According to the creators, Lost is set to run for another three seasons. Time Out tracked down Terry O’Quinn, who plays John Locke, and asked him about the hit series, his frustrations and what he thinks it all means.
When the writers recently said that they know how it’s going to end, did you believe them?
I believe them now because we know that Lost is going to have 48 more episodes, so I think they know where they are going.
Well, in American television they usually squeeze a show until it suffocates
and everyone loses interest. But now they know they have 48 more episodes and that makes me happy, because the end is in sight and there will be some great stuff on the way for the fans as well as us actors.
Will it be frustrating, though, because we all know the ending is a whole three series away, so ultimate resolution is a long way off?
I believe they will be able to make it so each series is still satisfying and exciting. You don’t want to throw out the candy while getting to the prize. We’ll get there and we can enjoy the candy on the way. But that’s the writers’ problem; I just hope they give me good stuff to do.
It must be hard to play a character not knowing how he will develop?
You might think so, but in a way it’s less work. I just have to take what they give me and imagine how I would like to play it. You don’t plan a long arc, you just think about a good way to do the next scene. And since the first season I’ve been given pretty much a free reign as to how I interpret my character.
So you have no idea about the ultimate fate of Locke?
No, not at all, and in that way I’m just like my character. My character wants, and is actively seeking, answers. He’s becoming more active and more unpredictable consequently. I feel like I’m the audience, I want answers too!
But the cast must sit around discussing what it all means and how it might end?
A little bit. But moreso, everyone at first was concerned if their character was going to live or die, just because we’re all actors and we all want more work and exposure on screen.
Any theories of your own?
I’m beginning to think that time is the river we are all swimming in here. I’m not 100 per cent sure, but that’s my prediction.
Ah, like the flash-forward scene at the end of the third season? What did you make of that?
I think it’s interesting and kinda brilliant.I don’t think it breaks the rules, but some people have criticised it because they think they now know the end, but who says that’s the end? It’s apparently the future, but maybe it’s only a possible future [smiles].
Will Locke be a key to the story at the very end?
I think so, and I think I can see how he might be. I’ve heard that they [the writers] have said that, but I don’t take anything that anyone in Hollywood says that seriously.
Was it a mistake by the writers not to show more of the main characters at the start of the third season?
I guess so… I don’t think it worked. I’m a fan of the show, and when the fans get frustrated I’m getting frustrated too. When people are unhappy and they’re losing the audience I want to cry out ‘change something! Bring these people back!’ I want to see people like Hurley and Jin on the beach. I’ve had up to six weeks during the season off where I wasn’t shooting. In season three I wasn’t in the first third of the season, and that was frustrating because you know you’ve got a special horse to ride and you want more time in the saddle.
Careful what you say, the writers might kill you off.
Hey, I’m not an apologist for the writers – they make mistakes. But I think it’s because they are trying to do something that hasn’t been done before, so they take chances and sometimes that just doesn’t work.
Well you’ve been shot a few times already, would you be angry if they finally killed Locke?
For the first two seasons we were all afraid that we were going to get shot or killed off, but during the third season we all thought, ‘Well, if we have to go now, then as actors we’re leaving in a much stronger position than when we started.’
How has your character changed over the last three seasons?
A lot. When he first got there, a miracle had happened to him and he thought he must be in heaven, and yet he didn’t know who he was. He was happy that he was walking,
but he’s a seeker and he needs to know why he’s there. The challenge is, when he finds the right place will he have the sense to stop? I don’t know. But people always ask, is it
more fun to play good guys or bad guys, and most actors reply bad guys. The reason is because bad guys have better secrets. Locke is all things and has lots of sides, and although I think he’s a good person at heart, he is willing to do bad things and has
a lot of edges. But John Locke is an underdog and we sympathise with his problems. Everyone likes to pull for the underdog. I got lucky.
How much has it changed your life?
Here I am talking to you and that wouldn’t have happened three years ago. My trip on this show is very much like that of John Locke. We hit the island, he and I, and we both got stronger as it went on. I feel much more confident in myself than before I got this job, and I’m in a stronger position professionally. I’ve never done anything that has got this much recognition and I doubt I ever will again. This is a one of a kind show and a one of a kind experience. You know, I was broke before this show and I’m sure I’ll be broke somewhere down the line. The time that preceded Lost was a very tough time for me personally and professionally, but since it started all the ducks fell in a row and
my family got well, and professionally it all changed for the better. I count my blessings every day.