April 8, 2010
Call him what you will — The Package, electromagnetic superhero or, simply, Desmond — but Lost’s dashing romantic, played by Henry Ian Cusick, seems to be the key to unlocking some of the drama’s greatest mysteries. In Tuesday’s episode, he could glimpse images from his Island life while occupying the Sideways world, proving that there’s a vital connection between the two, one that will drive the series home to its final episode on May 23. PEOPLE checked in with Cusick on whether Desmond and true love Penny deserve a happily ever after, how he (accidentally!) gave co-star Michael Emerson a black eye, and why he hopes there’s life beyond Lost. – Shawna Malcom
It seems up to Desmond to open the eyes of the other Oceanic 815 passengers about the two worlds, the way Charlie [Dominic Monaghan] did for him.
Totally. I think anyone who doubted the Sideways, or thought they were just filler — now you fundamentally know that the Sideways world is so important to the outcome of the Island world. They say we’re driven by two emotions, love and fear, and Desmond is so driven now by love, which is the one we all want to be driven by. What’s interesting, as you’ll see later on this season, is that some people will do good things for love and some will do bad.
In the episode, Desmond starts off angry, and even violent, but by the end, he’s determined to stay and help his father-in-law, whom he previously couldn’t stand.
I actually had a little bit of a problem with that. I had to speak to [executive producers] Carlton [Cuse] and Damon [Lindelof] because I didn’t get it. They said, ‘Think enlightened.’ But I needed something else so they explained to me that Desmond, now having had a glimpse of the Sideways world, is crystal clear on what he has to do.
So why on earth is he going off with Sayid, who seems to be on the opposing team?
Because he’s not scared. He has no fear in him [anymore]. Nothing is going to disturb him from [his mission] from here on in.
Will Desmond and Penny get their happy ending?
There’s still a chance. But if he doesn’t end up with Penny, I’m cool with that. The fans will want some resolution but I’m just going with it.
When you first joined the show in 2005, did you think he’d become so important?
No. I signed up for three episodes! But he’s come a long way.
Why do you think he’s become such a fan favorite?
He’s a pretty average guy who’s been put in these incredible circumstances, and he just tries to do his best. I think audiences get that and relate to that.
You’re currently shooting the finale. What can you reveal about it?
I don’t think anyone has a complete script. Security is tight and [producers] are keeping the final chapter under wraps. The whole last act is missing! And you definitely need the missing pages because, even up to what I’ve read, it’s still not resolved.
Recently, there have been reports of actors being injured on set. Has filming really gotten that intense?
Michael’s black eye, I must confess, was because of me. We’d already shot [a scene] from many angles, and there was just a lack of concentration on my part and I caught him with my fist. Michael’s been very good–I don’t think he’s told many people that it was me who hit him, but I’ll come clean and say it was. I apologized profusely, and he said, “Don’t even go there. It was just an accident.” But I was like, “Oh my God!”
What has being a part of Lost meant to you?
It’s probably been one of the most important, fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had. Certainly the longest. It’s been a beautiful experience, not only getting to be on a show like this but living in Hawaii and being able to bring my family here. I have three boys [with wife Annie], and we’re still gonna live in Hawaii [after the show ends]. My children are very happy at school and there’s no reason to leave right now.
What would you like to do next?
It’s going to be hard because it has to be something that equals or tops Lost. We’ve been spoiled. I do wonder how this show will affect our careers. Will it help or hinder us? I hope I’m not known as ‘Desmond from Lost’ for the rest of my career. I’m looking forward to other challenges, even as I’m sad to leave this one behind.