Mackenzie Davis a towering female presence in Terminator: Dark Fate
Newcomer Mackenzie Davis amazed by energy of Terminator icon Linda Hamilton, now 63, but jokes she is the 'rightful heir' to the sci-fi action franchise
There is no better word to describe Mackenzie Davis than statuesque.
Towering at 1.78m, she is a head above her co-stars Linda Hamilton and Natalia Reyes.
She exudes a warrior-like aura, and this quality helped seal the deal when she was cast as a Terminator hunter in the sci-fi action franchise's latest sequel.
Dark Fate, which opens here tomorrow, sees the 32-year-old Canadian actress playing Grace, an enhanced super-soldier from the future who is sent back to the current time to protect Dani (Reyes) from an extremely lethal Terminator, the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna).
Hamilton reprises her beloved Sarah Connor alter-ego, last seen in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2), who is Dani's fellow protector.
Director Tim Miller told The New Paper over the phone yesterday from Seoul, where the Terminator: Dark Fate press event was held: "Mackenzie was compelling even during our first read. Not only did she bring with her tons of experience, she really fits the idea of what I had in mind for Grace.
"I did not have a specific look or physicality in mind. I needed Grace to be tough and strong, and when someone like Mackenzie walks in, at that height, she just feels powerful."
Davis acknowledged that her height did give her an advantage, especially in one scene where Grace talks down at Sarah to show who's boss.
Davis, last seen playing a replicant who shared a sex scene with Ryan Gosling in 2017's Blade Runner 2049, told TNP in a separate interview: "That was such a cool moment and a lot of fun to shoot. It was one of those times where my height was noticeable and at that moment, I felt it was useful to show what a strong woman Grace is."
Apart from sharing much screen time with Hamilton, she also holds her own opposite another Terminator legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, not surprisingly, is back.
When asked how it felt to be in their presence, Davis joked about taking over the franchise from them.
"I am the rightful heir to the (Terminator) throne!" said Davis, laughing.
"They are such big movie icons yet they remain lovely. These are people you grew up with.
"They are so generous with their time, and (Reyes and I) learnt so much from them."
Davis also has a newfound respect for 63-year-old Hamilton.
"Linda, in T2, changed how female action stars were portrayed in movies. Seeing her so ferocious on screen is great motivation. She exceeded our abilities a lot of the time," she said.
Davis shared how on many occasions when she and Reyes were at their breaking point after a hard day's work, Hamilton would still be going on.
"She is more game than all of us. She keeps pushing harder. What she does is incredible. She brought so much enthusiasm to the set."
Getting Hamilton back is a game changer to the ailing Terminator franchise.
Dark Fate may be the sixth instalment of the series, but the re-emergence of Connor re-writes the Terminator timeline, as Dark Fate's story follows the aftermath of what happened in T2.
Miller said: "Early on, we all felt that the best version of a Terminator sequel was to continue the Sarah Connor story."
James Cameron, who produced and directed the first two Terminator films, serves as producer for Dark Fate.
"James and Linda had a long history. He gave her a call, told her the story, she thought about it and decided to come back," said Miller.
He added: "Linda felt that enough time had passed and that a new take on Sarah Connor can be done."
With Grace and Connor coming out with guns blazing and doing all sorts of incredible fighting in Dark Fate, the Terminator series has shifted gears to become female-centric, although it did not start that way.
Miller said: "As the story came together, there were certain elements, such as protectiveness, that lent itself to make the key characters female. It was just the right fit."
Davis added: "It is good to see more iterations of female action heroes on the big screen. We are also seeing more female stories. Perhaps it is time to stop calling them female stories but just stories."
Dark Fate is Davis' first foray into the action genre. While it is a new playground for the theatrically trained actress, she approached it just like other genres.
"Nobody has looked at me this way before, so it is great to take on this role," said Davis.
"Will I do more action movies in future? I am not sure. The best part of acting is the opportunity to play different people all the time."