Follow Us on Twitter

Lost: Season 6 - Terry O'Quinn interview

Lost, John Locke

Compiled by Jack Foley

TERRY O’Quinn talks about playing the character of John Locke on Lost as well as his thoughts on the sixth and final season of the show.

He also discusses some of his favourite scenes from the show (involving himself), the joy of working on location in Hawaii and singing songs with co-star Naveen Andrews and why he thinks Lost became such a huge TV success.

Q. What’s your fondest memory from Lost?
Terry O’Quinn: The perfect day on the set of Lost had nothing to do with acting. There was always a wonderful atmosphere on set because there was so much beauty around you in Hawaii – and the atmosphere was magical. My favourite times were when we shot on one of the beautiful beaches of the North Shore of Oahu, near to where I lived. The sun would be shining and the wind would be blowing – and you’d walk out of make-up onto the set via craft services to grab a cup of Joe. You’d walk over to where the actors were all sitting around and you’d spot Naveen Andrews with a guitar on his lap and a smile on his face. He would start to play and we would all sing along – and those are the most beautiful memories I have from working on Lost. You were in for a magical day when that was happening. Those were the sweetest days ever.

Q. What songs would you sing?
Terry O’Quinn: We’d sing everything from Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd to The Beatles and Van Morrison. I can’t even name all of the people or bands we would sing. You name a song and Naveen Andrews could play it. He’d figure it out on the spot or he would already know it. He was a dictionary of music.

Q. Work sounds like bliss when you put it like that… Were there any downsides to filming Lost?
Terry O’Quinn: The only downsides were when you weren’t working. I enjoyed working on Lost immensely, so the hardest part of the experience was when you weren’t involved in an episode. Everybody I worked with on Lost was a joy, so you really felt left out when you weren’t on set.

Q. What was your most memorable scene to work on?
Terry O’Quinn: My most memorable scene occurred in the third episode of the first season. It was the scene where John Locke stood up amidst the plane crash and the wreckage and the destruction and the chaos – and he realized that he could walk. I thought that was a brilliant scene because of the way it was shot. The director, Jack Bender, directed it superbly and I thought it was very moving. Michael Giacchino’s music had a large part in that, too. It was a fantastic scene.

Q. Do you have any other favourite scenes?
Terry O’Quinn: I love the scene I did with Michael Emerson in Season Five where Locke was trying to hang himself, but Linus came in and killed him instead. That was a great day on set. It was like we were performing in theatre. It was a lot of fun and I felt like I was really exercising my acting muscles, which made it wonderful.

Q. Why do you think Lost was so successful?
Terry O’Quinn: All of the production values on Lost were top notch. They were better than anything I’ve ever seen on television. The cinematography, the acting, the directing, the music… All of those things were amazing. Another thing that helped was the way that the people who watched the show were avid viewers who wanted to protect Lost’s secrets in any way possible. Somebody asked me recently: “Why didn’t more of the secrets get out?” And I said: “Because it would have been artistic vandalism to put that stuff out there.” Fans of the show didn’t want the secrets revealed, so they would try to protect it. I think that was great.

Q. Did you ever go online to check out what the fans were writing about the show?
Terry O’Quinn: I used to go online and talk to the fans a lot, but not towards the end of the show. I talked to them frequently during the first couple of seasons, but I found myself getting into the same conversations over and over again. The people I meet on the street satisfy my need to make contact with the fans. I love to meet them and I never say no to pictures. If anybody wants to talk about the show, I will generally talk about it.

Q. Would it worry you if people came up to you in 10 years and say, “How’s it going, Locke?”
Terry O’Quinn: That’s perfectly fine with me. If an actor sees that as a curse, I think they need to go and be a roofer for a while. Or try out being a garbage man and seeing how they like it. It’s a compliment to be remembered.

Q. What have you learned from playing Locke over the last six years?
Terry O’Quinn: I don’t know. Perhaps I have acquired a sense of confidence from him? I think a lot of us don’t see ourselves as substantial, but he has helped me realize I have more confidence than I thought I had. I feel like people will listen to me more than they would have six years ago and I’ve also learned that I’m a better actor than I thought I was. That is a lovely thing to realize.

Q. Do people now turn to you to lead the way?
Terry O’Quinn: I was the elder statesman of our cast, so maybe they did a little – but not too much. I was just one of many actors in the cast of Lost and we all looked out for each other, but there weren’t any leaders really. We all just got on with our jobs on the show.

Q. How much did you enjoy living in Hawaii?
Terry O’Quinn: I loved working in Hawaii more than I liked living there. I think if I stayed in Hawaii forever and didn’t work, I would probably go a little crazy. I would love to work there again, though. I was a lot healthier in Hawaii than I’ve ever been. Well, at least at this age. I’m a lot fitter than I would be if I hadn’t worked on Lost.

Q. How do you like to relax?
Terry O’Quinn: I play a lot of golf. I love to walk and swim. I play the guitar. I do some carpentry. People often expect me to say that I surf, but I can’t. Everybody says, “You’ve got to surf in Hawaii. You have to start surfing.” But then, five minutes later, you see them again with a nice little scar on their body and they explain, “Well, I got this when my fin hit me.” Or, “I hit the reef and it tore me up.” My rule is simple: Don’t jump off the gravy train when it’s rolling.

Q. Do you watch much television at home?
Terry O’Quinn: Sure. I love shows like So You Think You Can Dance. The people on that show are amazing. You watch these guys come from the streets and they’re into krumping or whatever it’s called – and then, all of a sudden, they’re doing the most amazing dances. I find it very moving and very satisfying, so I watch that. It’s much better than Dancing With The Stars. I also watch America’s Funniest Videos, but I don’t watch TV drama. I never really did.

Q. Are you a good dancer?
Terry O’Quinn: I’m pretty good. I can keep the beat. I can waltz. I can handle myself on a dance floor. I also love to watch nature shows, too. I watch sports. I watch the news. I’m not really into reality television, though.

Q. Do you plan to stay in Hawaii now that the show has finished?
Terry O’Quinn: I don’t know. I can’t stay there and not work, but we own a house there and it’s going to be impossible to sell in the current economic climate. What’s next for me after Lost? I’m working on something, but I can’t talk about it yet. I have a great idea and I’ve talked to Michael Emerson about it. I said, “You and I should do a series.” I’m trying to seduce him and coax him into doing something with me. I think that would be fun.

Q. Have you been offered many roles since the show ended?
Terry O’Quinn: Not really, but I’m hoping that’s because people assume I’m busy. The only thing I know for now is the fact that I’m an unemployed actor. What’s next for me? I’m looking for a job and that’s it.

Q. Is there any specific role you’d like to play?
Terry O’Quinn: I’ve played a lot of authority figures in the past and I don’t crave anymore of those, although I’ll do it if there’s a great story that’s written well. I guess I would love to play somebody who is flawed like Locke so that I enjoy the acting experience. It would be great to play somebody who has a complicated life and lots of trouble to deal with. That would suit me immensely. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and we’ll see what happens…

Lost: The Complete Season 6 is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, September 13, 2010.