The Verge: Alex O'Loughlin
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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