Family & Companions
A decade after his star-making role in James Cameron's action blockbuster "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991), former teen actor Edward Furlong's rap sheet and reported drug use served as a cautionary tale of the downside of young success in Hollywood. Teen magazines turned Furlong into an idol following the success of "T2," but the novice actor went on to earn the genuine respect of critics for a number of performances as hardened yet fragile teens in "American Heart" (1993) as well as "American History X" (1998), a graphic and controversial drama about young neo-Nazi brothers. Furlong was afforded a few opportunities to showcase a surprisingly funny and lighthearted, awkward charm in John Waters' "Pecker" (1998) and the rock 'n' roll cult hit, "Detroit Rock City" (1999), but by the time the actor reached 20 years old, it was clear that his life off-camera bore an unfortunate similarity to the conflicted, searching characters he embodied so well. From the box office top shelf, Furlong would slide into the junior leagues with a parade of straight-to-video horror films that elicited as much sympathy as Furlong's troubled teen roles, but for different reasons.
Born Aug. 2, 1977 in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, Furlong was "discovered" by a casting agent for the film "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) while playing at a Boys Club in nearby Pasadena. The teen's life had been rocky up until that point -he had never met his father, and around the same time he was being courted by Hollywood, he was the subject of an intense custody battle, with his aunt gaining legal guardianship of the teen from his mother. His life changed again radically when the accidental actor delivered a spunky performance as John Connor that stood up well alongside stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton. The novice had also successfully survived a James Cameron film shoot; no small feat for many an actor cast in one of the tempestuous director's money-making epics. An overnight sensation on the teen circuit, Furlong received an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Role, while the Saturn Awards named him Best Young Actor. Hollywood directors came calling as well, resulting in Furlong's starring performance as a teen haunted not only by the death of his mother, but by possessed pets in the Stephen King-based horror movie, "Pet Sematary Two" (1992). Ably proving his range with character-based films that relied on subtler performances, Furlong also laid the foundation for future teen-in-crisis parts with his role in the gritty indie film, "American Heart" (1993), in which he gave an insightful - and Independent Spirit Award-nominated - performance as a street-cultured dreamer reunited with his ex-con father (Jeff Bridges).
In another film depicting a family relationship challenged by hardship, Furlong played one of six kids being raised by a widow (Kathy Bates) in the considerably more heartwarming 1950s-set drama, "A Home of Our Own" (1993). Furlong won a Young Artist Award for his performance as the oldest of the brood, but offscreen, his own family life was again in turmoil when his Aunt's guardianship reverted back to his mother. Rather than move back in with her, the 16-year-old moved in with his older on-set tutor for "Home," Jacqueline Louise Domac, with whom he had become romantically involved. Furlong's role in the sci-fi actioner "Brainscan" (1994) was little-seen, but the next year, he was back on track with a supporting role as a budding con man opposite Tim Roth in the indie drama "Little Odessa" (1995), set in Brooklyn's Russian organized crime community. That dark, affecting film was recognized with awards at the Venice and Deauville Film Festivals, and "The Grass Harp" (1995), adapted from Truman Capote's touching novella in which Furlong played a sensitive orphan handed over to his aunts (Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie) also earned high praise. In 1996, Furlong took his scruffy screen image a step further when he played a teen murderer whose parents (Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson) are divided over how to deal with him in "Before and After" (1996), directed by Barbet Shroeder. Furlong's reserved performance, incorporating an almost ethereal quality that made the character himself a mystery, gave so little away that the issue of whether or not the boy committed the crime seemed an entirely plausible question.
Furlong took a successful first stab at comedy in John Waters' "Pecker" (1998) as the title character, an enthusiastic amateur photographer from Baltimore who is discovered and thrust into the spotlight of the New York City art scene. Brimming with a good-natured innocence and lightness absent from his earlier work, Furlong portrayed what was best described as a sunny character for the first time, ably showcasing his capabilities, though the film itself was not as highly regarded as the director's previous films. From the world of Waters' fun romp, Furlong transitioned to the most intense dramatic role of his career, starring as the impressionable younger brother of a violent Neo Nazi (Edward Norton) in the visceral "American History X" (1998). Furlong's easily-led Danny, the focal point of the narrative, aspires to a life of hate even as his older brother's time in prison changes his outlook. The young actor again deftly handled the complex emotions of the vulnerable, conflicted character. Tony Kaye's production was plagued by the director's high profile clashes with the movie studio and his efforts to have his name removed from the credits over his dissatisfaction with the final product, but even his flamboyant outcries did not overshadow the film's remarkably impactful performances.
In a much-needed relief from heavy drama, Furlong took on the light, funny role as one of a group of friends on a quest to attend a sold out KISS concert in the 1970s-era teen comedy, "Detroit Rock City" (1999). The film also sparked a romance between Furlong and his co-star, Natasha Lyonne of "American Pie" (1999) fame, while his relationship with his Domac came to an end. Despite never having married the young actor, Domac would go on to sue him for a percentage of his earnings. Around this time, the actor virtually disappeared from mainstream theaters after a series of run-ins with the police, including a 2001 arrest for DUI following a car accident. The actor was reportedly in and out of rehab, and rumors swirled that his drug use and brushes with the law led to his termination from "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" (2003). In 2004, Furlong was arrested and charged with public drunkenness at a supermarket in Kentucky, where he was shooting the indie "Jimmy and Judy" (2006). Before that film was released, Furlong starred in a few low budget horror films and, in Goth full-on Goth makeup, went straight-to-video in "The Crow: Wicked Prayer" (2005), co-starring comparatively dramatic lightweights David Boreanaz and Tara Reid. The teen outlaw road movie "Jimmy and Judy" earned moderately good reviews on the film festival circuit the following year, by which time, the unpredictable Furlong was married to his "Judy" co-star, Rachael Bella, and expecting a son, who was born in the fall of that year.
Over the next several years Furlong's output was generally limited to direct-to-DVD horror films with a few exceptions - the direct-to-video frat comedy "High Hopes" (2006) featuring fellow former kids stars David Faustino and Corin Nemec, and the direct-to-video crime drama "Living and Dying" (2007). Furlong sadly made news for his offscreen behavior again in 2009 when Bella, who had filed for divorce, applied for a restraining order against him, alleging Furlong had become violent, was using hard drugs, and had threatened suicide on several occasions.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his film debut as John Connor in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
TV debut in the NBC pilot, "Toonces, the Cat Who Could Drive a Car"
Starred in the horror sequel "Pet Sematary Two"
Appeared in Aerosmith's music video "Living on the Edge"
Played Kathy Bates' oldest son in "A Home of Our Own"
Acted opposite Jeff Bridges in "American Heart"
Starred in the virtual reality thriller "Brainscan"
Received critical success for his work alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Tim Roth in "Little Odessa"
Starred in the film adaptation of Truman Capote's "The Grass Harp"
Appeared as a model in Calvin Klein print advertisements
Played an accused murderer in the drama "Before and After"
Featured as Edward Norton's young brother in "American History X"
Starred as a young photographer in the John Waters comedy "Pecker"
Starred as a dedicated KISS fan in the comedy "Detroit Rock City"
Acted opposite Willem Dafoe in "Animal Factory," directed by Steve Buscemi
Co-starred with David Boreanaz and Tara Reid in "The Crow: Wicked Prayer"
Landed guest recurring role on "CSI: NY" (CBS) as character Shane Cacey
Co-starred in the independent feature "Jimmy & Judy"
Starred in the thriller "Dark Reel"
Appeared in feature film remake of "The Green Hornet," starring Seth Rogen