FAN EXPO: Linda Hamilton Spotlight – Part One

LindaFriday during Fan Expo Canada, Linda Hamilton — most popular for her role as Sarah Connor in the first two TERMINATOR films — appeared in front of a packed house for a Q&A session moderated by Ajay Fry of the SPACE Channel’s INNERSPACE. Linda was one of the kindest, sweetest and most genuine celebrities that I have ever seen or heard speak. She loved the crowd and treated them as her equals throughout the duration of the panel.

On what it was like meeting television’s Sarah Connor, Lena Headey…

“Well, I loved her in 300, so I was a fan of hers before she was cast as Sarah Connor. I never saw the Sarah Connor Chronicles because I never watch television — I’m completely out of the loop — so I never had an opinion about that. I know how terribly hard it is to replace some icon — to not necessarily replicate, but to just try and do what someone else has done rather well before — so my heart went out to her the minute that I found out that she was cast just because it’s usually a massive fail when you’re trying to replace some icon. So, with all that said, I was a fan of hers, I never saw her as Sarah Connor, but I adore her as a person. She’s really cool.”

On why she thinks TERMINATOR has such a fan-following…

“Well I think it was just the actual story of someone traveling through time, lead to a great romance and it was a very original tale for its time. I’m not sure whether it’s been played out a little too much at this point and whether it’ll go on forever, but the time travel and all the conundrums that that created along with the romance and watching a character actually change — to grow from someone who is completely unprepared and watch her start to face her future and get stronger — you know, there were so many elements there. And then you have the special effects, so I think it was all just tightly done and I have to give that to Jim Cameron. It was just a really well-told type story with a lot of good elements.”

On whether she “geeks out” over anything…

“I geeked out when I had a chance to meet Bruce Springsteen and I was so in love. I was on a first-class flight with just him and me and James Cameron and I of course had to choose that day to have a nervous breakdown. Jim hurt my feelings in the car on the way over, so I cried on the plane the entire time, and every time I turned and looked at Jim, Bruce Springsteen’s right over his shoulder. I was having such a hard time and I could not pull myself together — I wasn’t hysterical, but I was having mommy burn-out — and every time I looked at Jim, I would burst into tears and there was Bruce Springsteen. Jim would keep saying, ‘Go and say hello, you love him.’ So, about ten years later, I saw him at this huge opening and there’s Bruce and Patti, his wife, and when I met him, I said, ‘You know, we almost met another time,’ and he goes, ‘Yeah, but you were having a really hard day.’ So I love that, but I truly could not bring myself to speak and that happens.”

On how difficult it was to switch from the Sarah Connor of THE TERMINATOR to the Sarah Connor of the second film…

“That is a hard thing to do when you’ve played a character and to know in your heart of hearts that there was a seven-year lapse between the two films, so you have all that time for it to sort of percolate through. So when the second one came up, I knew that there had to be a major transformation — that this woman was going to be insane just from what she knew about the future to come — so I was collaborative with Jim on that when he said we were going to do another one. I said, ‘Make her crazy because she’s got to be crazy,’ and then he wrote me the script and I was like, ‘Oh my god, she’s crazy!’ It’s kind of uncomfortable at first because you played her a certain way even though it was seven years before — sometimes when you play characters, they really live on within you — and to then sort of have to find that. Certainly I’d say that I’m strong, so if I had to choose one, I’d say that I probably connect better with the second Sarah Connor although there were terribly uncomfortable scenes in that where I was just such a bad mom. Just to get him strong enough for his future, she’s not a very good mom, and it’s hard to play someone who has those rough edges and a character that you don’t necessarily relate to in all ways and I guess that’s what makes it acting. You have to bring up all certain different parts of yourself that you don’t necessarily relate to. I think that the problem that so many actors make — and you can understand it — you want everybody to like you. That’s the name of the game when you’re a celebrity, so you want people to like you. You end up falling in love with Genghis Kahn or whoever it is that you’re playing because that’s what we have to do to kind of bring the light out of ourselves. It’s very hard to play somebody that you don’t even like and there was a lot of that in the second one.”

