Josh Holloway became an overnight star with his role as the edgy conman, James ‘Sawyer’ Ford, on TV’s Lost. One of the survivors of Oceanic flight 815, Holloway’s role has grown from angry rogue to caring lover over the five years the series has been on. Now in its sixth and last season, the actor talks about how the show had changed his life forever.
Everyone knew at the beginning that some of the characters were going to be big, but Sawyer was a surprise, he just grew and grew.
When I read the pilot I was like, ‘This guy’s such an asshole, I gotta figure out how to stay alive.’
I had no idea. I remember telling my wife, ‘Don’t throw away those boxes, because unless he’s got another dimension he’s going to be killed quickly.’ So it’s been quite a journey, and I had no idea where this character would go or where any of his stories would go, quite honestly. But it has been a phenomenal journey for me to play a character that’s constantly changing. It has been such an honor to play so many aspects of someone’s character makeup. So that’s been a blast for me.
In many ways your character has become the main character on Lost. From where you started do you think about how the journey got you there?
Wow. Yeah, I’ve thought about a lot of things and it really comes back to, ‘Damn, I’m glad that I’m not dead yet.’ It’s really about that for me, about continuing to be an intricate part of it. That means a lot to me, being a character that is somewhat difficult is an honor for me and a pressure but a good pressure. I like it. It creates pressure and so that’s been fun.
Sawyer has been more and more Mr Nice Guy. Is that going to be the same thing this season?
He’s definitely got the salt back this year. He’s coming from a place of being completely emotionally destroyed (by Juliet’s death) and does not care about life so much anymore. However, the lessons that he’s learned on the island and the humanity that he’s been forced to acknowledge and grow with is going to come into play, too. That’s probably the only thing keeping him from offing himself.
Can you give me your observations about the personal growth of your character and your personal growth playing this character?
Wow. Observations of the growth of the character, it’s just been such a walk of the fine line of discovering his humanity, yet keeping this edge. That’s been my walk the entire journey. They have put him through every situation possible, emotionally and physically, so that, in itself is a journey.
It’s been enlightening, and it’s been scary, the growth of Sawyer and the things he was asked to do, especially with the [romance with] Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell). I really thought the audience might reject that softer side of Sawyer. My work as an actor was to walk that line, discovering his humanity but being salty about it. That’s been an amazing journey. I wish I could articulate it better, but I can’t.
Personally, what can I say? I’ve had so many life-changing experiences since the show has begun. I’ve gotten married, [had] a baby, I’ve got my first home, validation as an actor. My God. So I can’t say enough about that. It’s just been quite a phenomenal journey and an honor.
Do you know what happens in the end of Lost?
I don’t know and I really don’t want to know. I’m spoiled now with not having to study that much. You just get it and go.
Do you always understand the plot?
I’ve never understood it. I quit trying. You know what it is, it’s just like life and it’s full of mystery and days when you think you understand it and you’ve got it all figured out, and then the next day you have no idea. It’s exactly that way, and everyone is always like, ‘What’s going to happen in the end?’ Well, in the end we don’t know in life what’s going to happen and that’s been the brilliance of these creators. They’ve allowed it to be like life and to flush out stories and to follow something that they see in a character, and write that in the show as a part of that person’s character. They’ve done that the whole way through. Then if a phenomenal actor comes on as a guest star, they’re written into the story. It’s like that and they’ve been very open to that.
If it was up to you what would you like for Sawyer, what kind of future would you want for him if you could write it?
Well, before I thought he should die saving a frog or something crazy like that, but now I feel like maybe he’s earned a second chance at life. But it’s not a clean slate. He’s got some things that he needs to rectify and hopefully the lessons he learned on the island will translate in real life and he can have a second chance. Do I think he should die now? No.
We will hear more from Joss tomorrow…