They are two beloved characters with a legacy behind them: Audiences have seen Sarah Connor since the first Terminator film hit theaters in 1984. And thanks to HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones adaptation, A Song of Fire & Ice's Daenerys Targaryen has been brought to life in a big, dragon-riding way. British actress Emilia Clarke has been portraying the blonde Queen since 2011, and with the Terminator films' fifth iteration, she's tackling the brunette heroine in 2015's Terminator Genisys . "There are many elements of my work in Game of Thrones that were incredibly helpful to try and kind of harness the like inner badass," the actress says. "But the difference between the two is that in Game of Thrones I do a lot of delegating, and then in [Genisys] I really had to get down and dirty and do a lot of the stunts and the gun work and everything," she explains. "So yeah, it has similarities, but Sarah Connor is a whole other kind of badass."
The fifth film sets up a parallel universe of sorts, where Connor, with the help of other franchise staples John Connor and Kyle Reese, must change the course of time in order to reset the future. "I’d grown up watching the Terminator [films] and being continually inspired, especially by Linda [Hamilton]’s incredible performance. The Sarah that we see in this movie is so different. The spirit is definitely still intact... you can see the essence of what Linda Hamilton created with Sarah Connor is there, but having such a different upbringing, having such a different childhood, really, the result is a girl who is ahead of the game from when we saw Sarah Connor at this age last," the 28-year-old explains. "So I jumped at the chance to be able to take on this role. And then it was kind of after that fact, the daunting realization of the enormity of the part, kind of sunk in."
And what would a Terminator film be without the title character himself? Arnold Schwarzenegger, now 67 years old, is back for the fifth film — and so is a perfectly restored 1984 version of his character from the first film. In a scene that makes the whole film worth watching, it's Arnold vs. Arnold as the two terminators battle to the death. "He was very helpful," Clarke says of having veteran actor Schwarzenegger on set. "I definitely needed like a lot of help. I know that I spent most of my training just hoping that he would be impressed. Getting a good response from him was the most helpful thing, to give me the confidence to continue on."
Co-star Jai Courtney, who plays Kyle Reese in the summer sequel, echoed Clarke's sentiments. "He’s the only man I’ve ever come across who can fire six rounds, six shotgun shells off without blinking," he says laughing. "It’s really hard to achieve."
See Terminator Genisys in theaters July 1.
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