Talking 'Lost' with Henry Ian Cusick
It's been a rough few days for "Lost" fans, what with the lack of a new episode and the mounting anticipation/dread of the whole thing coming to an end.
But here's something that may pick up your spirits: an extended Q&A with none other than Desmond Hume, aka actor Henry Ian Cusick. He has lots to say -- about why he wasn't in that much discussed cast photo, the mysteriously leaked call sheet and how it felt to officially wrap the show last weekend after four-plus seasons of playing everyone's favorite "brotha" man. (He also confirms, without saying much else, that -- SPOILER!! -- he is indeed in the show's final scene.)
Cusick chatted with me via telephone Monday night from Hawaii, where, due to the time difference, he was en route to pick up his three sons from school. ("I've never done one driving before," he confessed about this interview. "Is that all right?" Of course it is, Mr. Hume.)
Here's what we discussed...
Jen: When you got the script for "Everybody Loves Hugo" and got to the point where it says, “Desmond hits John Locke with his car,” what was your reaction to that?
Cusick: I sort of figured it out quite quickly… well, my interpretation of it. I sort of knew why that was. I thought it was a little bit extreme.
I sort of thought that I had to get John Locke into a place where I was trying to wake him up. So it made sense to me. When I’m acting, I’ve always got to make it make sense to me why I do anything. Whether it’s right or wrong, I’ve just got to believe this is the reason why I am doing this and just go with it. Does that make sense?
Jen: Yeah, it does. So the notion that you were trying to wake him up, that’s something you got pretty much right away from reading it?
Cusick: I had to believe that was the reason I was doing it. There may be another reason I was doing it. But as an actor, because they don’t tell you why you’re doing things -- I figured out very early on on this show that even if you don’t know the real reason why you're doing stuff, you as an actor have to have a reason why you do things and just believe that.
It’s a little like Harold Pinter because you don’t really know the-- because it’s a cryptic bizarre script, you have to have reasons for doing stuff. Otherwise, it just looks empty.
Jen: Some of our readers have been speculating that Desmond is playing a role like Jacob’s in the sideways timeline, where he’s going around and touching people’s lives, and that his goal is to bring together the two narratives. Can you tell me if people are somewhat on the right track with that idea?
Cusick: I think they’re on the right track with people touching each other’s lives, yeah. I think that on the whole show we’re all interconnected and we all touch each other’s lives. That’s definitely the right track, I think.
Jen: I’m sure you probably saw or heard that there was a promotional finale image released recently with a bunch of different characters in it. Your character wasn’t in the picture, so that generated all this speculation: "Desmond isn’t in the picture. What does that mean?" Can you explain what that means?
Cusick: It means that I am not a season regular this season, I’m only guesting. I’m only in seven episodes. All those pictures, they are with regular characters, and this season I’m not one.
Jen: In other words, "Lost" fans are, as usual, reading too much into something?
Cusick: I think so, yeah. (Laughs) That’s good, though. That’s fine.
Jen: I have another question about leaked information. I don’t know if you heard about this call sheet that supposedly got out from the show – have you heard about this?
Cusick: No, what was that?
Jen: It sounds a little fishy to me, but there was a call sheet with some information about who was going to be in some final scenes, and what the scenes were about. Someone supposedly left it in a restaurant in Honolulu and it’s been on the Internet. It’s unclear whether it’s accurate, but it had you on the sheet and it said something about waterfalls and Desmond and Jack being on a rope… does any of that sound remotely accurate?
Cusick: You know, the security has been pretty tight lately, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there have been fake leakages. I wouldn’t put it past them to do stuff like that because I think they are trying to throw people off track. I don’t know, I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment. But, you know, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone did that.
Jen: It just seems strange that someone would go, “Oops. I left this at lunch.”
Cusick: Right. Yeah, especially since security has been so tight even with our side, with the actors. We have to leave [the scripts] in our trailers when we’re finished with them.
Jen: So you can’t even take them home at night to run lines?
Cusick: No, we have the script, but it’s exactly that -- they don’t want us, you know, going to a restaurant afterwards, sitting outside and leaving them there.
Jen: One more dorky question, and then I’ll ask you slightly less dorky questions. In the first episode of this season, there was a lot of speculation online about your scene with Matthew Fox on the airplane. People thought there was a wedding ring on Desmond’s finger, but later on you weren’t married to Penny on the show. Was there a wedding ring on your finger in that scene, was it a continuity error or were we just seeing things?
Cusick: I don’t know. I mean, I do wear a wedding ring and take it off when I shoot. So, you know, if it was there -- again, I haven’t seen this -- but if it was there, that was a continuity error, I’m afraid. There shouldn’t be a ring on my finger in the flash sideways.
Jen: Thank you for clearing that up. In terms of where filming is, I know you’re close to wrapping or already have. Have you shot your last scenes yet?
Cusick: Yes, we wrapped on the early hours of Saturday morning. I would say about five in the morning we wrapped, and I just got a phone call saying I’m working tomorrow [Tuesday] now because we’ve got to work on some pick-ups. So it still isn’t off just yet. And I’m sure after that, I’m going to have to come in and do some ADR. It’s still going on, but we’re very close to the end now.
Jen: So the early hours of Saturday morning: was that more like an official wrap for everyone?
Cusick: Yes, that was the official wrap. I think now what we’re doing is just little things that we may have missed, pick-up shots. But yeah, the official wrap was late Friday night, early Saturday morning.
Jen: What was the vibe on set? I have to think it was pretty emotional.
