CS Interview: Natalia Reyes Talks Terminator: Dark Fate

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CS Interview: Natalia Reyes Talks Terminator: Dark Fate

Tim Miller’s Terminator: Dark Fate remains one of 2019’s best surprises, both in terms of its quality and the unexpected ways it takes the Terminator franchise. One of the film’s strongest elements comes in the form of Dani Ramos, as portrayed by Natalia Reyes, who is set up as the franchise’s main protagonist. Reyes was kind enough to speak with ComingSoon about her experience on Terminator: Dark Fate, and where she expects the franchise to go in the future.

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More than two decades have passed since Sarah Connor prevented Judgment Day, changed the future, and re-wrote the fate of the human race. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is living a simple life in Mexico City with her brother (Diego Boneta) and father when a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator – a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) – travels back through time to hunt and kill her. Dani’s survival depends on her joining forces with two warriors: Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced super-soldier from the future, and a battle-hardened Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). As the Rev-9 ruthlessly destroys everything and everyone in its path on the hunt for Dani, the three are led to a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Sarah’s past that may be their last best hope.

Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger return in their iconic roles as Sarah Connor and T-800 in Dark Fate with James Cameron, also returning as a producer and co-writer. They’re joined by Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049), Natalia Reyes (Birds of Passage), Gabriel Luna (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Diego Boneta in the film with Tim Miller (Deadpool) behind the camera.

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ComingSoon: Were you aware of the vast legacy of the Terminator franchise before you came onboard?

Natalia Reyes: It’s funny. I wasn’t even born when the first Terminator came out. When the second one came out, I was really young. But I did know it was part of the pop culture in the world. In my country, we grew up watching Terminator and having Arnold like that as the Terminator. My first memory of the franchise, I think, was from Terminator 2. I was really young, so I didn’t go to the theaters — I was really young, so I watched it at home. I think it was a Sunday and I was watching TV and I saw Sarah Connor and she was doing pull ups. I was so into this character and this woman being beautiful and brave and independent and being a single mother who became such a bad ass woman. I remember watching her and thinking that it was not very common back then. She was someone I wanted to be. Suddenly, to be here, so many years later, and to actually be part of the franchise and to work alongside Arnold and Linda — it’s amazing. I’m very thankful.

CS: What was your reaction when found out you were essentially replacing John Connor as the leader of the future resistance?

Reyes: It was a surprise. It was shocking. I was auditioning for a big American movie and didn’t really know what the character was or how big the character was going to be – it was all a secret. And so, when I actually read the script, I was on my way to Ireland to meet Mackenzie … I was on that plane reading the script and it was like, “Dani,” and I kept reading, “Dani,” and every page I read Dani was there. She was this young powerful Latina that didn’t die, like they usually do. It was shocking, you know, when I got to the end of the script and she was still there. She was not related to drugs or immigration and she was not a prostitute … it was a surprise because I’m used to those kinds of characters. It was amazing to finally feel well represented in a character in a movie. It was a big surprise to be a part of a movie that finally had a Latina in the main role breaking all of those clichés and things that we’re used to. I’m very proud and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to make the movie. I’m very proud of it.

CS: In the finale of the film you and Linda Hamilton are paired up. Did you discuss where your characters would go in subsequent sequels?

Reyes: You never really know, but I think “Terminator: Dark Fate” opened up a new era for the Terminator franchise. That was one of the challenges. I’m not John Connor. I’m Dani Ramos. It’s a different character. We needed to create a new story that continued to tell the important part of the story, but we also needed to create a different character, not just a new Sarah Connor, not just a new John Connor … a brave, young woman – a nobody, or the girl next door who lived a very simple life who suddenly becomes this very powerful leader.

CS: How did you develop the character of Dani?

Reyes: I think the character was really well written. Both James Cameron and Tim Miller had this clear vision of Dani. They wanted her to be this simple girl, but they also needed to see her strength – that she was a brave woman in her community, at her work and with her family. They wanted to see that at the beginning, that she was a brave woman whose life was about to change radically. I think they were really clear about that. But this is just the beginning of a new era, and I think there is space to tell more of the story about Dani. We want to see the future with Dani, we want to see what happens next. But we’ll see. There’s still room for more of her story. There’s also a lot of relevance in the story. We’re talking about technology and science fiction and artificial intelligence, which is no longer the future. It’s the reality we’re living. That’s why the movie is so relevant.

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CS: How would you compare yourself to Dani?

Reyes: I think Dani lives a completely different life. But I did feel connected and I understood her soul from the start. I do feel like I’m a little like Dani. I’m part of this huge world – this huge franchise – and I’m becoming part of this huge industry. I felt a little like her. But I was also surrounded by really great people just like Dani with Sarah and Grace. I was around amazing people like Arnold and James Cameron. I was lucky.

CS: So, going off of that, what was it like to suddenly be on a set with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Tim Miller and James Cameron – to suddenly be involved with this enormous franchise?

Reyes: I was pretending it was normal. I was really excited and really grateful to be part of such a big franchise and among this group of people who have done so many movies I grew up watching. It was surreal because I saw Arnold my whole life on the big screen and suddenly, he’s in front of you looking into your eyes and acting with you. So, that was just so surreal and makes me think how crazy life is and how not impossible your dreams are.

CS: Can you talk about Tim Miller’s directing style and how it differed from other directors you’ve worked with in the past?

Reyes: Yeah, I think I was afraid of him for a while. This was this huge movie, and he was like God on this set.  But then I got a chance to meet him and he was barefoot, which he loves. He does not wear shoes – whether it’s cold or hot or whatever. Wherever we are he is always barefoot. He is a humble, generous man, who just loves creating stories. He created the most relaxed, cool and great environment on set. I couldn’t be luckier. He was so cool and so kind – he cries so easily. We were always hugging each other and loving each other, and I feel really lucky that I had such a human to work with … the coolest guy on earth.

CS: The chemistry between you and Mackenzie Davis really showed on screen. Was that something that developed off screen as well?

Reyes: Yeah, I think the relationship I built with Mackenzie, Linda and Tim was – because we were together every day for six months on set. We became a real family. We liked and loved each other. We connected with each other. It is real. We shared so much time together, and off set we were actually hanging out together. We do love each other, and I think you can see that in the movie.

CS: How do you prepare yourself for such a physically demanding role? And what is it like being on a such an enormous production?

Reyes: It was a whole new experience for me. It was very challenging and very demanding. It was typically hard. It was tons of training. We had so many hours – we had an insane amount of hours practicing stunts and weapons training and motor training and wires … it was a lot of difficult work. But we were surrounded by an amazing group of people. They helped us. And we also had each other. There were days when Mackenzie was absolutely exhausted and just wanted to cry. Same with Linda. And I had my days. We were all supporting each other. It was really hard, but after those six months we were all exhausted. But we had a great group and we all supported each other.