The Verge: Alex O'Loughlin

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How famous is Alex O'Loughlin? Ask him and he'll assure you that he isn't, but ask the marketers who put his name above the title on ads for the Jennifer Lopez romcom The Back-Up Plan and they may whistle a different tune. The truth is that O'Loughlin is the sort of actor who's been on the verge of stardom for a while now, a charismatic, handsome Australian with the sort of dedicated female fanbase that comes when you play a sexy vampire in your first American project, the television series Moonlight. That series was canceled, as was O'Loughlin's last show Three Rivers, but CBS has high hopes that an O'Laughlin-led Hawaii Five-O revival will be a fixture of its fall schedule.

On the eve of The Back-Up Plan's release this Friday, O'Loughlin called up Movieline to discuss the way Jennifer Lopez informs his notion of celebrity, the amount of faith CBS executives have had in him, and how he still smarts (just a little!) from losing the role of James Bond.

You're part of this sudden infatuation Hollywood has with Australian actors, and yet you're the only one without an embarrassing Aussie soap on his resume. How'd you dodge that bullet?

[Laughs] Yeah! I dunno, I'm sure I've got a few other embarrassing things on my resume. From the beginning of my career, I wanted to follow a specific path, and that's been part of it: I went to drama school instead and did three years and got my degree. I think a soap opera thing like that can be a good thing for a lot of people, but my path took me somewhere else.

When you got out of drama school, did you have a plan of, "OK, I'm going to go to Hollywood?"

I drive what we call in Australia a "ute," or a utility pickup truck, and once I got out of drama school, all I wanted to do was get in my ute and go fishing. The last thing I wanted to do was get into the industry. That was three solid years of studying constantly every day, working two jobs on the weekends just to keep myself on the stage and pay the school fee. I did plays the whole time, and it was an incredible education, but I wanted to get as far away from it as possible.

Had you just overdosed on acting?

It was like I'd been working for three years. I just needed to get in my ute and go to the beach and hang out with my mates and get back to what's important. I did that, and work started coming to my way. I always knew that I'd go to the States -- I'd been to the States before I went to school and it's the mecca for film and TV -- and I'd sort of been crafting relationships and I continued to do so after I got out. I ended up moving here once and for all four and a half years ago, and I did know I would come here, because the collaborative pool of actors and filmmakers and talent in America is just so much bigger. It's vast, and there's so much more work and possibility here. I guess it was just always in the cards.

Let's talk about how The Back-Up Plan fits into that. You have a very ardent female fanbase. Is making this movie your gift to them?

Yeah, I do have a great fanbase, and they're wonderful. They've been very supportive of my career and very understanding of my life and the fact that I'm not very good at blogging or Twittering or anything like that. I'm deeply appreciative of my fans and I try to express that whenever possible, and I certainly like to express that in my work. This movie needs to make some money -- it's important to Jennifer and it's important to me, and it's important that people enjoy it. I think it's a good film. I've seen it, and I enjoyed it.

It's being looked at as a comeback vehicle for Jennifer, who hasn't made a film in a few years. Did you feel any of that pressure while you were making it?

No, I don't think she will allow herself to feel that pressure. I'm sure she's aware of what people are saying, but she went off and had some babies [during her hiatus], you know? She went and lived her life. I don't know...talk to me, and you might get a different response than someone who's interested in the idea of celebrity. I like my job, and I'm not naive or ignorant to the nature of what happens in this industry, but I didn't become an actor to get famous. I became an actor because I love the work. I love being on stage, I love being part of a collaborative art form and seeing what we can create in a film, but fundamentally, the most important thing to me is what comes before that, and that's life. Your life, your family, your people...I mean, without life experience, you can't tell stories anyway. You're a boring actor. Jennifer was away having a lot of life experience and now she's come back to work, and I kind of laugh when people say, "Ooh, she's making a comeback!" No, she was making a couple of babies. Why don't you pay twelve bucks and see the movie if you like a comeback?

How do you handle the fact that you are getting famous? What are the downsides to it?

