On the CBS drama series Moonlight, Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin plays Mick St. John, a captivating, charming and immortal private investigator from Los Angeles. Defying the traditional blood-sucking norms of his vampire tendencies by using his wit and powerful supernatural abilities to help the living, Mick St. John was bitten 60 years ago by his new bride, the seductive Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon).
Forever 30 years of age, Mick doesn’t share the view of much of his fanged brethren, that humans are only a source of nourishment. With only a handful of like-minded confidantes for company, including the eternally young, wealthy and mischievous Josef (Jason Dohring), who relishes his uniqueness, Mick fills his infinite days as a protector.
Taking inspiration from all the vampire stories he loved growing up, O’Loughlin sees the character as just cheeky and sarcastic enough to be entertaining. The Los Angeles resident talks to MediaBlvd Magazine about what it’s like to play a vampire.
By Christina Radish
1 November 2007
MediaBlvd: What qualities does your vampire character Mick have that attracted you to the role?
Alex: When I read the character, the first quality that I really related to was his humor. He has quite a dark sense of humor. I’m not as dark as he is because I see the lighter side of things. I see the humor in things, and I see the comedy in life. That was my entrance point to this role.
MediaBlvd: Why are vampires so sexy?
Alex: I don’t know. I think it’s the danger and the after-dark mystery.
MediaBlvd: Can you talk about wearing the contact lenses?
Alex: I don’t mind wearing the lenses. I think the new lenses are kind of sexy, actually. They’re creepier than the ones we had in the original pilot. I’m really enjoying the new, modified, mature vampire look that we’ve gone for.
MediaBlvd: How are the fangs to wear?
Alex: They’re made by our special effects company. I can talk normally with them in. They’re molded to my mouth. It’s a huge process to get them as refined as the ones that we have are, but they’re incredible. They slip right in and they lock into place. They can do a bit of damage, too. They’re pretty sharp.
MediaBlvd: Do you find that biting women on the neck is a turn on or a turn off?
Alex: I like it very much. And, my girlfriend really enjoys it too, until she doesn’t, and then she slaps me, and that’s the end of that. Her name is Holly Valance. She’s an Australian actress and singer, and she lives in L.A., too.
MediaBlvd: Whose blood does Mick drink?
Alex: He drinks human blood, absolutely. It looks so realistic. I think the blood is something along the lines of chocolate sauce with coloring in it, but it looks like blood to me. It’s thick, gelatinous, blood-colored liquid. I don’t know exactly what it is.
MediaBlvd: What makes Mick turn?
Alex: If he gets excited, for better or worse, he can vamp out a little bit, and sometimes he has to. If we do have vampires, in this modern day, amongst us, they have to keep it contained. That’s another layer of vulnerability for this guy. He can’t expose himself. He’s able to take on cases, in the private investigation element, that perhaps other people wouldn’t. He’s able to pursue cases that may be otherwise unpursuable because of his special abilities and subhuman powers.
MediaBlvd: Since all of the other actors on the show were replaced after filming the original pilot, is it weird, having to work with a whole new cast?
Alex: Kind of, but you get used to working with different groups of people because that’s what you do, as an actor. In this particular instance, yeah, it was strange getting used to a group of people, and getting to know and coming to like and trust that group of people, and then have them all taken away, and having the same characters and similar storylines, played by different actors.
It was like re-meeting those people. But, on another level, it’s very rare that, as an actor, you get to have a second chance. I always find myself at the premiere with my head in my hands going, “Oh, no, I wish I could shoot that scene again.” This is a rare opportunity to redo things.
MediaBlvd: How is it different?
Alex: Obviously, the cast is different. And, we have a new crew and some new storylines. All of that is going to make it pretty different. My character is still the same character. We’ve rewritten Mick St. John a little bit, but fundamentally, he’s still the same person. The way he conducts himself in his affairs has changed a little bit, which is cool. It’s interesting, being a part of something, having it completely shift, like a Rubik’s cube, and then being a part of it, at the other end of the spectrum.
