Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin first came to the attention of American audiences when he was added to the sixth season of the Emmy-winning police drama The Shield. The CBS television series Moonlight marks the 31-year-old’s first turn in a leading role, as private investigator Mick St. John.
Captivating, charming and immortal, Mick defies the traditional blood-sucking norms of his vampire tendencies by using his wit and powerful supernatural abilities to help the living. Bitten 60 years ago, and forever 30 years of age, Mick develops a distinctive bond with ambitious investigative reporter Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), even though their differences keep him from pursuing his feelings for her.
The actor took a break while filming Episode 15 to speak with MediaBlvd Magazine about the relationship between Mick and Beth, and where he sees the show going in Season Two.
8 May 2008
Question: Were you a fan of the vampire genre, before this show came your way?
Alex: Absolutely, yeah. I’ve always been enamored with the shameless sensuality within the genre, unlike any other genre. And, also, the shameless excess to which these creatures live, and how deeply vampires feel, sensorily. Their senses are heightened. If you were to compare a vampire to an animal, I would think it would probably be a cat, on a lot of levels, with the touch and smell. They’re so sensitive, especially when they morph. I’ve always loved that.
As a kid, the head of my bed was underneath a really big window and, where I grew up, you could see the stars really clearly. I used to lay on my back and look up at the stars. From the moment I learned the concept of infinity and I could grasp it, I struggled with it. The stars used to keep me awake at night, to the point where it was very difficult for me to get up and go to school the next day because I’d just be doing head miles about this thing, called infinity.
How can it never stop? How can it never end? What do you mean it doesn’t have an end? And, even if it does have an ending, what’s after that? I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of infinity and immortality — that you would go on forever, regardless of what happens in the world. It could be post-apocalyptic and everything’s dead, except for you.
Question: Will viewers get to see Mick in combat in Episode 15?
Alex: Yeah, you see Mick in heavy combat with his best friend. A lot of this episode is based around that, and based around the fact that Mick may have family ties out there today. It’s pretty interesting stuff.
Question: Since Episode 15 will have flashbacks to Mick during the war, what was his title?
Alex: When he went in, Mick was a medic with basic overall training. As we will see in this episode, some of his other firearm training is honed, in the face of battle, which is the reality for so many soldiers at war.
A lot of my friends have been to battle in Somalia and the Gulf War, and they go in specializing in one area, and they come out knowing a whole lot more about a lot of other stuff because of what happens in the moment. That’s some of the stuff that we’re dealing with, in Episode 15. I’m really excited about the episode.
Question: If Mick was a medic when he went into the war, he was already dealing with blood as a main thing in his life, before he became a vampire, wasn’t he?
Alex: Yeah, absolutely, except it didn’t quite have the profound affect that it has on him today. If you go back to Episode 11, when Josh’s life finished and Mick tried to save him, he’s pretty good at turning it off and dealing with what he has to deal with, but there was so much blood.
The urge to do what comes instinctively and naturally to him now was right at the surface, the whole time. But, he was no stranger to blood and bloody parts.
Question: Knowing that he’s got the medical background, how do you think that affects what he does now?
Alex: Personally, you make all sorts of character decisions that never necessarily make it to the final cut of a show or a film. But, one of the things I’d done a lot of thinking about was that, in the many years that Mick has had, and before he became a private investigator, in that transition time for him, which was a number of years, he may have gone off and actually done a lot of research and gotten really well educated in blood.
Mick has got such a strict set of morals. He doesn’t kill for pleasure anymore. He gets his blood from a blood bank. He’s structured this way of living and this way of existing, as a vampire. It sits more comfortable with him than what is instinctive to him. When he’s consuming blood, he knows all about the cells and about the structure of blood, whereas a lot of vampires may not know that.
Question: Do you enjoy doing the stunts on the show?
Alex: It depends on if they work or not, and how much they hurt. I don’t do them all myself. I have a very, very dedicated stunt team, who do a lot of work. I do a lot of my own stuff. In the first 12 episodes, I did more than I’ve been doing in the last few weeks, simply because I don’t have the time. We’ve got a number of different units shooting and we’ve got a little more money, so we can afford to shoot at the pace that we need to.
So, if they need me on Main Unit and the stunt is being done on the Second Unit and I just can’t be there, then I have to let it go. But, I really love doing that. I’ve got a harness that I use for wirework, when Mick goes up in the air and does big jumps, and stuff. I really like the fighting stuff. And I really enjoy being part of the choreography of that. I see it as a dance. My character should inform the way we choreograph the fights. I find it exhilarating.
Question: Are you happy with where your character is at, on the show?
Alex: When you do a pilot and they fire everyone but you, you learn to not have any expectations, whatsoever, because surprises are inevitable. So, I’ve tried to maintain that with an open mind, as we’ve gone along. I’ve made suggestions, some of which have not really been applicable, and others have been integrated into the story and into the show.
Yeah, I am happy. I don’t know how we’re still going. There have been so many reasons and times for the show to be canceled — monetary, political, all sorts of things.
The fact that we’re still going, with everything that’s gone on with the strike — we lost so many episodes there — is testament to what we have here with Moonlight, with the cast and crew, and the fans. I am happy with where Mick is, where we find him, and what we know about him with the back stories we’ve been able to introduce. But, a lot of shelved ideas can still come to fruition in the second season. I think we’re in really, really good shape.
Question: Can you talk about your working relationship with Sophia Myles?
Alex: I work a little differently, on some levels, when I’m doing film, as opposed to when I’m doing television, because television doesn’t stop. It’s just a part of your day-to-day life. When you’re doing a film, that might be the case for three months, six months or eight months, but there’s a finite beginning, middle and end. You know the arc of the story, you know how you’re going to tell it, you tell it and you go home.
