Harold Perrineau Dishes on his Lost Exit (Again)
Lost's breathtaking finale will no doubt have fans feverishly dissecting its innumerable puzzles until the show returns in early 2009. (Read our recap and weigh in with your thoughts!) Locke (aka Jeremy Bentham) is in the coffin?! What "very bad things" happened after the Oceanic 6 left the island?? How in Jacob's name is Ben gonna help all of them — plus Locke! — get back there??? And exactly where did the former Others ringleader and that wacky frozen device move the island to?
But at least one major character's fate was definitively sealed with the close of Season 4 when Michael (Harold Perrineau), the suicidal castaway — and father to "real big" mystery boy Walt — perished aboard the fiery freighter. "Michael had an incredibly heroic, noble death," says executive producer Damon Lindelof. "He sacrificed his own life to redeem himself for past mistakes and to help the Oceanic 6 get off the island." Sound familiar? It was this time last year that we were mourning the loss of the similarly selfless Charlie. Though Michael got a little something special that the ex-junkie rock star did not: a surprise send-off from Christian Shephard.
Shortly after he wrapped filming, an emotional Perrineau — who made a much-hyped return to the series in March after leaving in Season 2 — called to chat about his explosive second exit, the mad dash home to be with pregnant wife Brittany and why he feels the lack of a Michael-Walt reunion was "not cool."
TV Guide: Did you know Michael was being killed off when you returned?
Harold Perrineau: I had no idea. It's like, what the hell? I came back for that?
TV Guide: You're laughing as you say that, but you don't sound particularly pleased.
Perrineau: I'm disappointed, mostly because I wanted Michael and Walt to have a happy ending. I was hoping Michael would get it together and actually want to be a father to his kid and try to figure out a way to get back [home]. But this is [the producers'] story. If I were writing it, I would write it differently.
TV Guide:: So when did you get the news?
Perrineau: [Lindelof and fellow executive producer Carlton Cuse] called before the finale scripts were out. They said they weren't going to continue with Michael.
TV Guide:: And what did you say to that?
Perrineau: At this point, I've been on the island, off the island, back on the island — so I just went, "Oh, ok." [Laughs] This is their show and they know what they can or cannot write. I thought it was disappointing and a waste to come back, only to get beat up a few times and then killed. I felt like it was sort of pandering to some fans who wanted to see Michael punished because he betrayed people.
TV Guide: Are you referring to when he shot and killed Ana Lucia and Libby in Season 2?
Perrineau: Exactly. I honestly feel like Michael's death served a really weird bloodlust for the fans.
TV Guide: Were you disappointed Michael and Walt didn't reconnect before your character died?
Perrineau: Listen, if I'm being really candid, there are all these questions about how they respond to black people on the show. Sayid gets to meet Nadia again, and Desmond and Penny hook up again, but a little black boy and his father hooking up, that wasn't interesting? Instead, Walt just winds up being another fatherless child. It plays into a really big, weird stereotype and, being a black person myself, that wasn't so interesting. [Responds Cuse: "We pride ourselves on having a very racially diverse cast. It's painful when any actor's storyline ends on the show. Harold is a fantastic actor whose presence added enormously to Lost."]
TV Guide: Take me back to your last day of shooting.
Perrineau: My last day was kind of hectic. [Production] was trying to get me out because, at the time, my wife was a centimeter dilated.
TV Guide: Was she in labor at the hospital when you got back to L.A.?
Perrineau: No, I got home and then for another week, the baby would not come! We were like, "Seriously, dude, I was in Hawaii rushing like a madman!” I was talking to the baby, my wife was walking around, practically hiking, but the baby just would not come out! [Laughs] So we went to the hospital a week later and induced. A beautiful little girl came on May 7. Wynter Aria — I thought it was a nice name. It's poetic, and she's a little poetry in our life.
TV Guide: Let's talk highlights. Surely, you had some positive experiences on Lost.
Perrineau: Doing the job in Hawaii was cool. Getting to meet and work with [co-creator] JJ Abrams was very cool. The day we found out the show [premiered] so well [in 2004] was an amazing day. We were all so hopeful and excited. The first season was one of my best years as a working actor. Not to say there weren't tough times, but I loved the first season. And that one of my best friends, Dan [Dae Kim, who plays Jin], and I got to do pretty much the whole finale together.
TV Guide: Dead characters have a way of returning to the show. Would you be open to that?
Perrineau: I'd love to go back and work with people I really like working with, but I would have to know what was happening [story-wise] before I showed up again. Because this [last] storyline, I full-on feel, "No, that's not cool.'"
TV Guide: What's next for you?
Perrineau: This movie I did with Stephen Dorff called Felon is probably coming out at the end of the summer. And I'm in talks for a couple different films.
TV Guide: Any final thoughts?
Perrineau: Just that I hope the show continues to thrill people. I'm sorry to have to go, but I'll see you in another incarnation. I'll re-create myself because that's what I do. That part of leaving is pretty cool.