“Pain is temporary. Film is forever.” This infamous quote, repeated by director John Milius to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (and the rest of the cast) on the set of 1982’s Conan the Barbarian was used to illustrate a point: Whatever painful and labororius physical obstacles the actors would have to endure in life to make a movie (and the medical toll it would take on their bodies for years to come), it was worth it, because the pain in life will not last.. but film will live on forever. But as computer technology used in film to recreate human beings has advanced rapidly throughout the years, it appears actors may now live on forever too… and the Terminator franchise will benefit from that greatly.
Decades ago, theorists predicted that one day actors will only be made of software, iconic stars that will never age, get sick or die. Their likenesses will be owned by younger generations of his or her particular family, and the actor’s likeness (long after they are dead) will be licensed for appearances in movies, series or even television commercials. These predictions fully came true when actors like Marilyn Monroe have come back from the dead to pitch product for various companies. Here is the late legendary Bruce Lee for example, recreated for a whisky commercial more than three years ago:
Just this year, *Spoiler Warning* in the latest Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (in theaters now), the filmmakers planned to surprise fans with a return appearance by the character Grand Moff Tarkin, played by actor Peter Cushing. The only problem was Peter had died in 1994. So the effects Wizards at Industrial Light & Magic brought in a similar actor and used many innovations including motion capture technology to recreate a new iconic performance by the long departed Cushing.
In 2015, Terminator fans were lavished with this technology in “Terminator Genisys” (after witnessing a small sample of it in “Terminator Salvation”) where computer effects artists painstakingly recreated a young Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the iconic cybernetic organism first seen in the beloved 1984 classic “The Terminator”!
Originally planned to digitally place a recreation of Arnold’s head on the body of actor & bodybuilder Brett Azar, special effects artists decided to ultimately recreate Arnold’s entire body from scratch almost in every scene! The results were simply stunning!
While it is an incredibly difficult task for digital effects artists to recreate any human being digitally, what makes Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator an easier task is the fact that FX artists are not recreating a human being with all their unique subtle mannerisms… but an emotionless cybernetic organism… a robot in a human’s body that speaks minimal dialogue. This simplifies the recreation process dramatically for special effects workers.
Humans inevitably die. And one day sadly, the iconic actor Arnold Schwarzenegger will no longer be with us. But with this technology continuing to get better every passing year, every passing decade, (and with the advances effects artists have achieved in digitalised speech and voice recreations), Arnold Schwarzenegger can forever be a T-800 in future Terminator films if filmmakers truly desire it. The only limit screenwriters and directors will have is their budget, and their imaginations.
We’ll be back.