LOST: A quick chat with Michael Emerson

Michael Emerson

Photographer: MARIO PEREZ

From the minute that “Henry Gale” was introduced to unassuming viewers, he has been my favorite character.  Even when he became the dastardly Benjamin Linus who killed his own father, you ask? Yes, absolutely, and it has everything to do with the fact that this character is played with such truth and strong emotion by the incomparable Michael Emerson (seriously, let’s make up for all the Emmys he’s been robbed of by giving him one for his work this season, mkay?).  I had the chance to chat with Michael in support of tonight’s 2 hour LOST season finale (after tonight, only 17 episodes left). 

Check out what Michael had to say about what’s to come, why he watches the show, and who is favorite character besides Ben happens to be –

I am very excited to talk to you!
I’m having a whirlwind tour of the TV blogisphere!

I have to say, Ben, hands down, my favorite character on the show and really has been since minute one!
I’m flattered that he has captured your imagination!

Even though he can be viewed this totally crazy bad guy or perhaps a good guy put in a bad spot.  How do you view this character?
I view him like I think you view him which is a wonderful sort of enigma, a great ambiguous manipulative and interesting characer, who like us, appreciates the nuance in people [snickers].

He’s very good at finding that one thing and turning it on its head.
He’s a great student of psychology.  I think he must be really well read.

So tell me what you are allowed to say about what’s coming up tonight!
I can give you a sort of general blurb about it.  LOST sort of specializes in these season ending cliffhangers.  They’ve done very well with it, I think, in the past.  But this one, this one has sort of two threads.  We have two groups of heroes on dangerous missions with questionable outcomes.  We’re going to follow both of them to a fairly dramatic conclusion.  Between the two, they alter the landscape of the show so radically, that I’ll be curious to see what the show can possibly be next year.

How do you watch the show – as a fan, or simply because you work on the show?
I watch it in a really, I’m afraid I watch it in a complicated way.  It does have a dimension of vanity to it.  I like to look and see how I’m doing.  But it’s also educational.  To see how things are cut, to see if what I’m doing plays or doesn’t play, if I’m wasting effort on some things or not.  It’s sort of taken over my life, so I’m keen on the storyline.  We who work on the show, we’re fans of the show, too.  We spend probably as much time as the folks at home do, trying to figure out what the heck’s going on.  Where it’s going.  I mean, we have the advantage on you by a couple of scripts, but not by that much.

I swear, it takes over my whole Thursday.  It’s all I talk about on Thursday, like “remember when this happened, remember when that happened, what does that mean?”
[Michael laughs at me] It’s that kind of show, I’m glad you like it!

You mention watching to see if things are playing right, or if you’re putting too much effort somewhere – some of the stuff that Ben is giving to say, or they way you approach lines, I just laugh.  He’s so funny!
If you took it just slightly out of context, I think Ben is a comic role in a way.  They don’t even always leave in all my gags.  Some of them, I think they find are too much.  He is given a drollery every so often, he does have a circumspect or satiric world view, in a way.  Haha.  It’s fun!

Besides this enigma of Ben, what are some of your favorite characters to explore?
I was always gripped by Mr. Eko.  I thought the backstory of that character was compelling and I thought, you know, Adewale as a player of that character, had a riveting kind of dignity and strangeness about him, like he was a deep pool of still dark water.  I had one scene with him once, but I enjoyed it.