James Cameron Confirmed Studio Wanted to Replace Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator With O.J. Simpson: “That was rejected… Before it got any traction”

James Cameron Confirmed Studio Wanted to Replace Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator With O.J. Simpson: "That was rejected... Before it got any traction"

The role of the Terminator in the James Cameron movie is a pretty iconic one, and Arnold Schwarzenegger portraying the titular character has made it impossible for people to even imagine someone other than him portraying the role. Turns out, Schwarzenegger wasn’t the first choice for this life-changing role, but O.J. Simpson was. Although a studio executive pitched the ideas to the director, he failed to convince him.

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From the very outset, James Cameron very strongly opposed the decision and expressed his strong disapproval, resulting in the idea ultimately going nowhere. The fact was first brought to light by the actor who ultimately won the role and later confirmed by Cameron on various occasions.

James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the sets of The Terminator
James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the sets of The Terminator

Also Read: “Today everyone is afraid of it”: Arnold Schwarzenegger Claims James Cameron Predicted Future With His $2 Billion Franchise

The Studio Wanted O.J. Simpson to Be the Terminator

Way before Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast for the James Cameron brainchild, The Terminator, the studio pressed the director to give the now disgraced O.J. Simpson a shot. Initially, in 2019, the lead of the movie revealed,


“Somehow [James Cameron] felt that he was not as believable for a killing machine,–So then they hired me. That’s really what happened.” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator

This led to a wide range of speculation leading to the buzzing of the aforementioned rumor, so much so that the people were eager to find out what went on behind the scenes and the reasons Cameron thankfully thought he wouldn’t be fit for the role. The director then elaborated on the matter very recently, in the HBO Max talk show, Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, stating,

“Very early on, a highly placed person at one of the two studios that funded that film had a brilliant idea and called me up and said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ I said, ‘Well, no, I’m not.’ He said, ‘Are you sitting? O.J. Simpson for the Terminator!’”

The studios were considering O.J. Simpson in the lead role. for The Terminator
The studios were considering O.J. Simpson in the lead role for The Terminator

He also previously revealed that the executive producer that pushed the idea was, Mike Medavoy of Orion. However, much to Medavoy’s disappointment, Cameron did not share the same level of enthusiasm for the concept as he had hoped. Cameron openly expressed his lack of amusement and failed to find the idea as captivating as Medavoy had anticipated.


Also Read: James Cameron Created $5.2B Franchise as He Was “Pissed off” at Star Wars: “You’ve got to compete head on”

James Cameron Did Not Want O.J. Simpson to Be His Terminator

The director never understood the appeal or the reasoning behind the choice of the studio. Although he did not waver from his decision, the studio gave a good fight. In an interview with LA Times, the director addressed the rumor that claimed, that the initial drawing for the Terminator was made keeping Simpson in mind, and was rendered around him and his features. He quickly debunked the statement saying,


“I didn’t make the painting for him. I made the painting for us, for the production, of him as the Terminator,—There’s no O.J. under that painting–O.J. Simpson was never in the mix at all. That was rejected out of hand before it ever got any traction.” 

James Cameron
James Cameron

In addition to that, in a recent meeting with Chris Wallace, the director concluded his thought on the matter by stating,

I said, ‘I actually think that’s a bad idea.’ It didn’t go anywhere.”

Thus, despite the executive, Medavoy’s efforts to garner support and enthusiasm for the idea, Cameron’s unimpressed reaction ultimately contributed to its failure to gain traction and move forward. Fans are glad, Cameron stood his ground and refused to budge and ultimately chose Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator.


The Terminator is available for streaming on Max.

Also Read: “I can’t believe you’re making a Terminator movie without me”: James Cameron Feels He Made a Mistake With Arnold Schwarzenegger


Source: The Los Angeles Times


Written by Sampurna Banerjee

Sampurna Banerjee, an ardent enthusiast of pop culture and movies, pours her passion into her role as a writer for FandomWire. With a penchant for Marvel, DC, and sitcoms, she has contributed over 400 articles, staying up-to-date to the entertainment industry's latest buzz. Moreover, she's penned over 300 articles for Animated Times and shared her work across several Instagram pages. Currently she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Calcutta University.