I’m sure the other British actors on [FlashForward], like Joseph Fiennes and Sonia Walger, are kicking themselves for not negotiating that contract point.
You know, at some point in my career, I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to play an American, but I wasn’t sure if now was the time. I felt like I wanted to push my Englishness on the American public a little bit more and have them accept it. [Laughs]
What’s it like for you to be shooting in LA?
It’s the first time in my career, since I started about sixteen years ago, that I’m actually working from my home. I can leave in the morning with my housekeys and come back at night to the same house. It’s good for me and it’s good for my pets that I can sleep in my own bed at night. It’s a normal experience and I’ve never had that before, so I’m trying to enjoy it as best I can. I have this memory after Lord of the Rings of packing my bags and leaving to make my fortune in Hollywood, so it’s interesting now that it’s come full circle and I am actually earning my wage in this city.
So do you like spending time in Los Angeles?
I don’t like the lack of a real sense of community, but I like the quality of the restaurants, and I like my friends out here. I like that you can surf. I’m not kidding myself, though: I’m a young guy who’s got his focus set on a particular thing, and LA is the place for me to be right now.
When you’re killed off of a show like Lost and you see that public reaction to your death, what is it like? I always imagined it would be a bit like that scene in Tom Sawyer where he spies on his own funeral.
It was traumatic, you know? I had to go to a darker place to try to bring some of that darkness into the passing of Charlie. My personality was kind of affected by where my character went — it changed me, in a way. I think if you’ve held onto a character for several years and then you’re getting rid of that character, it’s going to be traumatic. It’s like graduating school or leaving university, it’s change. There’s a great quote by Leonard Cohen where he says “Everything cracks, it’s what lets the light in.” I think that kind of makes sense for me — in those times of change, we grow the most.
Guillermo del Toro is preparing to resurrect Middle Earth to shoot The Hobbit. That’s got to evoke a wealth of feelings in you. Is that something that practically demands a set visit?
Probably, yeah. It’s been over ten years now since Lord of the Rings started, the first one. I’m still friends with Viggo [Mortensen] and Billy [Boyd] and Orlando [Bloom] and Elijah [Wood] and Ian [McKellen] and Sean [Bean]. Because of that, you’re in the family, you know? I saw Peter Jackson in San Diego [during Comic-Con] when he was there for District 9 and I was there for FlashForward. Because of that, you are immersed in the world whether you like it or not, and I think it would be fun for us all to go down there and celebrate the reopening of Middle Earth again.
And go haze whoever gets cast as Bilbo, right?
You know, I’m not sure if they have any concrete ideas who that guy is gonna be yet. To a certain extent, I kind of wish that I had never played Merry so I could throw my name into the hat and see if they went for it. I’ve kind of ruined it now! I actually played Gollum one time when Andy Serkis was away. I filled in for him and did a scene with Ian Holm, and I remember thinking at the time, “Man, this would be so much fun to do.”