Lost's Nestor Carbonell On His Famous Eyelashes and Soon-To-Be-Famous Pecs

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Since Lost's third season, Nestor Carbonell has popped up several times on the show as the mysterious, ageless Richard Alpert, but when the sixth and final season premieres tonight, Carbonell will finally join the cast as a regular. It's a sign that Richard (who seems inextricably linked to the island's mythology) is going to prove pivotal in revealing many of Lost's big secrets, but it's also a tribute to the ingratiating slow burn Carbonell's managed while revealing hardly a thing about Richard's true nature.

Movieline spoke with the actor yesterday about what's in store for Richard in season six, what we can expect from a Richard-centric episode, the tragic origin story of his much-discussed heavy eyelashes, and his willingness to play Khan in a potential Star Trek sequel.

So you just had the really big season premiere screening in Hawaii for tens of thousands of fans, right?

We did. It was really a thank-you, and it was pretty mind-blowing. We meet fans on a one-on-one basis all the time at the supermarket or what-have-you, and it's always great to talk to them, but this was just such a overwhelming experience in the best way. They're so informed and they want to know things, but they don't want to know because they want to watch the show. They're so appreciative and it was pretty great to open the season by showing them the first hour.

Was it the first time you got to see it, too?

Oh yeah, although the season premiere is two hours and this was just the first hour. I've read every script until the one we're shooting now, which is episode thirteen, but each episode is so dense and there's so much material. Sometimes you forget what you shot and when it came into the season and what happened, so it was great. It's one thing to read it, and it's another thing to see it materialize on screen, and they did such a great job realizing it, from writing to production to editing...

Nestor, I'm excited enough already. You don't have to keep selling me on it.

[Laughs] Did you see the first four minutes of the season premiere that they put online?

I know that they exist, but I've been battling myself over whether to watch them.

Then you're smart. You're a true fan who doesn't really want to know -- you want to see it in HD and you want more of the whole shebang. I get it.

I'm curious how your arc on the show began. Michael Emerson sort of famously started out on Lost with only a couple of episodes, and then he became one of the most important regulars on the series. Was it like that with you?

I know that Michael did a little bit and then was asked to stick around; mine was a little different in that I auditioned for the role as a guest star in Juliet's backstory to recruit her, and then I didn't hear anything until six weeks later, that they wanted me on the island. I figured it was another flashback, but when I got the script, I was pleasantly surprised that it was in the present day and that it didn't seem like that was the last you'd see of the character. They didn't tell me much, but I think they knew at that point that Richard was going somewhere. Usually in these roles, they bill them as "guest star, potentially recurring," but you never really know if they're going to recur that far and to what extent. In fact, my wife said, "This is potentially recurring, but we're all going to come with you just in case, because it's a free trip to Hawaii." [Laughs]

And how is Hawaii?

We moved here this year and it's just paradise. We live in a town called Kailua, which is a beautiful beach town. We were extremely spoiled in that we recognized that we had arrived in paradise. Save for our friends in Los Angeles, it's going to be hard to leave this place, and we're trying to savor everything...I was born in New York, but I'm of Cuban heritage. Maybe there's a little island in my blood.

The thing that's so intriguing about Richard is how cool and collected he is, although we saw his surface ripple a little bit last season. How do you like to play him?

That's a good question. They give you great leeway on the show to interpret the character as you want. I always felt from the beginning when I recruited Juliet that even in that episode, I wanted to play against being sinister or having some sort of hidden agenda -- even though I end up killing her ex-husband. I knew that I had to play him as genuinely as possible, and I wondered, "Maybe he's genuine because he truly is genuine. Maybe there's some greater reason why he has to get her to this island, even though he has to commit murder in the process. Even if the guy ends up being evil, you still have to be your own defense attorney in terms of defending your character. I always justified everything I did, even having Ben gas the Dharma Initiative.

When I found out he didn't age, I thought, "The fact that he's so composed and calm is because he's been around a while." That should inform who this man is: He's wise and has seen a lot of things and doesn't get rattled easily. The great thing about this season is that in the twist at the end of last season, Jacob dies. That is something that rocks my character's world, and the ramifications from that are what you're going to see Alpert deal with this season. You're going to see colors from him that I never thought I'd get to play.

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