As the new cyborg assassin in Terminator 3, blonde bombshell Kristanna Loken kicks everyone’s arse, especially Arnie’s. In real life, she’s trying not to be so intimidating to men…
Paul Fischer: How did you balance the sex appeal here, because she’s obviously sexy even though she’s a robot?
Kristanna Loken: Well, I think that I just didn’t make it an awareness like, "Oh, I’m trying to be sexy" or "Oh, I’m trying to be attractive," I think it was just in conveying the movements that probably made it kind of sexual.
How did they do the breast inflation?
That was an interesting gag that the effects boys created. Basically just some air bladders underneath a bra and someone with a little pump literally just pumped it up. It didn’t always work great. Sometimes it popped or one would fizzle out, so we finally got it reinforced.
Is it challenging to be robotically sexy?
Well, I think because it wasn’t an overt sexuality that there was a certain kind of almost naiveté or innocence about it which probably made it more appealing.
When audiences see you naked, were you reticent about the nudity?
Not in that sense because I knew it’d be tasteful and I knew that Jonathan <Mostow, the director> would do it well. I knew that it wasn’t a kind of sex scene or something like that. But when she comes from the future, there’s just that complete unawareness of society and what we believe to be acceptable or not. So, to her, she has no concept of that so I think there’s a kind of a detachment in that that makes a certain innocence about that.
How many hours did you spend naked?
It was one night.
How weird was it?
Well, it was the last night of filming, which was great for me because I really got to fine tune my body and make it look the way I wanted it to look
When you see yourself on the cover of Maxim Movies, how do you feel? Is your sexuality is a marketing tool?
Well, I think that you have to present an image that is (a) true to you and (b) the way you would like to be perceived. So I think that through the years I’ve worked really hard at trying to create an image that is true to me. And I think sensuality is a part of me. It’s not all of me, but it’s a part of who I am.
Were your feet gross after walking barefoot in the street?
I actually got glass stuck in my foot and I had to get it removed. As recently as this week, I still had a piece in there I was trying to get removed. So, it stayed with me, that scene.
Are there hints of emotion at some points, discovering the blood?
Absolutely and I think that was a really neat part of the character that we hadn’t seen done before in that when she’s kind of processing information with the blood or with the programming of Arnold or something, it kind of takes you out of just the aggressive killing aspect and brings you into a slightly more human side, so in doing that, I was kind of hoping that it would almost make you feel for her a little bit in some ways.
Are you a fan of the genre?
I am. I was definitely a fan of Robert Patrick’s character in T2. I was just really awed by his performance and the complete body control that he had, so I think maybe subconsciously, that played in the back of my mind.
What about working with Arnold?
Working with Arnold was quite an experience. He just has that larger than life personality and he’s so knowledgeable about the fight sequences and knows what works and what doesn’t work. Of course, he’s done the character twice before so I learned a lot by watching him and just working off his energy is very, very empowering.
Were you intimidated?
At first. I’m just thinking, "Okay, my first big film and I’m supposed to be stronger than Arnold. What does this represent? What is this metaphor trying to tell me?" But after I got to know him and I felt more comfortable in my character, things went pretty smooth.
How do you feel about kicking his butt?
I felt ready.
When did you see the first two films?
I don’t think I saw the first film in its entirety until before I did this film. The second film I probably saw maybe about five years ago. Again, I had seen kind of snippets here and there, but no, I don’t think I ever saw them in the theatre.
Have people begun to recognize you yet?
A little bit.
How will you handle that?
Any pressure to be the villain in the tradition of Arnold and Robert?
Yeah, I definitely felt that I was put at a very high place to be able to be a part of such a wonderful franchise in cinema history, so I was definitely very driven at doing a great job and having my body look the way it should and just being a part of the creative process.
How will you deal with the recognition if this film is huge?
Well, I think if those are things that come with doing the kind of work that I want to do, and then I’ll just have to take them as they come.
How much was the robot based on you?
It’s amazing, Stan Winston, what he’s done with this franchise and this character and the creation of it. I’m really awed by his work and all the people that he has working for him.
Do men find you intimidating?
I think some do. And I think after this movie comes, probably quite a few more will.
How do you deal with that?
Well, I don’t know. I always try to make myself be very approachable and easy to talk to, so hopefully people will feel that they can approach me.
Is it an advantage to be beautiful?
No, not at all. I think it can be an advantage or a disadvantage. There was a period of time where I tried to cut my hair and dye it and change my appearance, but I realize that in the end, you look better in a specific way and people are always going to pass judgement on you, so it’s really up to them to see you in the light that you want to be seen or just not understand you.
Were you upset you didn’t have a catch phrase?
"I like your gun?"
That’s the one I’ve been hearing actually the most, but you never know until the film comes out what’s going to stick with people.
Were you in the best shape you’ve ever been for this?
