Born into a family of musicians and performers, Thomas Dekker never considered a career outside the entertainment biz. He began acting at the age of 5 and has worked steadily ever since, including recently landing the coveted role of John Connor on Fox's highly anticipated Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. TVGuide.com spoke with Dekker about starring alongside Lena Headey and Summer Glau in the newest installment of the Terminator saga, premiering this Sunday (8pm/ET), and about leaving his recurring role on Heroes.
TVGuide.com: How does it feel to be playing the eventual savior of the human race?
Thomas Dekker: At first, terrifying, because we're stepping on some sacred ground here. But it's an honor and it's also actually not as difficult as I feared, because I feel pretty close to John. I identify with his outspokenness, and he's also too quick to make decisions. Those are things that we definitely have in common.
TVGuide.com: Did you learn anything from the performances of the previous John Connors, Edward Furlong and Nick Stahl?
Dekker: I didn't really study Nick Stahl's, because our show is before Terminator 3 in the timeline. So I really only studied Edward's performance and I tried to incorporate the instincts, the things that would never go away. Like I said, his fiery, quick decision-making quality was something I wanted to interject. But I also wanted to put my own spin on it, because we're not remaking any film. We're trying to expand the story and the characters.
TVGuide.com: Are you always keeping it in your mind that your character will one day lead a revolution?
Dekker: Absolutely. That fuels my character, maybe even more so than Edward's, because he's getting closer and closer to it. But I think the interesting thing that people my age can identify with is that he's got the teen predicament times a thousand. He's dealing with everything you fear as a teenager — what is my future, how am I going to handle it, can I live up to the expectations. Of course, on top of that, John's got to save the world, so that's a little different than deciding whether to become a doctor or a lawyer.
TVGuide.com: Do you see those common themes as part of the reason the Terminator mythology has been so enduring?
Dekker: Oh, yeah. I'm not even a big action fan, but I've always been an enormous fan of the films. I respected the story so much and it seemed so relevant. When I heard they were doing a television show, my first reaction was, "Oh, s--t, they're going to ruin it." But when I sat down with the writers and producers and they explained to me what it was really about, it seemed so right now and important. It's actually more relevant now than it was in the late '80s and early '90s. The line between machine and human is becoming more and more blurred every day. Technology is such a big part of our lives.
TVGuide.com: Sounds like it wasn't a difficult decision to leave Heroes to take the role on Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Dekker: It wasn't at all. I was only supposed to be on Heroes for the first episode, and I never had a contract. Every episode I had after that... was a surprise. So I was auditioning the whole time I was on the show and I auditioned for [Terminator]. When I got it, I wanted it so badly. Of course, they weren't very happy when I got it. I had a three-hour phone call with Tim Kring sort of asking me not to go. But I respect so much the writers and the producers of [Terminator] and I feel a bond with [them]. I never felt a bond with a single person on Heroes and that's very important to me if you're going to be creating something.
TVGuide.com: Now that you've gone from Heroes to Terminator, are there any concerns about getting mobbed next time you go to ComicCon?
Dekker: [Laughs] It's funny. When we went to premiere Terminator there, I had my Heroes people, Lena had her 300 people, and Summer had her Firefly/Serenity people. So we've all got a strong backbone there, and those fans are very supportive.
TVGuide.com: You and Summer spend a lot of time on screen together, and there's a romance hinted at despite the fact that her character is a cyborg. What has your experience been like working closely with Summer?
Dekker: Well, I have to say, the three of us, including Lena, it's almost become bizarre how close we've become. I've been working for 14 years and I've never bonded with people I've worked with — people I could call friends. But we are just inseparable. We go out to eat together. We drive each other home. It's a crazy thing.
TVGuide.com: With the writers' strike, what's the status of the show?
Dekker: Well, we were picked up for 12 episodes and we got nine finished. We were lucky, because the ninth episode actually ends with a great cliff-hanger. So we're basically just waiting to see how we do and waiting until the writers' strike ends. It sounds so cheesy, but we really love doing the show. The idea of not having it, even for a while, makes me sad. I miss it already and I really hope we'll be back for more.
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