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Desert Island Discs
Star Dominic Monaghan chats to us about playing washed-up rocker Charlie Pace, who's stuck on a desert island with a guitar and only one set of strings…
Dominic Monaghan describes Charlie as Lost’s wild card. In a show with a whole deck of wild cards he does have more contradictions than most – he’s a frustrated Christian rocker with a serious drugs habit and a weakness for groupies. At the same time he’s desperate to prove himself to his fellow survivors and quickly becomes the protector of Claire (Emilie de Ravin) and her baby.
Yet even Monaghan admits he doesn’t know how Charlie will turn out. “When I went to the first meeting with JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof they spoke about Charlie – who wasn’t necessarily good or bad, he was a kind of a wild card. It’s the kind of a character I’ve wanted to play because for a long time in my career I have played generic good guys.
“He someone who’s a little ****ed, I mean he’s got some real issues not only with drugs but with women and faith and trust and reaching out to people. Even now I don’t know if some point in his back story he may have had a same-sex relationship or lost my mum at an early age. but that’s good for me personally because I don’t know if Charlie is good or bad. I don’t know where he’s going to sit, I’ve become more and more intrigued by him. And he has that British sensibility of defending himself through comedy, which I was so aware of growing up as a kid. I was always the smallest in class but I always had the biggest and loudest mouth. I always defended myself from the bullies by being quick with my mouth and I understood that a bit with Charlie.”
But even though Monaghan quickly fell in love with the idea of his character, he almost turned down the series because he didn’t want to do TV after starring in the Lord of the Rings films. Having started off in British television in mystery series Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, he hoped the Oscar-winning trilogy would turn him straight into a movie star.
“I was a little wary of taking a US TV show. My agent sent me the first series of Alias on DVD and said he wanted me to meet its creator JJ Abrams, who was starting up this new show about a plane crash on a desert island. I thought it sounded rotten and a hokey kind of Survivor. But JJ’s just a super cool guy, he’s into Star Wars and toys and comic books like me, and we just chatted for a long time. It’s hard now I’m living in America, finding anyone with a sense of sarcasm and irony which is so built in to being British – and he’s got it.”
That first conversation helped shape Charlie. Until then he’d been a middle-aged, washed-up has-been, but together Abrams, Lindelof and Monaghan cooked up a far more interesting character.
“Charlie at the time was like a 45-year-old rocker who had been there and been spat out the other side – they were looking at someone like John Hannah,” the actor admits. “My pitch was, ‘Wouldn’t it be more interesting for him to be someone who had barely scratched the surface of what he could be?’ He’s had one hit and then it all just went – so he would be this frustrated, ambitious character. I kind of based him on that band Dodgy – who had one hit, Staying Out For the Summer, at Glastonbury and then disappeared.”
by Jenny Eden
There's more from Dominic Monaghan in
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