Feeling fortunate, Alex O’Loughlin lives life to the fullest.
by Paulette Cohn
11-25 November 2009
Alex O’Loughlin is many things – a vampire, a leading man and now a doctor in Three Rivers – but just don’t peg him by the books he reads.
Aussie actor Alex O’Loughlin has been blessed by the Hollywood gods. Playing vampire detective Mick St John on Moonlight was a big break and since then his star has been on the rise.
O’Loughlin has completed filming the leading man role to Jennifer Lopez’s leading lady in the romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan and is also currently starring in the new medical drama, Three Rivers on Ten as organ-transplant surgeon Dr Andy Yablonski.
The Canberra-born star talks to TV Soap about the business of life and death….
Question: When was the last time you were home?
Alex: Christmas. I’ve been thinking about Australia a lot lately because I have been working so much, and I haven’t had a vacation in a while. I had one day of between the movie (The Back-Up Plan) and the show (Three Rivers).
All I can think about is Sydney in the winter when it’s kind of cold and everybody is watching the waves crash. It’s crazy, but sometimes I miss the weather.
Question: Why did you take the movie role, rather than a break?
Alex: Kate Angelo wrote a great script. (Director) Alan Poul met me and offered me the film. I met Jennifer and it all seems to fit perfectly. I went straight from the pilot of Three Rivers to the movie, and I just finished the movie and started filming the show. It has been a non-stop ride the last few months.
Question: What can you tell us about the story?
Alex: It is a comedy that has romantic elements. It has a lot of physical comedy and it has some really touching dramatic moments, too. I can’t wait to see it. What I shot felt great. My co-stars were fantastic. Jennifer (Lopez) is amazing. I am very lucky.
Question: When you were filming in Pittsburgh, did fans of the vampire series Moonlight recognise you?
Alex: Not that many. I have experience with Moonlight fans all around the world. That show seems to have very long arms. It was very close to my heart. I love my Moonlight fans as long as they don’t come at me with sharp objects when they’re excited!
Question: Was it tough to let go of the vampire character Mick on Moonlight?
Alex: I love Mick more than anybody. I had to live in his skin, but I couldn’t play that character and work under those conditions, you have no idea of the stuff that went on. I can’t believe it went on as long as it did. We love the character, but I had to say goodbye. You can look for the same thing. I had to look for something antithetical to that. I don’t want to play the same role.
Question: The Moonlight fans were so intense in their dedication to the show. What was it like to experience that level of fanaticism?
Alex: That was the first time I had been overwhelmed with letters from fans. It’s very strange and surreal. At first, there was something spooky about opening up hundreds of letters from people you have never met, who know so much about you and have intimate connection with you. But now I am much more comfortable with it. Without my fans, this job is pointless.
Question: Can you talk about the emotional journey of getting ready for the role of Dr Andy Yablonski in Three Rivers?
Alex: The emotional journey is immense. I know that these surgeons have days where they are like, “Is there a God? And if there is a God, where are you?”
One of the things that affected me the most was going on pre-op rounds with (real-life organ transplant surgeon) Dr Gonzalo (Gonzo) Gonzalez-Stawinski, as well as all the time in the OR. I met a woman who needed a new heart. She wasn’t that old, she was in her 50’s and she had grown-up kids. She allowed me to come into the room while she was talking to Gonzo for an evaluation.
There is a lot of bureaucracy in this world. You have to meet the criteria, or you don’t get the organ and you die. Something had happened and she had been refused an organ. He sat and talked with her and he said to her, “What do you want?” She said, “I just want to live. I just want to be alive”. He said, “What would you do if I could give you another five to 10 years?” She said, “I would take walks by the lake, and I would tend to my vegetable garden and be with my kids”.
This is a person like you and like me who just wants to live their life with the people they love, doing the things that bring her joy. I don’t know if she got the heart or not, but that is the world we are moving into.
People such as Gonzo and Andy Yablonski deal on a personal level and meet and fall in love with these people every day, and lose these people every day. They are in the life business and try to give life as much as they can.
Question: Does it make you appreciate life more?
Alex: It does, but I try to do that anyway. I’m very lucky, look at my life! A lot of people aren’t going to eat today. That is way I was hesitant to take the role because it’s so immense. Every episode is about life and death. If someone doesn’t die, someone doesn’t get to live.
Question: Can you imagine yourself as a doctor in real life?
Alex: I hated school. I wanted to be outside running through the forests and traveling the world. I wasn’t interested in books until I got a bit older.
Question: Do you read now?
Alex: Every day. There are always 10 different books by my bed at any given time. All sorts of stuff; I’ve been reading medical journals for research and there are always scripts. For fun I read fiction, non-fiction, biographies .
I am currently …. I hesitate to answer these questions because people go, “Oh my God! He is reading that book. That is who he is”, and it’s not. I’m reading the ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’. Read that and get back to me.
- Thank you Paula for these lovely pictures you added – a wonderful showcase of Alex the actor.