“I know what’s like to be an unfeeling bitch bent on revenge so it came naturally to me”: Garbage’s Shirley Manson on the time she played a Terminator

Shirley Manson in The Sarah Connor Chronicles
(Image credit: YouTube)

Garbage have been on a fine run of form over the past few years, with an excellent new record in 2021’s No Gods No Masters followed up by the 2022 career-spanning collection Anthology. Back in the mid-00s, though, the electronic-rock quartet had a bit of a timeout and singer Shirley Manson found a prime way to fill the time: she became a Terminator.

Trying her hand at acting after the decade in which her band became a global success, in 2008 Manson was cast in the TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as one of the “It will not stop!” killing machines. Set after the events of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the series follows the lives of Sarah Connor (future Game Of Thrones star Lena Headey) and son John trying not to, you know, get Terminated. Manson’s character was called Catherine Weaver, a T-1001 model with a liquid metal form who keeps part of herself disguised as an eel in her office fish tank. As you do.

Recalling her role in the series in an interview with Music Week in 2021, Manson said she had a blast.

“That was such a good experience in that I was used to being a lead singer in a band, I wasn't used to being a working actor,” she recalled. “I was quite surprised by the whole thing. I was very stressed out when I did that because I didn't have any confidence in myself and they would come in 20 minutes before shooting with an entirely different script and say, 'Sorry, we've scrapped these pages, now this is the script and you're on set in 20 minutes'. I literally thought I was gonna have a nervous breakdown, because I take what I do really seriously. 

“But, you know, I know what it's like to be an unfeeling bitch bent on revenge, so it came naturally to me in the end, as it turns out. I haven't watched it since, although a lot of people send me memes and GIFs and things like that from the show. I'm always delighting in them because it was a dream role. I mean, who doesn't want to be an all-powerful Terminator?”

Manson left her T-1001 days behind when Garbage clicked back into gear with their 2012 record Not Your Kind Of People. But, as the saying goes, once a Terminator, always a Terminator - she'll be back. Probaly.

Watch here as she masterfully transforms from a urinal into her regular form, prior to pushing a metallic shard finger into some guy's brain: textbook T-1001!

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.