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Lost – Henry Ian Cusick on joining the series and Desmond Hume’s purpose

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Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) © ABC
Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) © ABC

Henry Ian Cusick joined the cast of Lost in its second season, playing Desmond Hume, a former Scottish soldier who was one of the mysterious ‘Others’ who inhabited the island where Oceanic flight 815 crashed.

On Sunday, May 23rd, the story will end with a 2½-hour finale. I spoke with Henry Ian Cusick about his experience working on Lost.


Were you a fan of the series before you joined it?

I knew nothing about the show. I had no expectations and I wasn’t nervous at all. I was like, ‘I’m coming to Hawaii for three weeks to do this little gig and then I’m going to go back home’. And, when I arrived, I did it and it just seemed like a really easy [gig]. I hadn’t done much back in the UK but it was always, ‘We haven’t got time. Let’s move it’. And here, all of a sudden it was like, ‘Sure, let’s shoot the scene, we’ll have a little chat, look at the whale!’ I was like, ‘Wow, this is so nice.’ It was such a relaxed work [environment] and the work was good and we had enough time to do take and take and take again and work things out and rehearse. I thought, ‘This is great! It’s like doing a play’. I loved it.

Nestor Carbonell and I had this conversation about when you get a part (on Lost), it’s how you color it in. I think that’s the reason I stayed and certainly Nestor, and Michael Emerson [who plays Ben Linus], he colored his in brilliantly I think

Was there anything that surprised you about Desmond’s back story?

Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) © ABC
Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) © ABC

What surprised me? I can’t say there was any moment where I went, ‘Oh my God!’ This is going back all the way to Season Two when I first joined the show. I guess the ability to see the future, those flashes; that was kind of surprising but kind of cool. I liked that. For my character, it’s always been, when I thought I was going in one direction, then all of a sudden they would switch it. So, I thought I was a doctor, then I was in the army, then I was a monk, so it was like, ‘Whoa!’ So eventually, you just go with the script and say, ‘I give up. I give it over to you and I’ll just say the lines and go with it’.

Have you had any trouble with the fans?

I live in Hawaii and it’s pretty cool. People kind of know and say, ‘Hey, bro,’ but don’t really [swarm you]. I love Hawaiians. They’re just so laid back. No big deal.

With this flash sideways world, you’re almost turning into Jacob, it seems.

No, I’m not turning into Jacob [in the sideways world]. I don’t think that’s happening.

He’s trying to do something but we don’t know what it is.

Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) © ABC
Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) © ABC

He’s trying to do something. I think what you’ve got so far is he’s certainly on a mission. He certainly knows exactly what he’s about. He’s certainly driven and he’s not talking to the rest of the group, ‘What shall we do? Let’s go back to the base’. They’re still trying to figure stuff out. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He has such a strong purpose and he’s very clear about his objectives.

Were you surprised when Desmond ran over Locke?

Yeah, I guess. That scene’s kind of extreme, right? [he laughs]. It’s a bit extreme but not for Lost. It’ll make sense. The next episode clears that up.

Was there a point where you began to feel the religious context of the show?

The religious context for me came up in Season Two with the pushing of the button. That’s a great metaphor for faith, religion, so it’s been there since very early on. It hasn’t just sort of appeared but it’s not so much religion. It’s more spiritual. I think it’s more of a spiritual show and I think it’s going to be very strongly spiritual toward the end.