Eddie Furlong has been an Arnold fan since Predator, and can mouth swatches of the dialogue from Terminator, which he thinks is ''fantastic'' although T2, of course, ''is even better.'' But, says the eighth-grader from Los Angeles, ''it was weirder meeting Maria Shriver than it was meeting Arnold. I mean, I went to their house and there were all these pictures of John F. Kennedy on the walls! There were letters from him. I mean, that guy is famous.''
The same may soon be said of Furlong, who gives a performance in T2 that critics and audiences have applauded for its freshness and believability. Life has been stranger for Furlong lately than the Nintendo worlds he is so fond of. ''(Casting director) Mali (Finn) started my life,'' he says, flicking his chin-length bangs back from his face and diving into a box of birthday chocolates (''Ooh, major zits!'').
The son of Eleanor Torres, 32, who works at a youth center in Pasadena, Calif., Furlong, like his T2 character, does not know his father. Last summer he left his mother's home and moved in with her sister, Nancy Tafoya, and their half-brother, Sean Furlong, in Highland Park. The reasons, he says, are ''kind of personal.'' Although his mother has made attempts to reclaim her son, Eddie became legally able to choose his own guardian when he turned 14 this month. ''She blew it,'' he says of his mother. ''I'm going to stay with Nancy and Sean.'' Still, he says he's ''looking forward to'' a reconciliation.
The fact is, he hasn't been spending much time at home anyway. First there was the roving six-month T2 shoot. Now Furlong is in Seattle costarring with Jeff Bridges in American Heart, about a street kid reconciled with an ex-con father. As he did on T2, Furlong will have a tutor. ''I get better grades,'' he admits, steadily lighting matches as he apologizes for fidgeting. ''But it's weird. I'm not passing love notes or getting my teachers all mad at me because I'm talking to all my friends. I miss that part.''
His social life may have gone through a seismic shake-up, but there is at least one advantage to this Hollywood stuff. Furlong got his publicist to wangle a date with Soleil Moon Frye (TV's Punky Brewster) and the two have become as inseparable as teenagers living in different cities can get (she's now in Oregon filming Mark of the Bear). And let's not dismiss those scripted hugs from the ''awesome'' Linda Hamilton. Recalling them, Furlong looks pensive for a nanosecond. ''What was I thinking? 'Oooh baby, I want to hug you hard!''' The ante is upped in American Heart Furlong gets his first on-screen kiss, from Tracey Kapisky. Is he nervous? ''Are you kidding?'' deadpans Tafoya, who accompanies him on shoots, as Furlong, out of earshot, places a call to a new 17-year-old actress friend. ''Eddie is a walking hormone.''