Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin is about to land in North America this weekend when his new film, The Back-Up Plan, opens in theatres. In the romantic comedy, which he stars in alongside Jennifer Lopez, O’Loughlin plays Stan, a young bachelor who falls for Lopez’s character after she finds out she’s pregnant.
Although he’s appeared in many films and television shows, the part of Stan is his biggest role to date, and he admits he got the part over a cup of coffee in the Pittsburgh airport.“My agent called me and said [director] Alan Poul wanted to come and meet me, have a cup of coffee and chat. We sat for a couple of hours and chatted about a bunch of stuff, and of course one of things was the movie and the fact that Jennifer was now attached and I was being considered among a couple of other people [for the part]. I was very candid with any concerns I had and that night I got a call and was told the role had been offered to me,” he says.
Before finalizing the offer, O’Loughlin had to meet with Lopez, and her husband Marc Anthony, at their home on Long Island. “You meet people and you know if you’re interested in them or not. The things you need to determine are: What’s the film that we’re making? What does it require? Do we have an understanding with one another? Do we enjoy each other’s company? Are you bored with talking to the person after two minutes? The other thing that was important is that we spoke specifically about the story and the characters and both of our artistic visions for the film and how our characters fit together,” he explains about meeting Lopez.
The character of Stan is a less grounded version of himself, O’Loughlin states, and is comparable to how he lived 10 years ago. “He’s got that young anxiety…that something is missing from his life. In that way I related to him,” he says.
O’Loughlin has done a range of genres, and has even played a vampire in the show Moonlight. His next part after The Back-up Plan is in the re-imagining of the 1960s television show Hawaii Five-O. “I play Steve McGarrett, which was the Jack Lord character in the original. In our version he’s a Navy SEAL and comes back to [Hawaii] after an incident involving his family. He’s offered something he can’t refuse and ends up running a task force on the island. There is a lot of parallels to the original show but there are a few contemporary twists. It’s going to look very different and feel very different from the original,” he says.
Whether he prefers to do film over television is debatable, as they’re very different mediums to work in. “Film is much more conducive to artistic collaboration. Television is a different beast. You do four times the amount of work, your days are much, much longer, and there’s not the luxury of time or money that you have in film. The other difference between doing a film and a television series is that with a film you have a beginning, middle, and an end. In TV it just keeps going,” he notes.
When asked what he would be doing if he wasn’t acting, O’Loughlin says that’s the “most distressing part of my life” because he never trained to be anything else. As for what he hopes the audience gets out of The Back-up Plan, he says he just wants people to “enjoy themselves and be entertained”.