Oh, by far. People were actually approaching me on the street and thinking that I was an athlete. They couldn’t quite place it but a runner, or swimmer or something. I did extensive training. First, I started with a nutritionist because I wanted to put on muscle, so I put on about 15 pounds of muscle mass. I did weight training, weapons training, an Israeli form of martial arts called Krav Maga that they teach their military, which is kind of like a brutal form or street fighting, incorporating your surroundings. A lot of elbows, knees and head butts, that sort of thing. Also, I worked with a mime coach quite extensively which was an intrinsic part to the character, really getting that kind of surreal human/non-human aspects of the character.
What did the mime coach do?
They work a lot with building internal energy and working against a force, so your muscles are always engaged and you learn to alienate different muscle groups so they can work independently of one another. So for this character, it was really, really right.
What about the eyes and facial expressions?
Absolutely, and there’s a lot of muscles in your eyes even that you don’t ever work, but little human traits like showing signs of exertion while running, you couldn’t do that. Blinking when you’re shooting a gun, you know Things that you take for granted that had to be eliminated.
Most difficult scene to shoot?
I would say probably getting magnetized on the particle accelerator. All of my stuff is very strange and the body movements and everything. So, it was going from like a sprint, and I trained sprinting in heels actually so I would stay on the balls of my feet, and the sprint, slowing down and then getting this kind of magnetism and building up all this internal heat and just vibrating on this very hard plastic day after day and then kind of getting harnessed. I had bruises everywhere.
Did you learn anything you’ll be able to take into your normal life?
Oh God, everything. Everything from it. All of my training, what it did to my body. Your body has such a memory. What I learned from Arnold, Jonathan, Claire, Nick, from everybody.
Did you binge after the film ended?
Well, I first went and checked into a spa with my girlfriend who was also my stand-in. And ate pasta and things that I hadn’t eaten in a long time. Then went to Vegas for a week which was definitely too long. And then went home and spent time with my family.
Your family here?
No, they’re in upstate New York, near Albany, like 30 miles south of Albany.
When did you come to LA?
I moved here almost seven years ago.
The lure of acting?
Absolutely. I started acting when I was 13 in New York. Worked there for a couple years, then auditioned for a show there that was going to be filming here. Ended up coming out, getting the job and just staying.
How did Jonathan control the set and interact with the actors?
It was awesome. I mean, he was just like an old pro and people would say, "Don’t you guys feel this pressure of this film, this instalment? It’s got so much anticipation" but we were both very prepared and I think in that preparation very confident, so making us relaxed and he was awesome. Just when you think he’s really going to lose it now, he’d make a joke or something. There was always a certain lightness on the set.
When did you feel he was about to lose it?
Well, they were very rare, so not even memorable really.
Did you keep the outfit?
No, they wouldn’t give it to me. After all that sweat and blood and tears.
Are you going home? Well, my friend’s getting married in September, so I think I’d go home them.
Will this move you out of the TV acting box?
Oh, definitely. I put my time in there. Not to say that I’d never go back, but I think I can try the film world out for a while.
Would you do T4?
I would be honoured to, absolutely. I love the character and had so much fun a lot of hard work and really pushed myself to the limit, so yeah, if they’d have me, I’d love to be back.
They haven’t asked?
What do you do for fun?
Well, I’m an equestrian so I like to ride. Ride horses, I love to hike with my dog, love to travel.
All over, really. Most recently I went to Costa Rica which I loved.
Anywhere you’d like to go?
I’d like to go to Brazil I think. Do a little South America trip.
What was it like at the comic convention?
That was really, really great. Those people are such huge supporters of the franchise. It was really great to be an active member of that group.
They can be odd though?
Yeah, but they really are passionate about it and I can appreciate anybody’s passion for anything.
Was there any point in the movie that you doubted yourself?
Not that I ever doubted, but the very last night after the Rodeo drive scene it was then dawn and I think it was more of an emotional release than anything. After working with these people so closely for half a year and then knowing after that that you’d never be together again in the same way. Now, doing publicity. Well, no, not with the crew, which you build such relationships with through all the time and you learn about their families. I get really attached and loyal to people so it was a bit of an emotional release for sure.
Role of women in this movie?
It’s kind of a great dichotomy of two really. You have the superhuman heightened reality all powerful character and then you have this great heartfelt sentimental link to humanity. So, it’s kind of two ends of the spectrum, but both great female characters.
Did you and Claire talk?
We did a little bit. She’d always been an idol of mine, you know, following her career and really a fan of her work for several years. It was really a great opportunity for me to get to work with her on such an intimate level.
How did the testosterone heavy set affect you?
I’m used to it. I wasn’t afraid. I was fighting Arnold every day.
What’s it like to fight Arnold?
I just kept thinking, "Okay, $30 million, Kristanna, don’t mess this up. Don’t hit him in the face." So, luckily I never did.
Is it fun to be bad?
Yeah, it is. It is fun because you get to do things that in your real life you’d never get to do.
You don’t have a bad side?
Yeah, I do, but I’m not shooting children. Not that I want to be doing that, but isn’t there a time when you wish you could just pull your .45 out of your handbag and just, you know, on the freeway.