Monaco Revue    468x60 Swimwear
Lost star Terry O'Quinn learns from Locke

From rattling off Shakespeare in a high-pitched boonies accent in a university production in the 1970s to holding aloft an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in 2007. Who would have thought? Probably not Lost star Terry O'Quinn, who has travelled this thespian journey.

Growing up in a small town near Sault St Marie, Michigan, O'Quinn, the seventh child among 11 siblings, had little exposure to acting, other than hamming it on the stage at the high school where his father was principal. But after seeing Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and

Juliet. at age 15, he became interested in taking it up as a career.

“When I went to university I auditioned for a Shakespeare play, just on nerve alone, and I got the part,” O'Quinn says. “And that was it. I was hooked.”

He chuckles at the memory: “I had an accent because I came from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was very North Ontario, eh. It was like that, eh [mimics a high pitch]. I worked hard to forget that.”

That role in Henry IV, Part 1 at Central Michigan University spurred him to continue acting when he moved on to the University of Iowa. After leaving school, he headed to New York and opted for the difficult life of a theater actor.

“I've been poor more often than I've been well off, but I can't imagine doing anything else,” O'Quinn says.

In the 1980s he branched into film and television, and it was while working on the movie Heaven's Gate that he met his wife of 25 years, Lori, a horse trainer. As he describes it, she has been a major influence on his career.

“My wife encourages my positive clarity. She says, 'Your self esteem should be high, partly because it's professionally beneficial to be confident in yourself',” O'Quinn says. “Sometimes I got by because people saw me that way, not because I was that way.”

That holds true, he says, for his recurring roles as authority figures in The West Wing, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; in the military drama JAG, as an admiral; and in Alias, as the FBI Director.

“I feel like the role I am working on now in Lost is much more probably like confused person I am,” the soft-spoken O'Quinn muses.

The character John Locke was a paraplegic before arriving on the island; O'Quinn says he felt he, too, had lost the ability to walk before coming to the series, figuratively, that is. His career had hit the doldrums, he had begun to speak with bankruptcy lawyers, and personal and family pressures were upon him.

“I was deeply stressed and depressed and my wife came to me and said if we don't stop this downward spiral of our feelings, we are going to crash and burn,” O'Quinn remembers. “We had to change our way of thinking. We muscled ourselves into thinking that we were going to play the cards on the table and play them with the best attitude we could possibly have.”

There were literal cards – angel cards with positive thoughts that his wife bought. Two days after they picked one and started following its positive message, the producer of Lost called to offer O'Quinn the role – without the need to audition.

“He said, 'It shoots in Hawaii', and I said, 'That's not a drawback',” recalls O'Quinn, who did not hesitate to sell his home and move to the island.

The role has allowed him to be a more reflective person and to grow as an actor, he says. His peers in the TV Academy agree, and awarded him this year's Emmy for outstanding supporting actor.

And the Locke character, a fan favourite on Lost, has helped O'Quinn answer more positively a question he says he has often posed himself about his chosen career: What is acting actually contributing?

“When someone comes up and says it means something to them, that it is a viable contribution to our existence in even the smallest way, I'm very happy to hear it,” O'Quinn says.

A Monaco Revue "Up Close And Real Interview"; filmed at the Monte Carlo Television Festival.

Join Friends of Monaco Revue and get the printed version of the magazine


Comments to date: 2. Page 1 of 1.

Ophelia,  New Zealand

Posted at 3:26pm on Friday, November 16th, 2007

Good on you, Terry. Just goes to show you never know when your ship will come in.

Doris,  Location unknown

Posted at 8:51am on Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Terry is so honest, that's why we love him.


Your Name:

Your Location:

Your Comments:

Security check *



     Top                                              Home

Appleseed's Free Shipping with any order of $100 or more