If anybody ever wondered why I adore this man so much – read this article………..
There are overnight stars, and there are those whose careers take a little longer to percolate. Enter 34-year-old Australian actor ALEX O’LOUGHLIN, a Hollywood transplant of five years, and the survivor of two high profile cancelled US TV series, Moonlight and Three Rivers. His role opposite Jennifer Lopez in the rom-com THE BACK-UP PLAN, however, might be the one to seal the deal for him in Hollywood. Raised in Sydney – the son of an astronomy teacher and a nurse – this high school dropout backpacked around the globe before following his dream to become an actor, winning his first lead role in the local hit Oyster Farmer six years ago.
– By Gill Pringle
Question: Do you have to fight harder, as an Australian, for roles in Hollywood?
Alex: No. but you have to work harder to do the accent. I’ve been working on my US accent for quite some years now, so it’s pretty good.
Question: How was your first year in Hollywood? When you were struggling to find work?
Alex: I had nothing. I ended sleeping on my pal’s office floor while his house was getting sand-blasted and all the floors were being done. The office was sealed off in plastic, so I was literally living in a plastic bubble while the rest of the house was being worked on.
I had really dark thoughts in that time. I was very depressed and I went through a lot of pain. I couldn’t see beyond each day. That might sound overly dramatic, but that’s what I experienced. I didn’t know what to do. I had a good friend who came by every morning and took me for coffee and worked out the plan for every day. I didn’t have the money to go home to Australia even if I’d wanted to.
It was friendship that kept me strong. Eventually I just thought, “What the hell! Untill you hit your knees, it’s not worth it anyway.”
Question: Did you do crummy jobs to support yourself?
Alex: I’ve done them my entire life. I grew up digging holes and working in construction and demolition. I’ve worked in restaurants and bars. No pun intended but the shittiest job that I’ve done was working for a plumber when I was seventeen. That was shitty! But I don’t care about that. I’m not above that, but it’s good not to have to do it anymore. I’m very lucky to make a living from acting.
Question: Who is your mentor in LA?
Alex: Jack Thompson for sure. I’ve had a few mentors over the years; some incredible actors have taken me under their wing and really helped me. But Jack? We’ve done a few pictures together (Oyster Farmer, Man-Thing, Feed), and he potty-trained me! That’s a Jack-ism – when we talk about an actor not behaving well, his response to that is, ‘Aaah mate, bad potty-training.’ He’s absolutely right.
So if I behave badly at work, there’s no excuse for it, because I’ve had the best potty-training with Jack. The man has such talent, and such integrity. He and his family have become my family over here.
Question: You’re starring opposite Jennifer Lopez in the rom-com The Back-Up Plan. One of the themes of the film is that you can never really plan your life, and that love shows up when you least expect it. Do you relate to that?
Alex: Yes, there is an expression: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”, and it’s true to a certain extent. Especially when you’re a parent [Alex has a twelve-year-old son named Saxon], your life moves into another area; you grow up and you move into that level of living. When other people come before you, there are certain considerations that you have to make. You can plan certain things and you can plan for the future, but when it comes to affairs of the heart, you never know who you’re going to meet or when.
Question: Was Jennifer Lopez very different from her public persona?
Alex: Believe it or not, I really didn’t have any preconceptions. I mean, she is smoking hot, and she is super famous, but I don’t read any of that gossip type of stuff. I don’t allow it in my house; I don’t give a shit about it. I never have. I mean, sure, there are certain things that you can’t get away from.
For a long time, I’ve had people who are being gossiped about, in my life, since I was very young, so I know that it’s all bullshit. I’ve never plugged into it; I’ve never fed it. It’s a very dangerous part of the machine.
That being said, Jennifer was a surprise to me. For someone as hugely famous and popular as she is, I never thought of her as a ‘celebrity.’ I just saw her as a grounded person. She’s a terrific women with a lot of spunk and fire. She’s my kind of person; there’s a lot of joy and a lot of humour in her. All my dearest friends from Australia have that quality – there’s a certain irreverence and that joie de vivre. I feel totally comfortable talking to her; I don’t have to worry about censoring myself. We laugh about the same things, which helped us even more when it came to working together.
