to opening the universe back up and sharing new stories with new audiences. The amazing thing I think people so often forget is that the originals are always there. Just as they are.
And I will say this. When I first saw Genysis at the premier I loved it (and I don’t say that about every film I’ve been in). I always thought the story was great, from the moment I read the script. And the final execution was brilliantly executed by Alan Taylor and the entire crew. I hope there’s more to come.
We want to thank Wayne Bastrup again for taking the time to discuss “TERMINATOR GENISYS” with us. He is a fan of the franchise, extremely friendly and a real pleasure to talk to so we urge our Army to support all of his current and future endeavors.
And be sure to go see “SULLY”, in theaters this September 9th.
“We’re screwed aren’t we?”