Lack of anonymity. I don't know, I don't really act like I'm famous. I just do my thing. I'm not that famous, dude. [Laughs] Sometimes I get pointed out or some people shuffle up and ask for an autograph or a photograph, but I'm not at a point where I can't leave the house, thank God. I think the downsides would be losing your anonymity and not being able to trust people, to tell whether people want to be with you and get to know you because of your celebrity or because of who you are. I just try to carry the sense of integrity and authenticity I had in the beginning of my career, because I think that's what makes people interested in you in the first place. It's important not to lose that.

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Comments

  • Cindy R says:

    Thank you for this wonderful in depth interview. We have heard so many fluff questions for Alex and it's refreshing to hear some intelligent questions for a very intelligent and thoughtful man. I have been a fan from the first moment I laid eyes on him. He is a brilliant actor! It's been great to see him attain the notability he so much deserves. He is a humble and earnest human being with an old soul. Alex you are loved for who you are and your incredible talent. We love you!

  • Isis says:

    I'm not going to say Alex is a great actor. I don't know that yet. I'm not infatuated with Alex, nor am I a fan. I will say, however, I like what I've seen of him, so far. I'm watching you Alex, as so many others are. All the best.
    Thanks for the interview.

  • suzanne faith says:

    I HAVE BEEN WATCHING TV THIS MORNING AND HAVE SEEN MANY ADS FOR THE BACK UP PLAN.. ON NOT ONE OF THESE ADS HAS ALEX'S NAME EVEN BEEN MENTIONED!!! lIKE JENNIFER WAS THE ONLY ONE IN IT!! I HAVE FOLLOWED HIS CAREER FOR OVER 3 YEARS AND THIS MAN AT LEAST DESERVES HIS NAME TO BE IN THE CREDITS!! BELIEVE ME, WITHOUT HIM, THIS MOVIE WOULD NOT BE AS GOOD AS IT IS. I HAVE AT LEAST 1/2 DOZENS OF GIRLFIENDS GOING WITH ME TO SEE HIM IN THE MOVIE. AND HEARD GREAT THINGS ABOUT HAWAII FIVE 0 THIS GUY IS A KEEPER AND WON'T NEED JENNIFER, OR ANYONE ELSE TO "MAKE HIM LOOK GOOD" SUZANNE HIS FOREVER FAN

  • Jen says:

    After watching an interview where the first question Alex was asked was, "You're Australian, is that right?", I want to thank you for this in-depth look into a wonderfully talented, charming and intelligent man. These are the kinds of questions fans would ask, if given the chance.
    I've been a fan since Alex sauntered on to my television screen as Mick St. John. Since then, I've watched him in everything he's been in I could get my hands on, and continue to be impressed by Alex's level of acting skill. I wish him the best of luck in Hawaii 5-0 and I will so be at the theatre on the 23rd for BUP!

  • Cara says:

    Thank you for this fascinating and superb interview on the very talented, gorgeous, humble, charming and intelligent Hollywood's newest star and gentleman, Alex O'Loughlin. I know that Alex is the perfect romantic, humorous and charming leading man on The Back Up Plan, a soon-to-be a highly successful romantic comedy film. I am very excited and happy for Alex in his upcoming CBS Films, The Back Up Plan, and new television show on CBS!

  • Margaret says:

    I think Alex O'Loughlin is a truly talented actor and seems to be such a well grounded and thoughtful man. He is intelligent, well-spoken and is also very kind to his fans.
    I first saw him in Moonlight and it was such a wonderful series that was cancelled way too soon. I then found some of his earlier work in Australia and they also were very good. He then was in CBS' Three Rivers which unfortunately was also cancelled too soon. I think most of his fans have always known he is going to be a major star and we can't wait to see him in a variety of roles.

  • MariaMoonlight says:

    Alex is a great actor. He was awesome in Moonlight.. still miss it very much. I believe it was just a year before it's time and also got hurt by the writer's strike.
    I'm so looking forward to seeing the Back-Up Plan and Hawaii five o. This beautiful talented man needs a break.

