We had the pleasure of talking with Nestor Carbonell from ABC’s Lost at the 2009 Comic Con. Nestor talked with us about the upcoming season, his character’s backstory, and the evolution of his character. Here’s what was said:
You started off as a character that was not seen very much in the show. How did you approach that evolution into such a powerful character?
Nestor Carbonell: Well thank you. I started out as a guest star, not unlike Michael Emerson did on the show. My first episode was as a recruiter to get Juliet to come to The Island. I ended up killing her ex-husband who was stopping her from leaving The Island. When I read the material, I thought it’d be interesting if I didn’t play him; I’ve got to convince her. I can’t tip her off that I’ve got some other ideas. I’ve got to be genuine and honest and kind, and probably have a good reason for killing her ex-husband. That was always my mantra, don’t play the villain. Play him as a human being. To this day, I don’t really know if he’s good or evil. Just when I think I’ve figured out the character, I open up another script and think, “Oh my God, now I’m completely thrown.” For me, it’s to always try and find another dimension to the role.
Since they contracted you for two or three years of the remaining in the series, how integral are you to the homestretch?
Nestor Carbonell: You know it remains to be to be seen. I was shooting a scene in the last season, and it was right before the finale. It was a scene where Terry O’Quinn comes to The Island, returns after being lost for three years. I did the scene, and the director says, “OK, great, now do another take and be a little more suspicious about his return.” I go, “Alright.” So I played the scene a little more suspicious, and he said, “OK, great let’s move on.” The next week I open up and script and I discover why I was suspicious. They don’t tell me anything. Not even on the day. So I have to justify it on my own.
With the time travel aspect, the past and present, as an actor do you see yourself as the same person?
Nestor Carbonell: It’s a really good question, because at one point I was flashed back with long hair. I call it the Jesus wig. That discussion came up again later, am I going to wear the wig when we go to the 70’s again, am I not going to wear the wig? They decided not to. I think they just wanted to impress upon the viewers that I don’t change physically. Do I grow in wisdom? I think so, but I still don’t know how old he is. If he’s several hundred years old, maybe his process of aging is so much slower. He’s essentially the same person within the thirty years that we’ve seen him.
There’s been speculation.. Is he immortal, can he live forever? Do you think that it is a good thing or a bad thing to be able to live forever?
Nestor Carbonell: Would it be a blessing? It’s a mixed bag. You get to see everything supposedly, but you don’t know when the end is coming because there is no end. I don’t know if I would want to be immortal, but certainly living a longer life seeing as much as you can. It’s almost like the show itself. I want it to go on, but I also want to see the result. You want some answers and you want resolution.
How do you feel not only being a character, but a part of all these questions that make Lost what it is?
Nestor Carbonell: It’s a thrill. Like I said, I started out as a guest. I never knew my part was going to grow beyond what it did. When I was told, “OK, you’re going to be on The Island now.” I go, “Really? In what capacity; in what way?” When I was handed the episode where I didn’t age at all, I go, “That has to be answered at some point.” To be part of one of the properties of The Island, in a sense, or either The Island has had an effect on me either through Jacob or the magic qualities of The Island. It’s great, it’s a thrill. It’s a weird thing as an actor to play because I want to be human, but in the same token, you can’t deny that there’s something super human or otherly about this character.
How much do you know about your back story?
Nestor Carbonell: I know, I think, as much as you guys know. That I’ve been around a number of years, I don’t have number on that. That I don’t seem to change much, and that I wear eye liner permanently.