How ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ Director Tim Miller Created Its ‘Massive’ Action Scenes

Seeing as some of the latest films in the Terminator franchise have suffered mixed reviews and reactions, the stakes were high to make the sixth film a smashing success. That’s why Hollywood turned to director Tim Miller—the man behind Deadpool. As a fan of the Terminator franchise himself, Miller knew what he was stepping in to when he took on Terminator: Dark Fate

“I think there’s something wrong with me in that I don’t feel pressure,” Miller tells Men’s Journal. “I see it as an opportunity. It’s a huge responsibility, but when I take something on, I feel it’ll turn out okay because I want it to. Maybe at the age of 50, now I feel comfortable in an environment where I can work with people who are really talented and really help me when I make mistakes.”

The new Terminator movie is a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day, taking place two decades after the film (and subsequently ignoring the three flicks that came before it). Linda Hamilton returns as the iconic Sarah Connor, who teams up with a human-hybrid named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) to protect a young girl (Natalia Reyes) from being hunted down by an advanced Terminator Rev-9 model played by Gabriel Luna. Eventually, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is brought back into the fold as well.

Terminator: Dark Fate / Paramount Pictures
Terminator: Dark Fate / Paramount Pictures

Like every Terminator film, Dark Fate has some large-scale action sequences, including a bridge fight early in the film and an aerial plane battle toward the climax. Miller’s experience on the set of Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds served him well in creating those scenes, as did his years of working on major blockbuster productions at Blur Studio, his very own visual effects company.

“My secret to creating great action sequences? Hire very talented stunt coordinators,” Miller says with a laugh. “That’s absolutely key. We had my stunt coordinator from Deadpool, and he was fantastic. To create the action for this film, first we decided on what these set pieces would be early on: the bridge fight, the big plane crash, and the fight in the turbine hall. The script was being written the same time we were planning these massive action sequences.”

Miller’s process incorporates a lot of pre-visual conception, where he extensively plans out what he’ll do using motion capture and computer-generated graphics.

“I went through and wrote out all the action scenes in detail in a bullet-point format,” Miller says. “I write where it all happens and try to visualize it in my mind. Then I’ll give that to the writers for character beats and the stunt guys so they can figure out how we’re going to do it—whether it’ll be computer graphics or practical effects. Then we move into extensive pre-visualization—putting the stunt guys in motion capture to plot it all out. We did six weeks of that for all the action scenes, then moved on to actually shooting them. We loved how they came out and everyone worked their assess off.”

Part of the fun for Miller was getting to work with legends like Schwarzenegger and Hamilton.

“It was terrific,” Miller says. “I couldn’t have been luckier. These actors know their characters so well. I never once got the impression that Arnold or Linda were difficult to work with. It was a very familial feel between the cast and everyone on the set. I’m so beholden to having a good atmosphere, with no tension or strife, and this cast was perfect for that.”

Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters on November 1.

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!