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Sawyer May Be Secretive But ‘Lost’s Josh Holloway Tells All About Himself

Finally, someone on Lost whose not afraid to talk.

Okay, Josh Holloway still skirts the details when it comes to what’s been going on with his character Sawyer, the sexily scruffy con artist who may or may not have a heart of gold and frequently takes a beat down for his troubles. But Hollywood.com discovered that the laid-back, Georgia-bred actor who lends the character his charming drawl and sexy smirk has no problem dishing about everything else under the island sun, from his days as a male model, to avoiding DUIs in Hawaii to giving his wife a kiss credit every time he has an on-screen make out session with Evangeline Lily.

HW: As a prisoner of The Others, Sawyer started off the third season pretty miserably, his hook-up with Kate notwithstanding. Was that hard on your own psyche, and are things going to get any better for him now that he and Kate have escaped?
Josh Holloway:
All the beat-downs and head wounds and everything that he’s sustained gets to you after a while. It’s very intense, and as an actor you’re trying to live it as honestly as you can. So I’m really happy now, without giving anything away. There’s some lighter things going on, which is fun for the character. There’s some diversity there. It’s lighter. Some funny stuff!

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HW: But surely Sawyer’s world won’t be all sweetness and light very long, either. Is it difficult on the actors, being as kept in the dark about your characters as the audience is with all the secrecy surrounding the storylines?
JH:
All I know is I’ll be getting beat up soon, I’m sure, by someone. But I like that. At first as an actor it was hard to really let go, because we’re used to knowing a beginning, middle, and end, and how to flavor your performance accordingly. And since you don’t have that option, it’s really been a leap of faith, to let go of that, immerse yourself in the character, and trust what you’re gonna get. And they have been incredible. My wife still steals the script and locks herself in the bathroom right away so I can’t read it first. I’m like, “Come on!” So it’s still exciting.

HW: What surprises you most about Sawyer at this point?
JH:
That he makes the same mistakes over and over again. Because it’s kind of a dichotomy, because he’s not a dumb person. He’s pretty smart, makes references to books all the time, and is well-read and all this. But he makes the dumbest mistakes, over and over again. And I mean, how many times am I gonna reach for my gun and get knocked out? At least keep it out. Do something! You know, they make me a crack shot at the beginning – I kill a polar bear at full charge – and then I can’t hit a guy laying there.

HW: Do you think Sawyer is going to make the same kinds of mistakes in his relationship with Kate?
JH:
I’m sure! I’m sure that he’s gonna mess that up pretty quick, because it’s his nature. And actually, as an actor, it’s more intriguing to me if he tried to make it work, because it’d be so foreign to him. And to explore that as an actor, that fine line of falling in love when that is not a part of that person’s make-up, is challenging and would be a fun line to walk. But I’m sure he’s gonna mess it up…It’s been fun because neither of us really know where it’s going, so we don’t know exactly what to fully invest in, which actually plays on camera. It’s nice kind of not knowing. One minute we’re really kind of close and sappy and the next minute like “What the?” It’s that thing. But our friendship is deep. We’ve been working together constantly and having to discuss these things and how we’re going to do them, so it’s good. We were really proud of the way that love scene turned out because we wanted it to be different. We wanted it to take some time and have some moments in the middle of it, not just this crazy furious thing because it’s been such a long time coming. Stuff like that, we really work together well communicating about what we’re trying to do.

HW: Were the love scenes with Kate awkward, knowing Evangeline for three years now?
JH:
No, because Evie and I have such a great friendship now. And we so trust each other as actors. That’s so key, to be able to be vulnerable, to be able to really open up with each other. There’s a lot of trust there, so we are able to actually live it, as best we can. [

HW: Does your wife Yesscia mind the love scenes?
JH:
She is incredibly confident because we’re very much in love. She knows how I feel about her. Because we have such an open good friendship and dialogue with Evie and Dom and everything, we talk about these things. However, that last one made me a little uncomfortable. I was just like, just a little. We’re trying to live it, right, and I’m sitting with my wife watching it, and that’s who I look at that way normally. So there’s that little twinge, but that just means I did my job… My wife and I] have a little joke. She gets a free kiss card every time I get to kiss somebody. She’s got, like, seven now. And I keep telling her: “They expire at the end of the year. You better use `em.”

