Terry O’Quinn: While I was doing Alias, Jennifer [Garner] and Michael [Vartan] and all those guys went to [J.J. Abrams] and said, “He should be a regular!” I was getting paid guest money, five grand a pop or something, and I was flying back and forth from Maryland and just staying at the cheapest hotel I could find. So J.J. came to me and said, “They won’t let me make you a regular, but I promise you: I will find a thing for you, something that you’ll be glad you took.”
And hence LOST, which was great. I’m glad I took it. I mean, I never doubted I would: I had to have a job! I had been unemployed for a good, long while before J.J. called me. I was in Maryland, at home, when he called. He said, “I’ve got a role for you if you’re interested.” And I said, “I’m interested!” And he said, “Well, it shoots in Hawaii…” I said, “I’ll take it!” And he said, “Well, it’s about this…” I said, “Look, okay, go ahead and take your time and talk to me, but I’ll tell you: I’ll take it.” [Laughs.]
So I went to Hawaii and shot the pilot, and I said, “Oh, this is interesting. They’re gonna have to give this some support: They’ve spent millions of dollars on the pilot!” And that turned out to be… [Hesitates, then shrugs.] I don’t know. People say, “How does it feel now that you’ve made it?” I say, “I’ve only made it to here. Made it to what?” You know, it’s always, “what have you done for me lately?”
AV Club: Is there a particular aspect of John Locke that stands out as your favorite?
TO: I think it was that uncertainty. People have asked me which version of John Locke I was most like, and I think I was most like the guy in the wheelchair, the one before it all, in all the flashbacks. That’s me. The other guy, the black-smoke guy, the dark and dangerous guy, that’s the fantasy.
But what I remember most from LOST is sitting under the trees, playing guitar with Naveen Andrews or Josh Holloway. It was just lovely. The settings were so stunning, and everyone was so excited. You were excited when you got the script: “What are you going to do in this?” And I was excited because I’d open the script and go, “I’ve got a great scene with Josh and Evie [Lilly]!” And I couldn’t wait to do that scene. It was those kinds of things. That’s when I fell in love with television: Because I realized it can feel like you have a family… and if it’s a good family and a happy family, then you can go as long as you want. I could do this for years.