MediaBlvd: Did they call you in to tell you that you were safe, even though everybody else around you would be changing?
Alex: Yeah, they did. They told me that the show got picked up because of me, and that they’d worry about the rest of the cast later. I freaked out and said, “You really shouldn’t do that.” We all see ourselves differently from how everyone else sees us, but that’s essentially what happened.
MediaBlvd: Because of your character’s age, are there going to be references to the past?
Alex: Yes, the show is going to flashback. Narration and flashback are two devices that the writers are using to make Mick’s story more accessible for the audience. That way, we can share Mick’s experience with everyone in an efficient and clear way, so that we can understand why and how he’s at where he’s at.
MediaBlvd: How will his relationships with the other characters be developing?
Alex: His wife, Coraline, was the vampire that made Mick into a vampire and gave him this curse that he now carries with him. It’s not something he wanted or that he knew was coming. She’s the bane of his existence. She’s the ex-wife from Hell, but he still loves her.
And, there’s Beth, the little girl that he saved, who grew into a beautiful woman, played by Sophia Myles. He’s not sure how he feels about her. So, there’s a lot of confusion, heartache and loneliness in his life, when we meet him.
MediaBlvd: How does it feel to have Joel Silver behind the show?
Alex: Joel’s fantastic. But, it’s TV, not a $150 million film, so there are budgetary and time restraints. You’ve got to tell a story and get through a certain amount of exposition, along with the procedural element. Joel is certainly heavily, and actively, involved.
It’s wonderful to have him on set, in the editing room and at the read-throughs. His presence is felt very strongly. It’s terrific. And, it breeds confidence in us all, to have a legend, and such an incredibly successful filmmaker, on board.
MediaBlvd: Are you a nocturnal person?
Alex: I am nocturnal. I wake up at midnight. It takes me a while to get to sleep. I work best at night.
MediaBlvd: What do you do when you wake up at midnight?
Alex: I watch Family Guy. And, that’s when I do my writing, or whatever I’m working on. I write music, just for me. I’m certainly not good enough to do it, on any kind of professional level. But, I enjoy that time because it’s quiet.
MediaBlvd: What kind of music do you like?
Alex: I love rock and blues, and I play the guitar, but I never practiced enough to be good enough to do anything with it. It’s just something that brings me great joy. I write songs for personal reasons. It’s yet another expression of my art, and that helps me be clear about what I’m doing, in my chosen profession.
MediaBlvd: Growing up in Australia, how popular are vampire films and stories?
Alex: I discovered Anne Rice when I was in my late teens. I read the first five or six books of her Vampire Chronicles twice, which was a little obsessive. I loved her character development. I learned so much about the mythology of vampires through her storytelling, some of which she took dramatic license with, but a lot is authentic. I also grew up with American TV and cinema in Australia because we didn’t really have that much of our own. I have always wanted to play a vampire.
MediaBlvd: What are some of your favorite vampire books and films?
Alex: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Lost Boys and The Hunger are probably my three favorites, and they were a part of my coming-of-age movies, especially The Lost Boys. But, I think that Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles are my favorite stories. The characters in there are just incredible. Those are just incredible books.
MediaBlvd: Did you particularly respond to Lestat?
Alex: There’s a lot of Lestat in Mick St. John. He’s an inspirational character to young men who find it difficult to come out of their shells. He’s just obnoxious enough, just cheeky enough and he misbehaves just enough. He’s a really interesting, full character.
I think his mischievousness and his sense of joy have been things that I’ve tried to take into this character, not to copy it, in any way, but just as an ode. One of the similarities between Mick St. John and the character of Lestat is the thorough comprehension of irony. Both of those characters really understand irony, and not everybody does, especially in this country.
MediaBlvd: Did you have any other influences in the genre?
