He battled Hodgkin's disease on Party of Five and death itself on UPN's short-lived supernatural drama Haunted. But Matthew Fox may face his biggest challenge yet on Lost, the new ABC thriller from Alias creator J.J. Abrams. He plays Jack, a surgeon who survives a plane crash, only to be stranded on a remote island that is also home to a mysteriously lethal (and unseen) creature.
TV Guide Online: How did you get involved in Lost?
Matthew Fox: I came in and [auditioned]. At that point, the script was very confidential. Nobody was really getting a chance to read it. I don't usually go into auditions or meetings until I've read the material, but my agents and managers said, "This is really gonna be a big one. It's J.J. Abrams." So I went in, and J.J. took me to an office and gave me the script. I sat down to read it, but he kept running into the room every 20 minutes going, "What do you think?" I was like, "You gotta give me a chance to finish it!" [Laughs] It was such a page-turner. I said I'd play anyone, it was just so fantastic. J.J. said, "I really think you're Jack."
TVGO: What can you tell us about Jack?
Fox: He's sort of the moral center. He's the doctor, so he gets cast as the hero by this group of people, but I think he's gonna be a pretty reluctant hero. There are times [when] he doesn't feel equipped to be the person everybody wants or needs him to be. I'm reticent to talk too much about backstory, but Jack's trying to leave some things [in his past] behind. [Through flashbacks,] we'll be examining Jack's relationship with his father and who he wanted Jack to be.
TVGO: So 'fess up. What kind of creature is terrorizing the island?
Fox: Nobody knows, except J.J. and [co-creator] Damon [Lindelof]. People are really curious. Is it a monster? I've heard somebody say "the beings." I prefer to find out as we go along because Jack obviously wouldn't have any idea what's coming next.
TVGO: How would you rate your survival skills?
Fox: I think I'd do all right. I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, and I spent a lot of time in the mountains backpacking. I can build a fire. A box of Bic lighters would be good to have on the island, though. That'd be a whole lot easier than rubbing two rocks together.
TVGO: Describe your worst airline flight.
Fox: I've had some pretty bumpy stuff that's made me nervous, but I've never had anything really dramatic happen. I think after the show premieres, though, anytime anyone in the cast gets on a flight, [the other passengers] will be like, "I think I'll take the next one."
TVGO: What was the last thing you actually lost?
Fox: My wallet, last night. I [live] right on the beach, and I left it by the pool and I think somebody snagged it. I'm actually in the process of canceling my credit cards.