Lost, Michael Emerson

ABC/Mario Perez

Are you counting the minutes till Lost's big "fall finale"? Well, you should be! 'Cause tonight's episode has more than a few squeal-worthy happenings, like Kate finally making her "choice"; Kate revealing a secret past no one knows about (that involves Firefly star Nathan Fillion); and perhaps the most integral to the overall plot development: Jack's decision whether to save the life of Ben, aka Michael Emerson.

In anticipation of tonight's ep, I caught up with Michael/Ben himself, and he was oddly charming, completely intriguing and full of all sorts of thought-provoking comments about who the Others are.

Your character scares me.
But who does Henry ever hurt? Other people hurt Henry.

Wait. Who's Henry? You're still calling him Henry? I thought his name was Ben!
I can't stop calling him Henry. It still says Henry Gale on my trailer door. The crew guys call me Henry. It's just Henry. We're having a hard time adjusting to the new name.

How do people react when they see you on the street?
Sometimes they'll move away from me, but they'll smile while they do it.

I'll try not to back away, but no promises. Is it fun playing the creepiest guy on TV?
It's a lot of fun. It's a treat. There are a lot of layers to the character. He has a nice kind of ambiguity, although I don't feel like he's quite as menacing or as powerful as the audience does.

Really? Why?
I've played Shakespearean villains in my day, and the deal with them, or any villain for that matter, is that you're not intentionally doing wrong. Everyone in the world who does wrong does it for what they feel are good reasons. People always have justifications, motives, so that's where I come from when I'm playing this character. As far as I'm concerned, he has some kind of great mission. It hasn't been clarified for us yet, but he has important work to do, and I think it may turn out that we also think the work is important when it's revealed to us, and that they may well be the good guys, as he has said.

Is Henry, Ben, Benry, whatever...Is he the ultimate man in charge of the Others?
Yeah, on the ground at least, on the island, he seems to be the last word. He seems to be sort of the mastermind or the president and CEO of this group—or maybe general or commander. Maybe a military term would be more appropriate, because they do seem to be fighting some kind of guerrilla war against an enemy, although I'm still not sure who it is. The Dharma Initiative? Or whoever set up this island and the experiments? Maybe they've splintered off and rebelled or something like that. It will be made clear to us, I'm sure, at a time when it's appropriate.

Please, please, please, can you tell us, who are the Others? And what is their endgame?
I think their real mission has more to do with science fiction, genetics, reproduction, something like that. I think they're scientists or they're descended from scientists. There's no doubt in my mind that Henry's parents are scientists. I think Henry is a scientist. He's very calculating. He thinks things through very calmly. I think that's why people are afraid of him. He's not as passionate as people want him to be. America has such a hunger for passion, you know, sentimentality. So, it worries us when people get things done and they don't show passion.

Give us a good tease on what will happen tonight.
I think it's safe to say [tonight's] episode is a cliffhanger, and it will whet people's appetites to come back and see what the heck happens. And then the stories will be picked up, with a new sort of emphasis, some new characters probably and the same old shuffling of loyalties and sympathies that we've gotten—the same old keeping the audience off balance. Who we thought was good may not be good. Who we thought was wicked may not really be wicked.

So, no big answers tonight? We'll be left hanging?
No, you're going to find out some cool stuff watching the [fall] finale. There's going to be an unexpected sort of medical crisis, some health issues and some questions about loyalty. Some people are going to be crossing lines and aligning themselves with people you wouldn't have expected.

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