The actor discusses playing a "prophet", choosing his roles and what he'd be doing if he'd never been John Connor

Edward Furlong has had the kind of career that many struggling actors would be envious of. After making the jump to the big screen (with no prior acting experience) in Terminator 2, Furlong has made a career seeking out interesting roles to challenge himself. We recently caught up with the actor again to discuss his role of Brandon Nichols in the movie The Visitation. This is a complex tale of belief and faith with Furlong’s character in the center of it. Is Brandon Nichols a messiah? Or something else?

During our interview Edward Furlong not only discussed this character, but the choices he’s made as an actor as well what he might be doing if he’d never been in Terminator 2.

Tell us about the character of Brandon Nichols that you played in The Visitation?

Edward Furlong: Basically, I’m this guy who kinda comes around and starts doing these miracles and there’s a lot of speculation that I’m Jesus returned and all that. Martin Donovan (who plays Travis Jordan in the film) is basically the one guy who doesn’t believe me, and kind of figures out what’s going on. I’m this very bad guy, actually. I’m pretty much possessing people and pretty much being a false prophet.

What type of research did you do for this role? Did you study Frank Peretti’s book? Did you meet with ministers at all?

Edward Furlong: No, I didn’t study Frank Peretti’s book. The most I did was literally I went to go see a sermon... I actually went down to the Forum. I just wanted to see a preacher and how they take a whole crowd and how they have that kind of energy to do that, because I’m actually kind of shy or whatever. I mean, I was kind of nervous about playing a preacher and going up there and preaching. When I first read the script I was like, “It’s gonna be kind of hard for me to be like (imitates the cadence a preacher might use)...” I didn’t really do the preacher thing. I just kind of did my own little thing, somehow.

What was it like working with Martin Donovan and Kelly Lynch?

Edward Furlong: Oh dude, they were awesome. Martin is a great actor and Kelly was just a sweetheart. She’s a very humble, down to earth woman. It was funny because I only got to meet them on the set, because I’m not really too much in the movie with them until the very end. They were great.

As you get older and act in more films are you more conscious in the roles that you play? Or, are you still trying to play everything?

Edward Furlong: As I get older, I’m more willing to take on more, I guess. I feel more comfortable kind of being different characters and kind of stretching it a little more. Like with The Visitation. At least for me, being an actor, I have to draw from human experiences, so it was kind of a stretch playing that role. Kind of supernatural... kind of like what I did in The Crow actually. That’s stuff kind of a challenge for me, you know?

Do you think you’re attracted to darker roles?

Edward Furlong: I’d definitely say I end up being more attracted to that, yeah. Probably because I like darker movies and plus, just as an actor, I think it’s always more fun to play the darker roles where you get to stretch your arms a little bit more. It’s like therapeutic, man, to be mean, I guess, you know? (Laughs)

Movie PictureYou mentioned being older you feel like you can take on more types of roles, when you were younger were you nervous about that?

Edward Furlong: Yeah, you know, in a lot of ways it’s like with any job, at first it’s sort of like alien to you a little bit... a little foreign. And then as time goes on... when I was a kid I’d take a role... it’s kind of funny too, because now I have the attitude also “All I am is just like making movies.” When you’re a kid it’s like, “Oh my god, I’m making a movie! It’s so much pressure!” You know?

What’s it like to have no ambitions to act and then to be starring in Terminator 2? Where you aware of all that at the time? Or, is it just in hindsight?

Edward Furlong: Oh yeah, I was aware of it. It was insane, man. Of course you’re kind of like in your own skin and you’re going through it all, but it’s a trip going from being this little kid in Pasadena to having People Magazine taking pictures of you outside of your house, because you’re in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, you know?

Do you ever wonder what you might be doing if you weren’t acting or if you hadn’t taken the role of John Connor?

Edward Furlong: Yeah, I have no idea. I think I’d probably be a homeless person or flipping burgers somewhere. That just sounds really depressing and I’m beating up on myself. (Laughs) I don’t know. I love acting. I can’t imagine anything else that I would do. I know a lot of actors that really want to be directors and be musicians and all that stuff. I like acting and I feel like I’m good at it. It kinda makes me happy. It’s actually pretty easy to me and I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point because I’ve been doing it for so long.

Is there one role that you’ve done that you were really nervous about doing, that you didn’t know if you should do, then you did it and you were glad that you did it?

Edward Furlong: There’s several..., I guess one of them was American History X. I remember it was just crazy subject matter. I remember reading the script and wondering if people were just going to hate it or love it. With the ending and everything and the message it was getting across, and it was getting that message across in such a harsh way, I remember being a little nervous.

Now, I’m actually glad I did that movie. It turned out to be this movie that a lot of people have seen. It’s like really big, so... it’s cool.

What do you have coming up next?

Edward Furlong: Well, Jimmy and Judy is doing the festival circuit. Which is a small independent film I did. It’s kind of like Badlands. I did four films last year. One of them is called Living & Dying which is a good movie with Michael Madsen. Keep your ears open for Jimmy and Judy and Living & Dying.

The Visitation comes out on DVD February 28th, 2006 through Fox Home Entertainment.

Evan Jacobs