HW: The show’s producers have said they’re negotiating with the network to establish a definitive endpoint for Lost – what do you think of that plan?
JH:
Already they’re talking about that but actually, that has been a suggestion from the beginning. Damon [Lindelof] and J.J. [Abrams] and Carlton [Cuse] really invested in the integrity of the show, so much so that they were willing to pull three days of production because the storyline was wrong. The beginning of last year, the second episode was my episode. But it didn’t go, the story wasn’t right. It should have been Harold Perrineau‘s episode because his child had just gotten taken away. Emotionally it didn’t make sense [to be about Sawyer]. So after three days of production, they said “We don’t like that. It’s Harold’s episode.” Boom! And they switched it, and that ain’t cheap but for the integrity of the show they really fought for that. So they’ve really been wanting a beginning, middle and end to this story. They don’t want it to go too long and get watered down and be not good.

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HW: How long do you think the show should run, and how’s you like to see it end?
JH:
For me, five years and it should be done…How I would like to see it end is – I want a big, bloody Braveheart battle is what I want, really. And I want Sawyer to die badly. But but kind of as a last thing, he does something good and chooses that.

HW: Would that redeem him, in your eyes, if he died saving somebody?
JH:
Really there’s no redemption for Sawyer, I feel. He’s beyond it – he doesn’t want it. He doesn’t want redemption.

HW: True – he’s accomplished it a couple of times, really, but never embraces it.
JH:
Yeah. He doesn’t embrace it – it makes him angrier, in a way. Because that’s his power, being indifferent, and when he’s made to care, made to feel things, it kind of pisses him off and then he’ll react and do something wrong so he feels better and gets his power back by wronging someone.

HW: Do you have a pet theory as to what’s REALLY going on with the island?
JH:
I really don’t have one anymore, because I had a few and then I got laughed at, and I was like, “Well, okay, forget it then.” But I think it’s going to be kind of — you ever read The Stand? I can’t really pinpoint it, but there’s something about that. And if it’s all in our head or somebody’s dream or we’re all dead, I’m going to be pissed off.

HW: What’s life like in Hawaii for you and your wife?
JH:
For us, we love it. Now my wife and I, it took a minute, maybe about eight months to get over the island fever bit and feeling a bit isolated like that. But now that we started a duck orphanage basically – we raise all these ducks on the canal and Jessie’s so happy with all her little ducks and I’ve got my boat and the kayaks. I’m a very outdoors type person and now there’s a shooting range, an archery range that has just opened a mile and a half from my house. That’s what I got for Christmas: a traditional bow and arrow, not the compound, so I’m going there for that.

HW: As an outdoorsy guy, to you possess any of your own island survival skills?
JH:
Sure. I love nature so I probably wouldn’t freak out. I’d kind of get into it and they say the biggest part about surviving in the wilderness is not panicking. It’s your attitude. That’s your biggest tool for survival, so I would do just fine. I love to camp and I do so all the time. Now I’ve got my bow, I’m down at the archery range practicing. Maybe I could even get myself some food. Bring on the boars.

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HW: Do you hang out with the other members of the cast away from the set?
JH:
Sure, a lot. It depends on basically who’s working together, our schedules. And then just like any other place, once you live there a little while, how often do you see all your friends? Here and there, when you can, when your jobs brings you together, whatever. It’s like that there as well. But we still make an effort. My wife loves to cook. She cooked a huge Thanksgiving dinner. We actually flew in a Honeybaked Ham and had a huge get-together with everybody just to kick off the holiday and say hello. Then we did another get-together and watched the show. So I’m vigilant about keeping the family together.

HW: Is it true it’s like the surest way to get killed off on the show is to get a DUI in Hawaii? You’ve only gotten a speeding ticket so far.
JH:
Yes! I take cabs and drink water. I think [the local media] should be a little embarrassed for printing mine – mine was a 52 in a 35. At least let me do 100 or something. That’s embarrassing. I mean, they shouldn’t have pulled me over for that, but they like to. Everyone has tickets. It’s an island. It’s very easily patrolled. It’s like there are speed traps everywhere. You just have to know that.

