KIMBERLEY Joseph has successfully cheated death. On television at least.More than a year after she made a fleeting appearance on Lost as the flight attendant who shared a flirtatious moment with leading man Jack, she has unexpectedly returned.
Last seen alive seconds before ill-fated Oceanic Flight 815 hurtled towards the ground, Joseph's character has long been presumed dead. But as viewers of the series recently discovered, plucky trolley dolly Cindy did emerge alive from the carnage and has been living on another part of the island with the tail survivors, led by Michelle Rodriguez.
"As it turns out I was supposed to die in the pilot - you were supposed to see me dead on the beach," Joseph recalls of the original script. "While they were filming they were rewriting stuff and one of the guys said they wanted to figure out a way to bring me back, and then, lo and behold, a year-and-a-half-later they called me. I'm thinking, 'Am I dead, am I alive, are these just flashbacks, what's the story?' Then it turns out I'm alive on the other side of the island."
Although a suspicion the writers are simply making things up as they go along can prove frustrating for fans, Joseph has no such complaints. After all, it was this flexible approach that saw them suddenly decide not to kill her off.
"It is so interesting the way they write," she says. "They're geniuses - the way they tie up loose ends and keep storylines open just to see what people are responding to."
But asking an actor to reprise a character at short notice comes with problems of its own. Although a producer suggested she "not go changing too much" after the first episode, the former Gladiators host couldn't resist getting a haircut.
"I was supposed to have been on the island for 50 days and my hair was shorter because I'd cut it in the interim," she says. "So then we had to go through the whole debacle of putting a Rambo scarf around my head, which just looked ridiculous."
Although the audience becomes far more acquainted with Cindy over the next two weeks, she will again vanish from our screens under mysterious circumstances we won't reveal. Nonetheless, Joseph is confident this won't be the last we have seen of Cindy.
"I'm fairly certain and have heard rumours that I will probably be back before the end of the season," she says.
"It would be very unlikely that they not tie up that loose end - I'm going to get a phone call at some stage I'm sure.
"She's the only surviving cabin crew member so there are definitely possibilities for her. I don't know what they have in store and I'll be the last person to find out."
Despite the infrequent nature of her appearances on Lost, Joseph has garnered a loyal following. Since her return and subsequent disappearance, fans in the US have created websites lobbying for Cindy to return once more.
"I went online with my friend next door and we had a good old chuckle," she laughs. "It's the Save The Cindy Foundation or something, it's hysterical. I don't know whether the writers actually go on to those sites - I know there are a few sites (series creator) J.J. Abrams does frequent."
Whatever the outcome, Joseph is happy to have spent more time on the show, especially on the Hawaii set.
"We filmed the plane crash in Los Angeles - and my work consisted of two-and-a half days," she says of the initial shoot. "I was expecting to be dead at the end of the pilot so anything over and above that is a complete bonus, and the fact I got to spend five-and-a half weeks in Hawaii was fantastic. I'd never been there before so it was just wonderful. It was a nice little holiday."
With her most substantial scenes about to air here, she admits to being embarrassed at the local hype over her threadbare role in the first moments of Lost and is relieved we will finally see her deliver more than one line.
"When Australia got wind of it that I was in the pilot they advertised it like I was in the show and I was thinking, I've literally only got two scenes.
"A lot of people are press-hungry and will oversell themselves. I've spoken to people who say, 'I've got this role' and I watch the film and they're a featured extra. So I'm of the ilk that even if I've got a relatively substantial role, I downplay it. That's the Aussie way - you never oversell yourself."
Currently based in LA, where she shares an apartment with a blind cocker spaniel she rescued off the streets 18 months ago, Joseph is working on a "docu-reality" series she hopes to pitch to the US networks. And of course, there is the very real possibility she'll be summoned yet again to a certain island.
"Every now and again I wonder if I'll go back but I'm not hanging out for it - I just know that if they call and I'm available I'll do it. They could easily dress somebody up in my flight attendant outfit and put me up in a tree and say, 'Oh there's Cindy, dead in a tree'," she adds with a laugh. "You never really know."