Most TV stars who visit Las Vegas hit the ground running -- and run toward the Strip.
Thomas Dekker would rather hit Target or Albertsons.
Not that the star of The CW's "The Secret Circle" gets much chance to get home to Henderson these days.
He's too busy working 14-hour days and six-day weeks in Vancouver, British Columbia, home base for the new series about a group of teen witches trying to control their lives -- and their powers -- in a small Washington harbor town.
Sure, it's a tough schedule, but "it's a champagne problem," Dekker acknowledges.
Besides, he has more pressing matters to discuss during a recent telephone chat.
"How's the weather in my beautiful hometown?" he asks, a bit wistfully, pondering the distance between cold, rainy Vancouver and usually sunny Southern Nevada.
And not just the differences in weather, either.
When his best friend from Las Vegas visited him in Vancouver, the two attracted plenty of attention -- and not the appreciative kind -- from well-mannered Canadians who looked askance at the "combustible energy" they radiated, Dekker recalls.
"We're used to being in Vegas, where you're free to be as wild as you want," he says. "I think it's the heat. It makes us a bit bonkers."
Boisterous and bonkers off-screen, perhaps, but those adjectives definitely do not apply to Dekker's "Secret Circle" character, Adam Conant.
"On the one hand, he's a real all-American, stand-up guy," Dekker says of Adam, the romantic interest for new girl in town Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson), who's just discovering her otherworldly powers. But Adam's sensual, spiritual, wise qualities give the role a duality that appealed to him.
Besides, developing a character on a TV series enables Dekker to explore a character in greater depth, he says.
He would know. Before "Secret Circle" (which just received its full-season order for nine additional episodes) Dekker starred as John Connor, frightened teen and future save-the-world fighter, in "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
After that series run concluded, Dekker planned to concentrate on features -- primarily of the independent, edgy variety. (Augmented by such occasional made-for-TV projects as HBO's recent "Cinema Verite," about PBS' pioneering '70s reality series "An American Family," which starred Tim Robbins and Diane Lane as parents Pat and Bill Loud -- and Dekker as son Lance Loud, "the first gay icon in TV history," as Dekker describes him.)
But the idea of doing a project that "could easily connect with millions of people" encouraged him to change his mind, he admits.
Especially because the series had Kevin Williamson behind it.
On the big screen, Williamson is known as the horror guru behind the "Scream" franchise, but his TV credits range from "Dawson's Creek" to "The Vampire Diaries" and, now, "The Secret Circle."
Williamson's involvement proved enough to pique Dekker's interest.
The interest extended to the show's producers as well, according to executive producer Andrew Miller.
Dekker's name surfaced early in the show's casting process, and his audition "was amazing," Miller recalls, in part because Dekker "brought something to the character I never imagined" -- a something the executive producer describes as "an intelligence, a sensitivity and an emotional awareness."
Dekker doesn't exactly resemble Adam as he is described in the L.J. Smith books that inspired "Secret Circle's" TV adaptation. But "we wanted to try to capture the nature of the character" rather than the look, Miller explains. "If you're a fan of the book, then you love Thomas."
For his part, Dekker loves the project's dark overtones.
"I've always been most interested in dark entertainment," he says. "Horror and sci-fi keep coming my way -- maybe because I'm a fan."
As for "The Secret Circle," Dekker cites the drama of the characters as a draw, with the show's dual story lines, which address the dark theme that the teen characters' own parents could be using their children's abilities to manipulate them.
Lucky for Dekker, who will turn 24 in December, that his parents were a far more positive influence.
At age 5, he was singing with them in an L.A. coffee shop when he was discovered and cast in his first commercial, launching a career that has been going steadily since, encompassing animation voice-overs (in two "American Tail" sequels and five "Land Before Time" installments), TV roles (on shows from "Heroes" to "7th Heaven") and movies, including the 2008 indie "Whore," which he also wrote and directed.
Dekker's mother, Hilary, a former concert pianist and actress, is a local acting coach. (When he's in town, Dekker sometimes sits in on her classes, he says. "It's been really wonderful to watch her students blossom.")
Dad David Dekker, a community theater stalwart, pursued acting, directing, painting and music before his death in September 2010 from Alzheimer's disease. (Thomas remembers those sad days during his father's final illness, when he commuted between Southern California and Southern Nevada every weekend so he could be with his father.)
Even now, Dekker's Henderson home -- which he bought, at age 12, with the money he earned during three seasons as a regular on the TV version of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" -- remains "a haven to escape out of the L.A. madness," he says.
Or, in the case of "The Secret Circle," the Vancouver gloom.
"To me, it's my pinnacle of normalcy," Dekker says of his Southern Nevada roots. "I can come home and be in the normal world."
Contact reporter Carol Cling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272.