Gazette, The (Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA)
October 4, 2006
As the mysterious Henry Gale, Michael Emerson of Toledo has managed to creep out many viewers of the hit TV show "Lost." Fortunately, his mother isn't one of them.
"People say, `He scares me,' " Carol Emerson, 72, of Grinnell, said Monday. "But he plays such an opposite personality from what he really is."
A Cedar Rapids-born actor who graduated from Drake University in 1976, Emerson, 52, was originally brought on board "Lost" for three episodes last season. His role was expanded dramatically, however, after he made a huge impression with producers and viewers alike.
His character, who originally claimed to be a crash survivor, turned out to be the leader of The Others - a group that's been abducting characters on the show since its beginning.
As a result, Emerson was made a series regular on "Lost," which kicks off its third season tonight.
Emerson has found success playing the bad guy in the past. He's appeared on "Law & Order" and in the horror movie "Saw," and earned an Emmy for his portrayal of serial killer William Hinks on "The Practice."
"I never dreamed I would play so many dark roles," Emerson said by phone last week from Hawaii, where "Lost" is filmed. "I was always the funny guy onstage. Doing these roles that are so serious, I'm not sure how I got here."
Nor is he sure how long he'll be staying. Last year, Emerson saw his scripts only 48 hours in advance, so he had no idea about Henry Gale's plot twist until it happened. This year it's more of the same.
"The third season is highly dramatic," he said. "So it's not hard to imagine anyone getting killed at any moment."
There are still a few teasers Emerson can throw out. He says much of the third season focuses on The Others, who up until now have existed as villains in the shadows.
Also, Henry Gale is seeing a lot more action. The character spent most of last season imprisoned by the castaways; this year, Emerson already has filmed a fight sequence in the forest and a windy sequence atop a high cliff.
"I discovered I'm not as good with heights as I thought," he said.
Henry Gale isn't even Henry Gale. It was revealed last season that Gale actually was using the name of another man, whose body was later found buried on the island.
So what's Gale going by now? Emerson won't say.
"It's a plot point," he said.
Emerson hasn't yet had a chance to talk about Iowa with Evangeline Lilly, whose character, Kate, supposedly hails from the state (and has returned there in flashbacks).
"I spend less time with the other actors than you might think," Emerson said.
Instead, Emerson keeps in touch by phone with his wife, actress Carrie Preston, and his parents, Carol and Ron Emerson, back in Grinnell.
"He wanted to know what the weather was like here, and I said, `It really looks like fall,' " Carol Emerson said. "He said, `I wish I was there.' I said, `You're in Hawaii!' He said, `Yeah, but paradise gets boring after a while.' He's a Midwesterner at heart."
Michael Emerson said he misses the Midwest, as well as his home in Manhattan, but he also knows he's landed what may turn out to be the role of his career.
"Sometimes I don't appreciate the place I've gotten to until I've been there for a while," he said, "but sometimes I sit back and I say, `Wow. This is an extraordinary job.' "
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--The season premiere of "Lost" airs at 8 p.m. today on ABC.
Michael Emerson, who was born in Cedar Rapids, becomes a series regular on "Lost" tonight. // Carol Emerson, Actor's mother lives in Grinnell
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