  • linl says:

    I agree with Cindy R, it's great to have an intelligent interview with Alex. Sometimes, the interviews sound like something out of TMZ. I've actually been a fan of Alex since long before I even knew his name. Great to go back to some of those movies when they are in bit parts. It's even greater to see his career advancing like this and wonderful to know that he is still essentially the Alex we all loved before "celebrity". To those who don't know him yet, pay attention. You'll be glad you did.

  • casting couch says:

    Very good interview, thanks. I've been a fan since his brief stint on The Shield, and then Moonlight. He sounds like a genuinely nice guy, and smart.

  • Teri says:

    Thank you for such a great interview with Alex! This is one of the only interviews where you truly learn more about HIM and not just superficial stuff (like: "You're Australian right?" Uh, yes.) He seems so sweet, genuine, intelligent, funny and honest. I wish the women who have been interviewing him lately would contain themselves more...they're horrible! (Kathy Lee Gifford) They look at him like fresh meat! It's disgusting. He's more than just a pretty face. I wish him all the best.

  • FayeD says:

    Thank you for a fairly in-depth interview. All the questions were right on except for the James Bond one which he may be tired of. I agree with a number of the comments above. I fell in love with Moonlight which was canceled way too soon. Alex was also wonderful in Mary Bryant and showed how versatile he is in roles such as the Oyster Farmer, The Invisible, and August Rush. In addition to Moonlight, he was excellent in a guest spot on Criminal Minds and did a very nice job on Three Rivers - a quality show but one that needed more exploration of the doctors lives. Alex seems genuinely interested in his fans and he certainly deserves to become a celebrity. I wish him all the luck in the world with The Back-up Plan and Hawaii Five-O. Those of us who have been fans for years can say "we knew him when."
    Best wishes Alex and again thanks for a thoughtful interview.

  • Crystalized says:

    The ads didn't mention this guy because he's coming from obscurity, lol! Being completely unknown and suddenly being famous is like hitting the lottery. Not to mention having a sex scene with Jlo...

  • suzanne faith says:

    TOMORROW IS MAY FIRST...WE ARE SUPPOSED TO HEAR OUR WONDERFUL MAN ALEX IS GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT FOR HAWAII FIVE 0..HOW ABOUT GOING FOR THE GOLD AND DOING YOURSELF A FAVOR CBS AND MAKE IT AN ENTIRE SEASON!! NOW THERE'S AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT FOR YOU GUYS. HE DOESN'T DESERVE ANY MORE B.S. ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU "LOVE " HIM...JUST MAKE HIM AND HIS MANY FANS VERY VERY HAPPY AND PUT HIM ON THE SCREEN!!! LOVE SUZANNE YOUR FOREVER FAN

  • sadgirl says:

    When he was a sexy vampire he did have a huge fanbase but he is not that person anymore and most of them were only interested in Mick St John....Not too many fans left from Moonlight

  • suzanne faith says:

    Oh, get a grip "sad girl" no wonder you are sad. alex is a terrific actor and sexy in any movie or TV show you could name. They were interested in Mick st. John because of Alex's terrific portrayal of a real MAN and he played that role to the hilt. AND we loyal fans have followed him everywhere and will continuie to do so There are many many thousands of us sweetie....you are living on anohter plant if you don't know that. Suzanne Alex's Forever Fan

  • Wake Up Suzanne says:

    Thousands of fans? Sure, Alex has about 10,000 fans on his MySpace. But compare this to Nathan Fillion (Castle) who has 550,000 fans on Twitter following him. Or David Blue (Logan on Moonlight) who has 187,000 fans Twitter. So yeah, Alex's fanbase is not large, just loud.

  • suzanne faith says:

    Everybody in show biz has to come up the hard way. Even Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, George Clooney had their times in their careers that weren't great. AFter Hawaii Five O gets going....Alex won't have to worry about his "fan count" Loud? You have heard the squeaky wheel gets the grease. All in good fun. Love you Alex Your Forever FAn Suzanne

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