I was lucky enough to take part of a conference call with Alex O’Loughlin who plays Mick St. John in CBS’ Moonlight. Three press outlets were able to interview Alex O’Loughlin and ask questions about “Moonlight” and his career. All I can say is that Alex O’Loughlin is a very charming person and very passionate about his work on “Moonlight.” It makes you like the show even more when you hear how much work and love is put into it. So without further ado, here is the interview (Daemon’s TV questions are in blue).
by Sandrine Sahakians
24 November 2007
Daemon TV: Can you give us any scoop on whether Coraline is back or what the whole thing is with that, and how it’s going to affect Mick?
Alex: Yeah, I probably should mark my words, be careful how much I say but, what I can tell you is Coraline has an uncanny knack of never going too far for too long.
Daemon TV: Okay, anything else?
Alex: Might you be seeing Coraline, the answer to that is yes.
Question: What about the character of Mick really spoke to you and made you want to play this character?
Alex: I really liked his humor, was the first thing that came off the page. First of all, I mean you read, as an actor, you read scripts every day and you read people’s interpretation of the characters everyday and some are more thought out than others and some are more one dimensional, and also some characters speak to you more than others you know.
And this guy, I just really got him, I understood his motivation and I understood his passion, and I understood why he is conflicted, and I understood why he thought what he thought was funny was funny. Yeah, I just got him right away. I guess it all stems down to empathy. I had empathy and understanding for him, so therefore I felt that I could justifiably play him.
Question: David Greenwalt came to the show briefly, left. What do you feel some of his contributions were to the show or to your character in particular?
Alex: It’s a little difficult to answer that question because the crossover before David, introducing David, and letting David go, it all happened pretty suddenly. David wasn’t on board with us for that long, but he was on board for long enough to make a difference. Those exact differences, it’s not that he actually made any fundamental changes to my character, nobody does that but me, but he helped us, you know, in the time that we were in the transition phase from the original pilot presentation to the recasting into Moonlight, he helped us find what the new show was gonna be.
It’s not that different from the original concept. It’s just that he was there when we all came together and said ok what are the boundaries, what are the lines, what are the rules. It was a relief that he was on the same page as we were and in the sense that this show is not about mythical books and goblins and trolls and monsters, that it’s about modern day vampires coming from a long lineage of first generation blood over the last 1500 years. And that’s it, it’s about vampires.
Daemon TV: You’re from Australia, and I was wondering how difficult it is to do the American accent and keep it consistent every episode?
Alex: I don’tt find it difficult. I’m actually surprised by how little I have to ADR [Automated Dialog Replacement] for accent. Sometimes I’ll slur my words, or the mike won’t pick up the sound or whatever, but it’s not usually because I have to fix the accent. I think that’s due to, I’ve studied for a long time as well, like I’ve been studying acting for quite a while now.
I’ve studied accents specifically like since I was a little child. When I was a little boy I was fascinated with people who made different sounds. I always used to guffaw at Scottish accents. When I’d hear anyone from Edingburough or Glasgow, I’d roar with laughter because I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.
I guess to me, it’s always been like a music, which is the way I’ve approached it. Bearing that in mind, in combo with the fact that I’ve grown up with American television, you have to realize in Australia we were born on, my generation we were bread on your TV, all the hit shows over here went over there.
And my stepfather is Canadian. I’ve always been surrounded by the sound, so yeah, I don’t find it difficult, I really enjoy it actually. But I stay in it when I’m working, when I’m on the set.
Question: What’s your favorite thing about playing Mick or about Mick in general?
Alex: What’s my favorite thing about Mick? He’s an awesome character to play, I gotta tell you, I’m standing here as I speak to you, covered in blood and mud. I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning and I’ve had my hands inside another man’s stomach, tying off his thoracic aorta in the middle of nowhere.
So I mean the situations this guy gets himself into. I read the scripts and I go “Oh Mick for God’s sake will you just go on Holidays. Can’t you just sit in a hut somewhere for a week?” My favorite thing about him I think is his ability to overcome extreme drama and duress and not lose sight of the lighter side of life, which essentially stems back to the humanity that he clings to, which is fundamentally extended in his heart. So I think without sounding sanctimonious or sentimental, my favorite thing about this character is his heart.
Question: Without telling too much, obviously, because you can’t give us spoilers, you have Coraline on there, who is of course your sire, you have Jason Dohring’s vampire, who is an ancient vampire, but primarily a lot of the vampires we’ve seen pop up are basically newborns. Are we going to be getting in the future more of the old vampire mythology?
Alex: You are. You sure are. Before the end of this round of 12 shows, you’re gonna meet some extremely old, some extremely powerful vampires. You’re going to meet some of the lineage from the blood line that Coraline and Mick are from. You’re gonna learn as well about where we come from and where Coraline and therefore Mick comes from. We start exploring blood lines and you’re gonna learn about where our vampires come from. We have a procedural element in this show, we always will have a procedural element in this show, and that’s established, and now the mythology and the true fan stuff, I mean the fans are gonna go nuts. Like I’m a vampire fan and there is some really juicy good stuff coming up in the next couple of months.
