Linda Hamilton Reflects on '35-Year Relationship' With 'Terminator: Dark Fate' Co-Star Arnold Schwarzenegger

Zach Seemayer‍
Linda Hamilton Reflects on '35-Year Relationship' With 'Terminator: Dark Fate' Co-Star Arnold Schwarzenegger

For the latest attempt at reviving the original magic of the Terminator franchise, the series' original stars, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, reunited, and the actress says she couldn't have been happier to be back on set with her old friend.

ET's Ash Crossan spoke with the 62-year-old action heroine at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, following her appearance in the legendary Hall H for the Terminator: Dark Fate panel. Hamilton opened up about the long-awaited reunion.

"I loved working with Arnold. I actually was just pleased as punch when I saw him again," shared Hamilton. "It had been a number of years. And I just have this affection for him that is so deep and biting, that just got completely cemented on this film."

"I loved working physically with him, I loved seeing him in the trailer, I loved toying with him," she added. "You know, it's the very top of a 35-year relationship, and that really means something to me."

The pair first shared the screen in James Cameron's original 1984 sci-fi thriller The Terminator, where Hamilton originated the now-iconic role of Sarah Connor, a normal everywoman who found herself the target of an unstoppable cyborg killing machine, played brilliantly by Schwarzenegger.

They reunited in 1991 for Cameron's celebrated Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a groundbreaking special effects spectacle that saw Schwarzenegger's murderbot reprogrammed for good and paired up with Connor, who had spent the last few years preparing herself physically and mentally to be a soldier while locked in a mental institution. Together, they fought off the even more advanced, more murderous, liquid metal T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick in his breakthrough film role).

Now, with Terminator: Dark Fate, the pair are coming back together, with Hamilton reprising her role as Connor, while Schwarzenegger's role is still shrouded in mystery. The film also marks Cameron's return to the franchise -- in the role of writer-producer -- for the first time since Judgement Day, with Deadpool helmer Tim Miller directing the big budget blockbuster. 

Dark Fate actually serves as a return to the chemistry that made the first two Terminator films great, and takes place 27 years after the events of Judgement Day, while ignoring all other sequels that have been made since -- including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys. It's an exciting decision for fans and critics alike, who have mostly been consistently unimpressed with the lackluster sequels.

"It has to be a character-driven story. You can have all the action in the world, but if you don't have characters that you care about that are in jeopardy, then you don't care," Hamilton told ET, explaining why she feels the many Terminator sequels other than Judgement Day have failed to resonate with audiences.

"I mean, you can have the best visual effects in the world, but it really has to start with people and relationship," she added. "I think we really brought it down back to its basic form [in Dark Fate], with fewer characters, a cleaner story, and then all the souped up special effects."

After the film's panel presentation in Hall H, Hamilton and her Dark Fate co-stars -- Mackenzie Davis, Gabriel Luna, Natalia Reyes and Diego Boneta -- sat down with Miller and spoke with ET's Kevin Frazier about the film.

While Hamilton has long been considered one of the first real female action heroes of the modern era for her role in Terminator and Judgement Day, the actress said she hasn't really ever bought into the hype that surrounds her.

"I don't necessarily buy into everyone else's impression, or label. I'm a hard worker, and I think I'm OK in the second one," Hamilton said, much to the outspoken disbelief of her co-stars, who seemingly disagreed with her modest understatement.

"But, you know, I've never gone around since that movie and gone like, 'Yeah, I'm the badass," Hamilton explained. "I don't feel like I really earned the title, for myself, until this film. Where I woke up one day and I was like, 'I'm getting through this. We're doing this. I'm doing this 27 years later. I am a badass!"

One way in which she's embraced the status is how she reacted to seeing Tom Cruise at Comic-Con. 

The movie star took over Hall H after Dark Fate's presentation for a panel promoting his own long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick. Hamilton told ET she almost made sure he never made it there.

"I tried to trip him," Hamilton joked when asked if she'd seen Cruise during the convention. "Yeah, I tried to take him down, just because I didn't want to share the limelight with anyone."

Hamilton, Schwarzenegger and the entire cast will likely have plenty of time to bask in the limelight when the hotly anticipated Terminator: Dark Fate bursts into theaters Nov. 1. 

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