Garret Dillahunt: Terminating The Future

Following yesterday's conversation with actor Thomas Dekker (aka John Connor), CBR News continues our weeklong spotlight on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" with actor Garret Dillahunt, who portrays on the Fox series the Terminator called Cromartie, a robot assassin sent back in time to kill John Connor before he can grow up to become the savior of humanity. Cromartie went through a lot in the first season, including being shot by an energy rifle from the future and having to grow for himself a new organic skin or disguise. CBR News caught up with Dillahunt â€" who's also appeared in as "Deadwood," "The 4400," "X-Files," and "John From Cincinnati" -- to talk to about what the future holds for the murderous cyborg in the series' second season (beginning September 8) and why the actor wishes he could be more like Cromartie.

Garret Dillahunt sat on the "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" panel at last month's Comic-Con International in San Diego, and the experience was an incredible one for the actor and self-professed comic book fan, who said he had twelve boxes of comics at home. "Good lord, there is such power in that [panel discussion room], and it's maybe the most discerning audience I've ever [seen]," Dillahunt said of the Comic-Con audience. "People know the most obscure things you've done, they talk about themes, and is it 75% of the movies in the theater are now based on comics books? Maybe more? It's fantastic."

While most "Sarah Connor Chronciles" cast members seemed worried by the announcement of an imminent death for one of the series regulars, Dillahunt hasn't been fazed by the news. "I feel good, I feel hopeful either way," he revealed. "Really though, I was surprised they asked me to be a regular on the show. I wouldn't think a Terminator's life would be that long so whichever way it goes it's okay with me."

One thing that did catch Dillahunt by surprise was how much he came to love playing the Terminator Cromartie. "I enjoy so much playing him, in fact more then I thought I would," the actor said. "I thought it would be very finite, the things I could do. But then you realize how -- not that anyone loves him-- but you love the machines [and] how you can't part with them. It's weird. It's like, 'Aww, I can't sell my Nova! You know all the stuff I've been through with this car?' and I kind of feel like that. You find these little individual tics, even in the biggest piece of machinery. I am enjoying that part of finding the way he has no hesitation. He is socially unskilled; he says 'hello' a little too hard, smiles a little too big."

As Dillahunt has explored playing the cyborg from the future, the performer has noticed some qualities that he has come to admire in the character and even some things he has in common with him. "I like the original notion for the Terminators that I think even James Cameron had, that they should really blend in," Dillahunt said. "They need to blend and while he doesn't totally [blend in], I've based my whole career in trying to disappear into different kinds of characters. I like doing something different than the last one I did, and how cool then to play a character that can become whatever he needs to get his job done. So I'm just kind of letting it be that. The hardest part for me is trying to divorce my performance from any sort of [feelings]. You realize how much you pile on as an actor, like, 'Oh he's probably scared here,' [or] 'Oh maybe he doesn't want to jump into the pit of swirling knives.' But [Cromartie] will be like, 'John Connor's in there, I'll jump in there.' No fear, no hesitation. I kind of think of Jason Bourne more than Terminators, you know what I mean? I just like that, I wish I was like that in my life."

One thing Dillahunt does draw on for his performance as the model T-888 cyborg is the first two Termintor movies by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. "As often as I'd seen the Terminator movies, you forget things," Dillahunt said. "I remembered that one section where I think Kyle Reese was yelling at Linda Hamilton about 'they have hair, they sweat, they have bad breath,' that whole thing. [I was] like, 'Oh yeah, they sweat and can have bad breath maybe we don't need to be so worried about my armpits or whatever.' I'd [also] forgotten how in ['Terminator 2'] Arnold kind of got all philosophical and he would talk about histories of things and weapons."

Per Dillahunt's research, Cromartie fans can look forward to more dialogue from the villainous cyborg in season two of the series, but that doesn't mean Cromartie will stop kicking ass and become a philosopher come September 8. "It's cool to just win a fight," Dillahunt confessed. "I've been beat up so much in my career it's so nice to win [and] break a neck. I'm anxious to punch something actually, I haven't punched anything as a Terminator yet. It's all lifting people by their necks, but actually just a good ole Terminator punch would be exciting right?"

CBR News continues our spotlight on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" tomorrow as we speak with the another Terminator, Summer Glau's Cameron, and the newest cast member, Shirley Manson of Garbage.

DCEU Doomsday in Batman v Superman
Unused Batman v Superman VFX Footage Features Doomsday Rampage

More in Movies