In retrospect, it probably shouldn’t have worked: Terminator 2: Judgment Day was bankrolled by star-obsessed distributors, conceived in desperation with a looming deadline, produced using technology no one had yet mastered and completed just days before it was set to open.
Yet today, James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day which opened on July 3, 1991, is considered the best film of the Terminator franchise.
And judging by the Terminator films that came after, they should have stopped at T2.
According to Box Office Mojo T2 was made for a reported $102 million price tag, made $201 million in the US, and $520 million worldwide.
10 Facts About Terminator 2: Judgment Day
#1 Arnold Schwarzenegger Hated The T2 Script.
After Arnold Schwarzenegger read the script for T2 the first time—and he hated it!
Aside from sorting through arcane terminology, the action star was baffled to discover that he wasn’t killing anybody in the film.
Nevertheless, Cameron reassured him that the switch would delight audiences by catching them off-guard. And either way, he would have plenty of unforgettable moments.
“Arnold HATED it,” Cameron told The Guardian. “He even tried to talk me out of it! But I said: ‘No, this is what we’re doing, it’s really cool.’ And along the way, he saw the wisdom of it.”
#2 Linda Hamilton Would Only Do T2 Under One Condition
When James Cameron reached out to Linda Hamilton to reprise her role as Sarah Conner, he told The Ringer that she said she’d agree under one condition:
“So she said, ‘Yeah, in principle, I’m in, but I want to be crazy.’ I said, ‘Well, what do you mean, crazy? How crazy?’ She said, ‘Crazy, like I’ve been driven crazy.’ I said, ‘Like you’re in an insane asylum, like you’re institutionalized?’ She said, ‘Yeah, sure. Let me play crazy. Let me go nuts.’ I said, ‘All right. Well, you’re going to get my version of nuts,’ and she said, ‘All right. I’m down.'”
That decision ultimately deepened the complexity of the film’s family dynamics.
#3 Cameron Wanted Billy Idol To Play The T-1000.
Cameron briefly considered casting Billy Idol as the villainous android because he liked his look.
But before he or anyone else could get too far down the road with that idea, Idol got into a bad motorcycle crash.
According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter
“Unfortunately, he got into a motorcycle accident and busted up his leg, so he wasn’t able to physically do what the role demanded,”
#3 Edward Furlong Wasn’t Even An Actor
Edward Furlong had no acting ambitions until he was approached by casting agent Mali Finn, who she happened to run into while she was looking for someone to play the role of John Connor.
After searching through too many practiced young performers who Cameron said had been trained “to be perky in family settings and sell cereal.“
Casting director Mali Finn discovered Edward Furlong at the Pasadena Boys and Girls Club.
Though he held no aspirations to act, she coached him through three auditions before Cameron hired him.
#4 Cameron Wanted An Obscure Actor To Play T-1000.
After Billy Idol was no longer considered to play the T-1000, the producers did an extensive search looking for the perfect person to play the part.
Cameron wanted an obscure actor so moviegoers would have no preconceived notion of what the T-1000 character would be.
The director also wanted someone to have a completely different build than Arnold.
#5 When He Agreed To Do The Terminator Sequal, James Cameron Had No Idea What He Was Going To Do.
Even after the original, The Terminator grossed $78 million against a $7 million budget, Cameron had moved on and never developed ideas for a sequel.
So when he did sign on to make the sequel, he called up William Wisher—who had received an “additional dialogue” credit on the script for the first film—and the two of them hashed out the rough details for what would become T2.
#6 T2’s Groundbreaking Effects Were Practical.
Despite its use of groundbreaking CGI, many of the film’s sequences were accomplished practically, thanks to Stan Winston’s models, miniatures, and elaborate prosthetics.
For the “nuclear nightmare” sequence, VFX artists (and brothers) Robert and Dennis Skotak built a large-scale cityscape of Los Angeles and then used air mortars to knock over the buildings, which were just a few feet tall.
#7 T2 Special Effects Cost More Than The Original Terminator Entire Budget.
Because James Cameron storyboarded every shot in the film, production ran relatively smoothly, although he eventually (perhaps inevitably) went over budget.
The cost of the 42 computer-generated visual effects in the film exceeded the entire budget of the original Terminator.
Altogether, the budget for the sequel was about three times the original film. Muren and the team at ILM scanned Patrick’s face and body and asked him to perform some of the movements in character as the T-1000, such as rising from the floor underneath a sheet, which became a loose guide for animators to follow and embellish.
#8 T2 Was Still Being Edited Hours Before The Final Movie Prints Were Made.
After completing production, the race was on to finish the film.
Cameron said he completed the final cut, including all visual effects and microscopic polishes, about three hours from when prints were being struck to go out to theaters across the globe.
#9 Terminator 2: Judgment Day Made It’s Money Back Before It Even Premiered.
Despite its $102 Million budget-busting price tag, Terminator 2 largely recouped its costs before the film even opened.
The Worldwide rights were sold for $65 million, video rights for $10 million, and television rights for $7 million.
Still, it was at the time the most expensive film ever produced (without adjusting for inflation).
#10 Terminator 2: Judgment Day Had A Different Ending
Multiple endings were shot for the film, including a more meditative finale with Sarah (played by Hamilton in old-age makeup) visiting her son John, who is now a politician in a future that never knew the war of the machines.
Test audiences balked, but after initially resisting their feedback, Cameron eventually used some extra footage of empty blacktop from a shot at the beginning of Act Three and asked Hamilton to remotely record the voiceover that now ends the film.
Watch The Alternate Ending To Terminator 2: Judgment Day