One of my favorite pieces in the museum was a screen-used T-800 endoskeleton from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” The thing is as imposing, eerie, and badass (not to mention shiny!) in real life as it looks in the movie, and it’s posed on a suitably apocalyptic-looking bit of twisted metal scraps.
That’s because this particular endoskeleton is the very one from the opening scenes of the movie, the sequence that introduces “Los Angeles, 2029 A.D.” while the terminator crushes a human skull with its bare metal foot. The hero prop is impressively detailed: triple-chrome plated with a rubberized spine, the skeleton is also fully articulated, with visible wires connecting to his digits and appendages.
Even crazier, however, is the T-800’s pulse rifle. This endoskeleton’s rifle is “1 and 1/2 times wider than the other endoskeletons,” Izzo explained, because “there’s a real machine gun inside.” In the pre-digital compositing days of 1990, in order to make the endoskeleton come to life, it was shot in a completely black room and puppeteered by a crew member covered in black, who had a string attached to the prop in order to pull the trigger on the real gun that would allow it to fire.
Although the visual of a walking, firing endoskeleton is very sci-fi, Cameron always tries to bring some verisimilitude to his films, which is why this prop is, according to Izzo, the actual size of star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body. Hopefully that’s not what Schwarzenegger’s real insides look like, but you never know.