James Cameron is once again debunking the claim that O.J. Simpson was originally cast as the Terminator in his groundbreaking 1984 action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ultimately won the role, ignited the rumor in 2019 after telling The Independent point blank that “it was actually O.J. Simpson that was the first-cast Terminator.”
“Somehow [James Cameron] felt that he was not as believable for a killing machine,” Schwarzenegger said. “So then they hired me. That’s really what happened.”
Cameron has denied Schwarzenegger’s story, and he doubled down on never wanting Simpson in “The Terminator” on a recent episode of Chris Wallace’s HBO Max talk show “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace.”
“Is it true that the studio in this case wanted somebody other than Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the Terminator?” Wallace asked Cameron.
Cameron responded, “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!’ I said, ‘I actually think that’s a bad idea.’ It didn’t go anywhere.”
According to Cameron, Simpson’s relationship to “The Terminator” started and ended with the studio executive’s pitch. The executive was Mike Medavoy of Orion, as Cameron revealed in a 2019 interview with The Los Angeles Times. Schwarzenegger claims to have a concept drawing of the Terminator sketched by Cameron that originally had Simpson’s face. Cameron told the Times that was “flat-out wrong.”
“I didn’t make the painting for him. I made the painting for us, for the production, of him as the Terminator,” Cameron said. “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.”
Watch Cameron’s full episode of “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace” on HBO Max.