Lost and Found
Terry O'Quinn Feeling That "Lost" Might Just Be the Best Way to Be Found
"Lost" regular Terry O'Quinn says he's ready to embrace the nomadic life - much like his character on the hit ABC drama about a group of airplane crash survivors washed up on an island.
"My wife and I decided to sell our house in Maryland," says the Newbery, Michigan native, who plays the mysterious one-time paraplegic Locke on the show. "We've been married for 25 years and lived in Maryland most of that time, but our sons are both grown and moved to the West Coast. We have a big old house and want to cut loose some anchors and drift awhile." O'Quinn says the plan is that his wife, Lori, will come to Hawaii where the show shoots. "We'll hang out here for awhile, maybe buy a place here. Or maybe we'll just rent a place and hang around and see where we land. We're just not going to worry about it."
And he says, they'll be packing light. "We're trying to sort through 25 years of accumulated junk, but it's going to be easy to let go of most of it."
O'Quinn, like many in the "Lost" troupe, has fallen under the spell of the beautiful Hawaiian locale on which the show is shot. They're about to wind up an illustrious first season as one of the few hit shows to emerge last fall. And despite the intensity of the show, O'Quinn says to him it still "feels like camping out with your friends. It's pretty wonderful. I brought my guitar and sometimes we just sit on the beach and make music. Naveen (Andrews) is a fabulous guitar player and a wonderful singer. So we harmonize and sing some tunes until they pull us away to shoot a scene - or tell us to shut up because somebody else is shooting a scene."
The actor -- who's best known to television audiences for his portrayal of an FBI agent for the last two seasons on "Alias," which is also created and exec produced by "Lost" creator/exec producer J.J. Abrams -- attributes the success of the show to the fact that very same off-screen harmony translates into an amazing on-screen chemistry for the remarkable cast.
He says of J.J. Abrams, the show's creator/exec producer, "I'm convinced that one of his greatest talents is pulling all the pieces together, assembling and constructing a beautiful puzzle with this cast. It feels like a perfect fit….it just seems so natural and so pleasant."
Of course, fans of the show, know O'Quinn's Locke has been described as many things, but pleasant isn't often one of them.
Yet, he says, those same fans are loving his villainous ways - however nebulous they may seem at times.
"Certainly, so far everybody's said good things," he says of interactions with fans. "If people have got bad things to say about him they've been kind enough to keep it to themselves… A lot of people love the character. They love how mysterious he is and think the character's cool even though they don't know if he's good or bad…And they love not knowing whether he's good or bad."
Indeed, O'Quinn's character emerged one of the integral players in the ongoing saga of the "Lost" survivors -- a fact that surprised even him.
When the pilot was first shot, he says he didn't have any idea how his character would eventually fit into the equation on the show.
"J.J. basically said 'You're not going to be terribly involved in the pilot, but your character's going to become more and more prominent and more important as the story goes on."
The actor, who's been featured in such series as "The X Files," and "Millennium," says, "I just took him on faith….that and the fact that I needed a job and he had one."
He says from week to week, Abrams pretty much keeps the cast on a need to know basis.
"They don't tell me much and I haven't asked much. I've kind of enjoyed working in the dark, so to speak, because you don't have all that baggage. You can do a scene a certain way sometimes and somebody will say 'Well, you can't do this' because this is going to happen in the future - but that hasn't happened very much."
For the first few months of the season, O'Quinn says he didn't even know his own character's back story.
"He was a cubby hole rat who worked at a box company and had a strong fantasy life. He wanted to go on an Australian walkabout and flew there, but they wouldn't let him go because he was confined to a wheelchair," recounts O'Quinn. "He thought it was his destiny. He thought going there was going to be answers his questions and give him his ambulatory powers back and all that stuff, but it didn't happen and they told him to go home. Then the plane crashed and he decided that this was, in fact, his destiny."
He's not sure if being kept in the dark about their characters was a calculated plan or just because the writers themselves were making it up along the way, he says.
"I don't know whether they had everything or not, but the policy was to keep it hush-hush At first I was a little resentful, but now, after the fact, I find that I like it and I can understand. It's pretty hard to keep something confidential if an actor knows about it," he quips.
Unlike the "Lost" survivors stranded on an island amidst danger and mayhem, the "Lost" cast has been having a ball stuck on their Hawaiian island together.
"If there's a new episode," he says, "a lot of the cast will assemble at the home of the person who's featured in the episode - and that person is responsible for some grub and some drinks."
He adds, "I've done TV shows and films I didn't even care to see, but I wouldn't miss this for the world. I love that it's a great big cast and really interesting looking and sounding people - and it has a lot of rich textures a lot of TV shows don't have. I just think it's really quality stuff."
Certainly a sentiment shared by most who've found this "Lost" treasure island.