Titus Welliver probably thought he had seen it all during his run as Deadwood resident Silas Adams. But then he appeared on Lost for all of 1 minute and 45 seconds, and in short order his world — as well as that of the ABC drama — shifted forever.
Who was this mysterious "man in black" taunting Jacob on the beach in the Season 5 finale prologue? What did he mean with the observation, "They come. Fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same"? And why did this "Man No. 2" so desperately want to find the loophole necessary to one day kill Jacob?
Welliver, who now has a recurring role on CBS' The Good Wife (premiering Sept. 22), shared a look inside the far-from-black-and-white nature of his Lost visit.
TVGuide.com: How does it feel to be dropped into the zeitgeist that is Lost?
Titus Welliver: It's pretty insane. It's pretty insane. This is a completely different thing for me. At the street level, it has been crazy. People — from all walks of life — come up and say, "Now, you possessed Locke...?" "Are you in fact Locke?" "Has the character of Locke been created from you, and this was a whole setup to crash the plane?"
TVGuide.com: The funny thing is they can only refer to you as "you," because they didn't give your character a name. By what name did you know him?
Welliver: He has no name. He's just "the man," because they don't want to give anything away. I know that this character has a name and I know the importance of it; that's all that I know.
TVGuide.com: So you don't know his actual name?
Welliver: No — and I think they deliberately withheld that.
TVGuide.com: Were you only given the script pages for your scene?
Welliver: No, I got a whole script. But the thing is, unless you're watching the show weekly, you've no bloody idea what's going on. It's not a show that you can just drop into the middle of. I had watched Lost during the first season, but then life and children sort of prevent one from being able to consistently stay with something.
TVGuide.com: Did the producers give you any notes on what the dynamic should be between you and Mark Pellegrino's Jacob?
Welliver: Liz Sarnoff, one of the writers on the show, is actually an old colleague from a show that we did with David Milch, Big Apple, and from Deadwood. Her explanation was that Jacob sees man as being a flawed creature, but that there is always hope, whereas my character has a much more cynical but in some ways realistic view of man. She said, "Now extrapolate from that what you will. Are they waxing philosophical? Are they gods?" What occurs to me as I watch Locke mention the loophole and pitch Jacob into the fire is, "Clearly this other man on the beach has inhabited Locke on some level" — and it never suspends your belief simply because of how intricate the mysterious nature of the show is. You never say, "Aw, c'mon." I find it interesting that the audience completely buys into what [the writers] put in front of them.
TVGuide.com: Fans have all sorts of theories on the Jacob-Man No. 2 relationship. Some see the obvious parallels with the Bible's Jacob and Esau, but there are also a wealth of Egyptian comparisons...
Welliver: Yeah, the Esau thing seems to dominate the extrapolating conversations. People on the subway say, "Are you Esau?" The interactions are that random.
TVGuide.com: Do you think it's as simple as one of these guys is good and the other evil?
Welliver: The way that I interpreted it, on a biblical level, is that it's a sort of Cain-and-Abel scenario. So by destroying Jacob, what does that prove — that [the man in black] can ultimately have power over the island? Do the castaways become solely his playthings? And why was it so important that he find the loophole to be able to kill Jacob? That moved me in the direction of thinking that if he needs this loophole, there's a greater power than the two of them that they're answering to.
TVGuide.com: Right, someone had to establish that loophole. Some giant, cosmic lawyer.
Welliver: [Laughs] Exactly. What [the producers] said to me was, "No hand-wringing" — and I said, "Certainly not," I didn't want to do the Snidely Whiplash thing — "and understand that this is kind of a chess game," hence the fact that one's in black and one's in white. But are they part of the chess game... or are they the players?
TVGuide.com: It seems like Jacob could have one last ace up his sleeve, as evidenced by him saying before dying, "They're coming." He may have put one final countermeasure in place.
Welliver: Oh, yeah. Somebody asked me about that — "Is your character going to just take over?" — and of course I don't have the answer. But as a viewer I think, "It can't be that easy to get rid of Jacob."