INT: Matthew Fox
Having reclaimed his TV stardom with his second major TV hit series "Lost" (the first being "Party of Five"), Matthew Fox moves to the big screen to face the challenge of another disaster resulting from an airplane crash. Portraying a castaway, heroic doctor fighting to stay alive in hope of rescue on a mysterious island in "Lost", he embodies a different type of plane crash survivor, tormented with guilt and grief in the upcoming film WE ARE MARSHALL.
This film is the true story of a horrific and fatal plane crash carrying the Marshall University football team along with the entire department back from a game. Fox plays assistant football coach, Red Dawson whose fate is altered by a last minute decision preventing him from taking the flight and ultimately is not only faced with the tragic loss of his team but also suffering from a case of survivors guilt. The stunning calamity leaves the small, tight knit community grieving an unbearable loss until Coach Lengyel comes on board to help rebuild a team and restore faith.
Matthew Fox was incredibly sweet and grounded when we met last week to get some inside scoop on "Lost" and learn about the various challenges he faced in representing a devastated young man faced with a the aftermath of a tragic event, struggling to move forward. Check out what he had to say.
You look like you're freezing?
You live in Hawaii and everywhere you go youre freezing.
Youre Canadian, though?
No, Im from Wyoming.
Are you tempting airline karma on purpose?
I didnt even really make that connection. It was Jorge Garcia from Lost, he plays Hurley, when he found out I was doing We Are Marshall, he texted me: What is it with you and plane crashes? I didnt even make the connection; it didnt cross my mind.
Were you familiar with the story?
I wasnt. I read the script and thought it was beautiful and moving. I seem to find myself attracted to true stories. And then I met with McG a couple of weeks after I read the script, and that was awesome and he was amazing. We talked for like a couple of hours and I just walked out of that meeting thinking I would be in great hands. I think I committed to him the next day, which is really quick for me normally I have to sort of let things sit for a little while.
You have some very emotional scenes theres one at the end where youre crying for a while. Where did you have to go to get the emotion for it? Was it from talking to Red?
I dont ever use stuff from my own life. It was all about empathizing with him and understanding what that year was. That moment at the end of the movie has to be a cathartic release for him because we dont ever see him do that in the movie. You want to have the sense that hes really torn up and he is destroyed, almost, on the inside, but he wont let it out. Hes holding on to it and blocking it down and its not until after that game, finding himself in a locker room that is empty of people that should have been there thats the trigger that suddenly theres some sort of catharsis for him. Hopefully you have the feeling that theres some optimism for him and hope down the road.
How did Red feel about the film? Did you have a chance to talk to him about it, and how did he feel about the crying?
Im pretty sure I dont cry except for that moment in the locker room. 75 people, many of whom were 18, 19 year old kids whose mothers he looked in the eyes and said, Im going to take care of your boys at Marshall and he didnt keep that promise I think that even Red, who is an incredibly strong, intense and almost John Wayne type of frickin character, he cried a lot. When I took the film he said to me, Youre going to have to When he called me after hed seen the movie that was the one phone call I was waiting for the most. I had heard the movie was coming together beautifully, but until Red Dawson called me, that was an awesome moment. I heard in his voice how proud of the movie he is and how happy he is how it turned out.
When did you meet the real Red?
I wanted to meet him as early as possible. I was shooting Lost so I couldnt leave the island. Ideally I would have liked to have seen him in Huntington, but I couldnt. So I called him and said, Look, I would much rather come down and see you, but I cant, and these are the reasons why because Red didnt know about Lost would you consider flying to Hawaii? The guy hadnt been on a plane in 35 years, or had done very little flying, and was very uncomfortable with it.
I knew the chances were very slim and it was a big ask. He called me back a couple of days later and said he would like to come, and he came out and spent some time with my family, hung out with my kids, Margherita made him her lasagna, and we just hung out for a couple of days and got to know each other. And he came to the set for a couple of days, because I was shooting, and met all the people I work with. I think that was fun for him because I dont think hed ever been on a set before. Then we started talking about 1970, which was getting to work. I had about six weeks to prepare, so I wanted that to happen as soon as possible and I wanted to get as much time with him as possible. We figured that out and made it work.
How is he coping with it today?
The beautiful thing is that this movie, and this experience, this whole year, has been a very cathartic thing for him. He told me as much after he saw the film; he called me and we talked about that. When I was in Atlanta his brother was visiting, Rhett these are strong, silent guys. They both played college football, and Rhett got inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame, he was a pro as well. Rhett pulled me aside in the middle of the night, he got me away from Red, and he was emotional and he started thanking me for what this experience is doing for Red. I just thought to myself, thats absolutely amazing. I want this movie to turn out to be great, but if the only thing that comes out of it is that it is a cathartic experience for Red or anybody else still dealing with the memory of that, thats pretty great. Hes happy.
Do you play football?
I played football all the way through college. So yeah, I know the game and I love the game. I dont think of this as a football movie its just not but it has the backdrop of it, and that aspect of what the role was going to require, the coaching aspect and what kind of coach Red Dawson was, that stuff was easy because I know the game well. Combine that with the fact that I feel I got a good idea of who Red Dawson was, so yeah, it was fun. It was fun to get to that, too. And I imagine thats how he felt in 1970. Even though there was an enormous sense of trepidation about stepping back on that field, there also had to be a sense of release and a place where he could be free of that a little bit.
