OJ Simpson as the Terminator

OJ Simpson, who has died at 76 after a life defined by football success and beating double murder charges, could have been defined by something else: playing The Terminator.

When writer-director James Cameron and writer-producer Gale Anne Hurd were trying to decide who should play the killing machine eventually played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, they had a meeting with Orion Pictures chief Mike Medavoy, who had an idea.

“Medavoy came to me and [producer Gale Anne Hurd] and he said, ‘Are you sitting down? You must sit down. I want OJ Simpson for the Terminator,” Cameron said in a Terminator oral history for EW to mark the film’s 30th anniversary.

“Gale and I just looked at each other and thought, ‘You’ve got to be f—ing kidding me. How do we get out of this?”

Medavoy admitted it happened.

“That did come out of my mouth,” Medavoy told EW.

He was inspired by Simpsons 1970s Hertz ads, in which the former Buffalo Bills running back was seen racing through an airport and leaping a counter to get to his rental car.

“It was all of that athletic stuff, which I thought the Terminator should have,” Medavoy said.

He even brought the idea to Schwarzenegger, suggesting that the future California governor should play Kyle Reese, the soldier from the ultimately played by the future California sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from the monster machine.

“Medavoy came up to me at a screening and told me that they already had the Terminator cast with O.J. Simpson,” Schwarzenegger told EW.

Fortunately, Schwarzenegger ended up taking the lead — a part that led to superstardom — while Michael Biehn was excellent as Reese.

OJ Simpson and The Terminator

Simpson was charged a decade after The Terminator with the murder of his ex, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman, on the night of June 12, 1994. He was acquitted in 1995 after a length trial that captivated the nation, but later found liable for both of their deaths in a civil trial.

He was ordered to pay $33,500,000 in damages to be divided between the Goldman and Brown families, but never did.

The idea of casting Simpson isn’t as wild as it sounds in retrospect, especially if you only know him for his trials — or his comedic turn in the Naked Gun films.

In the 1970s, Simpson had a respectable acting career with roles in the television miniseries Roots (1977), and in the movies The Klansman (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), and Capricorn One (1978).

Simpson’s death was announced by his family Thursday on his X account.

“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace. -The Simpson Family,” their statement reads.

Simpson continued to have an impact in the entertainment world even after the murder accusations made him persona non grata to casting agents.

In 2016, his trial was the inspiration for FX’s mostly factual and highly acclaimed The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, whose all-star cast included starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ Simpson.

Also in 2016, the Oscar-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America looked at the volatile, often ignored racial resentment and injustice in the years before the trial, giving clearer context to the verdict.

Simpson was also the source of a dispute between Saturday Night Live and NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer, who tried to get mid-90s Weekend Update anchor Norm MacDonald to stop making jokes about Simpson, an old friend. Both MacDonald and SNL writer Jim Downey were fired from the show in 1998, which both attributed to their refusal to stop mocking Simpson.

Main image: OJ Simpson in the Hertz ad campaign that could have earned him a Terminator role.