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Far away in Time? Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje discusses being trapped on an island and the many facets of Mr Eko
Lost, an international ratings winner and arguably the most talked-about television series to come along in years, capped off its first season by winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for juggling the lives of the ever-decreasing 49 survivors of the doomed Oceanic Flight 815 and keeping millions of viewers worldwide discussing, debating, pontificating and hypothesizing about everything from the numbers and the hatch to the Others and the polar bear.
But at the start of Season Two, we learn the remaining passengers are not alone and that beyond the Others, the island also has been playing host to an initial 22 survivors from the tail section of the ill-fated flight. Enter the Tailies and their spiritual leader Mr Eko, played to critical acclaim by British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
The original castaways are first introduced to Mr Eko when the hulking mass of a man – pumping a wooden club in his fist – is seen storming across the beach in pursuit of Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), towards Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Michael (Harold Perrineau). As they’re still suffering from being adrift on a raft since the close of Season One, Mr Eko easily incapacitates the trio and, just like that, the world’s newest International Man of Mystery is revealed to the world. “It was a great entrance for a character, a great way to come into a show,” remembers Adewale, who was enjoying England’s eventual 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in the World Cup when reached at his London home. “The thing about ‘Mr Eko’ is it just rings mystery and that was the key. Apart from the mysticism and the mystery, that’s where the name came from. I changed the name. Initially they had conceived of a character by the name of Mecca and I just didn’t feel that name. And so I asked them if I could change it. And I said Eko because that works into the tribe that I am from in Nigeria. But also I said can we put ‘Mr’ on it? And they weren’t so happy about that because they said none of the other characters have any titles above their name. And I said that’s precisely why we should do it. Because if you want an air of mystery, I think that’s what it creates. And thankfully they went with it and I think it was a large part of creating the air of mystery about it, because coming in, seeing a 6’2” black guy with a club is quite a dynamic image, but it gave a lot of space to go to.”
With apologies to Adewale for the variation of his name on the issue's cover
by Jeff Renaud
Read the full interview in
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