Sorry, Charlie: Lost Star Wanted to "Die" a Hero
Dominic Monaghan, Lost
's mind-blowing third-season finale raised a million questions. Among them: Jack and Kate get off the island?! Who's in the casket?! Are flash-forwards the new flashbacks?! Fans will have to wait until next winter — when the fourth season commences — to stop scratching their heads. Until then, let's pause to remember Dominic Monaghan
's Charlie Pace, the ex-junkie rock star turned self-sacrificing hero who died at the hands of Eyepatch Dude so that his fellow plane-crash survivors might be rescued. (Though now we're wondering whether that's such a good thing.) Says executive producer Damon Lindelof
, "Charlie's death is indicative of a whole new kind of feel surrounding the show. Charlie's death is the beginning of the end, as it were." Here, Monaghan fills us in on putting Charlie to rest, a certain sentimental canoe paddle and what lies ahead.
TVGuide.com: First things first: Charlie's really dead?
Dominic Monaghan: Oh, yeah.
TVGuide.com: I remember talking to executive producer J.J. Abrams early in the first season, and he said that as long as you still came out of your trailer, you'd always have a job on Lost. So, were you not coming out of your trailer anymore?
Monaghan: [Laughs] I still have that TV Guide. I'm gonna frame it for him and say, "Are you gonna sue them or shall I?" But seriously, I think that's [indicative] of where the show is right now. J.J.'s one of the creators of the show, but in terms of making the decisions these days, he isn't as connected as he once was.
TVGuide.com: You told me in February that you had been talking with Damon for a while about your leaving. How long have you actually known that Charlie would die?
Monaghan: Well, we could go way back to Season 1. I've always said to Damon, "Look, if I'm gonna leave the show, I'm totally cool with it, as long as I leave on an up-trajectory." But we started talking in mid-October of last year, just the idea that Desmond was able to predict that Charlie may be dying at some point in the future. But Damon said, "At this point, we don't know where that story line's going to go." I knew that I was definitely leaving in late February.
TVGuide.com: Why would you want to leave a hit series?
Monaghan: Obviously, there are huge positives to being involved in a show like Lost. We film in Hawaii, and the lifestyle there is a really fantastic thing. But, to be honest, as an actor I've been kind of frustrated for a while. I've wanted to do a little bit more. The difference between how much the audience got to see Charlie in Season 1 as opposed to how much they got to see Charlie in Seasons 2 and 3 was significant. It's been kind of frustrating for me for a while. So I think it's time for me to move on, you know.
TVGuide.com: Still, you've been with the show since day one. It must've been a little emotional when you finally got the "We're definitely killing you off" call.
Monaghan: More than anything else, I was just relieved. It's been so long for me to be sitting with the potential of the decision. You know, I got to a point where I just wanted to know. I've been trying to plan the rest of my career, and there's a whole bunch of opportunities that have been up in the air because I couldn't commit to them because of Lost. It was a little bittersweet to be leaving behind surfing and palm trees and beaches, but I think I probably squeezed the last amount of enjoyment I could've got out of that for a while. More than anything else, I have to [go] where the best work is going to be for me. And some of the best work for me [on Lost] was going to be done in my leaving the show.
TVGuide.com: The episode before the finale, "Greatest Hits," was like a eulogy for Charlie.
Monaghan: I think that was to allow the audience to sit with it long enough to prepare themselves for what was going to happen [in the finale]. I think I benefited from the fact that the producers knew it was going to be a big deal with me leaving, so they wanted to make it as significant as possible.
TVGuide.com: Charlie started out as a self-involved, washed-up rock-star junkie. But by the end, he'd evolved into someone who was willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone else. How involved were you in that transformation?
Monaghan: I was pretty passionate about that. I was pretty gung-ho about, "If I'm gonna go, if that's how it's gonna be, then I have to go out like a hero. I have to go out all guns blazing." Charlie had been in so much pain all his life — he'd been a drug addict, a failed rock star, abused by his brother, he's not really had great success with women, he's let people down on the island. I think he was trying to work out who he was supposed to be and what his purpose was. And it turned out that this was his purpose, and I think that gave him a great feeling of serenity. To know that his legacy is that he saved [all these] people's lives is something that allowed him to die with dignity.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about your last day of shooting.
Monaghan: Lots of people were coming over to me saying, "How do you feel? Are you sad?" They wanted to do goodbyes and all that kind of stuff, and I was just very passionate about getting my work done. About halfway through the day, our director, Jack Bender, made a speech and gave me a canoe paddle that they'd written on. He [talked] about what I've brought to the show, and that was probably the emotional peak for me. It was upsetting, and I hugged all the people around me that I loved, and I kind of said something back. And then I cowboyed up and jumped in the water. I had a job to finish. And when it was finished, I went out that night with Daniel Dae Kim and his wife for dinner and had a few drinks and talked about it all and let off some steam.
