Note to TV Addict: Do Not ask Garret Dillahunt questions that might make him angry. Look at the size of those hands!
At first glance, one can’t help but feel slightly intimidated by actor Garret Dillahunt. Not only does he quite literally tower over me, as evidence by the hilarious photo I’ve posted above. The man has made a career out of playing a killer robot sent from the future, an assassin, not to mention Jesus Christ.
But thankfully, Mr. Dillahunt wasn’t anything like the characters he is best known for portraying, as I found out recently when he was kind enough to sit down with me at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles to talk about what is in store for Cromartie on the upcoming season of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES.
Congratulations on becoming a series regular this year.
I guess they liked what I did last year, which is good.
So what’s in store for Cromartie this season?
They’re giving him a lot more brains. He’s getting a lot more tricky when it comes to catching up with the Connors. We just finished a really fun episode called “The Mouse Trap” and as the name implies, I set a very elaborate trap to catch John and the family. I had a lot of fun doing all the stunts this week. Lots of water work and running.
I imagine playing a virtually indestructible robot brings with it a nice sense of job security as an actor?
Well I played Jesus Christ [in NBC's short-lived BOOK OF DANIEL] which also had pretty good job security, because you can’t kill Jesus. But I don’t know if there is ever job security in what we do. But it’s fun to play something, someone that is so strong. It’s nice to play someone with no hesitations about anything he does.
Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt) is a cyborg from the future on the second season of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES ©2008 FOX Broadcasting Co. CR: Frank Ockenfels/FOX
Is it a challenge as an actor to play a robot? Unlike your more human characters, I don’t suppose you can really draw from personal experience?
I don’t know about you, but I look back on my life and there are moments that I could have been braver. So it’s kind of fun to have an excuse to be really brave. And I mean in acting terms and Terminator terms, to not be afraid to play a character who has no fear, to jump off a building and be brave enough to not show it is pretty cool.
Have you had to do any stunts that make you genuinely nervous?
With this last episode we had to do a lot of semi-dangerous stuff. But we have great stunt people, my guy is David Kilde. Last season he did a stunt that I thank God I didn’t have to do. In the time between I took the role and Owain Yeoman’s work in the pilot there was a period where Cromartie was just a burned piece of flesh and David Kilde had to submerge himself in a vat of liquid so that Cromartie could get a new face. David [Kilde] had this burn mask on, with his eyes and mouth sealed shut with just two little pin holes to breath through. Just thinking about it makes me claustrophobic.
So you’re not one of those macho actors who have to do all their own stunts?
I love a good stunt man. I’ll do whatever they let me do. I love fighting. But I know they’re not going to let me get dragged behind a car or jump off a twenty-story building.
As an actor who’d had an incredibly varied career, does the iconic status that comes with playing a Terminator ever concern you? Before accepting the role do you ever think about typecasting?
I guess I don’t. I’ve been very lucky and while I do play a lot of bad guys, they’ve been very wide and varied. I feel like if I have a reputation it’s as someone who is a chameleon, which I like. I don’t know if it’s the best business move because people don’t know who you are. But I like it and it makes me feel good.
And you don’t have Paparazzi stalking you.
Is that a level you ever want to reach?
I don’t even know how to control that. All I can do is be good and get better and make one role different from the last.
Will Cromartie be doing anything outside of hunting down the Connors this season? Anything that the audience might find surprising?
There is a huge surprise coming up I’ve been told. Although the trouble with a lot of these creative types, and the same thing happened on DEADWOOD. They [the writers] would come up with all these great ideas and sometimes they wouldn’t come to pass. But if it does, there is a huge surprise coming and Cromartie actually gets this massive sort of personality change, which is something I’m really looking forward to.
Care to be more specific? [it would really help me reach my goal of becoming the next Michael Ausiello!]
I’m just afraid that it won’t come to pass. But I can reveal that there’s some fun stuff with George Lazlo coming up. We go back in time a little bit and see what George’s life was like a struggling actor. [Fans may recall that Cromartie stole Lazlo's body in season one]
Well I’m really looking forward to the second season.
It’s going to be even better this year. We really found our footing, it’s going to be a lot of fun!