What was the last romantic thing you did for your wife, and why do you make a good couple?
[whispers] I never do anything romantic for my wife. Whats the last romantic thing? Every week we go out to dinner together. We have two kids and we try to make sure we get date night. We go out and we catch up and talk about stuff we havent had a chance to talk about during the week. And why do we make a good couple? Because we fight really well. I think thats a very underestimated aspect of why relationships last. Everybody thinks its about loving very well, but thats the easy part. You have to be able to fight really well.
How is it living in Hawaii?
Its like anything. You start to take it for granted and become bored by how perfectly beautiful it is every day and how there are no seasonal changes. Nah, its great. I love it. My kids are very happy there. I was looking for a way to get out of Los Angeles anyway, and this gig coming up and it being in Hawaii, Margherita and I have been traveling there for a few years like 8 years on vacation, and we were always joking about how great it would be if we got a gig there and shot there for a bit. Its great there; the kids are really happy and in a great school. I think that were not going to stay there past the life of Lost, because personally I really do want to live somewhere that has seasons. I miss that.
Speaking of seasons, where are you spending the holidays?
What kind of gift would you like to get for the holidays, and what are you planning on giving your wife?
I have a lot of Christmas shopping to do. I think Im a pretty hard person to get gifts for. My wife complains about that every year. Honestly, I want as much time I have been on the road a lot, and Ive been away from my kids for a while. I just feel so blessed, and so lucky for where I am in my life right now. I would just want to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids over the holidays that would be the best gift I could get.
What do Lost fans say to you when they come up to you in the street?
Right now its like, What, you guys have to go off the air for a couple of months and now I find you in New York? Why arent you in Hawaii making new episodes? And Im like, Actually were still shooting, the break didnt mean anything to us. Everybodys shooting, I just happen to not be shooting. I wont tell you why.
I dont know if you saw SNL last weekend, but we did this sketch called The Elevator Sketch where Im playing myself on an elevator and the rest of the [SNL] cast get in and theyre playing UPS guys and shit, and they get into an argument about the show. I think its a tribute to the show; I appreciate it. The show isnt just about the 43 minutes someone is getting an installment of; its about what theyre talking about after.
As far as having the set on Hawaii, do people go there now just looking for the set? How do you keep tourists away?
Weve got a lot of very big, nasty looking security guards. We shoot all over the island. From where I live there are some commutes to the north shore that take about an hour, and then to the stages which is mostly where Ive been because of the whole captivity thing its 40 minutes, depending on traffic. But those rides are nice. Driving around Hawaii is cool.
Last year during your break you shot two films, this and Vantage Point. Would you have the energy to do that again next break?
Honestly, shooting both those films was really rejuvenating to me in some respect. Im exhausting, and it was a long summer. I was shooting 6 days a week all summer, but I got back to Lost with my creativity fired up. Ill be looking for something to do over my next hiatus, but it would be the kind of thing where that time is valuable to me, and the only way I would do something is if its something that made me compelled, that I had to do it and that I had to be a part of it. Because the other opportunity is that I get to spend the entire summer with my two kids and my wife and my friends. The reality is that relationships do suffer when youre as busy as Ive been for the past year. Thats the trade off. Thats the trade off Im constantly wrestling with.
How many tattoos do you have, and what were the circumstances under which you got them?
I dont ever tell anybody what they mean, but theyre all very meaningful for me. I have a bunch of them, on my shoulders and my back and my arm. I really like the process and theyre about events or moments that happen to me that I think are really important and things that feel worthy of something that I want to carry my whole life. I also love the idea that there will be moments when Im older and Ill look at them and say, Really? Thats what you were thinking when you were 28 years old?
But dont they have to put make up on them every time you do a movie?
Its really easy. They all use this spray gun stuff. Its like painting a car, man.
Damon Lindelof has said he envisions Lost going five or six years. But if it continues to be a big hit and ABC keeps throwing money at it, it might go longer. Do you say, I am doing five years on this and I am out, or do you say, Ill stick with this as long as the creators can make it work?
I havent really thought a whole lot about that, actually. I dont want to look too far down the road; Im happy where we are now. I hope the show stays on as long as it takes to tell the story. Ultimately thats all I care about. If it feels like its because were so successful around the world and kind stretching it out, that would be a bummer. But I dont feel that way. I feel like Damon and JJ and all those guys over there that are creating this thing, it began with a plane crash on an island and they know the final conflict, and theyre getting from A to B, and at this point theyre getting there as quickly as they want to get there, as quickly as the story dictates they get there.
You have two signature TV roles in your filmography. Post-Lost, do you see yourself doing more TV, or is it time to move on to features?
Again, I dont really think too much about that. I would say that I think will probably be my last television experience. I think some of the best storytelling weve got going is on TV right now, and in my mind Lost is included in that, so its not that snobby thing that you can find in Hollywood sometimes about, Now Im going to go off and do fil-umms. Its more about what that means for my life, and how much time I get to spend with my family. The thing I love about making movies is that youre telling a story that has a beginning and an end and you know what goes between. You go out and pour 110% of yourself into it for a contained period of time. You live it, you meet new people, and then its done. You can check out for a little while, get back into your life, re-nurture your relationships, and then you look for the next experience like that. Its not that 8-½ month out of the year, constantly moving ahead story.
Are you jealous that Kate ended up with Sawyer?
Not at all. Jack might be!
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