McG is certainly an unusual person. I wrote "insane" in big letters in my notebook, and underlined it, but I think it is actually enthusiasm. Anyway, he helmed the most rip-roaring panel that I attended this weekend at Comic-Con. He was in the biggest room, with a hugely critical crowd presenting eight minutes of his take on the Terminator franchise just days after the Christian Bale rant leaked out all over the internet and basically made it look like an out of control set. But McG strutted out in front of the masses who had waited hours on line to see this panel (OK, and Watchmen too) and right out of the gate started talking about why he wanted to make this movie, and when a bit of feedback interrupted his tale and an audience member shouted, "that's fucking unprofessional," he laughed it off, and said simply, "I'm good." At least this wild and unpredictable director who riled the crowd by calling Christian Bale at home via cell phone (Bale's wife answered and told McG he was crazy... he readily agreed), plucked a member of the audience out to ask his question on stage simply because he was wearing a Cyberdyne T-shirt and him screaming to the projectionist that the trailer had "better be loud" got this girl in the mood to see how Skynet takes over the world.
When asked about Christian Bale's rant by an audience member:
"[Yelling] What don't you fucking understand? You are being unprofessional."
His actual take on the rant:
"[Christian] talked about it [last week]. The whole thing got a little bit heated, but the set is a safe place and frankly the bigger violation is that anything that ever happened on a movie set would get leaked out. It's not fair and I hope that it doesn't color filmmaking in the future. Or make actors more cautious about anything that goes into the creative process. Christian is taking responsibility for the way he acted. It is a matter of fact that he and Shane [Hurlbut] are buddies. We finished the movie together. We did some additional photography about a month ago. It was just one of those moments. I think I can speak on all of our behalves that we've all gotten a little fired up. If anybody would take that moment and take it out of context it would seem very, very strange. That's what happens in the internet universe."
What it was like the next day at work:
"That day everything was cool. That happens. Film sets are a passionate place and it happens. Shane is bigger than Christian. There was no worry that Christian was going to whip his ass. It was just sort of a blow up. I was there with our Israeli Armed Forces AD Bruce Franklin. We kept it safe, we let the steam blow out, because in my experience, trying to out huff and puff someone who is riled up is not conducive to getting to a better place. We let him run his course and you obviously only got to hear the explosive parts. That remix is pretty hot."
On trying to get James Cameron's approval:
"There is no doubt that the idea of a fourth Terminator film seemed a little ridiculous. James Cameron said, 'I finished that story after two pictures.' I agreed with him. I went down and saw him on the set of Avatar, he wanted to know why I was taking on this material. I said the reason that this is compelling is because this is a look at a future world. It is more expansive than anything you did in the early films, but those little glimpses got us all excited. The only way I could justify another story, is if there was film post Judgment Day. He nodded his head a little bit and said, 'I can't condone you making this movie, and I'm not going to shit all over you making this movie. I hope it is a good movie. It sounds very interesting.' Then he went on to tell me a story about following Ridley Scott making a second Alien picture. People thought, 'who the fuck is this guy Jim Cameron who did a piranha picture?' It honored the mythology and it moved it forward and I think we're all very happy that he made the film. I got Jim -- I wouldn't say on board -- but I'm getting ready to go down there and show him the movie. Who knows? He may kick me in the balls and tell me to fuck right off. But he was very good about it. I wanted a bit more coddling and warm fuzzies, but he didn't say 'you're an asshole. Get out of here.' He wished us well."
On the possibility of an appearance by Linda Hamilton:
"I can't answer all of the questions, it will ruin some of the fun. But perhaps in not answering the question, there is a small answer hidden in there. Who likes Sarah Connor? She's the greatest. This movie is about the triangle of Terminator. Kyle Reese must go back to impregnate Sarah Connor to give birth to The One, John Connor, who will save us from the brink. That triangle must be protected..."
On the slightly crazy idea that someone like him is directing this movie:
"I hate McG too. It is ridiculous. I started in Charlie's Angels movies and it isn't in keeping with the Terminator idea. But we all look for a break and as a filmmaker you do what you've got to do. It was a successful female action franchise, and that's why I stand behind those movies completely. Then I made a movie called We Are Marshall because I was afraid to fly and lost out on Superman. I made a movie about flying ... to overcome my fear of flying to get on with my life. I'm now here and hoping as a filmmaker I've grown and in a genre that I'm frankly most comfortable in and in a genre that I grew up wishing I could [direct]."
If the TV show plays a part in this:
In episodic television, you've got a writers room trying to come up with compelling story ideas on a week-to-week basis. For us to chase those storylines, I think would be counter productive. We leave that largely to its own universe. It felt like that was the correct choice. It is largely T1 and T2, with a healthy dose of T3 in respect to timelines, and then filling in the blanks. Hopefully there is enough in there for the hardcore fans.
On working with Michael Ironsides:
"He is the greatest. He is out of his mind. He won't look at playback because in his mind he is 6 foot 4 with ripped abs and a full head of hair."
What happens when someone tries to call him just Mc:
"McG. I hate that name. Do you know that my name is Joseph McGinty Nichol. But it's been McG since the day I was born? My father was Joe and my grandpa was Joe and I'm not like you rich spoiled brats, I came from a poor background where we lived in a small house. It was Joe #1 and Joe #2 and they called me McG. Short for McGinty, which is my mother's maiden name. It has been like the worst cruelest joke played on me. I've never recovered."
If Ah-nold will be back:
"The T-800 plays an important role ... T-800's as we know them look like [Arnold]. The T-800s play a big role in this movie, I can't tell you how we express that. I think when you make a Terminator movie, it is the responsibility of our team to push digital effects forward. Like Robert Patrick's head coming apart, you've got to do something new. What we're trying to do, is trying to come up with a digital effect that will address this very question. It is not clear if we will be successful or not. Let me just hint at this. I don't want today's Arnold Schwarzenegger. I want an idealized Griffith Park, Bill Paxton, tire track on the face archetype, and we'll see what we can do about that.
Thoughts on McG's Comic Con rant? Are you excited to see Terminator: Salvation or dreading it? Sound off below.