Thanks to my good friends from Lostzilla here is an interview they had with Michael Emerson during a recent visit to Hawaii. They have been kind enough to translate it into English for us, so please excuse them any grammar errors. It contains very mild spoilers towards the end.
Thanks to Edith from Spicedogs for an updated English Translation.
Yeah, you mean in the theatre? I hope so, because I miss it very much. And, and of course, now that I'm having a long holiday in New York, I'm going to see shows every night, and I'm thinking "Oh, my god, I have to get back to doing this," so I hope soon, maybe this coming summer in New York. I hope so.
And about the writer's strike, what's new?
It doesn't look good. They're very apart on terms and I think even further apart in personalities. So it will be difficult. I don't know what that means exactly for LOST. We are shut down completely, the crew has been let go, we'll have to rehire, and it will get some time to get started again. I hope it's soon.
You support the writers, right?
Oh, yeah, yeah. I have to support the writers because they are the vanguard of the very same battle that the actors and directors will be with this coming summer. So all the creative union needs to stick together to get a little piece of this huge new industry that will be Internet entertainment. So it's very important, and it can't be put off. It has to be solved now, or it never will be, and the industry will never be the same.
What's the best part you've ever played?
I don't even think of it in those terms! I have played some fine Shakespearian parts. An actor is always proud to say that he has played Hamlet, or that he has played Romeo, or Benedict, you know, some of the great Shakespearian roles. Those are wonderful. The finest stage role I've played, I think, was the character of Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency. I have a fondness in my heart for it, because it was sort of the role that got me in the door of show business. And I have had some fine roles on television. The one I'm playing now, Ben Linus on LOST, it's kind of a great character.
How did you decide to become an actor?
I wasn't an actor for a long time. I always wanted to be. Acting is my second career. I was an illustrator before I became an actor. But ever since I was a child, I've wanted to be an actor; and I'm glad that I finally got to do it. Even as a child, I was naturally oriented towards storytelling, I guess. And I found some other boys that were older than me in school plays, and I thought it was so wonderful and so cool; and I hoped that someday I could be that cool.
Do you watch LOST?
I do, yeah, because I like to see how they completed it. I like to see the finished product, and also to look and see how did I do. And I also study it to see how it's edited, or how the music works, so that I can maybe make improvements in my own work.
Did you know the show before getting your part?
Yes. I didn't watch it every week, but my wife watched it every week, religiously.
Fans are worried that most of the questions of the show are not going to be answered by the writers. Do you think they're going to be able to explain everything?
Oh, yeah. There will always be a feeling of mystery in the show; and I don't think the viewers would really want it to be any other way. But yeah, I think the biggest questions that people have will be answered by the end of the program.
Do you know what's the next thing that Ben is going to do, or you just get the basic information day by day? Is it difficult to play a character not knowing if he's good or bad?
In a way, that makes it easier for me. I don't have to worry about good and bad. All I have to do is show up and play the scene. And play it in a short of a neutral gear that ends up working just fine.
What's the best and the worst part of playing Ben's character?
The best part is that people pay attention to the character, and that he has a sense of mystery. I like being a character who is mysterious. The worst part... I think the worst part is being misunderstood; people want to think that he's the villain of the show, but I'm not sure that will turn out to be true.
Is it true that Ben was only supposed to be in a couple of episodes?
Yes, originally. When they first called me, I was supposed to do three episodes and then go home.
And then you became a big part of the show. Do you think fans had something to do with that?
I don't know! I think it was sort of a trial, They wanted to see how the character worked; they wanted to see if it was as good an idea as they thought it was, and I think they found out that it was a good idea. So they kept me around.
And under your point of view, Ben is good or bad, or neutral?
I think that, like all real people, he's a little bit of both. And I think a lot of what we think is ruthlessness will one day be explained when we find out who their real adversaries are and how very dangerous they are.
Do you have something in common with Ben?
I think I do. I think I tend to be a cool head, rather than an emotional person. And I think I'm a good listener. And Ben is certainly a good listener. I'm nowhere near as good a planner as he is, though, which is a shame. It must be nice to have things sorted out so much time in advance.
Can you tell us something up to episode 8? (MILD SPOILERS IN THIS QUESTION)
I think the viewers are going to find them very exciting, for a couple of reasons. One is that the story is now going to be told in three time dimensions, rather than two. It used to be present and flashbacks. Now it's present, flashbacks, and flashforwards. I think that makes something really exciting, and it makes LOST even more complicated, which I think is fun. Also, the situation on the island is very unstable right now. No one has a home. The Others have lost their homes, the Castaways have lost their camp, everyone's on foot, everyone's hot and thirsty, and there's a lot of violence in the air. And now we know that a new group is coming, someone very dangerous and very frightening. So I think the stakes are high. I think we're getting to a place that's very dramatic in the show.
If you could play any other character in the show, which one would it be?
Gee... It would be fun to be Juliet. I think she's really scary.
With a wig?
(laughs). I also used to admire Mr. Eko very much. That's a really cool character. I'm sorry that he's gone.
And, out of curiosity, have you ever heard your Spanish dubbed voice?
I have never heard it. I would love to hear it.
How do you think Ben would be outside of the island? As a normal person...
I think some people are never meant to be normal. And I think Ben is one of those. Ben was born into a life, somehow, that he was destined to live. And I don't know that Ben could ever be happy in a place that was more comfortable or less dangerous.