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When the concept for Lost was first hatched, there wasn’t a trace of a character named Hurley to be found. Now, with 100 episodes under his belt and a sixth and final season just over the horizon, Hurley has not only managed to survive so far, he also became a fan favorite in the process. But the show’s most likeable character isn’t that much of a stretch from the man who portrays him, Jorge Garcia. Just before Hurley won the lottery on the show, Garcia hit his own personal jackpot after a bit part on Curb Your Enthusiasm where he sold weed to Larry David. Lost’s producers saw the episode, and Hurley was born. Which is fortunate, since the character serves as the most human anchor in a world of four-toed statues, time travel, and smoke monsters. After the fifth season wrapped, Garcia spoke with The A.V. Club about playing the nice guy, the potential for Hurley’s dark side, and where he’ll go after Lost.
The A.V. Club: As the show progressed and you got more comfortable in the role, did you see more of yourself interjecting into the character?
Jorge Garcia: I don’t know. That’s a hard question to answer. I think with the way Hurley has come into his own over the course of the seasons… When I started Hurley, I had very little information. In those instances, I would fill in the blanks with as much of my personality as I could, and that basically ended up becoming Hurley. So getting more and more information about Hurley as each script and each season comes through, I think it just paints a stronger picture. And whether I’ve influenced the writing at all, just by the feedback they’ve gotten from what I’ve done onscreen… Maybe? But I don’t know if I can say that exactly.
AVC: After playing the nice-guy role for so long, is there a part of you that wants him to have a dark side?
CG: Sure. Yeah, I think so. There were certain moments in the past where they try to hand Hurley a gun, and he’s like, “No, no. I might shoot somebody.”
AVC: Emerson talked about his fear of potentially being typecast as the creepy bad guy. Do you fear becoming the creepy good guy?
JG: [Laughs.] Not yet. I’ll see later, after Lost ends, if it becomes a thing or not. As of right now, I’m not worried about typecasting. I still have a great love for the character after doing it for five years. I’m gonna miss him when he’s gone. So I would also understand if other people did, I guess.
AVC: You’ve been living in Hawaii for five years, and that’s become your life. What are your thoughts on the show going into this final year?
JG: It’s gonna be interesting. I was talking to [producer] Bryan Burk last night, and he was talking about a scene that he was watching between Walt and Locke. Knowing that the end is just around the corner, he was thinking, “Wow, that might be their last scene together.” And if you really look back on the moment in the pilot when they first saw each other, the backgammon game and stuff like that, it’s a big deal, in a sense, but then that chapter closes. There’s gonna be a lot of that, probably, next season. I know they’ve been talking about trying to air the last episode of the final season as close to the same date all around the world. They’re doing it for security reasons, in a way, to keep bootleggers and spoiler people from getting information out. But I think it’d be exciting to do it that way, because the whole world can experience the last season of this show that’s been pretty special to me at the same time. That’d be fun, too.
AVC: Has that ever been done before in television before?
JG: I don’t know. First of all, you have to get a show that has this much coverage around the world. Then you have to do it with enough time left so they can record our dialogue in whatever languages they need to do it in. That’s what the main obstacle is, I think.
AVC: You’ve done a lot of traveling and have met a lot of fans overseas. Why do you think Lost is so universal?
JG: When it started, the show was about survival. It was pretty universal. And our cast had a pretty international look. So that was a way to at least get people at the start. I mean, we got lucky, I think. Everything kind of came together when they started Lost, the fact that we were late in the pilot season, they were gathering an ensemble of actors before they even had a completed script, they kind of ended up creating a show with characters that people cared about. And then with the mystery and the mythology they spin, what keeps the people in is the fact that they care about the people going through all that.
AVC: In your travels, was there a specific moment where you realized just how big the show had gotten?
JG: I went to London between seasons two and three; we hadn’t even started airing in London yet. But there was still a little bit of a friendly vibe, like some teenagers on the London underground, just people from some Scandinavian country would all go crazy when they saw me. It was interesting getting stopped, taking pictures, while the local Londoners are going, “Who the hell is this guy?” And on that trip, I ran into people from Australia and South Africa, and this was still pretty early as far as the five-year span of the show. We were already hitting all those places. I got fan mail from China—I don’t even think we air in China. The fact that someone found it or got hold of it in China is kind of interesting. And they were moved enough to send me a letter.
AVC: With 17 episodes left, what are some loose ends that you personally hope are tied up?
JG: Well, there’s still more to learn about the smoke monster. And I know there’s still more to telling the rest of Libby’s story, and why she was in a mental institution at the same time Hurley was. People have been wondering about that. Those are pretty big ones. The guitar case is a big one too, Hurley’s guitar case. Is it a guitar, or is it something else? Doing the scenes, I was like, “Can you tell me how heavy this case is? How much trouble should this be when I’m lifting it?”
AVC: What are you hoping for for Hurley in the final season?
CG: Just to make it. Be standing at the end, maybe on top of a mountain, with his fist raised in the air.
AVC: What’s next for you when you stop being Hurley?
CG: I wouldn’t mind a final world press tour, to see as many countries as I can to promote the last season of Lost. I know I’m coming back to L.A. I’m not opposed to getting on another show if another show felt right. But movies, I mean, where I lived in Westwood, going to the movies was a night. It’s a little mini-event of your day, of your weekend. So it’d be fun to get to play more in that game.
AVC: But TV is great, because you’re being invited into somebody’s home every week.
JG: Yeah, and TV’s gotten quite good, too. There’s been so much more great original television. TV’s a compelling market. I’m not opposed to doing TV. Lost is a big benchmark to live up to. But I don’t know, I’m curious what comes up after Lost. I like knowing that the success of Lost has kind of put me in a position that I don’t need to jump right into something. I can wait and find the right thing.
AVC: Why do you think TV has gotten better in the last few years?
JG: I think bigger risks is definitely part of it. And just stuff like AMC, when they started making original content, and it was freakin’ awesome, like really good TV shows. They’re not worrying what people think their channel is about, they’re like, “If we have something good, we’ll put it up.” So it’s okay if the bigger networks invent another reality show, there’ll still be places for good original storytelling.
AVC: Do you think stations like AMC, HBO, and Showtime are paving the way for fictional storytelling?
JG: Yeah, and as more awards start going to cable shows, I think a lot of networks are going to see that and be like, “Hold on. This used to be our game,” and start moving back toward finding stuff. We’ll have to wait and see what they want to spend their money on. The thing about cable is, it doesn’t need as much of an audience, but the network does, to pay their bills or have a successful show. That gives them that freedom so they can try for a more compartmentalized audience. They don’t need the massive public. So they know this will at least appeal to a core group.