Culture

The Tragedy of the 'John Connor Curse'

Curses abound in Hollywood. From haunted movie sets and mansions, to notorious tales of murder, to the infamous “Oscar jinx” — where highly touted winners move on to less-than-notable careers — one doesn’t have to look far to find the story of a curse. One rather curious Hollywood curse has generated headlines in recent days, and the headlines speak of a potential tragedy.

It’s a jinx called the “John Connor Curse.” The story goes something like this: unfortunate things happen to the young men who have played the role of John Connor in the Terminator franchise. Before you dismiss the jinx as some crazy conspiracy theory (like one of those you might see on History these days), consider what has befallen the stars of the films and television series.

Edward Furlong originated the role of John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991.

Furlong earned critical acclaim for T2 and has gone on to star in 38 other films, along with a handful of television appearances and roles in videos by Aerosmith and Metallica. He may have originated the curse because of his notorious troubles with alcohol and drugs, including heroin and cocaine. He caused plenty of trouble in his marriage as well, including violating a restraining order. In 2011, he admitted he was “completely broke,” but a judge ordered him to pay $15,000 in back child support. Today, Furlong is an example of what could have been.

Thomas Dekker portrayed John Connor in the Fox television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which lasted for a season-and-a-half in 2008 and 2009.

He has gone on to star in the recently cancelled CW series The Secret Circle. In October 2009, Dekker hit a 17-year-old cyclist with his car. Police initially charged him with two counts of DUI, but Dekker pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor charge of reckless driving.

Christian Bale played John Connor as an adult in 2009’s Terminator Salvation.

Bale has cultivated the reputation of an intense and sometimes difficult actor, and one incident on the Terminator Salvation set threatened to mar his career for life. On two occasions, cinematographer Shane Hurlbut walked onto the set during a scene. Bale claimed Hurlbut broke his concentration, and the actor launched into a profanity-laden tirade against Hurlbut. A recording of Bale’s tantrum made the rounds in February 2009; the recording revealed that Bale had made threats against Hurlbut and threatened to quit the film. Under obvious public relations pressure, Bale apologized. He has managed to channel his tortured talent into an acclaimed career, including winning an Oscar for 2010’s The Fighter.

Nick Stahl has become the latest, and potentially most tragic, victim of the “John Connor Curse.” The 32-year-old actor first made a name for himself in Mel Gibson’s directoral debut, The Man Without A Face, in 1993. Stahl seemed to have broken another Hollywood spell — the one that affects many child actors — by having a relatively steady film career into adulthood, including his portrayal of John Connor in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Stahl’s life and career took a heartbreaking turn when he went missing in early May. He had struggled with drugs and alcohol and his marriage was falling apart. He and his estranged wife Rose separated in January and have been in a bitter custody battle over their daughter. Rose last saw her husband in downtown Los Angeles on May 9, while other friends claimed to have seen him on May 10 at a friend’s apartment in West Hollywood. She reported him missing on May 14.

Rose Stahl fears the worst, and is worried about her husband. She told E! Online:

He has never disappeared for more than a day before. This time he has been gone for 10 days and we are extremely concerned about his well-being.

I want my husband to come home. He is an amazing father and we miss him.

[…]

He wants to be well… He’s a good man and we want him home so we can help him.

Nick Stahl’s disappearance is the ultimate culmination of the “John Connor Curse.” It’s easy to fear the worst, but as long as his whereabouts remain unknown, there’s some hope — however slim — that he may be alive. Pray for Nick Stahl and his family. Send thoughts and wishes his way. Here’s to the hope that he can break this tragic Hollywood jinx.

Update: Nick Stahl: Missing actor tells friends he’s alive, entering rehab

Chris Queen hails from Covington, GA. Check out his website, ChrisQueen.net, and follow him on Twitter.