In a recent interview with The New York Times, the 62-year-old actress opens up about her life since her divorce from James Cameron in 1999.
"I love my alone time like no one you’ve ever met," Hamilton says. "I’ve been celibate for at least 15 years. One loses track, because it just doesn’t matter -- or at least it doesn’t matter to me. I have a very romantic relationship with my world every day and the people who are in it."
The pair got romantically involved after wrapping Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991, which Cameron initially asked Hamilton to come back for when she was pregnant with her son and married to Bruce Abbott. By the time the script was finalized, Hamilton was a mom to Dalton and in the process of getting a divorce from Abbott.
"Having been left, I just needed to get up on my feet and be strong and do nothing but mother my child and get ready for this film," Hamilton, who says the first Terminator film was "hard on the psyche" and left her fighting "some depression," shares. "You wake up all alone with your body and go, 'Hmm, these aren’t hips anymore -- they’re flanks.' To give myself permission to be that powerful, strong woman was necessary for my survival."
After the success of the flick, Hamilton romantically connected with Cameron and quickly became pregnant with their daughter, Josephine.
"My answer to being that 'overnight success' was to go and get pregnant with Jim Cameron and completely disappear. What timing!" Hamilton quips, before describing her relationship with Cameron as "a mystery to all of us."
"That relationship was a mystery to all of us -- even Jim and myself -- because we are terribly mismatched," Hamilton, who speculates that Cameron fell in love with her Terminator character, Sarah Connor, says. "I used to say we fit together like a puzzle: Everywhere he’s convex, I’m concave."
"I fell in love with her initially because I thought she was a little closer to Sarah than she actually is, but that doesn’t mean that much once you get to know somebody," Cameron tells The Times. "I think we were just in this high-velocity spiral around each other for a long time. We were fascinated by each other."
The end of that relationship, Hamilton says, left her "completely devastated for years."
"I’m so glad to be free of that," she notes. "I would never, ever put that much energy again into something that is not working."
As for her iconic role, which she's set to return to this year in Terminator: Dark Fate, Hamilton was initially uneasy to step into Sarah Connor's shoes once more.
"It’s not that I was afraid to let the fans down. I was afraid to let Sarah Connor down," she remarks of her return, which she says she put in "10 times the effort" for in comparison to the second flick.
Additionally, Hamilton was uncertain if she wanted to give up her relatively spotlight-free life in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"That was my hesitation: Do I want to trade this lovely, authentic life for that?" Hamilton says. "I didn’t want my neighbors looking at me differently. We’re neighbors because of who we are, not what we do, and I don’t want that to creep into my life again."
"You know, it was basically a phone call from James Cameron," she said. "Well, he had to call me three times for me to call him back… But once he told me the idea and I actually sat and thought about it for six weeks... Did I want to go there again? But once I'm in, I'm in."
When she finally made the decision to reprise her role, Hamilton went all-in on training to get into fighting shape.
"I had a true village of experts trying to get the most out of this body," Hamilton tells The Times. "I don’t think there’s going to be one person who comes up to me who says, 'You look so great for your age.' I threw that into the Mississippi River, because that’s not what this is about. I want people to see me and go, 'Oh my God, she got so old!'"
"It’s incredibly liberating to play someone of this age," she adds, before noting the difficult filming conditions.
"We had ear infections from being in the water for three weeks and then they’d hang us upside down," she says.
After wrapping filming, Hamilton made sure to celebrate with some relaxation. "I spent three months on the couch eating pie," she says, "and then I woke up one morning and went, 'Damn, that was fun!' It was the hardest thing, and the greatest thing. And isn’t that what we want?"