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The Terminator's New Adversary

Meet the Terminator's New Adversary: Mackenzie Davis

Meet the New Terminator Heroine: Mackenzie Davis


As promised, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is back (again). The action superstar returns to the franchise that made his career, in TERMINATOR: DARK FATE. It's the sixth installment in the time-jumping, humans-versus-machines franchise, and there are a few new twists. DEADPOOL’s Tim Miller directs, and the movie is a direct sequel to the first two films in the series. It also features original TERMINATOR star Linda Hamilton, reprising her role as Sarah Connor, and original creator James Cameron, who returns as a producer.

All those elements contribute to our anticipation of the TERMINATOR sequel. There's one more aspect of DARK FATE we would like to highlight, however. That would be Mackenzie Davis, the actor who "exists on a spectrum between earthy and ethereal," according to the Los Angeles Times. In a twist on the Kyle Reese character from the original film, Davis plays a cyborg human sent back in time to protect a girl who is destined to save humanity. Despite doing a few very big movies, Davis is better known for her indie work — and the idea of bringing her idiosyncratic energy into the TERMINATOR series makes this sequel exceptionally intriguing.

From Indies to the Apocalypse

Mackenzie Davis in The Martian

[Image Credit: 20th Century Fox]

The Vancouver native and McGill grad got her first movie break from director Drake Doremus, who cast her in the family drama BREATHE IN, released in 2013. At the same time, she landed a key role on the AMC drama "Halt and Catch Fire," which, in four seasons, roved through a decade of the personal computer revolution, from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s. Davis's character, Cameron Howe, was a prodigiously talented programmer who is key to the development of multiple early computer and gaming systems.

The show should have been a hit, but "Halt and Catch Fire" did more halting than, well, catching fire. Davis honed her skills over the four seasons, however, playing in more indie films in-between seasons. She had a small role in Ridley Scott's film THE MARTIAN (above), but it was movies like BLACK CHRISTMAS director Sophia Takal's drama ALWAYS SHINE that really stood out.

A Computer Builder Becomes a Robot Hunter

Mackenzie Davis as Grace in the new Terminator: Dark Fate

How did Mackenzie Davis end up in TERMINATOR: DARK FATE? In fact, she chased the role. At Comic-Con in July 2019, Tim Miller told Variety that the part evolved from a writer's room he convened. Novelist Joe Abercrombie took part, and his idea was that the new version of the Kyle Reese archetype is a warrior who lives "a painful life." Miller notes that "they’re scarred and take a lot of drugs to combat the pain of what’s been done to them. They don’t live for a long time. It’s a very sacrificial role; they risk death to save others. And from the very first suggestion, it was always a woman."

Miller elaborated on casting the role. "We had to look for someone who has the physicality, but I’m very sensitive to actors. I didn’t just want a woman who could physically fit the role but emotionally as well. Mackenzie really wanted to do it; she came after the role. She worked harder than anybody."

Terminator, Evolved

Grace and Dani in the new Terminator sequel

To put her role in context, DARK FATE follows a new, hyper-advanced Terminator with liquid metal abilities. (Think Robert Patrick’s T-1000 in JUDGMENT DAY, but more intense.) This assassin is sent back from the future by the Skynet corporation to kill a young woman named Dani (Natalia Reyes), who is destined to save humanity – she just doesn’t know it yet. Dani is joined by Sarah Connor, who knows a thing or two about battling Skynet and its time-traveling Terminators, and an all-new cyborg protector.

Davis plays that protector: Grace, a soldier-assassin who is half-human, half-cyborg. Her entire purpose is to be a “protector,” so she’s not a replacement for Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. Fulfilling the early ideas first put forth in that formative writer's room, her character is the Kyle Reese to Dani's Sarah Connor. Grace is part of the resistance which survived Skynet’s attempt to wipe out humanity and, using their technology, send heroes back in time to prevent the apocalypse from ever happening.

To be clear, Grace isn’t a machine. She’s a human, modified with advanced robotic elements that make her a formidable opponent for Rev-9, that new liquid metal Terminator villain in DARK FATE. (This isn't the first time Davis has played around with robots; she appeared in a small role as a Replicant pleasure model in BLADE RUNNER 2049.)

Bright Future

We don't know how things will work out for Grace, Dani and the rest of the characters in TERMINATOR: DARK FATE, but there's no question that Mackenzie Davis has an incredible future on the big screen. Check out the video above to see her in action for the new TERMINATOR sequel, and click the button below to get tickets to see whether or not she succeeds in her mission!

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE opens on November 1!

All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures, except where indicated.

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