Terminator’s Brian Thompson on seeing Arnie naked

The Terminator’s Brian Thompson talks action heroes and working with Arnold Schwarzenegger

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It wasn’t the biggest role in the world, but it was pretty memorable, and for actor Brian Thompson it kicked off a career in which he played Luke and The Judge in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Alien Bounty Hunter in The X-Files and Admiral Valdore in Star Trek: Enterprise. None of that would have been possible, of course, if he hadn’t played one of the deadbeats who confronts Arnold Schwarzenegger’s naked T-800 way back in 1984′s sci-fi blockbuster The Terminator.

Thompson recalled the experience (along with the size of Arnie’s Austrian oak, so skip to the end if that’s what you’re here for) at a screening of the movie, followed by an Eighties style rave with over 1,000 fans at Manchester’s Victoria Film House as part of the brilliant Jameson Cult FIlm Club – check out some of the pictures here.

Terminator is 20 years on, why do you think it is the ultimate cult movie?

It’s a cult classic because it has an original plot, and so endures the test of time.

What do you remember about being cast in the movie?

‘This is very interesting!’ I’m from a very small town in Washington state, I literally grew up on the end of a dead-end road in the woods – and I had just got an agent who told me I needed to be a punk rocker… I didn’t even know what a punk rocker was. It was the first time I’d ever had hair gel put in my hair, they clipped an earring onto my ear, and ‘punked me out’! I went to the audition, which to this day was in the smallest room I’ve ever been in and sat opposite me was this guy with frizzy hair called Jim Cameron – nobody had heard of him. I did all the lines for them, and Jim said “I believe it” – and that was it, I left. A few days later… the job.

When you were filming, what was your memory of having your heart pulled out?

It was very simply done. Jim Cameron had the make-up department bring a gallon jug of blood, and they had Arnold cup his hand – they would pour the blood into his hand, cut a hold in my shirt…stuck his hand inside my shirt (I was hunched over), and they said “OK, Action” and Arnold would pull his hand out with blood all over it – and that’s all it was. No heart, no special effects; that was it. It was painless!

Arnie used the phrase “I’ll be back” for the first time in Terminator – if you had a movie catchphrase, what would it be?

If I could steal another of Arnie’s lines, and if I was single, I would say “Your clothes… give them to me now.”

What day is wash day for you?

The day after the clothes smell.

What’s it like to work with James Cameron?

Very precise, very calm… knows exactly what he wants and inspiring.

Having starred in films alongside Arnie, Stallone and Van Damme, who is the superior action hero?

Without a doubt, from that list of three stars, the superior action hero would be Bruce Willis

Could you take those three down?

Not in all competitions, but in some I’d hope I could. I’m not going to try it, though – I’m an actor and I must protect my face!

What do you remember of working with Arnie on the movie?

This is true. This is very important – he was completely naked, and Jim would yell cut… the wardrobe person would run up and offer him a robe – and he was stood there with a huge cigar, hung like a cashew. But, he’s standing there with his cigar and replies “No, I’m fine”. He remained naked for at least an hour.

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