As Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton return to the Terminator franchise in the new movie Terminator: Dark Fate, Billy Idol looked back at his own near-miss with the saga in a recent episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now. In 1990, at the peak of his fame, Idol nearly lost his leg in a nasty motorcycle accident, and he suffered through months of agonizing rehabilitation. While he was still recovering, he got a call from James Cameron about auditioning to play the morphing, cop-impersonating T-1000 in Terminator 2. Cameron took Idol on a tour of Stan Winston’s visual effects offices, where the singer was excited to see production sketches that already showed the new Terminator looking a whole lot like Billy Idol.
“I even acted some of the part,” Idol says on the podcast. “I had to act that scene where he goes to the stepparents with the picture… But the trouble is that I had this terrible limp. And James Cameron said, ‘The only problem is, I really need you to be able to run’… And I’m just about walking, you know? It was going to take me a while to really get 100 percent back to normal. And [even] with the CGI thing, there was no way they could could really fake it right then, really.”
But Idol thinks it may have been good for the film that Robert Patrick ultimately got the part. “Could I have brought that cold veneer? He brought this incredible cold veneer,” says Idol.
The accident likely derailed what was looking like a promising acting career; Idol was also supposed to have what became Michael Madsen’s prominent part as Jim Morrison’s friend Tom Baker in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, and had to settle for a much smaller role after his injuries. “I was there for a lot of the movie,” says Idol. “It was exciting watching Val [Kilmer] and everybody bring it to life. It was a shame I blew it by having a stupid accident.”
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