The end of Thomas Dekker‘s time on Heroes last season was marked by controversy. Or, as he told us at press tour Monday, not.
"You know, controversy is such a nice, fancy, dramatic term that sounds good," says Dekker, who’s now starring in FOX’s midseason drama The Sarah Connor Chronicles as the Terminator-fighting, future-saving John Connor. "I think it was something that definitely got blown out of proportion as far as what actually happened with the character."
To recap: On Heroes, Dekker played Zach, a high-school outcast with whom indestructible cheerleader Claire (Hayden Panettiere) shares her secret. Although it was never overtly stated, it was fairly strongly implied on screen that Zach was gay, and creator Tim Kring and other writers said as much (see last paragraph on the page) in interviews early in Heroes‘ life.
That seemed to change, however, toward the end of Dekker’s time on the show, when Zach was, as the web site AfterElton.com put it, "degayed." Theories abounded as to whether NBC or Dekker’s handlers pushed for the change and whether the resulting brouhaha contributed in any way to Dekker leaving Heroes.
To hear him tell it, though, Zach was always intended to be "in every possible way ambiguous."
"We felt that every character in the series was so clear in who they were, and it was nice to have kind of side characters that were a little more open," Dekker says. "You didn’t know where his relationship with Claire was going. And, you know, me not appearing on the show anymore has nothing to do with anything to do with the character. They’re completely separate events."
Moving on to The Sarah Connor Chronicles, he says, was more a matter of being part of a franchise he’s loved for a long time and being a series regular rather than an episode-to-episode guest star, as he was on Heroes.
"I was hired as a guest star in the pilot. The fact that the character took on such attention was really just a nice gift and a plus," he says. "I was never under contract, and it was never something, as far as I was aware, was intended to remain on the show. I was surprised every week that they called. So yeah, something like this comes along, you know, I have to take this opportunity."