Playing ‘Terminator’ Badass Brought Linda Hamilton ‘Close To Psychosis’

'You couldn't stop me from working out,' actress says of embodying the ultra-buff Sarah Connor.

MTV News’ Greatest Movie Badasses of All Time list is a lonely place for women, what with only Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor holding it down for the ladies. But do we really think these ass-kickers care a lick about glass ceilings? Certainly not when there are aliens and terminators to kill.

We brought you an exclusive interview with Sigourney Weaver earlier this week, and now we’re pleased to share a conversation with [movieperson id=”26466″]Linda Hamilton[/movieperson]. Read on as the woman who outpaced both [movieperson id=”97862″]Arnold Schwarzenegger[/movieperson] and a robot from the future that could turn into liquid talks about almost losing the role to Jennifer Jason Leigh, coming to blows with James Cameron and going nuts by turning her body into a badass machine.

MTV: What’s your reaction to being named one of the Greatest Movie Badasses of All Time?

Linda Hamilton: I am really grateful and quite relieved, because at first I thought you said fat-ass. [Laughs.]

MTV: What do you think of when you think back to the first “Terminator”?

Hamilton: Well, I almost didn’t get to play Sarah in the first one, because I hurt my ankle literally days before we started to shoot. I broke a bone and tore ligaments in my foot. But we stuck it out. I won the part outright with one screen test after another. I think Jennifer Jason Leigh was the other contender. In the beginning, I wasn’t as sure about the script as others were. It was only about halfway through that I thought it was turning into something special.

MTV: James Cameron is a notorious taskmaster on the set. Did you guys click from the start?

Hamilton: Jimbo and I did not get along very well. I left “The Terminator” saying, “That man is definitely rooting for the machines.” He was not geared towards the human experience. He’s the only person I’ve ever taken off the set and yelled at. Everybody could hear me. I just blew up. I was like, “If you want to see a human being on the screen, you better start treating me like a human being!”

MTV: You were the Christian Bale before Christian Bale .

Hamilton: Yes! Apparently I was. It’s amazing what is forgiven in the interest of genius. The second time around, I was ready.

MTV: Audiences still talk about your physique from “T2,” especially that first image of you doing pull-ups.

Hamilton: Jimbo turned to me while we were shooting that and said, “You’re going to love me for this.” People still come up to me and say, “I worked out to get your arms!”

MTV: How did you transform yourself?

Hamilton: This was in the fat-free era, so that’s what I was doing. We now know there’s some psychosis that can come along with that. We need some fat. I think I was dangerously close to psychosis. You couldn’t stop me from working out. I remember I had a tiny piece of cheese one day and thought I had blown everything. It was literally the only cheese I had in nine months.

MTV: How did you learn about the plans for your character in “T2″?

Hamilton: I was about to accept “Predator 2″ when the call came in that they were doing “T2.” Jimbo and I collaborated quite a bit on it. I knew Sarah Connor would be mad and unhinged all these years later. I said, “Make her crazy.” And that’s what he wrote.

MTV: “Terminator” must come up every day for you.

Hamilton: Pretty much. I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be Linda “The Terminator” Hamilton. I go out in the world and people just scream, “I love you!” That’s a great job description. It’s wonderful to have done something that will live longer than me.

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