The Many Shades of Thomas Dekker
I have made a lot of decisions that have not been supported by many people,' says Thomas Dekker without laughter or remorse. At 23, he has already played gay twice, done his first full-frontal nude scene, and passed up two major movies to act opposite Mink Stole, Elvira, and Natasha Lyonne in a film directed by drag queen Peaches Christ. 'But it's always personally paid off,' he says with a wry smile. And though there may be one or two juvenile arrests on file with the Las Vegas police department, the former child actor avoided the well-trod road to ruin taken by so many before him.
After landing a commercial gig at the age of 5, Dekker worked steadily in film and on TV shows like the Disney Channel's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and 7th Heaven before securing roles on Heroes and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. At 17, though, he nearly chucked it all for a job at Amoeba Music, the independent Hollywood record store. 'I was like, 'I'm done. I'm out. I'm bored and I'm just going to have a normal life and write music.' Then I met my current manager who said, 'I want to send you out for a Funny Games remake with Michael Haneke,' who was my favorite working director. I was like, 'Holy shit, I can go out for something I care about?' ' Dekker didn't get the role, but the possibility of getting cast in projects he wanted to do was a defining moment.
He may be young, but Dekker speaks like someone with a lot more years under his belt and half-seriously bemoans that he's getting old. 'I can't do this whole thing, which is these kids coming out of nowhere'they've never worked before, they've never proven themselves, they've got crazy abs -- and they land the lead in a multibazillion dollar movie. Then their first movie tanks, and they've done five already now because everybody freaked out before they saw the results, and their career disappears,' he says before acknowledging that he has, in fact, just signed on to star in the latest CW pilot from Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, The Vampire Diaries), proof that he's able to have a sense of humor about himself and his career.
It was network television, however, that introduced Dekker to his first Internet scandal. He was working on NBC's Heroes, when he was cast opposite the show's heroine, Hayden Panettiere, with little more direction than, 'artsy, gawky kid with a burning crush on [Panettiere's character].' After shooting a dozen episodes playing straight, he was given a new script -- in which his character matter-of-factly admits he's gay -- just hours before filming their prom scene.