In previous installments of What Ever Happened To…, I
talked about actors that have proven themselves in a number of films and
television shows, then slowly disappeared from the limelight. But what about those actors who had the
chance to prove themselves? It’s heartbreaking because more often than not they find
themselves intertwined in the murky waters of the straight to video world.
For this week’s installment of What Ever Happened To…, I’m
wondering what ever happened to Edward Furlong?
Back in 1991, James Cameron made a cross-country casting
call for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, looking for a young actor to play the
teenage John Connor, the eventual leader of the human resistance. He settled on the unknown Edward
Furlong. Now, since the film’s release,
Furlong’s performance has been attacked for being too “annoying”, “amateurish”
and “forced”. To be honest, I see
nothing wrong with the overall performance.
Sure, there are moments when his acting stands out compared to the
actors he’s sharing the screen with, but he fit the bill. Yes, we all know Cameron is a technical
wizard of a director, but he also populates his films with actors who know what
they’re doing. Furlong is no
The John Connor in T2 is the epitome of the 90s teenager-
angry, rebellious, wannabe-cool. But
what Furlong does differently is he injects Connor with a sense of loveable
humility. Here’s a kid who lives with a
pair of foster parents that he could care less about, while his mother spends
her days in an insane asylum talking about the end of the world and Judgment
Day. Plus, he has an invisible liquid
metal machine in hot pursuit of him. This
kid’s life should be hell, right? Well,
it isn’t, because at his side, he has a monstrously built, Austrian-accented
terminator. His very own
terminator. It’s in these scenes that
Furlong’s talent truly shines. Remember
those moments when he’s teaching Schwarzenegger’s terminator how to smile and
give high fives? Watching them now,
they’re just as strong and powerful as ever before. Cameron obviously saw something in this kid and it shows.
From there, the film world belonged to Furlong. Yes, he wasn’t a skilled actor by any means,
but he could have worked his way up through different roles and improve his
skills and talent. And it was beginning
to show, the exclamation point being his haunting performance in American
History X. But in between T2 and American History X there was Pet Sematary II, Brainscan and Pecker. Interesting film choices,
obviously he was stretching his wings.
After American History X, however, is a different story. Detroit Rock City”(still a fun movie, with
him being the only weak link), Three Blind Mice, and Nice GuysThe Crow:
Wicked Prayer. Excluding Detroit,
ever heard of those films? Not many
Since then, Furlong’s been relegated to the straight to
video/no release film world, one of the worst spots to be in Hollywood. Here is a kid who had the talent to make a
mark in the industry. I mean, to have your
big breakout role be in a James Cameron movie is definitely something to brag
about. From what I can tell, I think
the direction Furlong’s career took is based solely on bad choices. The best actors know what they can and
cannot do; everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The best focus on their strengths, while slowly mastering their
weaknesses. Furlong just jumped right
into roles that didn’t do him any favors.
And that’s a shame, because there is something in him that is just
waiting to take centre stage and remind us why we had such strong opinions of
him in T2. As with all actors he
needs the right material to truly make a mark.
Look at American History X.
Furlong stood his ground opposite Edward Norton, which is not an easy
task by any means. Out of his entire
filmography, that film is the one that proves he has what it takes to be one of
the best of his generation. But for
whatever reason, he remains mostly in the shadows.
I truly hope that with time, Furlong returns to movie screens
in a big way. I hate seeing actors with
talent stumble through lackluster roles, while what they’re truly capable of
just lies dormant. Furlong, we’ve seen
what you can do. Now remind us again
what you’re capable of.