In the Academy Award-nominated ''In the Bedroom,'' Nick Stahl played a son who gets blown away by a bloodthirsty bully. Luckily, his character in ''Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines'' can turn to assassin cyborgs for protection. As John Connor (played by Edward Furlong in 1991's ''T2''), Stahl joins Arnold Schwarzenegger for what's likely to be next summer's box office annihilator (the movie opens July 4, 2003). EW.com talked to Stahl, 22, about getting in shape for Ah-nuld and outgrowing his first director, Mel Gibson.
Is this the kind of role that demands abs of steel?
I'm not quite there yet, but for the first few weeks of filming I have very few scenes, so that buys me some time to get in better shape. I like physical roles like this since I need excuses to work out; I haven't the willpower to do it on my own.
Has training forced you to cut out all bad habits?
Not really. After working out, there's nothing like a cigarette. And I figure that your body just works that much harder if you have the lungs of a 4-year-old.
Everyone from Edward Norton to Shane West was rumored to be up for this role. How tough was the audition process?
I auditioned about five times, and there were three screen tests, which is more than I've done for any movie. But the director, Jonathan Mostow [''U-571''] is a pretty thorough guy -- probably because everyone knows there's going to be constant comparisons to the first two films.