Alex: I’ve been in love with the genre since I was a little boy. I’ve loved the concept of infinity. My father is, essentially, a scientist. He’s a professor who teaches physics and astronomy, so I have that mind as well. As a small boy, I used to lie in bed and look at the stars, and struggle with the concept of infinity, and that the universe went on forever.
So, anything like that, my mind soaked up like a sponge. When I was introduced to the genre of vampires, and the concept that perhaps a human creature could live forever, I was just transfixed by it, and romantically obsessed. I always have been. A lot of my buddies just don’t get it.
MediaBlvd: Did you have a P.I. or detective that you drew inspiration from?
Alex: Not really. There are so many P.I. guys and cops that have been played over the years, that have been clichéd, and there are so many clichés that you can fall into. Playing a private investigator, I’m really just trying to find the truth in it, and not rest on my laurels, or rest in clichés, which is so easy to do.
MediaBlvd: Do you work out, or have a special diet, so that you can stay in shape for the show?
Alex: I do work out, but not in a gym. I hate gyms. I run in the canyons. I run in the mountains. I like running outside. And, I have some equipment at home that I use, but I like using nature. I rock climb as well. I try to eat what I want, but I eat moderately.
MediaBlvd: Will you be doing any martial arts on the show?
Alex: They haven’t filled me in on that completely yet. I know that Joel is in communication with people overseas about martial art- based stunts. I’m totally into that. I’m so into my stunts that they have to pull me up. I actually had a vase smashed across my head and face, on the show. I’m really into the hands-on aspect of filmmaking. As an actor, insurance only allows for a certain amount of stunts to be done by me, but I have a martial arts background.
MediaBlvd: Did you have any belts?
Alex: My teacher used to say, “Belts are there to keep your pants up,” but yeah, I had belts. I did a few different karates, some Korean martial arts, Tai Chi, and a little bit of Kung Fu. I’ve always been really interested in, not only the art of zen and the martial arts, but just the Eastern way of life. Some of the Eastern philosophies have been things I’ve had around me, growing up, and I’ve always felt challenged by them. It would be great to be able to incorporate that into the show, somewhere.
MediaBlvd: Do you see the concept of living forever as a double-edged sword?
Alex: Absolutely. On one hand, it’s a gift. On the other hand, it’s a curse. We’re staying away from the emotional darkness of Mick, in the immediate shows. We’re not just going straight into, “Oh, my God, I want to kill myself.” However, that is a reality for this character, especially as he approaches the 100-year mark. At the 100-year mark, vampires tend to move into a depression. It’s one of many mid-life depressions. It’s all relative. You’ve got to learn to deal.
MediaBlvd: In an age where people are using Botox and Viagra, is a vampire who stays looking 30 for his entire life a metaphor for our own flaws, nowadays?
Alex: Absolutely. There are a lot of things in this genre, and in this era of storytelling, that are analogous or metaphorical and, certainly, pertinent to what’s going on in today’s society, with regard to vanity. As an actor, I look at this show and it’s a story about this vampire who didn’t want to be made into a vampire.
He fell in love with this beautiful woman, married her, and she gave him this thing that she thought was a gift, but to him was a curse. The fact that he is 90 years old, and his skin is still youthful and his eyes are still bright, is something that he struggles with. It’s not actually something he ever really gets to enjoy.
MediaBlvd: What are your ambitions for this show? How would you like your character to grow?
Alex: He’s undead. He can’t get any older, but he can’t get any younger either. I’d like to think the show has at least two or three years of really solid storylines. But, when this story does come to an end, because of the nature of it and the nature of the characters, I think it has to come to a definitive end. I have absolutely no idea what will happen, though. The reality for this is that the only limits to the storytelling, in this genre and this show, are the limits of our own imaginations.
MediaBlvd: Are you hoping that the visibility this show will give you will lead to more film opportunities for you?
Alex: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I know film a lot better than I know television. TV and film are similar, in a lot of ways, but different as well. The process is slightly different, and the hours are slightly different. Film has a definite beginning and a definite end, whereas with television you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, which is also very exciting.