TVGuide.com: What was written on the paddle?
Monaghan: Let me try to get this right: "For what you have given to Lost, you will always be found in our hearts."
TVGuide.com: Sweet. There was no karaoke send-off? I know the cast is big into karaoke.
Monaghan: No. People were talking to me about a party, and I just didn't wanna do that. I said bye to the people I wanted to say bye to in the right way. I didn't wanna turn it into a big, drunken, crazy night. It's really not where my head was at. My head was at trying to slip out the back door as opposed to leaving with fanfare.
TVGuide.com: You're not a big goodbye guy, huh?
Monaghan: No, because it's never really goodbye. You're gonna see those people again.
TVGuide.com: Of course, you'll be seeing your girlfriend, Evangeline Lilly....
Monaghan: I don't really talk about my relationship, you know. It's the one thing I'm trying to keep out of the press because as soon as I talk about it, it's all over the place. But she's great fun.
TVGuide.com: Were you aware of all the fan efforts to save Charlie, like "Save the junkie, save the world?"
Monaghan: I was. I was on those message boards quite a lot, just reading how people felt about the potential of me leaving. That was really sweet. It gave me a lot of strength to think that people didn't want me to go. I didn't want to wind people up too much and have them really gunning [to save] me when I knew it probably wasn't gonna happen. I'm [interested to] see what happens now to a whole bunch of the fans. Certainly when the show was kicking off, there was a huge Lord of the Rings contingent that watched because of Charlie. I'm wondering what those fans are gonna say. I hope that the show continues on and does really well, and I'm sure it will, but I think lots of people are gonna be pretty pissed off with what's happened. Especially with the fact that there are characters on the show that people are more keen on having disappear than mine.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk highlights. What were some of your favorite experiences on Lost?
Monaghan: I really liked working with Terry O'Quinn [who plays Locke]. He and I had a pretty good rapport, and I just enjoyed his company. The physical comedy stuff was always fun. There's a scene [during Season 1] where Charlie's trying not to read Claire's diary, but he keeps wanting to. I really liked killing Ethan; that was very kind of hero stuff. And the big cast scenes where we all stood around in a council were always fun because the bigger the scenes, the more potential there was for me to be having a big Scrabble game.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Monaghan: I'm doing a film in New York, I Sell the Dead. I play Arthur Blake, an 18th-century grave robber on death row who is confessing his sins to a priest hours before his death. Arthur recounts his life in flashbacks, interestingly enough. [Laughs] I can't get away from the flashbacks. But the guy isn't really too much like Charlie so that was a big deal to me. And from there, I'm going to go to New Zealand to see [Lord of the Rings director] Pete Jackson and his family. He's got a couple of projects that are gonna be happening in 2008 that I'm really keen to find out about.
TVGuide.com: So you two may be collaborating again?
Monaghan: I hope so. It's all gonna be dependent on if there's a part in those projects for me. But he said there's some great opportunities, so that's gonna be a nice little gold mine to tap.
TVGuide.com: And Charlie will be back in some way again on Lost, right?
Monaghan: It's really not up to me. I think, to a certain extent, if I was writing the show, we may not be having this interview right now. That's a question for the writers. [Says Lindelof: "You'll still be feeling Charlie's presence very much, although the character is dead. That's not to say that we won't see him again. You just won't be seeing him in the present." Adds executive producer Carlton Cuse, "If you look at the show, a lot of characters work more when they're dead than they did when they were alive."]
TVGuide.com: So you're mostly focusing on films for now?
Monaghan: Actually, I'm trying to forge relationships with the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel and different producing companies in England to see who's gonna be interested in allowing me to go off and make nature shows. I've always been very significantly moved by natural-history shows and anything to do with nature. Each year of Lost, I would keep a different chameleon [as a pet].
TVGuide.com: What did you do with this year's chameleon when you left Hawaii?
Monaghan: I've let them go every year. Actually, I had a really amazing moment with the chameleon this year. I let him go around 7 at night in this huge Hawaiian garden. I thought, "Oh, he's gonna like it here." I sat with him for five minutes or so and told him how much I enjoyed his company and wished him well and hoped that he'd do OK, and then I let him go. I was thinking at the time, "I've really liked this guy, and it's a bummer that I'll probably never see him again." And then I had this breakthrough moment of thinking, "Well, actually I should be happy because he's gonna be happy. He's gonna wake up in the morning, and be free. He'll have the opportunity to do whatever he wants and call his own shots. He will be completely free of any shackles, and that's a joyous thing." And in realizing that, I understood that that's how I should feel about me right now. Lost has been a really great project — I've really enjoyed it — but there's nothing really too sad about [leaving]. It's not the end of the world. It's actually a really freeing experience, something I should totally embrace.
For much more on Lost's jaw-dropping season-ender, see the Ausiello Report.
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