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‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ — Take Back the Future

There is no reason you would know this, but I am a big ‘Terminator’ fan. I loved the first movie, went completely crazy over the second and, well, have mostly learned to like the third. To me, this is one of the greatest series of action movies ever made and they will always hold a special place on my DVD shelf. Like the rest of the world, when I heard that there was going to be a Terminator series I had one real question. WHY! This is a great series of movies, why ruin it with a TV show that we all know can’t be as good. You don’t have the necessary budget for TV and you don’t have time to get the action scenes just right. So why bother trying?

As details were released I found that it didn’t sound as bad as I thought it might. Then I heard the casting and started to change my mind. I only knew a few of the cast members, but the fact that they cast Summer Glau into the series helped change my opinion. I have been a HUGE fan of hers since the very first episode of ‘Firefly’ and was happy to see her have a regular guest spot on ‘The 4400.’ To me her casting said that the producers might actually be able to pull this off.

This weekend at Comic-Con International a room full of lucky people were able to see the first episode and sit in on a panel with some of the stars, writers and producers. Unfortunately for me, I had other commitments at the time so I had to miss the screening but I was able to get a few minutes with most of the stars before they went on stage. I would have loved to have more time, but with the time constraints that were on everyone we only had about 6 minutes with each set of people.

Photo of Thomas DekkerFirst up we were introduced to Lena Headey (Sarah Connor) and Thomas Dekker (John Connor). Maybe it was the lack of caffeine, but I didn’t pick up on who Thomas was. If I had I would have probably geeked out on ‘Heroes’ for a while. Since time was so short we jumped right into the questions.

WARNING: The following article may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Everyone is familiar with the ‘Terminator’ series of movies. What challenges do you face when playing previously existing characters?

Lena: These are very iconic characters so we have to be aware of everything that we do. We all know who they are, but it is our responsibility to build on the foundation that came before.

Thomas: I picked one character trait and went with that. In the past we have seen John be very “act first, think later” in almost every situation. This is one of his most important traits, so I play that up as much as I can. The characters also learn that the future is not set in stone. At the start of the series they think that their lives are basically over, but this isn’t true. There really is no future but what we make.

What has the reaction been from the fans?

Lena: We are setting out to do the best show possible, but I have learned one very important things and that is that you can’t please everyone no matter how much you try.

Thomas: We have received a lot of negative feedback on the Internet. This is from people that haven’t seen the show. Everyone that has had a chance to sit down and watch the first episode has changed their mind.

These are very physical roles. What type of training did you have before the start of filming?

Lena: I needed weapons training which focused on guns. In the end though, this is acting and like every role you have to pretend you have skills that you don’t.

Thomas: I don’t get to play with guns, so no weapons training for me. “The steroids were very helpful though” he says while flexing his arm. ;-)

I know that you are still early in the filming process, but have the actors started to bond behind the scenes?

Thomas: On other shows I have done I usually keep to myself, but I really find myself being close to Lena. She has become my favorite person on the set.

What storyline or development has you most excited for the first year?

Lena: I like the fact that Sarah is a single mother raising a son. It helps ground the show. It is all very tangible, very real world.

Thomas: John is a guy trying to avoid his destiny. I am looking forward to the episode where he finally realizes that he has no choice but to face his future.

Any last comments?

Lena: We have to start slowly. We can’t come out in the first episode all muscles and guns blazing. With that in mind we are not taking any shortcuts with the effects. We think they will hold up next to the movies.

Photo of Richard T. Jones and Summer Glau

Next to the table we had Richard T. Jones (James Ellison) and Summer Glau (Cameron). I think I missed the first question or two due to being in shock … Summer was sitting next to me.

Do you find it intimidating to play previously existing characters?

Richard: I have it easier than most. While the rest have to carry the show on their shoulders. I get to walk in with an attitude of amazement at everything. I get to have lots of fun, I can’t wait.

Summer: There are characteristics that are reminiscent of the original versions, but it is up to us to flesh the characters out. In a movie you have limited time for character development while with a series we can do so much more.

What can you tell us about your characters?

Richard: I am an FBI agent. I’ll be honest, when my agent called and said that they were doing a ‘Terminator’ series I said “Why?” I didn’t think it could be done right until I read the script. I like that my character brings a little more levity to the show. I am on the trail of Sarah Connor because I think she is a killer. But with the trail of dead bodies, destroyed cars and general destruction I start to think that she might be telling the truth.

Summer: I play a female Terminator sent back to protect John. I had an idea what a Terminator is, but I had never seen the movies. Once I read the script I was immediately drawn to it and knew this is what I wanted to do next.

How much training did you ave for the series and do you do your own stunts?

Richard: I like stunt doubles. I am more than happy to let them do all the dangerous work.

Summer: With movies you can take weeks to do one scene and make sure that it is perfect. We don’t have that luxury. If my stunt double can do something faster and better than me, then I let her. Given the option, I want to and like to do my own stunts. With ‘Serenity’ I did 95% of my own stunts and I am glad that I did.

It was at this point that the studio reps came back over and had to pull everyone away. Everyone from the show was needed across the hall for the ‘Sarah Connor Chronicles’ screening and panel. A short while later I was walking by and could hear the rumbling of explosions and the cheers of the crowd. I am happy to admit that I think I was wrong on this one. I am looking forward to the new show and will have my TiVo set for the premier. If you still aren’t convinced check out the trailer that FOX has posted on their site. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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