Michael Emerson’s villainous turn as Ben Linus, the wicked leader of the Others on ABC’s Lost, has earned him an Emmy nomination and the love of many fans. Emerson initially signed on to the hit series for just a handful of episodes, but his presence was so engaging that producers quickly signed him on as a regular cast member. In a recent interview with IGN.com, Emerson talked about his role on the show, fan reaction to his character, and what changes we can expect to see on the island in season 4.
Emerson admits that he’s excited to see the show tackle flash forwards, and also adds that the twist at the end of season 3 wasn’t something he expected. “It wasn’t in my script,” the actor revealed. “It was left out of everybody’s script except Matt [Fox] and Evangeline [Lilly], so I didn’t know what they were doing until it was broadcast. I didn’t see those scenes and had no idea. And at first, I suppose like everybody else, I was a little bit confused. I thought ‘Jack with a beard, what kind of flashback is this? When did he ever let his beard grow?’ And then when it dawned on me that this wasn’t in the past, this was in the future and that some survived, but not happily… And that their post island life is every bit as fraught and filled with regret and misjudgment as their life on the island… I just thought ‘Oh, that’s really grown up.'”
As for the fan speculation that it may be Ben who was in the coffin in the flash forward, Emerson thinks that it seems unlikely. “Unless there’s some big changes in the course of the character between now and then, I can’t imagine that anyone would visit [his funeral].”
After years of working in television and film, the actor was surprised by the strong response that fans had to his character when he arrived in season two. “I guess you never expect that,” he said. “So much of the TV work you do is just sort of a paycheck and then you go home and it doesn’t really get talked about much except by friends and family. So of course I didn’t know when I first came out here that my character would have such staying power, and that he would end up being so much talked about. I’m still sort of adjusting to that.”
The actor was also surprised to find out just how villainous his character really was. He admits that the scene where he killed his own father in season 3’s “The Man Behind the Curtain” came as a shock even to him. “I was worried, because all the time I’d been going along thinking he seems like the evil character, he seems like the villain, but ultimately he’ll be revealed to be this great freedom fighter or the only guy that stands between doom and the planet Earth or something like that. But in that episode he seemed so bad that I was a little bit shaken. I thought ‘Jeez, maybe I’ve had this Pollyanna image. I really am a villain!'”
As for what’s to come in season 4, Emerson promises a lot of new and unexpected experiences for the Lost characters, as well as the audience. “There’s a new threat, and the threat comes from off island,” he said. “So that’s a whole new set of circumstances. There’s a lot more moving around. People go more places in this season. And of course we have this sort of tri-level storytelling, which is really exciting and allows for a lot of amazing trickery and misdirection. There’s all this business where we can be in the present, the past, or the future, and the clever ways that can all be played with are going to be really exciting.”
– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of ABC)