Billy Idol Was Almost a Terminator?

L-R: Billy Idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger
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Ross Marino/Getty Images; CBS via Getty Images

Few villains of the '80s were as scary as The Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger's muscular, relentless cyborg, as conceived by Titanic and Avatar writer/director James Cameron, was a surprise hit in 1984 and spawned a franchise spanning five sequels, a television show, comic books and more.

But at one point in the series' history, one of the killing machines was going to resemble a certain lip-curling rocker who was all over MTV's early days. That's right: Billy Idol was in contention for a role - not in the original, but its big-budget sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, released in 1991. In that film, Arnold's Terminator - now a good guy - squares off against a shapeshifting liquid metal robot known as the T-1000 - famously compared to a Porsche where Arnold was more like a Panzer tank.

And Idol recently revealed that the role was conceived with him in mind. "When I walked into [visual effects artist] Stan Winston’s place where they do all the fake heads and special effects, they had drawings of me as the Terminator," the singer recently revealed in a Stereogum interview. Unfortunately, what kept him from the role was a debilitating motorcycle crash Idol suffered in 1990.

"The one thing that stopped me from being in Terminator was I couldn’t run," Idol said. "They couldn’t CGI that, the part of the movie where he runs after the police car. I couldn’t do that because I had this terrible limp at the time." (The accident also caused his first major acting role, as a friend of Jim Morrison's in 1991's The Doors, to be rewritten.)

Idol took the loss in stride, continuing to record and tour: his most recent effort, The Roadside, was just released. And, given the Terminator franchise's penchant for reboots and time travel antics, perhaps one day they could...start again, with Idol in a role.

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