Natalia Reyes is that rare person who can get in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face and live and laugh to tell about it. Reyes was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! when she told the hilarious story of how she attended Comic-Con with Arnold for a Terminator: Dark Fate panel and called him out for writing her name on his hand (to prompt him if he forgot it).
That spunk is probably, in part, why she was cast in Dark Fate as Dani, who is targeted by a new and even more unstoppable Terminator sent from the future to stop her role in thwarting another rise of the machines. This Paramount Home Entertainment release is available from Redbox on home video or to rent or buy On Demand.
Dani is lucky. She has something that Sarah Connor didn’t have in the first Terminator film when she was on the Terminator’s must-kill list. She has Sarah Connor herself to protect and train her. Dark Fate is the first post-Terminator 2: Judgment Day sequel to be produced by James Cameron and the first to reunite two screen icons, Arnold and Linda Hamilton. For Reyes, in her first major Hollywood film, it was “a surreal experience.”
She talked to Redbox about her pride in portraying a positive, kickass Latina action hero and whether or not she’ll be back.
Redbox: You’re one of those overnight successes who has been acting for more than a decade in your native Columbia. Was Hollywood on your radar?
Natalia Reyes: Of course. Hollywood is a big reference for actors around the world. We grew up with the movies. I really wanted to be an actress. Films were my thing; that’s what I wanted to do. I grew up watching Meryl Streep and thinking she was the best in the world. Jennifer Lawrence is more my age and closer to my world. My thing was to be prepared, do my homework and wait for my chance to happen. Dreams do come true.
RB: How important to you is it that the next generation heroine of the Terminator franchise is Latina?
NR: I’ve been working for awhile and I know how hard it is (to find positive roles for Latino actors). All the roles I read were small characters, really cliché, always related to immigration, drugs, and prostitution. So I’m reading the script and I’m reading, reading and Dani hasn’t died. I couldn’t believe it. She was in almost every scene of this movie. I started crying and was proud to be reading that script. It’s one of the things I celebrate about the movie. It was about time.
RB: What do you remember about your audition?
NR: I had a callback audition with Linda Hamilton. At the end, she said to the director, ‘I don’t know if I have a voice here, but she’s the one.’ That was it for me. I didn’t care if I got to do the movie at that point. Linda Hamilton chose me. That was amazing.
RB: You were four-years-old when Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out. How were you introduced to the first two movies?
NR: It’s just part of the world’s pop culture. The first memory I have of the movie is just watching Linda Hamilton doing those pull-ups. I was really young. I was amazed. It was not common to see a woman who was strong, beautiful and independent. I just held that image.
RB: Audiences had been waiting more than 30 years to see Sarah Connor and the Terminator meet again. What was it like to film that scene?
NR: The whole experience was surreal. Mackenzie Davis (who costars as a human/cyborg hybrid super-soldier from the future sent to protect Dani) and I were looking at each other and thinking, ‘This is happening.’ Linda and Arnold are good friends but they hadn’t seen each other in a long time before shooting the movie. It was just amazing to see this moment and to see how much they love each other, for real. Mackenzie and I were there for the scene when Sarah makes her presence known to Dani. We’d been rehearsing but when the director said, ‘Action’ and she stepped out with that huge gun, we were like, ‘Oh shit, we are really in a Terminator movie. We were so excited. The crew was, like, ‘Hell yeah!’
RB: Did you get a chance to get any career advice from Arnold and Linda?
NR: What I loved about the experience was just being there with them. I was spending more time with Arnold and Linda than with my husband and family and the best part was watching how professional they are. They set an example. That is the best advice. Linda was the most supportive and loving human being. Seeing her work on set and being so committed was very inspiring.
RB: You told that funny story on Kimmel about how Arnold wrote your name on his hand at Comic-Con. Not many people get to give Arnold grief. Did you have an instant rapport with him or did that evolve over time?
NR: Humor is the only way to survive being around him. He loves to have fun and he loves to make fun of himself. As soon as I met him, he made the first joke, and I said, ‘Okay, this is the way it is with him.’ But what I really love about him is how much he cares about the world. We were all the time talking about climate change and politics and immigration.
RB: Before your publicist—wait for it—terminates this phone call, we have to ask: Will you be back?
NR: I loved this experience. Dark Fate opened a whole new era. It depends on James Cameron, but I’m definitely down for more.