Terminator: Dark Fate Star Gabriel Luna Discusses Bringing His Deadly Rev-9 to Life

The Terminator franchise has a history of delivering audiences deadly villains, the most famous of which being Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800. With the release of each new chapter in the series, fans meet a new evolution of killer cyborg, with Terminator: Dark Fate delivering audiences the deadly Rev-9, played by Gabriel Luna. Not only could the machine replicate anyone it made physical contact with, but it could also separate its skeleton and instantly double the damage it can cause on its target. While the Rev-9 might have had its work cut out for him with his opposition in the latest film, Luna's take on the character has cemented his place in the beloved franchise.

Throughout much of the series, Schwarzenegger could rely on his intimidating stature and stoic presence to strike fear into the hearts of audiences, while Luna had to take a different approach to conveying an intense presence without merely being physically massive. This required both director Tim Miller and Luna himself to get more creative in how to get that sense of fear across.

ComicBook.com recently caught up with Luna to discuss joining the franchise, developing the Rev-9, and what the future could hold. Terminator: Dark Fate is currently available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.

terminator dark fate gabriel luna
(Photo: Paramount Pictures)

ComicBook.com: While some audiences might have dismissed the film as being just another entry into the series, the feedback from critics and audiences has clearly confirmed that you guys managed to revive excitement in the series.

Gabriel Luna: We were all very proud of this film. As much as we want something brand-new and exciting, I think there's something to be said about being in the protective arms of Sarah Connor [Linda Hamilton]. I think that went a long way. We were all very proud of this film.

What was your connection to the franchise before joining it? Were you intimidated by the responsibility of joining it or were you excited at the opportunity to offer a new perspective?

[My connection was] just being in love with the films for ... always. I think it was probably split down the middle. I think I was very excited, as I learned more and more about what the machine's capable of and what I'd be portraying on screen. Your imagination goes wild, and you just don't get scared of your approach and try to execute it on the day, and hopefully, it comes out. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that there are times when you just try to just push it inside and keep your pace and do the work. Of course, there's some great performances that came before mine and just being the true secret to Judgment Day, which is one of my favorite films of all time, offered its fair amount of pressure. But I had some good things happen, and think that that's what happened for us.

Obviously the CGI helps make your character physically stand apart from other Terminators, but how did you mentally and physically approach making your character feel different while also allowing it to fall in line with the past? Especially with this film ignoring all films but the first two.

I think that there's some really wonderful parallels between all three of the Terminator units. The evolution takes a much more incremental and more realistic [evolution] in terms of advancements of the technology. I haven't seen the others, but from my understanding, at some point the liquid metal can become complex machines and guns and things like that. I think when you start to make the character too ... there's no parameters on it, there's no limits to it, it becomes a little cartoonish. And I think that Jim [Cameron] and Tim are very smart in the way that they formulated what this machine was. There's a finite amount of liquid metal that this exoskeleton is made of. That was one of the rules that was established.

Because of that, the Terminator's speed is very important. And you can't just make a hundred-foot sword and just impale them from across the room. All of that was, of course, all of Jim and Tim's design. And then for me, it's just, I'm the human face to it all. It's an infiltration, so how can I make that human side of the machine dangerous or inviting and then eventually dangerous, because it's just so relatable? That's what I tapped into, just make it as human as possible. That's probably the most terrifying thing about it.

The first third of the film, you don't have any lines and just have to use your physicality to play your character. What's the experience like of having to convey things silently, while your history as an actor has always required conveying complex emotions? You don't really get to act like a human until a scene where you infiltrate the Border Patrol facility.

I just stay at neutral for that first third of the film. I think it's just about physical storytelling and being confident, comfortable in the body in space and you just trust everything that's happening around you. Trust that you maintained the tension in your eyes and that it'll be conveyed. I wasn't like knocking down Tim's door saying, "Write me more words." That was exciting, a bit of a challenge.

The mystery is still very important as well. I think that once those scenes came around, I guess I was a little excited [to interact with co-stars]. You want to have an exchange, you want to have an exchange with the other person. When it came time for that, I do recall having a little bit of feeling of joy on that day just knowing that I could actually share a scene with a partner, and not be trying to just decapitate them or kill them or just crush them with a truck. But that was also cool 'cause of the subject matter and being from Texas and I just put a little of myself in those moments when he was the Border Guard.

The nature of most of these Terminator films is that, if one cyborg fails, a new one shows up in hopes of completing the mission. Was there any talk of you appearing in a future film or was the plan always for just this installment?

There's always contingencies for the filmmakers to make sure that they have everything sorted. To me, it's really just moment to moment. I hadn't considered a possibility of returning, but after the film was done, we were all doing the press rounds and doing some Q and A's and stuff, seeing the audience's response and how much they really loved the character and the 'New Terminator,' as everyone calls him, I kind of jokingly threw the idea around to [director] Tim [Miller], this thing has a real mind of a stand-alone picture, Joker-esque. You know, an anatomy of a killing machine kind of movie.

To me, it was just interesting. Who are these guys? Who is the human man that the T-800 is based off of? Who is the human man the T-1000 is based off of? It's an interesting idea to explore who was this human that was the Rev-9? Could it be that he was just this really great hero in the distance? And you know, I've said a couple times before, I think it's happened, you have your common enemy take the face of their heroes. I thought that would be kind of cool. But to go back and to try to investigate what that hero was before he became [a cyborg], or maybe he was taken down.

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Terminator: Dark Fate is currently available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.