NEW YORK — He went from island guru to a frustrated button pusher. Now Terry O’Quinn, who plays the enigmatic John Locke on “Lost,” says get ready for his character to really push the envelope.
The island is now split, with some people following Jack, hoping that a new group will rescue them. Others are sticking with Locke, who thinks the new arrivals are a danger to them all. O’Quinn sat down with The Associated Press to discuss his character, the show’s backstage dynamics and his quibbles with the writers.
AP: What can we expect from Locke now?
O’Quinn: Trying to find out who these people are, why they’re there, what they want, because he knows it’s not to rescue them and Ben has said that he has someone on their boat and he’s going to try to find out who that is and what exactly is going on. He believes now that his purpose is to protect this place. That it has a soul, that it’s kind of a being and he’s its agent.
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AP: How does that affect the evolution of the character?
O’Quinn: The way I like to see it now is he’s got religion. When you’re convinced that you’re right and you believe that you have the license to do anything because you’re right, you can be bossy and you can be dangerous. You can be oppressive. You can be a tyrant. So, we’ll see.
AP: Has Locke gone insane?
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O’Quinn:The question is whether he’s gone over the edge or where is the edge or how far is he going to go, whether he’s being misled and where he’s being led and whether he’s going to have the good sense to stop when he gets to the right place. I don’t know.
AP: You’ve said you found Locke’s button-pushing phase in the hatch frustrating. What’s it like playing the character now?
O’Quinn: I like the present situation somewhat more. Although in the next few episodes people are about to see he sort of stalls again. But he has this — it seems to be his pattern. He finds something, it activates him, he goes until he hits a roadblock and he stalls and he waits for something to happen, he gets frustrated, he gets angry and then something happens and he runs along for a while. They’ve always kept it interesting — well, sometimes not, sometimes frustrating — but that’s what happens with the character.
AP: You’ve had other disagreements with the writers.
O’Quinn: At the end of season three Locke throws a knife into Naomi’s back and I said, ‘This really hurts me, it’s so not typical and it’s so out of character and it seemed gratuitous.’ I made the biggest stink I ever made with (executive producers) Damon Lindelhof and Carlton Cuse and they said, ‘Look, Locke believes he was doing the right thing. His life was saved, he’s been told, he’s been instructed. He believes that this is the most dangerous person in the world right now and he does what he does. Do it.’ I said, ’Well, you know, if I stab her in the back couldn’t I at least shoot Jack in the knee or something?’
AP: What’s it like working with such a large cast?
O’Quinn: One of the nice things about this cast, this size of cast, you get a new episode and you go, ’Oh great, now I get to work this little arc with Michael Emerson. We have a lot together. Or with Josh Holloway or Evangeline Lily and it’s almost always a pleasure to find out who you’re working with. Almost.
AP: Are there some you aren’t pleased to work with?
O’Quinn: There’ve been some rough times but it’s very familial in that way. It’s like the holidays when you go, ‘Oh God, Uncle Bob’s going to get drunk and abuse my cousin. But we’ll get through it.’
AP: It’s been announced ‘Lost’ will end in 2010. How does an end date change things?
O’Quinn: As an actor and as a fan, it makes things more meaty ... (the producers) know where they’re going and they know how much time they have to answer the questions so it can play like a piece of music. And I think that’s going to be more gratifying for everybody.
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