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‘Lost’ Star Henry Ian Cusick says His ‘Scandal’ Character is The Anti-Desmond

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Apr 19, 2012 | 7:08am EDT

Henry Ian CusickFor Emmy-nominee Henry Ian Cusick, it’s difficult being immortalized for just one role and possibly just one line.

Spanning six seasons, Cusick was everyone’s favorite “brotha” portraying the love-sick Desmond on ABC's Sci-fi phenom Lost. But with critical acclaim and widespread viewer appreciation, comes a bit of type casting. So, what did Cusick do? After securing eternal love between Desmond and Penny, he completely flipped the script and has become the womanizing Stephen Finch on ABC’s newest political drama Scandal.

As Kerry Washington’s right-hand man, Cusick is the farthest thing from a love-drunk puppy. In fact, Stephen has dabbled in prostitution, makes no apologies about it and will continue to shock viewers with sins that would have Desmond running for the hills (or into the jungle). Stephen is far more “smoke monster” than good guy here.

“When I left Lost ... I read the pilot [for Scandal], I really liked it and there was a line in it that for me was the hook,” he said. “When I say to Olivia in the cloakroom, 'I’m not a good guy.' That was something I could get my teeth into.”

Playing a character that was the opposite of his Lost claim to fame was exactly what he craved — no “Dharma Initiative.” “They are so not the same character,” he said. “Desmond was like a rock, he was this incredibly good guy, a guy that doesn’t really exist.”

Even though Desmond was such a great character to play, so great he got nominated for an Emmy in 2006, Cusick said dissecting just one purpose of getting back to his long-lost love didn’t open the character up to much complexity.

There’s more layers to his new role and with Stephen, he gets to explore the dimensions of a real bad boy, someone without true love as a moral compass. Cusick went all the way with this role, even chopping off those luscious brown locks of gorgeous hair the world grew to love in his days on the island.

Why the visit to the barber? “I know, I’m like, ‘I shouldn’t have done that!’” he joked. “It’s always good to mix it up. The thing about being on a show like Lost for such a long time is that people come to associate you with Desmond. They don’t say Ian or Henry, they say Desmond.” Now he’s looking for fans to say Stephen. 

Even while looking forward to a change of pace, Ian still looks back on Lost with nothing but fond memories and that conversation starter of a final episode. “Just after it ended, people came up to me in the market saying how much they loved it,” he said of the Lost finale. “I also have the negative side, people think ‘Man, you ruined the show, why did they do that?’ It was very contentious. How do you end the show to make everyone [happy]?” he said. Cusick thought the finale was in many ways a beautiful ending but did say there could have been a little more closure to characters aside from Jack. “We could have done with some more episodes just to have the other characters get to their endings,” he said.

If Lost fans miss Cusick on the sci-fi circuit, no sweat. He’s bringing his magic to cult favorite Fringe.He’s set to appear as an agent at the tail end of this season, in who knows what world at this point. His character sets the stage for Season Five, if the execs at Fox deem another season worthy.“Fingers crossed,” he said. “It’s similar to Lost in that it’s very high stakes. It was great working with John Noble and Joe Chappelle ... It reminded me of Lost.”

Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC

Were you a Desmond Hume fan? Do you like Ian as Desmond or Stephen better? Are you excited for Cusick’s cameo on Fringe? Let us know in the comments section below.

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