Over the decades on Lost, there has been a constant battle for control of the island. Whether it's been the Dharma Initiative or the Hostiles, one constant has remained: Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell). With a Richard-centric episode on the horizon, TVGuide.com spoke to Carbonell about all the things we we will find out about his character: where he came from, why he doesn't age and whether he might finally take control of the island.
TVGuide.com: Have executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse at least explained to you why Richard doesn't age?
Carbonell: Yes. I knew at some point that they were going to answer some of the bigger questions, I just didn't know when. We have gotten to that point where there is an episode that deals with the origins of Richard Alpert and the bigger questions about his character, as well as bigger questions about the island and the mythology of it. It's an episode that reveals a lot. After three years playing this character, I was floored when I got the script and I was so excited to actually get to do the episode. They wrote a really tremendous script.
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TVGuide.com: There's a theory that Richard arrived on the Black Rock slave ship.
Carbonell: I can't confirm or deny any theories, but I've had theories that have been completely off mark. Time will tell.
TVGuide.com: Is Richard one of the oldest people on the island next to Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) and the Man in Black?
Carbonell: It's safe to say he's been around for a long time. Initially, in Season 3, when he appeared in the '70s to young Ben, he was described as a Hostile, an indigenous member of the island, so we will find out if that's true or not or what that means exactly. If he was a Hostile, what is a Hostile? Who is this man? We're going to find out all that. He's clearly, of the cast you see, the one who's been around the longest. I don't know with respect to Jacob, but I think we're going to get a sense of all of that.
TVGuide.com: Is there a possibility that there are teams: Team Jacob vs. Team Man in Black? Would Richard lean one way or another?
Carbonell: There are some amazing twists this season. You're going to see elements of characters that I never thought I'd play for my character and I think others didn't expect to play them in their own characters. There are going to be emotional highs and lows for people that you've never seen. With respect to alliances, there's going to be a lot of movement and fluctuations. There will be loyalty, but there's going to be a lot of shifting and power struggle, which is always at play. Everyone's mettle is tested in this final season. It's the payoff season where all of those loose ends, or most of them, will be tied. A lot of those big conflicts will be resolved.
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TVGuide.com: Richard doesn't seem to want to be a leader. We've only seen him as the right-hand man. Has that always been true?
Carbonell: I was just talking to Damon and Carlton about that with Michael Emerson. You're right. [Ben] is someone that I tapped to be a leader, who was chosen as the Panchen Lama taps the Dalai Lama. Alpert is acting as a Panchen Lama to Jacob. He became the powerful one, and Richard took a V.P. role, an advisory role when he's around. It was the same thing with Widmore and Eloise. That's traditionally been my role, but now, obviously, the order is going to be disrupted with what happens to Jacob. That's one of the unsettling things for Richard Alpert. It's been a long time finding his footing on this island. What is he? Is he a leader? Is he an advisor? He's in conflict with the people who are tasked to be leaders, and at the same time with himself. Why doesn't he have more power in that respect? It's been a great thing to play as an actor because you're insecure the whole time. You're in command, but you're not really in command. It's been a thrill to play that shifting, of feeling like you're in power to being completely powerless.
TVGuide.com: Has Richard ever had love in his life?
Carbonell: I talked about this with Damon and Carlton. I said before this season starts, "Guys, what is going on? Does this guy have a love interest? What is he, a eunuch? He's never so much as looked at a woman on this show; what's going on here?" We'll see. The season is not over yet; there's still hope.
TVGuide.com: What do you want to see in the end for Richard?
Carbonell: Redemption. At the heart of it, every character wants to be redeemed on some level. God knows my character has definitely committed some atrocities. If there's redemption, I think he wants to get it. He wants to feel empowered and a sense of a real identity and to know his place on this island and in the world. I think most of all, Richard just wants answers.
What do you think? Did Richard arrive on the Black Rock? What's his big secret?