Daemon TV: I just wanted to mention that I had seen your performance in “The Invisible” and it was amazing, and you’re actually the reason I was interested in watching “Moonlight” in the first place. My question is do you have any upcoming movie projects?
Alex: I have “August Rush” coming out, which is coming out of Friday is that right? [November 21] and that’s in the can obviously, since it’s coming out. I have “Whiteout” which is a Joel Silver film with Kate Beckinsale and it’s due to release sometime next summer, I think. That’s a 2008 release.
At the moment, I’m reading scripts, it’s a tentative time. With the current climate in Hollywood, you know I’m unsure about which direction I’ll be going after Christmas. It’s all up in the air, which is very sort of disheartening if you let it in, but you know we’re all just sort of keeping our fingers crossed, though I am reading some film scripts and there’s some good stuff out there, but I’m not attached to anything yet.
Kim [CBS’ publicist]: This is Kim interjecting. This man works so hard. When he says he gets up at 4:30 in the morning, he’s not kidding and he works until midnight.
Alex: I’m not kidding, I’m not kidding!
Daemon TV: What actors or actresses do you draw your inspiration from, or who are your favorites?
Alex: There are so many wonderful actors. Sean Penn got up at the Academy Awards when he won his award and said, “Everyone knows there is no best in acting” and there is no best, there are lots of performances that have inspired me over the years. Sean Penn is certainly one of them. Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Daniel Day Lewis is a phenomenon. He’s like an enigma, I’ve watched his performances and I can’t for the life of me work out how he transforms as he does. Marlon Brando. I love Marlon Brando, for all of his arrogance. I love actors that don’t make half decisions.
Mel Gibson, I probably shouldn’t say that. I know he sort of fell off the wagon recently and said some stupid stuff. But growing up as a kid in Australia and seeing him do the movies he did, the “Mad Maxes” and stuff, and then move over to America and cross the bridge to producing and directing as well, and come up with films like “Braveheart.”
It’s hard for any young man who’s in the industry not to, I would imagine, not to find that inspiration. But then there’s other actors that the world doesn’t know about that I’ve grown up with, that I’ve seen on stage, that have breathed life into performances that have changed my life. They’re some of my best friends, so that’s as influential to me as those big stars that we all see in movies.
Question: Speaking of the currently climate of things in Hollywood, I am just curious, are we going to have some kind of ending?
Alex: Oh yeah, we’re just killing everyone (laughs) – Maybe I shouldn’t give that away (laughs). I’m sorry, I’m joking, of course!
Question: But did you get the chance to have some kind of a wrap up for the first pod and then when things start up again we’ll be fine?
Alex: To a certain extent. Let me be the one to tell you right now, I am not going to conduct myself and this character through this series at this stage as though we’re not coming back, because as far as I’m concerned, we are coming back, even though Nina Tassler [CBS President] hasn’t promised me anything, and Les Moonves [President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS], I can’t get him off the golf course to answer his phone. But there are certain things I’m just thinking about how to answer this.
Question: Let’s put it this way, the reason I’m asking is because shows like “Heroes” reshot their ending to give their 13 episodes an ending point so that until it picks up again people are at least satisfied with the first arc.
Alex: Oh, I mean no, people are gonna be totally satisfied. People are going to be salivating, for Moonlight to come back, and that’s what we’re going to deliver because we don’t plan on not coming back. We’ve got a few really epic things that are coming that wrap the end of the series. It’s an ending with no finale.
I mean it’s an ending with a bunch of open ended stuff that you’re just going die to know what happens next. There are a couple of points that happen that change the course of the picture, but the world won’t let Moonlight fade away after this. The fans will be rabid. They will demand a re-release, they’ll demand a pickup.
Question: Exactly, you can have the fans ship nuts.
Kim: Or garlic!!
Daemon TV: I’m really enjoying the relationship between your character and Josef. I was wondering if there were any plans to elaborate on that and maybe get a little background on how they met.
Alex: Yeah, there are certainly plans to do that. That relationship, because it was pre-established. Josef and Mick’s relationship is established early on, and they’re great, that’s the way things are. Little pieces of information are released along the way more and more, you’re gonna get little bits of information.
The whole how we met and that storyline, we don’t touch on until we come back, but there’s portions of it that come out in the storyline that have to do with Coraline and things that are going on with Beth. So you will learn more. I think you’ll be satisfied with everything the way we’re wrapping it up.
Question: I’m always interested to hear your take on why someone should pay attention to the show and watch it.
Alex: I think it’s a really satisfying show. We own the demographic, and we own the demographic for a reason and that is that people of all ages are enjoying the show. Teenagers to people in their middle ages of life are sitting down watching Moonlight because it’s got so many elements that we turn to.
