Inside The Sarah Connor Chronicles with Lena Headey and James Middleton

11 years ago by Troy Rogers

It’s one of the most recognizable movie franchises in the history of cinema and now it’s coming to the small screen on Fox. On Sunday, January 13, 2008 the Terminator universe expands into television with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, starring Lena Headey, Summer Glau, and Thomas Dekker. The Deadbolt recently had the good fortune to catch up with Lean Headey and consulting producer James Middleton on a conference call to get the goods on what fans can expect from the newly revamped Terminator spin-off, the various alternate timelines, and the status of Terminator 4 and the upcoming anime project called Termination.

Lena Headey on the evolution of Sarah Connor through the first season:

“That’s a tough one. I think it’s such an ongoing evolution. I think her relationship with John is kind of reaching new depths. There’s all sorts of new elements there. She’s learning to be a mother and she’s learning what it is to live like this. I think it’s a complete realization of what’s going on.”

James Middleton on how Terminator 4 will affect the series:

“I think that they will naturally cross-promote each other, but in terms of narrative timelines, what we’ve done with the television show is create an entirely new timeline. So we will be following Sarah’s journey through a different time line, it’s a completely new expression of the franchise in that way by Josh Friedman.”

Headey on her version of Sarah Connor as compared to Linda Hamilton’s version:

“I take from the movies what is undeniable, which is strength and instinct and a sense of right and wrong that is ingrained in her. On top of that, you throw in the unusual circumstance that she’s in, so I think it’s a very potent mix of emotion and depth. Although I get to be more emotional, you see more of a relationship with John and other human beings. So it’s different in that way, we just come in a different physical wrapping.”

Middleton on whether Sarah Connor’s death in the films will factor into the series:

“I would say this about Sarah… and Sarah is always concerned about her mortality from the standpoint that she worries if she dies [and] will her work be done. So that’s always going to inform her character. But in terms of our show, the premise of the pilot establishes that we really move away from Terminator 3. We created a whole new timeline, a different future, really, a new fate for Sarah. The series is really going to be informed more by Terminator 2: Judgment Day than by Terminator 3.”

James Middleton on whether it was difficult to return and [basically] pretend that nothing in T3 happened:

“No, it wasn’t, because I was so interested in bringing Sarah Connor back. That was really the priority for me and to make her character relevant to a new audience in 2008. While I enjoyed working on Terminator 3, and it was a worldwide commercial success and it was a lot of fun, I completely embraced the idea that through something established in the mythology, time travel, we could create an entirely new storyline and timeline for Sarah Connor herself.”

Lena Headey on whether she’s tired of being compared to Linda Hamilton:

“Yes, I’m a little tired of that question. I think it’s a very simple thing. It’s a long time apart for these roles and like James said, we’re kind of bringing everyone up to speed and it’s a new generation. Linda Hamilton will always be the original Sarah Connor and it’s a very strong print that she’s left, but hopefully people will embrace what I bring to Sarah and see it with fresh eyes.”

Headey on the physical stunts involved in the show:

“I think even when it’s not physical, I feel like – Sarah has so much going on, there’s so much adrenalin in her body constantly. I love the physicality of the show and I think it only serves to feed the emotional intensity of it all. I get quite a high [laughs]. There was a lot of hand injuries, because there seems to be a curse on the show where every breakable surface never seems to break. So you’re being told by experts, ‘Just really hit it; will break on the first punch’ and actually it’s agony.”

James Middleton on eventually competing against Heroes:

“Well, we’ll see. I like Heroes and I don’t think about the prospect of competing against that show without trepidation, but I think our show is very, very strong and different from Heroes in many ways.”

Middleton on the other threats Sarah and John face aside from the Terminators:

“I can’t tell you anything in detail, because I want to leave the surprises for the actual episode. But what I will tell you is that this conspiracy to create Skynet is vast and the elements that produce it are really elements of human nature. Sarah will interact with many different characters from all sorts of different sectors, as well as fighting machines.”

Middleton on the pressure of expectation from the fanbase:

“Lena has been asked that question a lot and I’ve been asked that question a lot and my response is that, yeah, I do have reverence for the franchise and I know what the expectations are. But at the same time, it’s fun. It’s a great opportunity to work on something that has a basis of such a rich mythology and to expand on it. I look at the process as just a great time. Lena talked a little bit… about the audition process and how awful that is and I have to say that I just love seeing different people and finally finding Lena. It’s been a great ride and I think we’ve all been really energized by the process.”

The status of Terminator 4 and the Terminator themed anime project:

“Well, Terminator 4 is slated to begin production in late April. McG is directing, Christian Bale is starring, so that is going forward and will be released in the late summer of 2009. I’m also working on an animation project called Termination, which will utilize anime and animation auteurs to do individual segments inspired by the Terminator franchise. It will be like The Animatrix, except it will have a much more international flair. This idea of Judgment Day is not something that would just affect Los Angeles, it would affect the world, so we’ll have European animators as well as Japanese animators. We’re just in early development and hope to have that ready for release in 2009.”

Headey and Middleton on what they would change if they could travel back in time:

LENA HEADEY: It’s hard to answer this one, because you’re so sensitive. I don’t know. I guess mine would involve world politics.

JAMES MIDDLETON: I would go back to a certain political election in the year 2000, make some changes there, that’s all I’ll say.

What do you think?

Troy Rogers

Troy Rogers began his online career in 2002 as a news writer for the popular Screenwriter's Voice website. Since then Troy has gone on to write for such outlets as The Deadbolt and and has interviewed hundreds of celebrities and executives in a decade.