I do hope this show leads to more work opportunities for me. I think growing up in fringe theater and independent film, you get very used to being ready to have it all taken away from you, at any minute. I’m not holding my breath. I’m just doing my job and hoping for the best.
MediaBlvd: Is this an exciting time for you? Do you think, “Oh, my God, this could really turn out to be something huge”?
Alex: Absolutely. Everyone is interested and wants to know all about the show and all about me. We’re doing red carpets. It’s a really exciting time. We’re one of four shows that CBS picked up, out of 500 that were pitched. When you sit back and look at it like that, you go, “Wow, I’ve really got an opportunity to make something here,” and hopefully I will, and I won’t screw it up too badly. I’m really grateful. I’m just trying to stay in the moment and get the job done.
MediaBlvd: Did you worry that you’d be thought of as the “vampire guy” for the rest of your life?
Alex: Absolutely. This is the first network television I’ve done, in my career. This is the first pilot season I’ve done. That’s for a reason. Typecasting is something that is very real. Everyone understands it. The reality of my short, young career, to date, is that I’ve really made an effort to play vastly different characters, or as different as I can possibly muster, until I grow some more, as an artist. That’s what I want to continue doing. I want to play characters that are far removed from who Alex is.
MediaBlvd: How did your family feel about you wanting to become an actor?
Alex: My family is extremely supportive. They are very forward-thinking, open and willing parents. They’re great. I think most parents have preconceived, unrealistic hopes for their children, but children are people and they’ll find what they want to do.
MediaBlvd: Did they push you toward being a doctor or lawyer at all?
Alex: The only reason parents want that for their kids is because it’s stable and it’s money.
MediaBlvd: Did you always expect you would be doing this?
MediaBlvd: So, what did you think you would be doing?
Alex: I didn’t know. Probably lots of different stuff.
MediaBlvd: There was a weird internet rumor that you are the son of famous AC/DC rocker Bon Scott. How did that rumor start?
Alex: I don’t know how that started. I got a phone call from a friend of mine, and I Google-searched it, and it was all over the Internet. It was on IMDB, and in the tabloids. It’s not that it was a negative rumor. It’s just so interesting to me that something that was completely fictitious could actually make it that far, that quickly and that comprehensively.
I’m Australian, so I grew up with AC/DC, and their music was a big portion of the first songs that I learned on the guitar. But, my mom called me, very upset, because she was publicly labeled a groupie and, therefore, a hussy and a harlot, which isn’t true at all. My mom is a very wonderful, very respectable woman.
My father is a teacher in Sydney, at a private boys’ school. He’s extremely intelligent, and I’ve always been a little intimidated by that. We have a great book club thing that we do, where we refer books to each other, we read them, and then we chat about it, which is terrific. But, when he refers things to me, I don’t know what a lot of the words are, so I have nothing to talk about.
MediaBlvd: How does your Australian accent work over here in the States with the ladies?
Alex: To me, it just is what it is. It’s just how I sound, but a lot of people really enjoy it. I think it has a relaxed drawl. Maybe I sound lazy.
MediaBlvd: How long have you been here?
Alex: I’ve been living here, approaching three years.
MediaBlvd: Did you experience culture shock, when you first came here?
Alex: It was a pretty hard transition, yeah. I’d been coming over to L.A. for a while — five or six years — for auditions and meetings, so I knew my way around. But, to actually shift over here, it took me a good 12 months to get used to how much time I had to spend in my car, how far I had to go for a coffee, where to get my bread and milk, and all that stuff.
MediaBlvd: So, how do you like it now?
Alex: It’s home. I really love it.
MediaBlvd: How difficult is it for a foreign-born actor to make it in Hollywood?
Alex: I think it’s difficult, no matter where you’re from, to make it in Hollywood, unless you get a really lucky break. I’m sure some people would view this as a lucky break for me, but I’ve worked really hard, for a long time. We chip away, by going to auditions. You’ve got to get the accents down. You’ve got to be able to show up and do the work, and that includes accents and relocation. It’s pretty tough.