On whether she thinks the world is progressing in ending sexism and offering more roles of that nature for women…

“Absolutely. I think that we go through periods like this with anything. If you live long enough, you see that there are patterns. Women in the ‘40s and women in the ‘20s were kick-ass. They weren’t physical, but boy could they chew up those men and they were just men’s equals in the ‘40s, but people always want to see different things, so you can’t have this progressive growth or something just tabling off. You want your audience to always be surprised by films and if everyone made the same movie — same politically correct film with strong women matching strong men — we would lose interest. I really do think that there are wonderful periods of strength and weakness, but I have certainly seen a great resurgence of strong women in film.”

On working with Robert Patrick in T2 and whether they’d break the fourth wall and just have fun…

“There was not a lot of laughter in T2 and that probably surprises you, but he was so on his game. I am always willing to joke around — I’d rather joke around than do anything else in the world — but Robert was working on the praying mantis as his character and if you go back and see that movie, you will see a praying mantis. Just the way that he moved and the precision — this man could run fifty miles per hour and not move his head — so he had his work cut out for him like we all did and Arnold is kind of fun to work with — Arnold’s always going to have his good time — but Robert was very serious and straight and I think he needed to do that just to keep the character going and that incredible physicality that he was working with every day.”

On whether she’d like to do a cameo in TERMINATOR 5…

“I’d love to do a cameo as long as it’s meaningful on some level. I keep wondering why Beauty and the Beast never called me to do anything — I’m kind of hurt. The Beauty and the Beast show, Sarah Connor Chronicles, they never called; nobody calls. I’m sure i’ll be 80 years old when they ask me to do a cameo, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll go, ‘What? What’s Terminator?’”

On what she does to unwind after her day to relax and be herself again…

“For the years that I was raising my children, I found that it was automatic. I would go home, sit on the ground with my four-year-old child and suddenly every other part of the day was gone except for him. Children are an amazing way of plugging you into what’s real and I determined a long time ago that children should be the stars in their own lives, and not their parents, so I backed off my career a little bit because I wanted my children to be the stars in our life and not living in the service of their mother. My son was six-years old before he — some fellow was chasing us from the dry-cleaner into the car with a camera — my son didn’t know what was going on at all and we get into the car and he went, ‘Mom, are you famous?’ He had no idea and I thought that that was probably the best thing so children are an amazing way to not be famous. And I read. I don’t watch much, I’m sorry to say. I’m a compulsive reader. I will never watch television, but I will read the TV Guide from cover-to-cover if it’s out. I cannot stop myself, so my life is in books; it feeds my imagination. I used to say to my children that if you have a love for books, you will always have friends and that’s truthful for me.”

On what would be her favorite books of all time…

“One of them is Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. It is such amazing work that I read it thirty years ago and it’s the only book that I’ve ever read twice. I think that Mark Helprin is an amazing writer. Some of his recent stuff hasn’t really moved me, he’s kind of moved into satire — he’s probably way too smart for his own good — but Winter’s Tale has a sort of a magical realism in it and it’s turn of the century industrial New York and it has just got such language. I just love that book. I have just finished all five of Game of Thrones. That was really hard to finish. I truly did not know what I was going to do because I love the writing in it — it’s like 5000 pages or something that you’re reading — and I would actually wake up sort of in a dream-state like I was in the books — which had never happened to me before — because the language was so great and the characters. I just read a lovely book called the Golem and the Jinni which was just released a month or so ago that is kind of a wonderfully improvable tale that’s very beautifully carried off. A simple story of a golem and a jinni. A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton… I could go on and on, but I won’t.”

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Part Two coming soon!

~K

About the author

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | Ken loves film -- whether it's collecting them or making them. He's a massive fan of creature features and giant monster flicks and hopes to create one himself one day. He also obsessively collects ThunderCats, King Kong, Pacific Rim and The Last of Us memorabilia.