How familiar were you with Lost before you joined the show?
“I loved Lost! I’ve known Dominic Monaghan for years and so I watched the show because he was on it, and I became a huge fan immediately, so I was really excited when I got the part.”
How was it to arrive on set greeted by all those familiar faces?
“I was so concerned I was going to be calling the actors by their character names. It would have been a nightmare. You know, Jorge's character’s name is Hurley. Jorge and Hurley are kinda similar sounds, but luckily I never made that mistake. I'd have felt like such an idiot."
Lost is a show that mystifies and baffles the audience a fair bit. Could that be said for the actors as well?
“We’re as in the dark as the audience, really – maybe half a step ahead. We spend our whole time waxing about: ‘What’s that about? What does that mean?’ We don’t have a clue; we only know from episode to episode.”
Your character Naomi comes onto the island in very mysterious circumstances. Were you not given any background information about her at all?
“Nope – not a thing. That’s kind of difficult as an actor, but also freeing in a way, because you just have to play the scenes as they’re written. And then if you find out if you’re a big villain or whatever, then you play that. No, not at all. You know when that worked really brilliantly? On 24 with Nina Myers. She didn’t have a clue – Sarah [Clarke], the actress – and that made it really brilliant, because she played Nina honestly. Really honestly. And then she was a villain. Genius. That was such a great one.”
Do you prefer not knowing?
“No, I mean, I’d prefer to know, but since these are the cards that are dealt, you make the most of it.”
How did you first interpret Naomi when you first saw the words on the page?
“Well, you know, when we first see Naomi she’s injured. She spends most of the first episode speaking Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and so in those moments I was just playing someone who’s had their lung punctured speaking foreign languages. But then they gave me some notes – saying things like, ‘She’s quite feisty!’ – which gave me little clues about how to play her. You know, it was just about getting a feel for it and doing what came to me.”
Was it tricky to speak all those languages?
“Yeah, I only speak English, so I had to learn all of them phonetically. They were very good about it actually, because I arrived in Hawaii and then we were shooting the next day and it involved speaking Chinese. I was so nervous! But they gave me the phonetics and so it was actually ok.”
When Naomi came round, she revealed a few things, like Flight 185 had been found and she had been sent by Penelope. Are there more big twists to come?
And that’s all you can say?
Is there a flashback, perhaps?
“No flashback as yet.”
So do you know whether you’re in Season Four yet?
“It’s been left in the air. It could go either way.”
When you signed up for the show, did you have to sign a long-term contract?
“It’s different for every actor, but I have not signed a long contract.”
You were in Las Vegas as well, in the first couple of seasons. Did you sign a long-term contract for that?
“I signed a seven-year contract to start with.”
Was that quite daunting?
”Yeah, it’s very different to how things are done in England, where you sign for two years or so, so it’s a little scary. The truth of the matter is that anything could happen really, so that’s just about the studios and the networks covering their arses so they have you if they want you.”
There have been quite a few sudden deaths on Lost, so is there quite a fearful atmosphere on set?
“It doesn’t create fear as such, but there’s definitely a lack of complacency, because everybody knows they’re fortunate to be there and they could face the chop at any moment.”
Is there still a sense of fun on set?
“There’s a lot of fun and joking about. A lot. There was this great day when Naveen [Andrews] was playing his guitar – that guy could be a rock star. He’s literally like a jukebox! We’d just name the song and he’d sing them. He was singing ‘Roxanne’ and it was amazing, it so good. I sang ‘The Weight’ by The Band. It was such a good time. Terry O'Quinn was singing. It was brilliant. We were all sat around singing. That was my favourite moment.”
Is there much camaraderie on set between the brits?
“Yeah, but I mean I already had a friendship with Dom, and Henry Ian Cusick is just great. We had a lot of fun together and we had my first scenes together.”
How did you find it being a newcomer on a set where everyone’s known each other for three years?
“ eah, I was nervous about going in, because I’ve always gone into projects from the beginning. I went in with a positive attitude and everyone was very welcoming – very welcoming – and it was a lovely show to be a part of.”
There’s a growing trend for British actors to head stateside to work. Why do you think this is?
“Well, there’s less and less work in England and it’s pretty badly paid. There’s more opportunity in America. Having said that, I love working in England and I came back and did Burn It and I know I’ll be working here again. I do love working here. But the pay’s rubbish!”
Are you permanently settled in the US now?
“Yeah, I live in America... I've just got my green card."
You were a regular on british shows such as Playing the Field and Pie in the Sky. How does the filming process differ to that on Lost and Las Vegas?
“Again, it’s all about the money, all about the budget. At four o’clock in England you get tea and biscuits, whereas in America you get craft service all day, so there’s sandwiches and fruit and platters of stuff. All this stuff, all day, is there. You just head over to craft service for something to eat. That’s the big one – and the size of the trailer. In England I always used to call them rabbit hutches!”
Las Vegas featured loads of guest appearances over the years. Did any of them make you really starstruck?
“I loved working with Alec Baldwin. I was fortunate enough to have scenes with him both times he was on the show and I just adore him. I think he’s a brilliant actor and a kind, kind man. I really loved working with him. Snoop Dogg was on the show and that was such a bummer for me because we always had musical guests on the show and he was the first one I really, really loved. ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ had just come out and nobody on set had even heard of that song and I was like, ‘Oh my god! He’s going to perform ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’!’ and then I got really ill. I was so ill they had to send me home! Believe me, if they’re sending an actor home, they’re really ill. So I missed it! I met Dennis Hopper too and I was very starstruck to meet him.”
Was he quite scary?
“He was lovely actually. He’s an artist – a gentleman and a scholar.”
Did anyone disappoint you?
“Probably, but I’m not going to talk about them!”
Now, a corny one to end with: if you had to be stranded on a desert island with only three items, what would you choose and why?
“My ipod... this is a tough one…and I’d make sure I put loads of audiobooks on it. Also my dog Drechsel and all of my family and friends. That’s a cheat! Haha!”
Thanks for chatting Marsha!
Lost airs Sundays at 10pm on Sky One