Q&A; With Akinnuoye-Agbaje
The first thing one notices upon chatting with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is that he sounds nothing at all like his most memorable characters: not Simon Adebisi from Oz, Mr. Eko from Lost, or Majestic from Get Rich or Die Tryin'. In fact, he speaks with a cheerful British lilt and boasts a sharp sense of humor that he hasn't yet flashed on camera. So with a few of the aforementioned ass kickers having made their way into American living rooms (courtesy of recent DVD releases of Get Rich and Lost's second season), we sat Akinnuoye-Agbaje down to answer a bunch o' persnickety questions.

She comes Dollhouse-trained and everything.


Given some of the roles you've played in the past, how'd you end up on Lost?
To be quite honest with you, I hadn't heard of the show at the time they called me. I'm based in the UK and the show hadn't aired there, plus I wasn't looking to commit myself to a TV series. I was wooed into the part—the chemistry and creative vibe was great with the producers. The character, at that point, was just a priest, so he's evolved along the way. He was originally named Emeka.

And a year later, you find yourself living in Hawaii and working on one of TV's biggest shows.
I kind of feel for the people on the show who are just coming into the business and this is their first gig. They've got a big letdown coming.[laughs]

What is it about you, as an actor, that prompts casting directors to put you in roles where you kick a ton of ass?
Obviously Hollywood has a tendency to stereotype, and I'm a physical-looking person. Pretty much everything I've gotten has probably derived from my performance as Adebisi, which hopefully showed that I have a lot of layers. He was a cold-blooded murderer that you could feel for.

I'm still pissed that Adebisi got killed off.
People might have felt cheated, but I'm the sort of actor that won't sit around and get lazy and pamper the audience. When the [character's] arc is done, I move on. The same point will arrive with Eko; the key is recognizing it. With Adebisi, there was only one end for somebody who's in prison for life, you know? They asked me to come back as a ghost, but I said no. I wanted to keep the integrity of the character intact.

How tough was it to get into the mindset of a sneering, unrepentant criminal every day?
I enjoyed it and rode it hard. The hardest thing to do was take off the hat [Adebisi wore a tiny, circular cap that seemed to defy gravity by remaining atop his head]. New York is one of the best places in the world to shoot. It's almost like being in a theater. You get an immediate response—you feel it on the street when it's going well and when it's not.

The role was easy to get into, but it was very dangerous. I remember when I discovered Adebisi was a heroin addict: "Oh, crap, I've never even smoked a single cigarette." I didn't want to cheat the audience. At lunchtime, I called a friend and we drank a couple bottles of wine, to get into that mood. Half of what we shot that day was edited—we couldn't televise it. That's the level to which I'll go to get the point across.

How did you keep the hat on, anyway?
I just did. I could have done a back flip and it wouldn't move. A few of the bristles on my head helped it. [laughs]

Adebisi versus Mr. Eko in a fight: Who wins?
Adebisi would probably come out ahead, but it would be a great fight. We should throw Majestic in there as well.

What was your favorite Mr. Eko moment in the series so far?
I really liked the interaction with [John] Locke. It's like there's a spiritual chess game going on between them, two men constantly sizing each other up.

What was it like being one of the actors who came on board for season two? Was there kind of a new-kid-at-school thing going on?
They gave me a stick and said, "Knock those three guys out." There's no better way to make an entrance. [laughs]

How does the Lost fan cult compare with the Oz fan cult?
Oz was big, but Lost is something else. The theories [fans] conjure and throw at you, it's like, "Why aren't they writing it?" The amount of fascination is one of the hardest things to come to terms with. Basically you just accept that the obsessive audience is part of it.

How do you think it eventually ends for Mr. Eko?
It'd be nice to see him get laid [cracks up]. That's probably not going to happen. Hopefully he'll be a complete person by the end of his journey, free of the self-torture and guilt. I just want to see him in peace.

Check out what Hurley has to say!


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