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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Edward Furlong Anymore

With the release of 1991's Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Edward Furlong catapulted from anonymous 13-year-old to teen idol superstar. His debut as the youthful renegade John Connor under the protection of his slowly-becoming-sentient robot patriarch earned him the MTV Movie Award for Best "Breakthrough Performance." Furlong went on to star opposite some of Hollywood's top talents, including Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Edward Norton. As is too often the case, however, his early peak gave way to tough times in adulthood. Furlong's story plays out like a textbook case of former child stardom. Here's why Hollywood said "hasta la vista" to the once-promising actor.

He's got a long history with drugs and alcohol

Part of Edward Furlong's story plays out like those of formerly troubled young stars like Macaulay Culkin, Christian Slater, and Drew Barrymore. Furlong first went into rehab to kick cocaine and alcohol in 2000, but it wasn't enough to prevent the sordid string of events that followed. In 2001, he was hospitalized for an overdose after a night out with Paris Hilton and Natasha Lyonne. Later that year he was busted twice in the same night, once for driving without a license and again, just four hours later, for a DUI. A series of court-ordered stints in rehab and various other legal problems have slowed the actor's efforts to regain ground in Tinseltown—and prevented him from reprising his role as John Connor in T3: Rise of the Machines, in which the part went to another yet-to-be troubled young actor, Nick Stahl.

He's been plagued by domestic problems

At the time Edward Furlong was cast in T2, his family was already embroiled in domestic troubles. He'd been living with his aunt and uncle when news broke that he would star with mega-star Arnold Schwarzenegger in what would become one of the biggest blockbusters in history, and the announcement spurred a heated custody battle between his birth mother and his surrogate parents, who were also acting as his managers. The battle extended well beyond the film's production, casting a dark thundercloud over the dusty road of Furlong's future.

Despite being sought after for high-profile parts, the 15-year-old stirred controversy by getting engaged to his 29-year-old former tutor (and on-set stand-in) Jacqueline Domac. His family's concern eventually led to his legal and financial emancipation. His former guardians unsuccessfully tried to charge Domac with statutory rape, but the relationship imploded on its own: Domac claimed that Furlong was physically abusive, finally suing him for withholding funds she'd earned as his manager.

His bad-boy image turned downright bad

By 2004, Edward Furlong's career had headed straight to video. While working on the indie film Jimmy and Judy in September of that year, Furlong—a member of PETA—was arrested in a Kentucky grocery store for drunkenly attempting to free live lobsters from a display tank. While it wasn't clear to anyone (likely including Furlong himself) whether the incident was political in nature, he had three hours in the "tank" to think it over before the film's director bailed him out. It was on the set of Jimmy and Judy that Furlong met co-star and future wife Rachael Bella. The two married in 2006 and had a son, Ethan, just five months later, but their relationship proved to be a rocky one. Bella ended up filing several restraining orders after he allegedly beat her during a drug binge. She separated from him in 2009 and later filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences following a string of terrifying voicemails threatening to "beat her and her new boyfriend with chains and bats." In yet another dark and tragic turn, Furlong was barred from contact with his son after the 6-year-old tested positive for cocaine after being in his custody.

He's not a kid anymore

In the quarter-century since his big screen debut, Edward Furlong's career has taken some unfortunate turns, but as we all know, Hollywood is a fickle place. Staying relevant as a former child actor is tough enough, but as a notorious party guy, it's damn near impossible. Recent appearances have revealed that his lifestyle has taken its toll on the onetime teen idol. While finding high-profile parts as an adult has proven difficult, there are very few gaps in his résumé. Furlong is still working, most recently on the YouTube series Star Trek: Renegades.

He didn't choose the movies, the movies chose him

Tony Bill, the director of Edward Furlong's 1993 film A Home of Our Own, wrote a foreboding letter to the 15-year-old's agent, saying, "Eddie Furlong didn't choose the movies, the movies chose him and it has taken a heavy toll." Sadly, the premonitions were spot on. Furlong was scooped up from anonymity, literally cast on a Pasadena street corner, and plopped into fame and fortune, but what started as a rags-to-riches fairytale has played out more like an ominous fever dream.

Audiences will always remember Furlong as the disgruntled kid with the Public Enemy t-shirt, tearing up the streets of L.A. on a moped, robbing ATMs with the mullet-bearing kid from Salute your Shorts. John Connor, too, was lost long before realizing his fate as a mythic leader. Real life tells a much different type of underdog story here, but Furlong hasn't given up—and he's still regarded as a talented actor. His road from child star to troubled adult is a classic warning of the high price of fame, but such tragedies have also given way to equally classic stories of redemption. As John Connor says: "The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."