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As ‘Terminator 2′ 3D Hits Theaters, Robert Patrick Recalls Beating Billy Idol for Role

T2, Facebook, Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Tri-Star Pictures / Ethan Miller, Getty Images

The 1991 juggernaut Terminator 2: Judgement Day will be back in theaters in 3D Aug. 25, and Robert Patrick, better known as T-1000, is looking back at his experience working on the film. Even landing the role was as much a result of Billy Idol‘s motorcycle accident as it was Patrick’s icy stare.

“Billy Idol was set to do the role of the T-1000, as I understand,” Patrick told Heat Vision (via the Hollywood Reporter). “I can tell you that I saw Billy’s image when I went to [special makeup effects creator] Stan Winston after I got the role. Unfortunately, he got into a motorcycle accident and busted up his leg, so he wasn’t able to physically do what the role demanded.”

Idol had been out for a ride early one morning when he ran a stop sign in Hollywood, and collided with a car. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent hours of surgery to repair a fractured forearm and save his leg, which broken between the knee and ankle.

According to stunt coordinator Joel Kramer, Cameron had initially envisioned Idol as the evil T-1000, which was ultimately played by Patrick, who currently stars in the CBS drama Scorpion. “I was like, ‘Jim, these storyboards look just like Billy Idol!’” Kramer said. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, he was my first pick.’ …It didn’t work out, because he would have to be in lean running shape.”

After Idol’s accident, Cameron needed a new leading man for the sequel to 1984’s The Terminator. That’s when Patrick’s agent pitched him as having the qualities of yet another rocker.

My agent sold me to the T2 casting director [Mali Finn] as a cross between David Bowie and James Dean,” Patrick said. “So, I was trying to create an intense presence while I was sitting with Mali. I had this intense stare, which she liked.”

Though Idol lost the role, he healed and continued on with his music career, starring in videos like the one for “Cradle of Love” from Charmed Life. “Obviously, I’ve messed up in my life,” he told Arsenio Hall at the time. “I think you have to look at what you do and love it — be excited about it, propelled by it, enjoy it and want to get out there and show people that yes, I believe. I’m lucky — I get to play music all day long and a lot of other people come along and shout and wave their fists and go crazy, and burn off all their anxieties and all their anguish and God knows what else. I like that, it’s great fun. It was great fun to wake up in the hospital bed after the accident and realize that if I did get better, it was worth it.”

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