For the first time in nearly three decades, Linda Hamilton is playing the iconic role of Sarah Connor once again — and, more than ever, she’s hard at work to get into Terminator-killing shape!
Hamilton first starred as the character in 1984’s The Terminator, which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as a time-traveling cyborg determined to kill the unsuspecting Connor before she gives birth to the man destined to save humanity from a robot uprising.
The original Terminator was a genre-defining film that took audiences by surprise and was director James Cameron’s breakthrough movie. It spawned a sequel in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which is considered, arguably, to be even better than the first.
Now, in Terminator: Dark Fate, Hamilton is once again taking on a ruthless robot sent from the future — and, at 63, she’s trained far longer to prepare for this role than she did in Judgment Day.
“I worked for a year to get ready for this one, Dark Fate,” Hamilton tells PEOPLE. “Judgment Day was maybe three months. But they kept postponing the filming.”
“In Judgment Day, it was just the beginning of the fat-free diet,” she continues. “I ate no fat for all those months. More than a year. I would never do that again, because the brain needs fat, the body needs fat. But we didn’t know any better.”
For Dark Fate, Hamilton’s Connor isn’t alone in the battle against the newest terminator (Gabriel Luna). This time she is joined by an enhanced super-soldier from the future named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and Schwarzenegger, who plays a different version of the cyborg who was famously melted down at the end of Judgment Day.
For much more on Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and their new movie Terminator: Dark Fate, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
Hunting down terminators is no easy work, so Hamilton spent a year training for the film.
“We worked on functional mobility,” she said. “Everything we did was with movement and trying to get the fast-twitch muscle going again, so that I could spring into action and turn, and run, and do the things that were required. So, the training was very different [to Judgment Day].”
Just like Judgment Day, Hamilton had to pick up a specialized diet, but this one was much different than the fat-free one she used for the previous film.
“This time, I ate no carbs. See, you always have to give up something!” she says while laughing. “But, obviously, the training is different as a woman of a certain age. I could work out just like I’d had for Judgment Day and not put on the muscle because you need hormones for that, and I don’t got them!”
Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters on November 1.