Alex O’Loughlin experiences a healthy career move
by Colin Vickery
14 October 2009
AUSSIE actor Alex O’Loughlin’s Hollywood career has cost him his relationship with Holly Valance, but it has brought him the starring role in new US medical drama Three Rivers. O’Loughlin and Valance split last February after four years together. The writing was on the wall when O’Loughlin was starring in cult vampire series Moonlight. He had spent years trying to ignite his US acting career and wasn’t going to let the chance slip.
“I’m usually feeling wiped out and I’ve not seen Holly all week. It’s a pretty full-on life, but what do you do? I love my work and there are sacrifices,” O’Loughlin told the Guide in 2007. He poured everything into Moonlight, only to suffer the disappointment of seeing the show axed after one season.
The consolation for O’Loughlin’s relationship break-up is playing leading transplant surgeon Dr Andy Yablonksi on Three Rivers. O’Loughlin’s character is based on real-life heart-transplant surgeon Dr Gonzo Gonzalez-Stawinski. “When I was first handed the script I knew it would work, but I wasn’t sure I was the right man for the job,” O’Loughlin says. It’s one thing to play dress-ups and have a great time and shoot guns (on shows such as The Shield and Criminal Minds), but with this script I was playing a real character and it involved real stories. This seemed so immense I didn’t think I could pull it off.” O’Loughlin is known for his modesty. He once told the Guide “I don’t think I’m a great talent. I think I’m a medium talent, but it’s about perseverance.”
He had the confidence to tackle Yablonski on Three Rivers only after he spoke to Gonzalez-Stawinski. “We spoke on the phone for hours and then he asked me to come and stay at his house,” O’Loughlin says. “I saw nine open-heart procedures with him. We got on straight away and now he’s a friend for life.”
O’Loughlin’s mother is a nurse and he can remember following her on her hospital rounds, but he readily admits he knew nothing about medicine before Three Rivers.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with Gonzalaz-Stawinski was a life changing experience for the actor. “After I spent my first 10 hours in an operating room watching a man being brought back to life, I sat in my hotel room for three hours and felt this deep sense of regret that I was watching my calling (medicine) before me and that I’d taken the wrong direction (acting) in my career.”
“I got to know people who were sick through no fault of their own and now they are dead and all they wanted was a bit more of life – simple stuff like the chance to water the garden. I also realised that physicians have the capacity to love the unlovable. The most awful person you can imagine could be lying on the hospital bed and the physician will say to them ‘everything will be OK’.”
“Learning to get in touch with that part of me as a young alpha Aussie male has been a struggle and one of the greatest experiences so far in my career.”
A long way up
Alex O’Loughlin’s Hollywood success is an inspiring example of the power of persistence in the face of rejection and doubt.
“It’s been a long journey but I’ve maintained a positive outlook and it has paid off,” O’Loughlin says.“There was a point four years ago when I was living on my mate Sam Gould’s couch for more than a year – so long that my back went out. I had my swag with me and I had to move on to the floor. At that point I’d run out of money. A Ducati motorcycle, the only thing I owned, had been stolen and the insurance money had run out and I couldn’t get arrested in this town (Los Angeles).”
- Of course Alex and Holly were not together for 4 years as the article says, but it was closer to 2 years 8 months (June 2006 – Feb 2009)
- I’ve always wondered about him saying here that he did hospital rounds with his mother, because where I come from it would be highly irregular for a child to hang around his mother who is a nurse in a hospital. In an interview last year in September, Alex actually explained that his mom was a community nurse, and that he did house call rounds with her. It made a lot more sense.
- Once again it is quite clear how seriously Alex took his role as Dr Andy Yablonski. To him it was more than just a character to play.