To celebrate the end of Lost, the show's cast and crew gathered in Los Angeles on Thursday for Lost Live: The Final Celebration. Before the event, I snagged interviews with as many actors as I could get to on the red carpet. While none of the cast members I spoke with came close to disclosing anything about the series finale—duh—they were all more than willing to reflect on their characters and their experiences filming Lost. Next up: Harold Perrineau (Michael Dawson), Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert), and Jorge Garcia (Hurley).
You had to play someone who betrays all his friends. How did you find compassion for the character so you could play it sympathetically?
It’s probably because I have kids. I mean, and I tell people, you maybe don’t want to be my friend, because if it’s a choice between my kid and you, I’m always going to choose my kid. So if you don’t want to be my friend, cool. [laughs] But that’s how I could play Michael, because from the beginning, you get that this is a guy who loves his son. Even when Michael’s first flashback comes and you find out Michael’s ex-girlfriend took Walt away, he’s still a guy who just loves his son and always worked diligently for him. So while he felt really, really horribly about having to turn them over, he had to get the kid back. Who knows what they’re doing to the kid? And he’s a child. I could play that easily. For me, that makes sense. For me, that was more heroic than it was villainous.
How secretive do you have to be when you’re coming back for a one-episode guest role? Do you just have to not tell anyone you’re doing it?
Yeah, it’s really tricky. [laughs] It’s really tricky. And they actually are really helpful, because you don’t find out anything until the last minute. So I didn’t know until three weeks before I was going, so that meant three weeks of deflecting questions. And I didn’t know what I was going to do until I got there, so that was actually really helpful. People were like, “Are you coming back? Are you coming back?” I had no idea. And then, I finally did show up. It’s a little tricky but not too bad.
As one of the original cast members, you’ve been doing this a long time. What question do you find yourself asked most often by people on the street?
Most people ask what’s going on. I saw that movie Kick-Ass. And in Kick-Ass, they have that thing, “I’ll never find out what happens on Lost!” [laughs] And you know, that’s what I think most people—“what is going on on that island?” I don’t know what’s going on and hopefully we’ll get an answer.
So even you don’t know what the deal with Walt is?
I don’t at all! [laughs] I don’t at all.
Richard is a very mysterious character, especially before we got the flashback earlier this season. How do you find your inspiration as an actor when you don’t know the big picture?
Oh, one of the best challenges I’ve ever had as an actor is coming to a show and sort of being given what’s on the page, given a character that has a sort of mysterious background, and not really being privy to those details. It makes you honest as an actor. It makes you not take anything for granted. You create your own backstory, and then just trust in the director and trust that he’s steering you in the right way. It’s a tremendous exercise. I think every actor should be so lucky to have that kind of experience.
Can you talk a bit about filming “Ab Aeterno,” the big, sweeping flashback epic?
I got a call from Carlton Cuse. He said we’re going to do this episode. I didn’t know that they were going to devote a whole episode, and I certainly didn’t know they were going to break convention the way they did and stay in that time period. When I read it, I was just blown away. I felt when we were shooting it, because the regular cast wasn’t there for the most part, that I was on some other set, doing this sort of fantasy mini-movie with all these incredible high stakes. It was a real treat and I was so grateful to have done it.
Richard, Ben, and Miles have been gone for a while. We haven’t seen them in a few weeks. Do you think fans will be satisfied by the way their story wraps up?
We’re gonna see [in the next episode]. You’ll see how that story unfolds, and it’s—I think so. There’s so many elements at play here, where we’re going to the plane. The others are no longer with Locke. The submarine. There’s so much going on, but all of those elements—you’ll see how they come together. They have a way of tying them up and also leaving enough mystery there for you to keep your imagination going.
Hurley’s kind of an unlikely hero. When you started Lost, how much did you anticipate of the journey he would take over six seasons?
Almost none of it. I mean, when I first read the pilot, and I knew I was going to have to run away from this plane wing that was going to explode behind me, I got a little scared. ‘Cause I was like, “Man, this is not like anything I’ve ever done before.” It was like action movie type of stuff, which was not something that was in my comfort zone. So the amount that they have allowed me to do on the show with this character has been an incredible ride and just a great, great journey as an actor.
Lost is a show that’s often been praised for its diversity. Do you think there are other good roles out there for Latino actors?
Sure. I mean, one of the great things about Lost was, we came on late and they were still working on the script at the time that we were getting cast. They would end up gathering a lot of actors that they wanted to work with without necessarily having the role formed. So my part was written for me. And Hurley wasn’t officially Latino until, like, the episode of the census, when he got the manifest and started asking everybody questions. That was kind of the first time when it actually became official. Hurley originally in a very old breakdown was actually a redneck. And then Sawyer became a redneck and Hurley became something else. So I think the fact that they did that with the casting created a show that had diverse characters without anyone having to do anything token to represent it. I thought that’s really why Lost was a strong, diverse show.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Charlotte Lewis, Emily Linus, and Walt Lloyd!