One of the more striking action sequences in the newly-released “Terminator: Dark Fate” movie stirred an intense emotional reaction from director Tim Miller. In the scene, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), Dani (Natalia Reyes) and the cybernetically-enhanced time traveler Grace (Mackenzie Davis) are detained by border agents while trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico. They’re confined alongside other detainees until the Rev-9 Terminator — who is hunting the future leader of the human resistance — tracks them down at the detention center.
Gabriel Luna, the actor portraying Terminator Rev-9, recently said in a BUILD Series interview that Miller cried while orchestrating the elaborate set piece. “I remember that day he shed some tears because what we were doing,” Luna said. “Sure, they were background actors — they could go eat lunch, they could leave to go to the bathroom, things like that — but still, there were a lot of people who look like me in these cages, laying on cement floors. He recognized what was happening. He cried a little bit, kind of brought it to everyone's attention, what was actually happening back home, and I appreciated him for that. We don't make any overt political stances; we just show you what's happening in the world and you receive it however as you may.”
Luna, known for roles like Ghost Rider on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the professional soccer player/undercover C.I.A. operative in El Rey Network’s “Matador,” is the first Latinx actor to play a Terminator in the franchise’s decades-long history. The actor says his casting as a Latinx cyborg is a natural progression of “Terminator” lore, as producer James Cameron has repeatedly incorporated Mexico into his storytelling. “Usually ‘Terminator’ movies end in Mexico...This was cool because we started in Mexico,” says Luna. “There's always been a history with that beautiful country, and Jim has a strong affinity for it. He shot a lot of ‘Titanic’ there in Rosarito. It just makes sense that I'm a Mexican guy or I look like I'd be from Mexico City.”
Video: Gabriel Luna on Terminator’s Longtime Connection to Mexico
In real life, the Austin-born actor resides in Los Angeles, which was among the California cities recently affected by wildfires. Brush fires were so intense there this week that Paramount cancelled the Oct. 28 premiere of “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Food intended for the premiere was donated to local firefighters, and Arnold Schwarzenegger invited attendees to an already-planned private screening. “Arnold had set up a screening for his staff 'cause everyone couldn't fit in the Chinese Theater, so he had a lot of friends and staff that were going to watch at the IMAX,” Luna shares. “He let us crash, some of the cast and the families that we had flown in.”
Luna’s family members were among those distributing food before accepting Schwarzenegger’s impromptu invite. He says their participation in aid efforts eased any regrets about missing a lavish Hollywood premiere. “My mother, my sister, my grandmother — they were all on TV,” says Luna. “They were all on their local LA news feeding people, scooping out food, carrying, dollying food out to trucks, and I was just so proud of them. 'Cause they were so excited to walk the carpet and do all this other stuff, but they found themselves with me... just trying to do a little good. And I was really proud of them.”
Video: Terminator: Dark Fate Cast and Crew Helps Local Firefighters
Correction: The first person of color to portray a Terminator was Lee Byung-Hun in Terminator Genisys. Text has been amended to reflect that Luna is the first Latino to play a Terminator.
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