While it may not be the MOONLIGHT revival that fans were hoping for (or to be more specific, that one really dedicated fan who is single-handedly keeping the “Save MOONLIGHT” campaign alive by inundating my email box with bi-weekly emails), star Alex O’Loughlin is making a return to the small screen this evening on a very special, not to mention intensily creepy episode of CRIMINAL MINDS. And here to talk about tonight’s role with your very own TV Addict, in between shooting his new CBS pilot (THREE RIVERS) and his upcoming romantic comedy opposite Jennifer Lopez is the immortal one himself, Alex O’Loughlin.
Before we get into your guest appearance on tonight’s CRIMINAL MINDS, I of course have to first ask about MOONLIGHT. Were you surprised it was cancelled?
Alex O’Loughlin: Yes and no. It was a tough show for everybody in a sense that it was a high maintenance girlfriend. You love her, she’s great in bed but it takes so much of your time to appease her [laughs] that you’re left going, “Okay, is this worth the end result.” From the very beginning, there were huge amounts of changes: Five different showrunners, from the early days when it was Twilight we fired everyone, recast the show, reshot the pilot, called it MOONLIGHT, changed the showrunner. [Producer] Joel Silver and the network were butting heads constantly about the creative direction of the show. It was a lot of stuff to deal with behind the camera, maybe too much in fact. But to answer your question, I was surprised we were canceled because it was doing so well.
On tonight’s CRIMINAL MINDS, you play Vincent, a serial killer who couldn’t be more different than MOONLIGHT’s Mick St. John. How did this guest appearance come about, and did you purposely look for a role that was Mick’s polar opposite?
In terms of CRIMINAL MINDS specifically, the writer, Simon [Mirren] is a great friend of mine, and he said, “listen, I’m writing a role with you in mind. Would you read it,” and I did and the rest is history. I love playing different roles, the more variety the better. Once I’ve played a role I don’t want to play it again.
Was there any apprehension about playing a serial killer?
No apprehension because as far as I’m concerned Vincent is a redeemable character. When I first read the part, I could see how sympathetic he was. In terms of how I prepare, obviously not by going out and slaughtering anything. My main preparation with this character was the obsessive compulsive stuff because that’s the thing that rules his life and keeps him doing what he does time and time again. His OCD is at the core of his physical being.
A lot of your scenes are with a young actor [Jake Cherry] who plays Stanley. Before accepting the role did the old Hollywood adage about not working with kids or animals ever cross your mind?
(Laughs) That’s the old rule man, no kids or animals! But I love working with kids, I’ve never not enjoyed it. But then again maybe I’ve never had a bad kid. The thing about working with children is that there are no walls there, no barriers between you and their vanity. When you’re working with adults, we all have vanity, narcissism, whatever we have that has to do with our ego can potentially get in the way of our work. With kids there is a purity and an innocence regardless of what character they’re playing within them. And so to tap into that is just extraordinary to work with because it’s so true.
What can you tell fans about the THREE RIVERS [the pilot that Alex O’Loughlin recently shot for CBS]
Set in Pittsburgh, it’s a medical drama told from the perspective of the organ donor, the organ recipient and the surgical team. So every episode, someone may live and someone may die. Meaning the stakes are very high.
Was it a difficult decision to sign on to what potentially could be seven years of playing the same character versus the idea of playing different characters between films and occasional TV guest appearances?
Very good question and yes it his hard, it is daunting I got to say and i don’t think any actor would disagree with me. Once you’ve done a couple of films, I think the whole idea of being a movie star — well I don’t know about the ‘star’ thing — but the idea of working regularly in feature films that’s my dream. To go from one character to the next and get to tell a million different stories, that would be wonderful, I’d love to be able to do that.
But the thing about television is that the job security, you cannot beat. I’m a family man and I have to think that way. But I definitely do get scared I’ll get stuck in one character and never find my way out. That other people aren’t going to trust me that I can’t find my way out to find one of their characters. So there is that.
That being said, after experiencing what I’ve experienced on both THE SHIELD and MOONLIGHT there is also joys and benefits to playing a character for a long time because you discover things and get to live out things you discovered about the character. There have been so many times in my life when I’ll finish a play or a film and a week later I’ll wake up and say, “Ah F*ck, that’s what I should have done with that scene, that’s the missing element.” And so in TV you get to live that out and discover so much more it’s great. but it’s definitely a catch 22 situation.
Have you started shooting The Back-Up Plan?
I start shooting in about a minute!
Aside from the opportunity to work with Jennifer Lopez, what attracted you to the project?
Nothing, just J.LO… No, just joking. The film is great, it’s funny, well written and I’ve never really done a lead role in a romantic comedy over here yet in America. Also, the director’s a pal, the great Alan Poul, who has a really smart clear vision for the film. And Jennifer being attached didn’t hurt.
CRIMINAL MINDS airs Wednesday nights on CBS at 9PM (8PM on CTV in Canada)