Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton on joy of being reunited for Terminator: Dark Fate
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton are reunited in the highly-anticipated Terminator: Dark Fate. They tell of their joy at being back together
The role of action hero Sarah Connor may have made Linda Hamilton a household name, but she was content in putting the Terminator films behind her nearly 30 years ago.
Hamilton first kicked cyborg butt in James Cameron's 1984 blockbuster hit The Terminator as a waitress-turned-warrior who was relentlessly hunted by Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 humanoid machine in a bid to stop her from giving birth to a son.
That son would be the future leader of the resistance against a terrifying AI system that would wipe out the human race.
The novelty of having a strong, powerful female lead in the film - as well as its groundbreaking special effects - made The Terminator a critical hit and launched the careers of both Hamilton and Schwarzenegger.
Hamilton then returned as Sarah Connor alongside Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991 in a tougher, more headstrong survivor guise while being chased, once again, by another terminator, an advanced T-1000 model hell-bent on killing her son John Connor.
T2 was another blockbuster hit, equalling its predecessor in terms of critical reception and lasting legacy.
Despite calls for her to continue in more films, Hamilton instead took a couple of steps back from the limelight.
Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.
Speaking in a dimly-lit London hotel room with Schwarzenegger beside her, Hamilton admits it took "a little bit" of convincing to get her on board for Terminator: Dark Fate.
It was Cameron's involvement as a producer that partly swayed her into coming back, as well as knowing the new film would act as a direct continuation of the events of T2, bypassing follow-up films Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009) and Terminator Genisys (2015).
"I had the original invite from Jim and took a number of weeks to really figure out if I was up to it, but I always said that I had retired a champion with the first two," Hamilton explains, referring briefly to her ex-husband Cameron, to whom she was married briefly in the late 1990s and with whom she has a daughter.
"It was a great character, it was very complete within itself and that was enough for me," she adds.
"I didn't want to come back and have it be diminished returns each time, less and less of Sarah Connor."
"And then there's the trade-off," she says, noting her private, very non-Hollywood lifestyle.
"Do I really want another 15 minutes? I like my life, you know, normal," she says.
Addressing the somewhat lacklustre critical reception of the three interim Terminator films, Hamilton insists Dark Fate has the right ingredients to entice fans back to the franchise.
"In spite of the huge action - it is so far beyond anything I did my last time on Judgment Day - we have brought it back to a smaller number of characters that you really care about," she reasons.
Schwarzenegger agrees, adding: "And we have Linda back, which is really fantastic because I think Jim Cameron was absolutely right. He told me about the story and then he said, 'And we're going to bring Linda back'.
"I was very excited about that because she was really missing."
The importance of Hamilton and Schwarzenegger's first major on-screen reunion after nearly three decades was not lost on new cast members Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna.
"This was such a big part of her life," says Davis. "And I don't think she thought it was going be a break - she'd finished her work with this character and this series, but it had demarcated a lot of important events in her life.
"For her to come back, it was a big deal and we all really wanted to make her proud and for this not to be a mistake."
In Dark Fate Davis plays Grace, a human soldier-cyborg hybrid from the future who needs to protect Colombian actress Natalia Reyes' character Dani, an unsuspecting young woman living in Mexico City who becomes the target of a super-advanced terminator, a Rev-9.
This threatening new breed of android, an advanced liquid metal Terminator prototype with the ability to split into two separate units, is played by Agents Of Shield star Luna.
Directed by Deadpool's Tim Miller, the film sees Sarah Connor join forces with Grace and recruit Schwarzenegger's ageing T-800 to help protect Dani against the terrifying Rev-9 in a storyline mirroring that first Terminator release.
Miller is, as Schwarzenegger describes him, "a crazy, insane guy", adding for clarity: "He's a very physical guy and so he believes the impossible is possible."
Despite Dark Fate's stupefying stunts and mind-blowing special effects, the cast are adamant the film is more than just that. Fans, they say, will be convinced by its emotional impact and, of course, by the return of Hamilton.
Hamilton points out: "As our director says, you can blow up a thousand buildings but it doesn't matter if you don't care about who's inside the building."
With her back, audiences will at least care if she's in one of those building being blown to smithereens. And that could just be the secret to the film's success.
Terminator: Dark Fate is out now