It’s a love story. It’s a story about unrequited love. It’s got incredible action and great fight sequences. It’s got a tormented conflicted protagonist who always goes towards good, well for now, and whose rules are ambiguous and his motives, at times, are ambiguous, and it’s based in a genre that’s really exciting, that’s mysterious, that’s really sexy.
CBS hasn’t pulled punches on the show, they’ve allowed us to take it to levels of truth, they’ve allowed us to take it to levels of humanity where network TV can sometimes skimp on because they want it to look better or not be as real or be less sort of confrontational. I just think it’s an all around good show. I think it’s also a show that questions the norm, that questions the beliefs, you know, society’s belief on certain topics. I hope that’s a sort of roundabout answer to your question.
Question: Let’s talk Mick and Beth for a little bit here. You guys have sort of, and I hate to use this pun, but it’s the Moonlighting relationship, it’s the will they won’t they flirtation back and forth, and sometimes it gets closer than others. How long do you think it;s going to be until at least something happens?
Alex: Something’s coming up in 11 [episode], that puts a big spinner in the works and affects the way Beth feels about Mick, and also affects the way Mick views Beth. A part of me feels like if anything ever happened between those guys, the show’s over. But then again, I’m not the creator. The unrequited love aspect of the show, the Romeo and Juliet mirror that we constantly provide in Moonlight, I think is an essential part of the drama, of the tension.
I mean, in Mick’s mind, there is no way he could ever cross that line, despite how weak the flesh is, despite the feelings that he has for this woman, in his mind, that would be the ultimate sin. He looks at her and it’s so awkward, he looks at her through paternal eyes you know, and if he wants to sleep with her, I mean that’s pretty weird [laughs].
Question: Well he’s her guardian angel, so –
Alex: Well yeah, so he really shouldn’t be… [laughs] But you know, you never know, I get surprised from script to script. I don’t think they should ever be given that luxury. I absolutely think it should be unrequited. I mean, re-read “Romeo and Juliet” and tell me you don’t cry at the end when they kill themselves, and I’m not saying what we’re dealing with here, by no means am I drawing comparison to Shakespeare [laughs], but the nature of the idea, I mean if you’re not putting like the big ideas on TV, why are you making TV, who cares? And if it’s not about the big love, that great love, that one great love, that comes into each of our lives if we’re lucky, why are we putting – who gives a f**k. Let’s go to the beach!
Daemon TV: There’s a lot of action in the show, and I was wondering if you do your own stunts or if you have a stunt double.
Alex: [With a deep “sexy” voice]
I do my own stunts baby – .[Laughs]
No, I do have a stunt double because there are certain things that they won’t let me do. Like they won’t set fire to me. They won’t like let me jump off a 20 story building. There are certain big stunts that it’s just impossible to get insurance to let me do, but for the most part I’d say I do probably 75% of my stuff. I have my own harnesses and my own pads and back protectors. I’m trained in stunt work, I really love it too. The other thing is, you don’t have to shoot around the stunt double’s face, you can just shoot me doing my thing. It makes the show better, until I slip my sciatic nerve and have to work in a back brace, that’s the downside.
Question: What are some of your favorite shows in your downtime, which it sounds like you don’t have a lot of?
Alex: I haven’t had downtime for about 7 months. Let me see, I really love “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I really love “The Contender,” I just love that show [laughs]. Family Guy. What else?…”America’s Most Smartest Model” [laughs] no don’t put that on – I love “The Shield,” big fan of “The Shield.” [Alex O’Loughlin had a part in “The Shield” as Detective Kevin Hiatt]
Question: When CBS originally announced Moonlight, they said they were going to do a procedural show with vampire elements and it seems that now they’re moving more towards the genre based. Are you pleased that they went that directions with the show?
Alex: Thrilled. I couldn’t give a f**k about the procedurals. I mean sometimes I can, and sometimes it’s really interesting. Sometimes, it’s great fun. But if I wanted to do “CSI,” I would have done “CSI.” It’s not what this show is.
This show is a character driven drama, that has a procedural element, and is based in a genre. That’s what the show is. It’s a character driven drama. The procedural element is great fun when it’s used correctly, but when it’s overused, it turns into something else. I think it’s really disappointing from a fan point of view when people get lazy and they know that that’s going to work and that it’s going to require less effort and they just sort of go with that.
I think what the guys have done with Moonlight has been great. I think they’ve really put a big effort into balance it all out. We’ve had some great procedural stuff and some really interesting cases, and as we’re moving on, we’re getting into the characters more and more, and we’re caring about these characters more and more, and we’re learning more and more about the mythology and getting deeper into the actual genre and the blood and guts of it, pardon the pun. So I’m really happy with the way it’s shaping up.
So there you have it, from Mick St. John Alex O’Loughlin himself. Do you need any more reasons to watch Moonlight?