The Terminator franchise became so obsessed with rebooting itself over and over again until it stumbled on a movie successful enough to launch a new trilogy that Jonathan Mostow’s Rise of the Machines has arguably become the most overlooked entry in the entire series. It obviously can’t hold a candle to James Cameron’s classic originals, but as a straightforward blockbuster action movie, it ticks all the right boxes.
It also makes some bold storytelling choices, from confirming that Sarah Connor died offscreen to a third act that pulled the rug from underneath audiences and revealed in an incredibly downbeat ending that Judgment Day was indeed inevitable. The studio had wanted to continue the series for a while, but James Cameron had absolutely no interest in doing so and Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to return unless the filmmaker was involved. In the end, though, Cameron told him to do it as long as he was fairly compensated, which saw the action icon net a $30 million paycheck for T3.
Of course, at this stage, any self-respecting Terminator fan knows that Schwarzenegger wasn’t Cameron’s first choice to play the cybernetic organism, with Lance Henriksen initially the director’s preferred candidate. The character actor was instead cast as Detective Vukovich, though, who appeared to meet his demise in the iconic scene where the T-800 storms a police station and decimates everyone inside.
However, back when Cameron was still toying with the idea of making Terminator 3 himself, he planned to have Henriksen’s Vukovich return. The veteran cop would have been confined to a wheelchair due to injuries suffered at the hands of Cyberdyne’s robot, but by the time Rise of the Machines hit theaters, the only actor from the original who was brought back other than Schwarzenegger was Earl Boen’s Dr. Peter Silberman.