Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau are the three leads that propel the action in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles (Mondays, 8 pm/ET, Fox). But there's one more regular cast member who's left trying to put the pieces together after the aforementioned trio battle it out with robot assassins from the future. That actor would be Richard T. Jones, who plays FBI agent James Ellison. TVGuide.com caught up with Jones, whom you may already know from his recent role as Mike in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married.
TVGuide.com: Agent Ellison is the one character in the show, so far, who believes Sarah Connor is simply a dangerous psychotic on the run. Is it a challenge to keep your detective role intriguing when everyone knows the truth, except you?
Richard T. Jones: Yeah, it's always a stretch to make the character believable and interesting and fun to watch. It's funny, because when I go about [playing] the character I try to put everything behind me and say, "OK, I'm the one who doesn't know anything, but don't seem totally stupid. You're just the guy who hasn't caught up yet."
TVGuide.com: The fact that Ellison is very practical seems to help.
Jones: Exactly. You know good and well that if someone on the street came up and told you that a robot from another time appeared yesterday and shot up the place, you'd be like, "That guy is crazy." I'm just the skeptic that's committed to truth.
TVGuide.com: We're led to believe that Ellison has been tracking Sarah and John for a long time. Did you come up with a backstory or any sort of motivation for why he's so driven to apprehend these fugitives?
Jones: Well, at the beginning, it was one of those cases that was supposed to help Ellison rise up in the Bureau. It was going to help me get promoted and get into the position where I wanted to be. It backfires, though, because when Sarah and John transport to the future, the case goes cold. So now I'm in the doghouse. I'm the guy nobody wants to work with. I'm the guy who couldn't catch the crazy girl who was talking all this stuff about robots. So part of what's driving my character is proving that I'm not incompetent and wanting to solve this one case that haunts me.
TVGuide.com: Ellison is no-nonsense, though he does have some witty one-liners. Despite the fact that he is tracking the protagonists, it makes him pretty likable.
Jones: That's always something I try to create. Although he's official, he needs to be entertaining and I want the audience to connect with him somehow. I remember Danny DeVito once told me, "Look, drama is easy. Comedy is hard. You always want to find the comedy in a character, because that brings it to life." I've always taken that and run with it.
TVGuide.com: Before you got the role, were you familiar with the Terminator mythology?
Jones: I was a fan of the first two movies, but I had not seen [No. 3] until I got the role. But [Nos. 1 and 2] I was a big fan of, because I was younger and I liked Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. I also thought it was cool that Edward Furlong was cast even though he had never acted before. I was like, "Wow, if he can do it, I can do it." It empowered me to go after what I believe I was created to do.
TVGuide.com: Were you at all nervous about The Sarah Connor Chronicles not living up to the franchise name?
Jones: I think we all felt some pressure, but at least for me I don't have to live up to any actor who portrayed my character. The bulk of the responsibility is on Lena and Thomas. But, yeah, the mythology is huge and it's kind of intimidating at times. But as they say, "Let's shoot for the moon, so even if we miss, we'll be among the stars."
TVGuide.com: Between Sarah Connor, Why Did I Get Married and the upcoming movie Vantage Point, you've been pretty busy lately.
Jones: I actually did all these projects a couple of years ago, so what's amazing is the timing of things. I'm a Christian and my faith means a lot to me and I'll tell you, I believe in divine timing and everything right now is coming up divinely.
TVGuide.com: Well, now that you've got some momentum going, what sorts of projects are you going to be looking for?
Jones: What's good about this whole thing is that I'm not picky. I hope you put that in your article. Write: "Richard is not picky." As long as it pays well, I've got four kids, so I'll take it. But I can't do scale no more. I've got a family to support. [Laughs] Honestly, though, I like comedies, dramas and action, so if it's good and they'll have me, I'm willing to give it a shot.
Check out more of Sarah Connor in our Online Video Guide.
Get all five of our collectible Lost covers, then go behind the scenes on the set for our exclusive preview of the new season. Plus: Take a sneak peek at this year's hot new Super Bowl ads. Try four risk-free issues of TV Guide now!
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.