Actor Joe Morton Talks About Terminator 2 | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Actor Joe Morton Talks About Terminator 2

Justice League, Speed vet on his character, Miles, from T2

Dec 26, 2017 Web Exclusive
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Throughout his career, actor Joe Morton has embodied a wide range of roles on the stage and in movies and television. Some might know him from ABC drama Scandal while others recognize him from his films like Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, introduced audiences to Morton’s character Miles Dyson, the unwitting creator of Skynet. Twenty-five years later, it’s a role actor Morton is most recognized for.

Lately, interest has picked back up in the Terminator franchise. A new Terminator film that reunites Cameron, Hamilton and Schwarzenegger was just announced for release in 2019. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Terminator 2, the film has gotten a makeover – first this summer as theatrical 3D release and this week as a 4K Ultra HD DVD.

We talked to Morton about the rerelease and how a Richard Pryor joke helped get him the role.

Joshua M. Miller [Under the Radar]: How do you feel about the film coming out in 3D and 4K?

Joe Morton: I think it’s going to be a very exciting experience. The movie when it came as an ordinary film as it was one of the biggest seller in that day, so I can’t imagine what it will do in terms of this added technology.

Have you gotten a chance to watch either?

I haven’t watched the original in a very long time. But I caught a bit of it on television the other night.

What do you recall about first hearing about the character of Miles Dyson and auditioning for the role?

I think it was the normal course of things. I read the script and loved the character and went in to audition and interview. What I think won me the role was at some point James asked me what I felt was about Miles Dyson and I said, “What made Miles Dyson important is a joke that Richard Pryor told.” And James said, “And what was that?” And I said “The reason black characters die off early in sci-fi films or in them at all is that Hollywood doesn’t think they’ll be there in the future.

Why do you think Miles is so unique?

He was certainly studying the artificial intelligence which was very ahead of the times in terms of what science was about. He discovered something as it says in the film to all kinds of things that they never would have thought of. So that makes him extraordinary in terms of what he then does. He discovers that evolution of his discovery is a robot or army of robots that tries to destroy mankind. So, he makes an extraordinary sacrifice in that he’s willing to go and destroy everything he’s learned. As a scientist discovering new things, that’s a very difficult thing to do. We did some research on artificial intelligence before we started shooting.

I think it’s extraordinary to be faced by a robot from the future. But at the same time, it’s something he understood. The reason that the Terminator removes the skin from his arm is to show something that Miles recognizes and something he’s been studying for quite a while. So, he makes an extraordinary decision to destroy everything he understands.

What are some of your favorite moments between takes when the camera wasn’t rolling?

For the most part, I stayed in my trailer. I really wanted to Linda and especially Arnold sort of distant so they would remain odd characters to me. Like I had never met a robot character like Arnold’s. So, I would maintain this strangeness when I was around him. If you remember right after I die, Linda falls across the laboratory and the SWAT team shoots at her and shoots at the large bank of windows. There was a camera rolling before we shot any of that. Before we had finished the death scene, James had all those windows thrown out with air canons so he could see what it looked like. And that to me was pretty extraordinary.

How did your work with Terminator 2 influence how you approach acting today?

I don’t know that I’m doing anything differently. Basically, there’s a process I go through. I know what the character is and I know what their circumstances are but the process remains the same…The way we came upon that death scene was to inform it with something real. The breathing I do is something that happened to me years before in a car accident when my lung collapsed. That’s how we came upon that particular moment. That process helped us to figure out how Miles Dyson should die in Terminator 2.

The Terminator franchise has continued to delve further into that world. What do you think of the popularity of cinematic universes like that and others like Justice League and The Avengers?

It’s the normal course of event. In my mind, it’s like any other franchise that comes across something that seems to work. Superman was a big series of movies for a very long time. So why no bring out the rest of the gang? Batman and those movies did really well. So, I think the progression has always been moving toward expanding that world and expanding that franchise.

What does it mean to see the film remain popular and still resonate with people?

Those things always surprise me. There’s something about this movie and maybe it is like a modern-day Frankenstein. Frankenstein in its day was an enormous hit. Maybe it’s the same thing here where mankind, and in this case, me, creates a monster. A monster that when we first met him was nothing but destructive. But now we meet the other side of him which is the part of Frankenstein that learns how to be more human. In this case, the monster, if you will, makes the ultimate sacrifice to destroy itself to save mankind. I think it’s those kinds of ideas in this movie that make it so popular.


Terminator 2: Judgment Day is out now in a new 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack from Lionsgate Home Video.


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