Cusick: You know, it was a very long night. And it was kind of people gearing up for a very exciting night, around 1-ish, 2-ish. Then people started trickling off around 3 and then 4, it was just the crew and actors. But even so, for me -- we were tired. We hung around the camera truck for a few more hours, certainly I did. It was a good way to end, I thought. I certainly had a good night and I prefer ending like that. Being there on the last day of filming I think is a pretty cool thing to be able to say.
Jen: Was there any sort of celebration? A toast or anything like that?
Cusick: Oh absolutely. There were a few drinks and people gave speeches. People had a few, you know, final wrap moments. It was cool.
Jen: Did you give a speech?
Cusick: No. People were tired. It was a very short sort of thing: That’s a wrap, you know. Very short. It wasn’t appropriate for everyone to start talking. It was five in the morning, I think. Everyone just wanted to have a drink and go.
Jen: In terms of the finale, I’m guessing that you’re obviously familiar with the pieces that affect your character. But have you seen an entire script to have a sense of how everything falls together?
Cusick: I’ve seen an entire script, minus one scene. And only the actors in that scene have seen that scene. So I have seen the final scene. I was in it, so yeah. So I know roughly what’s going to happen except for one little scene.
Jen: I don’t want you to tell me what happens--
Cusick: --don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you.
Jen: Yeah, I know you’re not going to anyway, but I genuinely don’t want to know. But I wanted to ask: are you happy with it? When you read that script, did you think this is a great way to end the show, both for Desmond and the show in general?
Cusick: You know, I knew you were going to ask me this. I really don’t want to comment on it. This is the reason why: I’d really love the audience to watch it and take in what they want and not have, you know, people saying “Oh, it's going to be amazing” or “It’s not so good.” Just watch it. It’s very close to the airing… when do we air? Middle of May, right?
Jen: Yeah, May 23rd.
Cusick: That’s less than a month And I think people when they watch it, then -- it’s certainly -- what I can say is that you’ll be thinking about the whole show, and there will be a lot of conversation about it.
Jen: Oh boy. In other words, we’ll all have to go back to the beginning and watch it all again to figure it all out.
Cusick: I think people are going to do that anyway.
Jen: They are going to do that anyway. After Saturday’s wrap, did you get to take any kind of memorabilia or a memento from the set? Or have you taken anything from a previous season that you really treasure?
Cusick: No, no I haven’t. I got my name from my chair. That was given to me by props. But the rest of the stuff, I think, is – all the individual bits and pieces are all going to go up for auction. So I think they’re being very tight about what they’re giving away. When I go to work tomorrow, I’ll have a look around and see what’s not going to be auctioned. I’ll have a look and see. I meant to do it on wrap night, on Saturday morning, but I got so carried away with whatever else, it didn’t seem the right time to do it.
No, there’s nothing I’ve really taken away from it. I’ve got a season six poster. That’s about it. And even if I had, I’m not sure what I would have taken. I did once steal a shirt, a blue Desmod shirt. And then I had to give it back.
Jen: You should take one of those, for God’s sake, there must be millions of them.
Cusick: I don’t know where they are now. They’re probably hoarding them somewhere.
Jen: I wonder if they’re going to auction one of those, do you think?
Cusick: You know what, I gave it back because they did give me one that I auctioned off. I thought I couldn’t steal one and auction one off. You know what I mean?
Jen: Have you been reflecting on what you’re going to miss about the show?
Cusick: You know what, I have been. Just the last couple of days have been a time for reflection, just sitting down and taking stock of the show and it’s been a very interesting process. And quite an emotional journey. It’s been a big part of my life and a lot of fun. And I’ll probably miss it more than I think I will at the moment.
Jen: Obviously you’ll miss the people you worked with, but are you going to miss the character?
Cusick: There’s so much I’m going to miss about it. Just going to work, to being part of the show called “Lost.” Getting to play Desmond Hume, you know. When I read the other scripts that are coming in or stuff that I’m up for, nothing really compares. He’s such a rich character, it’s going to be hard to top.
Jen: I read that you and you family are staying in Hawaii. Do you have a time table for how long you will stay, or is it just indefinite?
Cusick: I’d like to stay until my eldest son graduates from high school. He’s 16. He’s got two more years. And then we’ll see what happens.
As always, as an actor, I just sort of always play it by ear and, you know, there’s nothing set. It’s all open to whatever turns up.
Jen: I guess you’re used to that because that’s been the lifestyle.
Cusick: Here’s part of the thing I was thinking: I used to be used to it. For the past five, four-and-a half years, I’ve been used to going to work or not going to work, but knowing that work was there. And that’s one of the things that kind of affected me. Wow, I was kind of getting used to that work thing. And now I’m going to have to go back out and find a job and it might only be for two weeks or three months, and it may not be a long gig. So that’s having its effect on me. But that’s good. Because I never ever wanted to be in a regular job in anything, so that’s probably a good thing.
Jen: Is there any other character on "Lost" that you would have wanted to portray?
Cusick: I think we all get asked that and everyone sort of goes for the John Locke, Ben Linus characters. I have to say I’m very happy with Desmond. I think I got a pretty cool character. I wouldn’t want to swap him for any other character. For me, it’s the best character I’ve ever played. Certainly the longest I’ve ever been in a job and the richest character I’ve ever played.
Jen: Do you have any idea what you next project might be or are you still mulling things over?
Cusick: No. Nothing yet. I’m just reading some scripts. I’m not in a rush to make a decision. I’m looking for something that can surpass or equal “Lost.” And that’s not going to be easy to find.
| April 28, 2010; 1:05 PM ET
Categories: Lost, Pop Culture, TV | Tags: Lost, Pop Culture, TV
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