Question: What first attracted you to acting?
Alex: I did a play at school when I was about nine-years-old. I did this skit with two Fish Fingers up my nose, lying on my back, dead. It was a funny skit, and I keenly remember the audience roaring with laughter. I realise that if I did something, there was cause and effect. So the story telling seed was sawn within me, and I loved it. It made perfect sense. I went to drama school when I was 23.
I wanted to get the best possible understanding of what I was involved in and where story comes from and all that stuff. I wanted to learn about the history of theatre, and I wanted to learn about my voice and my body. Before that, I started at the very bottom. I washed dishes in restaurants in Kings Cross to pay for night classes in acting. I worked as an extra, just to see how a film set works. I started at the very bottom and worked my way up, which is really a good way to go. I got bits and pieces of work here and there on the other side of the camera too.
Question: And you left school at seventeen. Did you truant a lot?
Alex: Umm, a bit! You know, I truanted a bit, and I’d smoke cigarettes at lunchtime. It wasn’t necessarily rebelling, it was more like, “Who gives a shit!” School was such a bullshit, flawed system anyway – that was how I felt at the time. I’d ask a teacher a question, and I wouldn’t get clear answers. They weren’t actually helping me get through the system.
It was a combination of my attitude and the pockets of truth that I held about the system that I was in, and also that ridiculous age when everything’s so important. I had a bit of a wild streak, and I didn’t want to conform. I wasn’t interested in one specific thing. What I was interested in was the world, and traveling, and seeing things and hearing different languages.
Question: How has fame changed you?
Alex: I’m very private, and I keep a low profile. I just do all my normal things. I live my life, but things are starting to change. We got chased by paparazzi the other night, who were trying to find out where we live. Just little things like that. But I’m not going to change the way I live.
I still ride my motorcycles a lot. I have a Triumph Truxton and a friend just built a Harley for me, which was my first Harley. It’s the great American dream to own a Harley. It’s a custom chopper, built from the ground up. It’s very simple, and very cool, sort of like a Mad Max bike. I’ve been riding since I was five-years-old, so it’s like a part of me. I also like rock climbing. I’m very active; I love boxing and running too.
Side note: In February 2010 Alex took possession of the newly painted Evo Sporty, which he talked about here in this interview, from Cro Customs. He later sold the bike and in November 2012 he took possession of another newly built bike from Cro Customs, called Yang Yang.
Not sure if Alex is keeping, selling or maybe already sold Yang, but last week (8 May 2014) the sales person from Cycle City Ltd in Honolulu posted a picture of him and Alex, when Alex was there to buy his new Harley. (Third time Harley-lucky? 😀 )
Question: What are your dreams for the future?
Alex: It would be crazy not to say it, but one of them is to continue to work. I want to continue working because, when I am working there’s stability in my life. As an actor you are either incredibly unstable or incredibly stable. We get paid well when we work, and everything is okay, but when we’re not working – and those periods can be for years – it can be very disconcerting.
I’m living my dream and that’s really cliché, but I’m so happy right now. I’m so happy with my work. I’m healthy, I’m fit, I’ve got a great job and I’ve got friends. I go home and I’m just me! I am who I am. I am Alex – I’m a son, I’m a brother, I’m a father, I’m a lover…..I’m a whatever I am. But I am just me.
PS. So much have changed in Alex’s life since this interview. Saxon already turns 17 in less than two months time. Hawaii Five-0 can be seen as a great success for already moving into its 5th Season. And of course Alex experienced issues with his health, sought help and overcame it, added another son and a stepson to his family and tied the knot. But I think the core of what he said in this article and who he is, is still just as relevant as in 2010. It is very much HIM in a nutshell. One of my favorite interviews of him ever……
We plan to post more of Alex’s old interviews and articles during the next few months – most of it will be old news to you, but we hope you all will enjoy it with us! For me it is always a reminder of why I find it worth my while to spend time to get to know him better. The boy next door who followed his dream, worked hard and made not only his life but also so many of our lives better. 🙂