Portrait of the actor, totally stoked: By his own account, Edward Furlong is getting a big head. "Big! Big! Big!" as the young star jubilantly puts it. Eddie's not quite sure why people like him‑but he's definitely all for it. "Sometimes, I think I am great," he exclaims, shaking his straight brown hair out of his eyes for the umpteenth time in several minutes. "It's so cool" is all he can murmur.
Eddie's excitement is understandable. In a chain of events that fuels the Hollywood Dream, a casting director discovered Eddie two years ago when he was hanging out at the Pasadena Boys' Club. At the time, this slender, pale youth, who describes himself as "half Mexican, part Russian, and just American," was simply a lower‑middle‑class kid from a broken home who rarely had the means to see a movie. Several screen tests later, he made his movie debut as Arnold Schwarzenegger's half‑pint sidekick in Terminator II.
Since then, he's battled legions of zombified domestic animals, in last summer's stuporific Pet Sematary II, and will soon be seen in his most challenging role to date, playing a homeless street kid in American Heart, the latest film of Martin (Streetwise) Bell. "Acting scared was easy," he says, recalling his two previous films. "In American Heart, I had to let forth all my feelings. Sometimes, I even had different emotions in the same scene. I was, like, 'Oh, no, can I do this?"
Jeff Bridges, who plays his dad in the movie, believes he can. Calling Eddie a young actor "in a class by himself," Bridges attributes Furlong's appeal to the newcomer's "natural ability to explore different ways of doing a scene. Ninety percent of acting is pretending, and Eddie really kicks into that mode. Also, the camera just loves to linger on him."
Instead of exuding superficial charm and steely reserve, like some young performers who've tasted success, Eddie has an unabashed directness that makes him immediately likable. Already back before the cameras shooting A Home of Our Own with Kathy Bates, the 15‑year‑old thespian happily recalls his first on‑screen kiss, in Heart: "The director kept telling me, 'Eddie, lower down that kiss.' But I wanted to keep screwing up." After repeated takes, was Eddie satisfied with the results? Absolutely. "All I kept thinking was, 'Wow! I get paid to kiss a beautiful girl‑I love this job!"