HW: The loss of anonymity that this role brings to you, and the fact that people know about your speeding tickets, or know about the time you were robbed. Can you talk about dealing with that part of fame?
JH:
I think that is an adjustment for anybody who has become someone in the public eye. It’s been very difficult, actually. It makes you nervous, at first, and self-conscious. And I tend to isolate in my house, basically. I compare it to playing guitar: It takes a month to build a callous, so you can actually play the guitar. It’s a toughness. You have to get used to knowing that everyone knows who you are. And be aware. And I’m not exactly politically correct all the time. I’m kind of…a man. [Laughs] And that’s what happens. I’ll go out to the gym all sweaty, the market, and they’re like, “Ooh.” You hear people go, “Oh, he looks terrible.” And you’re, “Oh, doggone, I need to go home.” The thing about Hawaii is all the tourists. Everyone has their camera out anyway. You’re just a bonus. “Oh, panda bear.” It’s like that, kind of like zoo animals…I just know where not to go. If I’m going to go there then I’m going to own it and say, “All right, let’s do pictures.” But I know how to not do that and then the local people just are very – they give you a nod and a “Love your work.” Especially the men. They’re very men and go, “Love your work, bro” and that’s about it. I like that.

HW: Speaking of the gym, you DO have to take your shirt off a lot on the show. Is that a prime motivator to keep fit?
JH:
Absolutely. And I know that’s a double-edged sword: Though I hate working out, because I’m forced to, it keeps me in shape and I appreciate that because I would be a slob if you let me too much…[But] I bust my ass. I do what my friends say, eat less and move more.

HW: When your shirt is on, they keep you pretty scruffy and disheveled. Do they just throw, like, a bucket of mud on you when you get up in the morning?
JH:
I actually caught the wardrobe guy dragging my jeans across the parking lot. I’m like, “What are you doing? I gotta put those on!” And he’s like, “Ah, they just were a little too clean. Not reading good on camera.” What is hard about it is the morning, obviously. You get there, you’re showered, you’re kind of waking up. And then they just ruin you, you know? And you have to put on what they call the “hero shirts,” the one they use most, that has all the blood on it and all. So you’re like “Aw, I gotta put this thing on again?” So that part has been challenging. But I love physical acting. I grew up with three brothers in the country, so I love a good physical scene and so forth. But it does work on your psyche, constantly getting beat down and because you’re trying to live it truly. So I go home moping a bit, you know? My wife’s like, “It’s all right.”

HW: And your beard—do you have a “stubble wrangler?”
JH:
They’re constantly being vigilant about that on everybody. It’s hard to keep it the right length and it’s a hard line to walk because yeah, we as actors always want to go to events and then you’ve got the fact that it’s a TV show and they want you to look decent so we can’t really pull the character out. So it’s a fine line and they had put scenes, you know, Locke shaving with his knife, Foxy with a shell, I think he had. And my hair got too long so actually I suggested why don’t we have Evie cut my hair. It’ll be a fun scene and they were like “Of course.” So we trimmed it up.

HW: Did you always want to act or did you have other career goals?
JH:
I first wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was young, and then I wanted to do import/export. I was very interested in traveling the world and I was trying to figure out how to do that so I was going to do import/export. But then I worked construction all my life so I was probably going to end up a contractor. That’s what you do in Georgia. You’re a mechanic or a contractor or chicken farmer.

HW: When did acting come in?
JH:
Well, I did years of print modeling, basically. I went around the world, I found that mode to travel, so I modeled for years doing that when I was very young—at 18 I took off. And after I got that out of my system, about 12 years of constant travel, then I didn’t know what else to do. I opened a development company in Georgia, tried that. Opened a restaurant with partners—Indochine in LA, remember Indochine? Well, we physically opened it, and owned a small part.

HW: Was acting a natural transition from modeling?
JH:
No. The only thing that it helps you with is being comfortable around people and I think around interviewing and being constantly judged. That’s the only real training I think that I did.

HW: Was modeling fun?
JH:
I loved it at the time. In my experience, for men, it was not fulfilling to me, the actual job. I was used to working hard, hard labor so people would complain and I’d be laughing. I’m like, “This is a cocktail party, with cappuccinos and bagels and whatever you want.” So I enjoyed it, it didn’t bother me at first. And then it worked on me after a while, the constant travel and then the non-fulfillment aspect to me, so I had to move into something else.

HW: You’re such a mellow, centered guy. How do you find your inner Sawyer?
JH:
Oh, it’s easy. We all have a Sawyer in us dying to get out. Trust me, I’m sure you all can scowl pretty hard when you need to. Yeah, it’s there. I found the door and I know where that is and actually, it’s like I said before, it’s nice to go air that out sometimes. Air out the anger because I don’t live that way.

–Additional reporting by Fred Topel

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