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Interview: Terminator: Dark Fate’s Natalia Reyes

by Leora Heilbronn

As soon as I saw that Natalia Reyes was cast in Terminator: Dark Fate, I knew that I wanted to interview her for the project. A few years ago at TIFF, I watched Reyes give a mesmerizing performance in the underrated Colombian drama Birds of Passage and she gives an equally transformative one in the latest film in the Terminator franchise, playing Dani Ramos. The female-led Dark Fate is a thrilling action film and it was a honour to speak with Natalia Reyes about it.

The following is a condensed and edited version of our phone interview.

Brief Take: Hi Natalia! It’s such a pleasure to chat with you because I thought you were so exceptional in Birds of Passage and now to see you in this role, bringing a completely different kind of physicality to this performance, is just jaw dropping. Tell me about crafting the part of Dani.

Natalia Reyes: Thank you so much! I’m so glad you watched Birds of Passage because I’m so proud of that movie. But yeah, I’d only been part of that world of independent films and then to be part of this huge franchise with all this action, it was intimidating. It was tons of training – hours and hours of physical training, weapon training – and there were trainers helping us with movement training, and then also language training because it was a whole different language that I had to learn. It was a challenge but it was interesting for me. I’m glad that I was part of the experience and really proud of the movie we made.

BT: You went through this intense training, you filmed the movie, you went around the world promoting it. Now, looking back, what are you most proud of yourself for accomplishing on this journey?

NR: I’m really proud of the movie. I really love the movie because I think we made a good movie and I think people really enjoy the movie. I think it has all the ingredients of the original movie but it also has new characters and a story that’s more relevant now than ever. We’re talking about facial recognition and artificial intelligence that’s around us. You know it’s an action movie but I don’t think it’s science fiction anymore – those elements are real and it’s happening right now. People need to start thinking about how much we rely on technology and how we need to protect human interaction.

BT: I completely agree. I also know that you’re very passionate about anti-fracking and climate change. What are some changes that you’d like to see done in the near future in those areas?

NR: Yeah, it’s no longer science fiction. Climate change is real and ever present, it’s not the distant future anymore. We are living in apocalyptic times right now. We’re breathing really bad quality air, we’re not taking care of the world, and I’m worried about that. I want people to take action in their daily lives because there’s truth to this movie and it is grounded in reality.

BT: You must have so many people come up to you or write to you on social media telling you how thrilled they are to see not only a trio of female leads in an action film but to see a Latinx action star in one of the biggest action franchises.

NR: Yeah! People were so inspired by Linda Hamilton when Terminator 2 came out. I was too young then, I was a little girl, but when I saw that character for the first time, it wasn’t common. She was a single mother, a beautiful woman who became this strong, independent action figure. That was really inspiring to me. I see little girls, and not just little girls, people of all genders and races excited to see Dani up there with Sarah Connor. It’s a great change, and I think Hollywood is changing. Latinx women aren’t portrayed in the same way on screen. I’m so proud to be inspiring girls the way Linda Hamilton inspired me. It’s a powerful thing to make people believe that it’s possible that we can break down stereotypes, which we didn’t think was possible before.

BT: Tell me about your experience working with Linda and Mackenzie Davis?

NR: It was the best part of the movie I think. We spent so much time together – Linda, Tim Miller, Mackenzie and I. The four of us would be shooting together every day and during so many hours. We became a family. I was so glad and I really feel lucky to have been part of such a talented group of people. Linda is the most loving and supportive and generous woman, and I had such a great experience. It was the first time that I’d been part of a movie of that scale, and to be surrounded by people like that…I am really proud and happy to have been a part of that.

BT: Do you have female role models in your life?

NR: I do. I mean just in this movie I got to work with people that I admire, like Linda. To get to know her and to work with her, and to witness how professional she is, and see how much she cares about every scene she’s in, it was amazing. She’s someone that I admired before and I think now I admire her even more. Mackenzie was also very inspiring. And of course Meryl Streep is the best actress of all time and an amazing woman. I also love Jennifer Lawrence – she’s young and brave and I think also breaking stereotypes in the characters that she plays.

BT: The Terminator movies hold a special place in the hearts of millions of people around the world. What are some movies that mean a lot to you?

NR: Well Terminator was part of the pop culture that I grew up with, but I think James Cameron movies in general are great. I’m also really inspired by international movies, especially from Korea, I really connect to those stories. I love Latin American movies and filmmakers like Cuarón and Iñárritu. I connect with stories that are outside the realm of the stories that we’ve often been told and shown.

 

Terminator: Dark Fate is now available on Blu-ray

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Brief Take