Level with us – what the hell’s happening on Lost?
I couldn’t tell you if I did know – but quite honestly I don’t have a clue. We all have our theories but the writers have shot ’em all to hell. We just have to trust them. They’ve listed an end date now – three more series of 16 episodes. That’s unprecedented in television and they’re really fighting for the integrity of the story. I love that.
You must cack yourself every time you get a script in case Sawyer’s dead.
Yes, a little bit. I kind of look at it, turn the first page and go, “Oooo-kay. Am I alive?” Once you live with that fear you learn to accept it. You have to – that’s what actors do. We go from one job to another, one character to another. Myself, I don’t want to go anywhere because I love the work and living in Hawaii – I love the show.
When you read your character was going to have sex with Evangeline Lilly you loved it a lot more, didn’t you?
Yep, devastating. How’s a man to get over that? I don’t know. It’s terrible.
We’ve just seen you in that Davidoff Cool Water advert, cliff diving and the lot – that’s not really you, is it?
I did some of the stunts but I had a guy who does stunts with me in Lost – he’s a professional diver. We’d both do the diving and then compare notes. And the girl in the commercial is Mark Wahlberg’s fiancée.
Does Mark know about this?
Presumably running around in the jungle in Lost can get a bit smelly?
Being men, it can sometimes be a bit of a stinky business, depending on what you’re doing. At the beginning of this third season I was in a cage. It was pretty dirty and bloody, and the stuff that needs to be on you from shot to shot is called the “hero shirt”. There’s one that they don’t wash – they keep it perfectly matched to whatever you’re doing. It’s not a good piece of material. But all of our cast members have that – they’ll be saying, “Oh no, not the hero shirt,” if they’re doing those particular scenes.
Tell us about Mantopia – your Hawaiian bachelor pad – and how we can recreate it?
I use that word for when we get away from it all and the boys get to hang out, you know? Mantopia could be anywhere. It’s a state of mind, it’s hangin’ with the boys and not hanging with the ladies – beer drinking, eating pizza, doing whatever you want to do. All night. Leaving the toilet seat up!
But you were actually brought up on a farm, weren’t you?
Thirty-three acres of beautiful land in north-west Georgia. We had a couple of cows and a couple of horses but we weren’t farmers – my father worked in the city but just preferred to live rural which I loved him for. It was an awesome upbringing. Three brothers. Can’t beat it.
Is it true you used to mop up dead chickens?
Absolutely. That was my very first job at 11. There’s a large number of chicken farms in Georgia, so that was working for our neighbour.
Why were they dead?
That’s a good question. I would assume from the heat. Or maybe one of them didn’t like the other, and got some of his two thousand buddies to murder him. It was kind of like the Monty Python sketch – “Bring out the dead!” You’d be cruising with a wheelbarrow, they’d all part and there’s one on the floor. Or actually there’s ten. During the summer it gets really hot in Georgia – so it’s a very necessary part of chicken farming. You have to keep your house clean.
Then you went to the University of Georgia. Were you a frat boy?
No, but it was classic. I crashed all of the parties. I knew how to dress like them, and I’d crash the party, say I was with another fraternity. No one ever really caught on so I had a blast. I had one happy year at the University of Georgia and then I went to New York. I’d been doing some stuff for Macy’s in Georgia and a New York agency was interested. I wanted to travel so I saw modelling as a passport to the world.
What was your parents’ reaction to you becoming a male model? Did they think you were a big Jessie?
No, actually my father’s quite an adventurer. First he wanted me to go into the military, he was like, “There’s no telling where you’ll end up.” But when the modelling came up he was like, “Go for it son, see where you end up. You can always come home.” My mother was apprehensive about me taking off to New York City but I was very independent by then.
Were you and your friends like the models in Zoolander?
Ha ha! There were a lot of interesting parallels. It depends on the person of course – there were a lot of groups that were more affected and then there were the groups that I hung out with that weren’t – it was just about the travel and soaking up the world like a sponge.
What was the worst thing you modelled?
It was a pyjama campaign and the pyjamas looked like all sorts of animals. One was a cow. They made me do my hair like horns. I was 18 so you do what you have to…
Did you ever have to wax for a modelling job?
Actually I did experience that once. Because I had to do kind of an underwear thing and they said, you should just wax down there. I don’t have much hair anyway but I was like, “okay”. It was horrible, never again. Wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
If you were cast adrift in real life, think you could survive?
I’d hope so. I think I’d have more than your normal person’s skillset because I enjoy it so much. They say the number one thing about survival is your attitude and not panicking. So if you accept it – and I would – then your mind works again. Fear is the mindkiller. You have to get past that and then I think anyone can survive for a while. It’s the stupid mistakes you make out of panic that get you.
Are you a bad boy like Sawyer?
I aspire to come from a lighter place than Sawyer. But that bad boy aspect is most definitely me – I just blow it up for the character. As my wife can attest.
What has Dominic Monaghan taught you about our fair country?
We love Dom – and Naveen [Andrews]. They’re hilarious Englishmen, I love to hear them talk among themselves. Dom taught me Mancunian. He’s nuts about Manchester United. At the beginning of the first series we had a PlayStation and he always had to be Manchester United. I would rag him about how terrible they were – even though this season they’ve been wonderful.
You were voted the world’s 17th sexiest man in a poll. Are you going to work on hitting the number one spot?
Umm… nope. It’s an honour, I’m flattered and so forth.
Bet you go out and buy the magazines that feature the polls.
My wife does. We laugh about that at home. And then you get the piss taken out of you at work. Every opportunity to rag each other…
Has being Sawyer typecast you at all for movie work?
You get offered all the traps – lower budget action movies that you’re carrying completely. There’s been some pretty horrendous things but I can’t name them. It’s not the right move right off a series, in my opinion anyway. I’m looking for something more like a small poignant role with a film-maker I’d love to work with and that I’m not really carrying.
Could there be a Lost movie?
At first there was talk of it – about a year ago we were hearing five years and then a movie. But that went away and I haven’t heard anything more. If it made sense I would do it.
Finally, what’s with the long girly hair – is that out of choice?
It’s for the character! Honestly. There’s cinematic value to it! But for me personally I can’t wait to go back to short hair, the minute Lost has finished it’s all coming off.
Original interview by Ben Wilson in the August 2007 issue of FHM UK magazine