All the Stars You Completely Forgot Were in the Terminator Movies

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton have returned for Terminator: Dark Fate, but check out all the other familiar faces who contributed to the man vs. machine lore over the past 35 years

By Natalie Finn Nov 01, 2019 10:00 AMTags
Terminator, Arnold SchwarzeneggerMoviestore/Shutterstock; Snap/Shutterstock

It's been a long and winding road for the Terminator franchise, which picks up Friday where it ostensibly left off in 1991, when Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 sacrificed itself to destroy the chip in its head that, while fueling an at least temporarily successful rescue mission, could potentially be used to help annihilate humanity one day.

Similar to how 2018's Halloween asked you to forget that there had been nine sequels/reboots/updates in the interim since the original in 1978, so Terminator: Dark Fate follows the action directly from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, never mind the three movies made in the meantime, two of them featuring Ah-nuld.

Which, for devoted fans of the James Cameron-directed 1984 and 1991 movies starring Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, shouldn't be a problem. 

Epic Secrets About the Making of The Terminator

This go-round features the return of the original Terminator and Sarah Connor, never mind that T2 eliminated the former (he's a machine, no biggie) and Sarah was dead by T3 (which now doesn't count). The new unsuspecting young woman with the fate of the world in her hands who they're tasked with protecting is Dani (Natalia Reyes), and this time they're aided by Mackenzie Davis' Grace, Dani's adopted daughter from 2042, sent back to 2020 to help. 

And they're all trying to save Dani from Gabriel Luna's seemingly indomitable Rev-9, whose shape-shifting abilities make T2's ruthlessly determined T-1000 seem rather quaint.

Cameron, who sold the rights to his story for cheap in order to get his vision onscreen in the 1980s, got creative control back this year, in time to be credited as a producer, and Deadpool director Tim Miller took the reins behind the camera for Dark Fate.

But though the three Terminator movies that have come out since T2 didn't leave their cultural marks the way the first two did, a lot of familiar faces have volunteered for duty in this terrifying alternate universe over the years.

Moviestore/Shutterstock; Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures

So before you re-immerse yourself in this timeline, here are all the other actors you forgot took a turn taking on the Terminators over the years.

Bill Paxton

James Cameron hired the aspiring actor from Texas as a set builder on the night shift when he worked in the art department at New World Pictures, and Paxton scored a fleeting role as a punk rocker who sasses Arnold's villainous machine in the 1984 original The Terminator. Close friends and diving buddies, Cameron and Paxton would reunite for AliensTrue LiesTitanic and the documentary Ghosts of the Abyss.

Edward Furlong

Next, ever forget that Terminator 2: Judgment Day was Eddie Furlong's first movie, and his 10-year-old version of John Connor is the standard to which all future grown-up John Connors have been held.

Robert Patrick

The liquid-metal T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day turned the question "Have you seen this boy?" into the most chilling thing ever. And this is actually an opposite scenario—Patrick's been in dozens of movies and TV shows over the last two decades, including The X-FilesTrue Blood and Scorpion, but he'll basically always be "the guy from T2." 

Joe Morton and S. Epatha Merkerson

Kerry Washington's dad on Scandal was the brilliant Miles Bennett Dyson, director of special projects at Cyberdyne whose research unfortunately led to the creation of Skynet, the operating system that will destroy humanity.

And two years before she started playing the unflappable Lt. Van Buren on Law & Order, in T2 she was Miles Dyson's understandably terrified wife—and probably all the more terrified because she probably had no clue that the creation of the technology that would bring about the end of mankind had paid for that gorgeous glass house her family lived in.

Dean Norris

Hank on Breaking Bad has joked that he's an alphabet actor, playing FBI, CIA, DEA, LAPD, etc. And here he is on the SWAT team in T2.

Claire Danes and Nick Stahl

Stahl was a 20-year-old John Connor in 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which picked up 10 years after T2 left off, with John trying to live a normal, "stop depending on me to save the world!" life in L.A. with the help of Danes' Kate, who happens to be the daughter of the military man who helped bring Skynet to fruition after the death of Miles Dyson.

They end up together, but a man can't escape his destiny.

Chris Hardwick

Post-Singled Out but pre-Nerdist icon status, Hardwick was "2nd Engineer" in Rise of the Machines.

Christian Bale

The Oscar winner may wish that we forgot he was in 2009's Terminator Salvation, the movie more known for the viral clip of Bale yelling at the director of photography than for John Connor's efforts leading the Resistance.

Sam Worthington

After working with him on Avatar, James Cameron personally recommended the Australian actor to Terminator Salvation director McG for the role of Marcus, a man turned man-machine hybrid who, in 2018, helps Bale's John Connor battle the first killer Terminator lurking in human flesh, played by Roland Kickinger (because this is the only Terminator movie with no Arnold).

Helena Bonham Carter

A role for which Tilda Swinton was also in consideration, Dr. Serena Kogan convinces Marcus, a prisoner on death row, to donate his body to Cyberdyne in 2003. You know, for research.

Carter reportedly accepted the small role because Tim Burton, her partner at the time, was a huge Terminator fan.

Anton Yelchin

The late actor was 2018-era Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, a teenage admirer of grown-up resistance fighter John Connor—who hasn't yet gone back in time to father John in 1984.

Bryce Dallas Howard

In Terminator Salvation she's John's wife, Kate, the part originated by Claire Danes. And now she's a doctor of humans, rather than a veterinarian.


The Grammy and Oscar-winning renaissance man played John's badass wingman Barnes in Terminator Salvation.

Jason Clarke

Terminator Genisys rebooted John Connor in the form of the Australian actor and has a T-5000 turn him into a T-3000, necessitating his destruction in 2017 before Sarah could become his mother in another timeline.

Emilia Clarke

Sure, she was the star of Terminator Genisys, playing Sarah Connor, but was anyone paying attention to what Daenerys Targaryen was doing between seasons of Game of Thrones? (Coincidentally, Lena Headey went to GoT from playing the titular warrior in the Fox series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.)

Jai Courtney

For awhile, anyway, Kyle Reese gets to drive off into the sunset with Sarah Conner and Pops—Schwarzenegger's nickname in Terminator: Genisys, his return to the franchise after 12 years— after they destroy Genisys (only of course they don't destroy it completely).

J.K. Simmons

He was already in everything before he won an Oscar and continued to be in everything, and in Terminator Genisys he was a San Francisco cop circa 2017 who investigates Terminator- and time-travel-related crime. No wonder he drinks.

Courtney B. Vance

Miles Dyson lives again, in Vance form, in Terminator Genisys.

Matt Smith

Fresh from his sci-fi pantheon-qualifying run as the Doctor in beloved U.K. series Doctor Who, the future star of The Crown showed up in 2015's Terminator Genisys as T-5000 Alex—the embodiment of the nefarious global operating system known as Skynet, which sometimes presents in holograph form, and which turns the previously human John into a nanocyte infiltrator.

And yes, doing so fractures the timeline!

Terminator: Dark Fate is in theaters now.