MediaBlvd: Was making it in Hollywood always a goal for you?
Alex: I just wanted to work internationally because there were so many wonderful actors, filmmakers and writers that I wanted to work with. And then, it got to a point where, fundamentally, there was no work in my country. Australia is a boutique industry. It’s a lot like the industry in England.
It’s really difficult. There are a lot of actors, and not a lot of work, and the work that you do get isn’t very highly paid, so forget buying a house or investing any money in anything, let alone just surviving, day-to-day. You get used to living on rice and ketchup, pretty quickly. That’s no joke.
MediaBlvd: Your nickname is “A-Rod.” Are you aware that there is an athlete (the baseball player, Alex Rodriguez) with that same nickname?
Alex: I am. A friend of mine in Australia made that up, and it’s so embarrassing. There’s also a tennis player named “A-Rod.” Anyway, it’s embarrassing on many levels, so we won’t go into that.
MediaBlvd: In your every day life, what are you really good at, and what are you really bad at?
Alex: I don’t know what I’m really good at. I’m really good at sitting by the pool. And, I’m really bad at auditioning.
MediaBlvd: You’ve done a few feature films and a little TV. Has it been difficult to break into Hollywood?
Alex: This was my first pilot season. Network TV is a scary thing. It’s a big commitment, and it took me a few years to get to the point where I was ready and relaxed enough to say, “Okay, I’m ready to do a pilot season.” I didn’t read that many pilot scripts.
MediaBlvd: Had there been any talk of bringing your character on The Shield back for another season?
Alex: Yeah. They had an option on me, and I believe they still do. Shawn Ryan (executive producer of The Shield) and Les Moonves (CBS President and CEO) are going to have to arm wrestle over it. I was surprised at the way things ended up for my character, Kevin Hiatt, on The Shield.
Things were just starting to heat up, and I really loved the show. It was the first series TV I chose to do, in America. It was with great pleasure, and it was a very easy decision to say yes to that job. It was also a wonderful lesson in everything about television. That’s the fastest shooting show in Hollywood. It’s a terrific cast with an incredible team behind it. It taught me a lot, and really prepared me.
MediaBlvd: You don’t think you’ll be back at all?
Alex: I don’t think so. I don’t think Les is going to let me. I think we should boycott. Alex O’Loughlin should be allowed to do another 7 episodes on The Shield, and do Moonlight, at the same time.
MediaBlvd: Is it true that you were you up for the role of James Bond?
Alex: I was. I met with [director] Martin Campbell, in Los Angeles, at his office on the Sony lot, and he asked me to fly to London and test. I did, and we tested at Pinewood. It was the biggest screen test I’ve ever done. It was very comprehensive. They had tuxedos and suits made for me, and they cut my hair. I think I was a bit young, to be honest. I think in five years, I’ll be a good Bond.
MediaBlvd: You are in two new movies, August Rush (November 21st) and Whiteout (2008). Who do you play in both?
Alex: In August Rush, I play a rock ‘n’ roll guitarist from Dublin. I play Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ brother, and I play in a band with him, that moves to New York from Ireland. It’s a really great supporting role. I can’t wait for it. My own guitar is in the movie, too.
And, in Whiteout, I play the villain. I play an Australian pilot, who is on the slightly dodgy side. It was great. I like playing the villain. It happens a lot.
MediaBlvd: Are there certain things that you look for in roles? Do you intentionally look for very different types of characters?
Alex: Yeah, it’s absolutely intentional. I took the roles because they were offered to me, but also because I felt they would be a challenge for me. I don’t want to play the same role. If I get to a point where I feel like I do a great job as an actor and I don’t have anything else to learn, or I’m no longer being challenged by my roles, I think it’s time for me to get a new job.
That’s how I look at it. I look at the careers of people that I admire, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Day Lewis, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, and all those guys, who have had huge vacillations between characters, and their range is vast.