Edward Furlong's 'Terminator' Return Renews Focus on Domestic Violence Past

Edward Furlong-Getty-H 2019
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The actor had been arrested multiple times on suspicion of both felony and misdemeanor domestic abuse.

Of the numerous surprise reveals made on Friday during Paramount's San Diego Comic-Con panel, it was a Terminator: Dark Fate casting that floored fans.

Dark Fate producer James Cameron revealed Edward Furlong would return to the franchise as John Connor, the role that made him a star at a young age when he was cast in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Fans of the highly anticipated installment, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, were thrilled. Those aware of Furlong's checkered domestic violence past were concerned.

“It’s important not to sweep Edward Furlong’s reported history of domestic violence under the rug just because he’s returning to a beloved movie role," Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs at the non-profit California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV), told The Hollywood Reporter

Added Marroquin, "There are consequences for survivors, who may think twice about seeking help when they see people who harm gaining fame or power without being held accountable by their fans and peers."

Skydance Media, which is producing Dark Fate, declined to comment, as did Paramount. Furlong could not be reached for comment. (He does not currently have any listed representation.)

After T2 became a megahit, grossing $520 million worldwide, Furlong became a star. In his July 1991 Judgment Day review, THR critic Duane Byrge wrote, "Edward Furlong's nervy performance as the nervy 12-year-old savior catapults the story to its fullest human dimension, while Hamilton is superb as his gutsy mother."

Furlong turned into a teen heartthrob and went on to sign with CAA in 1997 and appear in a number of films, including Detroit Rock City, Pet Sematary Two and, most notably, 1998's critically acclaimed American History X.

But in the early 2000s, the actor's career cooled and he began making different headlines. Furlong was accused of domestic violence by his estranged wife, who got a restraining order against him and for which he was arrested for violating. 

Between October 2012 until May 2013, Furlong was arrested multiple times on suspicion of both felony and misdemeanor domestic abuse. The victim, his girlfriend, also got a restraining order against him. In March 2013, Furlong was sentenced to 180 days in jail for violating his probation (which he was on after he violated a restraining order obtained by his estranged wife) and for violating the girlfriend's restraining order.

Furlong was arrested again in May 2013 for assaulting his girlfriend. Through a plea deal, he was given five years’ probation, ordered to rehab for drug addiction, and to undergo 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling. 

Since then, Furlong has mostly stayed out of the headlines until the surprise announcement made at SDCC about the latest Terminator chapter, which is due in theaters Nov. 1. Immediately after the unveiling, his prior arrest record was noted by social media users. 

"Domestic violence is a set of learned behaviors exerting power and control, and can be unlearned — but it takes consistent work on the part of the person who caused harm well beyond the immediate crisis," Marroquin told THR. "Complex ideas about gender roles and expectations are often at the root of abusive behavior, many times instilled from childhood." 

Marroquin said while the counseling was a first step, it would take the accountability by those around him for Furlong to change.

"It will take ongoing attention and progress checks from his community, family members, and friends to ensure a true change of behavior," she said. "Ultimately, people who harm — famous or not — should allow justice to be determined by the survivor. They should publicly own up to their behavior, apologize, and describe how they’re trying to change. This is how we change norms around the silence that permeates domestic violence — by showing others using harm that accountability is necessary and healing is possible.”