BUILDING A TERMINATOR: How Legacy Effects created a 1984 Arnold for “Terminator Genisys”!

When the co-owner of Legacy Effects and a disciple of Stan Winston, John Rosengrant first broke down the story elements of “Terminator Genisys” in the aspect of pratical effect needs, there was a section that caught his eye. It was when the Guardian Terminator and Sarah Connor were lugging around a young, deactivated Arnold T-800 Terminator in a back of an armored car in 1984.  Logic dictated to Rosengrant that the creation of this Terminator corpse would best be accomplished with practical effects, so John and his team took upon the task of building a prosthetic dummy of an 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger. So how did Legacy effects accomplish such a seemingly insurmountable task?

Once the final design was approved through conceptual art, the team at Legacy began their Terminator building with a scan they took of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body back in 2002 for the production of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”.

This scan was essential in providing the team precise measurements of Arnold… like his arm, wrist, and leg lengths.

But the inherent problem with this body scan was Schwarzenegger clocked in at 55 years of age at the time of the scan, and therefore had a lot less body mass compared to his physique he had in 1984.  So the team at Legacy Effects had to bulk up the body with pounds and pounds of clay.

Once the clay sculpture of the young Arnold Schwarzenegger was completed, Legacy Effects created a mold from that life size sculpture, enabling the artists with the ability to create multiple prosthetic dummies of Arnold if necessary. 

Once the mold was completed, it was essential to give the 1984 Terminator corpse an internal bone and muscle structure. This not only assisted in making the prosthetic of Arnold more realistic, but was necessary to assure that when the filmmakers moved its arms or legs, the ligaments held their positions correctly.

As they brushed in and filled the mold with a special combination of silicone, foam and dye, the creators at Legacy Effects had to make sure the metal skeleton was cast inside the mold correctly so all the joints would bend in their proper places when finished.

Once dry, the prosthetic dummy was pulled out of it’s mold very carefully by the Legacy Effects team. While it wasn’t quite as heavy as the real Austrian bodybuilder weighed in 1984, there was a considerable weight to it.

From there they cleaned up and repaired any imperfections that occurred during the casting process (or was caused by the prosthetic dummy being removed from its mold.)  Then it was time to paint the body.

Once the paint application process was completed (and the insertion of eyes), it was time for the team at Legacy effects to tackle the battle damage that resulted from the confrontation at Griffith Park between the young Arnold 1984 Terminator and the older T-800 Guardian.  First the precise locations of the battle damage were marked with pins, per the approved conceptual art design.  Next the artists at Legacy carefully tore away the flesh designated for damage 

Once all the necessary flesh was cut away, the team inserted and locked into place a partially created endoskull into the left side of the T-800’s face. This endoskull piece was equipped with a working eye light, powered up when the T-1000 reactivated the 1984 T-800 with a drop of liquid metal later in the movie.

Once all the battle damage components were completed, the only thing left was to insert the body hair and eyelashes into the prosthetic dummy. It was a momentous task, because each hair and eyelash were individually hand-punched into the silcone flesh of the Terminator.

Finally, the deactivated Arnold T-800 Terminator prosthetic dummy was ready for film production.

While watching “Terminator Genisys”, anyone with a keen eye probably noticed that there was something glaringly off between the young Arnold Schwarzenegger prosthetic dummy and its computer generated counterpart; Specifically, the dummy was missing its nose while the CG young Arnold did not.

Originally intended to both be noseless, the film’s producers David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and director Alan Taylor all agreed in post-production that something looked off with the T-800 missing its nose.  They all felt the scenes were better served when the exceptionally believable CG recreation of a young actor Arnold Schwarzenegger maintained his nose throughout the entire battle at Griffith Park.  And they were right, but unfortunately filming was finished and it was much too late to fix the dummy.

We hope you enjoyed this inside look on how the deactivated Arnold T-800 Terminator prosthetic dummy was created. And thanks to the awesome people at Legacy Effects for sharing with the world how this was made!

We’ll be back!


2 thoughts on “BUILDING A TERMINATOR: How Legacy Effects created a 1984 Arnold for “Terminator Genisys”!”

  1. In my opinion it was a mistaken choice to remove nose because without the nose T-800 looks like Kevin Levrone the bodybuilder. Fortunately fighting scenes are with nose. About the Genisys movie I think it would been better if young Terminator hasn’t got his end so quikly. And there are lack of death fear.When T-800 walking in time machine these legs are not Arnold’s. Also the back of T-800 is not Arnie’s when he walking in Griffith Park. Kyle’s going to the past taking too long time and too much talk,lame jokes from Kyle to Terminator and again too much talk, there are too much modern comics movie kind of action fightings and these lasts too long and not impressive ones, there are war zone moments and it is too clean and correct.Terminator smile at the police office and Terminator flying in the police car windshield not good scenes.That kind of things ruin this movie and true fan notice these things. Yes, I’m huge fan of Cameron first two Terminator movies 🙂


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