Television just keeps going. Sophia and I spend a lot of time together and we’re great mates. She’s really fantastic to work with. I’m Australian and she’s British, and we have similar sensibilities and a similar sense of humor. We grew up with the same TV. We have a lot in common. She’s easy to get along with, which makes a big difference, when you’ve got to spend 18 hours a day with somebody. But, as far as our relationship goes, in comparison to Mick and Beth, it’s very different.
There is no tension between Sophia and I. We’re colleagues. We’re not lovers. We have our separate lives. People talk about on screen chemistry. We work together, and those two characters have this really fantastic chemistry. I see it, when I watch the show back, but it’s not tangible in real life. When you put it on film, it’s there
Question: Where would you like to see Mick go in Season Two? Should he and Beth get together?
Alex: The minute he and Beth actually get together and consummate their love, it’s a different story. At the moment, we still very much have the Romeo & Juliet thing going on. When this show was pitched to me, they said, “It’s about a vampire P.I.,” and I was like, “Really? This should be good.” And, I read it and it’s about so much more than that. It really deals with the big ideas. I think it’s got elements of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet, and a lot of big stories that have already been told. That element will no longer be there because it wouldn’t be unrequited love anymore. It would be consummated love and, therefore, we’d be headed in a different direction.
Having said that, if that does happen, I’m sure we’ll deal with it and it will be interesting, no matter what. I don’t know if that’s what I want to happen. I really like the dramatic tension that is there because these two haven’t had that physical and spiritual connection yet. Where do I want this show to go? Really, the limits to the storytelling possibilities for us are the limits of our imaginations because the ideas are so immense.
We’ve got so much flashback stuff to do. There are pieces of jewelry that Mick wears, that he’s worn since the beginning of the show, that we haven’t talked about yet, but come from different stories as well. There was all the bloodline stuff in Episode 12, and the fact that Mick comes from French royalty, essentially. Now that he’s re-turned in one of the new episodes, there’s another bloodline involved in Mick now. Does that make him more powerful? Does he have new skills that he doesn’t know about yet? Is he going to re-realize himself, on another level? I’ve got lots of ideas. I walk into the writer’s room and they go, “Oh, God!” There are so many ways that we can go with this. I just hope we get a Season Two because of the possibilities. We can go anywhere.
Question: If you were ever turned into a vampire in real life, do you think you’d be more inclined to follow Mick’s path or Josef’s path?
Alex: I don’t know. I’m a bit of an epicurist*. I like nice stuff. I’m happy to have nothing, as well. I grew up without very much. But, when I do have stuff, I like it to be nice stuff. I’m a bit of a snob. And so, I think I’d fit in just fine.
I think it would probably be a combination of both. I think I’d go the Josef path, and then I’d be racked with shame and guilt. But then, I’d do it again, for eternity. I think that’s a fair guestimation** of what would happen.
- *Epicurist: A person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)
- **Guestimation: Halfway between a guess and an estimation.
Question: Fans have been donating a lot of blood to the Red Cross, in an attempt to help get the show renewed for a second season. What do you think of their efforts?
Alex: We’re working towards making me a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, which I certainly hope happens because I’d love to be involved in any sort of organization or charity that helps other people, whether it’s non-profit or otherwise. The fans have instigated it. They are so pro-active. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Before Moonlight, I hadn’t been the lead of a TV show. I haven’t had a fan base like this before. I have fans that have seen my work in independent film, but I’m new to this. It’s quite overwhelming, not only witnessing, first-hand, the amount of people and how much they support the show, but watching their behavior and seeing them actually participate and step up.
It’s great. Any time any of us get the opportunity to do any sort of philanthropic work, we should take it.
Question: What inspired you to become an actor?
Alex: I don’t remember it, but my grandmother, who’s 93 years old, told me that when I was just speaking as a toddler, about 2 or 3, I told her, “Gran, I want to be an actor when I grow up.” So, apparently, it’s always been there. I did some plays and stuff, in elementary school and during my primary schooling, that I really, really enjoyed. But then, I didn’t think about it for the longest time.
When I was 18 or 19, I was showing off, one day, in front of a group of my friends. A good friend of mine pulled me aside and said, “You know, you’re an actor, and if you don’t do anything about it, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
When I thought about it, I realized that he was right. I’d spent my life, to date, walking out of cinemas and theatres, and away from performances, feeling a strange, nostalgic, empty, sick feeling, and I could never explain it to the people I was with. It was this thing that isolated me from people. And then, it all just clicked into place. And so, from that moment, I pursued it and I haven’t looked back.
Question: What is your greatest fear?
Alex: People. What we’re capable of is terrifying. It’s a wonderful world that we live in, but it’s not in the best shape. Presently, and the state of things to come, is dependent on people and the decisions they make. We, as humans, haven’t exactly got a good track record, making good decisions on behalf of people on the planet.
I’m always watching what we do, as a race. You watch CNN and you read the papers, and it never ceases to amaze me. Art imitates life, more often than not. Often, I’ll make a choice as an actor, and then, after making that choice, based on what would actually happen, I realize that I can’t put it on screen because no one’s going to believe it, so I have to modify it.
- I once again felt a bit sad for Alex about Moonlight, when I read this interview. Alex was so invested in the character of Mick and the future of the story. Really hope he will find another character like that, that inspires that kind of passion in him, somewhere in the future, soon.
- Pictures from the set of Moonlight, Episode 15, shared by @MyMaximus – Thank you!
- Screencaps done by Paula as usual – Thank you partner 🙂