WARNING: The following article contains major details about the Lost season 3 finale. If you have not yet seen it, read at your own risk.
Guess Desmond was right: The dude from Drive Shaft did get the shaft after all. In Lost‘s gripping season 3 finale, Dominic Monaghan’s Charlie wound up sleeping with the fishes, literally, but not before he heroically aided his fellow castaways in their never-ending attempt to get off that freakin’ island. In last week’s EW, Monaghan hinted that his initial reaction to the resolution of the ”you’re gonna die, Chahlie!” storyline was ”relief.” In truth, it was a bit more complex, as you’ll find out below. We asked Monaghan to take us behind the scenes of his last moments on Lost, and reflect back on that long, strange tropical trip.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long have you known about Charlie’s death, and what was your reaction to that plot twist?
DOMINIC MONAGHAN: By the time they got around to actually telling me — which was four months after I knew about the storyline we were exploring — it was probably one of relief more than anything else. I just wanted to know what was going to happen, and set up on an open line of communication. So my initial feeling was one of relief. And then there was a lot of excitement along with that, and then there’s a lot of sadness. I mean, you’re leaving things that you love. But my overriding feeling was one of relief.
What was it like to film those final scenes?
I turned up on Friday [May 4], thinking it was going to be my last day at work, and it just didn’t work out. The stunts were not quite there yet, in terms of how I was going to drown, so we wrapped at 11 o’clock, and I ended up having a mini-wrap party, just for the hell of it, with the crew. I stayed at the studio til about 4 in the morning playing dice and I won about $700, which was fun. I’m sure that left a good taste in their mouths. [Laughs] And then I got up the next day and went surfing. I came into work midday and we filmed. I was in neck-deep water from about 1 in the afternoon til about 7:30 at night. No lunch. No breaks. This water was fraught with techincal difficulties, but once the water was deep enough that I could submerge myself, we did the scene. I didn’t really think too much about it being the end; I just wanted to get it done because I had to leave the next day. I only took a breath once I finished and went home and continued to pack. I was pretty exhausted.
So you didn’t give in to the emotion of the moment?
I did the day before. Jack Bender, one of the producers, presented me with a paddle that had been made by the crew and the cast, and said a little speech about working with me on the show. He said some beautiful things and gave me the microphone, and I had a really hard time trying to get out exactly what I wanted to say without my voice faltering. That was probably the most emotional thing. And then I had to keep my head down and get on with business, you know?
What was the toughest part of shooting the drowning sequence?
The cold. If you’re in water for a couple hours, your body temperature starts to sink down — especially when you’re completely submerged in water — and I would spend long periods of time in the water. My teeth were chattering and my voice was faltering in places.
Do you think drowning was a good way for Charlie to die? Or would you have preferred another way?
I thought it was quite beautiful. At the end of [last week’s] episode, I come out of the ocean into this moon pool thinking it’s going to be flooded and I’m actually reborn again. And that really dictates Charlie’s overall behavior in the finale. He now thinks that he has a second chance at life and he has nothing to lose. Moments before he realizes his fate, he actually thinks he’s going to get out of it. He manages to flip the switch and turn the light off so the transmissions can be heard on the island, and the last thing that he says is, ”So much for fate.” He thinks he has beaten fate, and then the wheels come into motion and fate, as usual, wins the day. Once Charlie realizes that that’s the case, he totally makes his peace with it. He’s not scared. He’s not panicked. He knows it’s supposed to happen. He has to get a message across to Desmond before he dies, which he does, and then in the way that you can be okay with drowning, Charlie was.
Is this plot twist good for the show?
That’s a tough one for me to answer. It’s as simple as throwing the question back to you. Do I feel by leaving the show that the show will be better? That’s not going to be an easy place for me to take my head. I think we should let the viewers decide that if it’s good for the show. And also the producers.
Any desire to come back, be it in flashback or in some other trippy form?
That’s not really a question for me. That would be a question for [exec producer] Damon [Lindelof]. I don’t have that luxury of hindsight. If he would say hypothetically, ”Okay, Charlie’s going to go, but halfway through season 4, we’re going to bring him back in a flashback that is awe-inspiring,” I would be all ears. But if that’s not part of his master plan, I wouldn’t want to put him under that type of pressure.
How are you feeling about leaving the show?
It’s a big cast and you don’t work as much as you would like. You get bored, you get frustrated, you get lazy, and your work suffers. And there are other things out there. You can’t afford to get too sentimental about anything. It’s a job. It happens to be a great job in a great part of the world, but there are great jobs out there. There are projects out there in 2008 that if I were to be working on Lost I would go, ”F—, I know that project’s going on and I can’t do it.” Or you might not be working on Lost and you can go, ”Cool, it’s February, let’s go do that project.” I am young and healthy and fit and capable. I’m in an industry that is busy and I’m just excited to be free.
Like several other original cast members, you weren’t getting a lot of screen time earlier this season. What were some of the concerns that you discussed with the producers?
I’ve always tried to appeal to the writers that I thought [Charlie] was an incredibly capable character even though he had all these issues, and he wanted to contribute in the same way that Locke was doing, and the same way that Sawyer was doing. I didn’t want [Charlie] to necessarily be stuck on the beach taking care of the baby — who I love; one of my favorite days on Lost is working with the baby — but I didn’t want him to be Surrogate Dad. Charlie was the first guy to kill an Other. He was the first guy to step up and go, ”F— you guys. If you’re gonna mess with us, we’re gonna mess with you.” And I thought, ”I don’t want to see this character become neutered. I want him to step up in his life.” I was always saying to Damon, ”My dream for Charlie was for him to go off on his own into the jungle and go renegade — steal off into the jungle with a gun and learn about life himself…” Not only that, but find a surfboard. This is a flight from Sydney to L.A., so there’s going to be at least three or four surfboards on the plane. Why doesn’t Charlie find a surfboard and learn to surf on the island? They never went for it. [Smiles]
What will you miss most about Lost?
Probably the lifestyle. It’s pretty fantastic to not be living in a metropolis. To wake up on a weekend and go for a run and swim in the sea and surf and eat sashimi and drink a mai tai at sunset — I’m acutely aware of how lucky I’ve been. And making friends here on the island. I’ve made friends with Kalani Robb, a surfer on the North Shore, who’s kind of been my tutor. He’s been really great fun to hang out with. Those things I’ll miss. The great thing is, [Charlie’s death] makes it very simple now, because in coming back and seeing people, I’m only coming back for a social occasion. I won’t be forced to work. I’ll come back and go for dinner and hang out and surf and watch the sun.
And what will you miss least?
Driving to the North Shore at 4 in the morning. I live the farthest point away — the North Shore is basically the northwest coast and I live on the southeast coast. It’s like an hour drive every morning. If you have to be there at 4:15, you’re up at 2:45, and your body never gets used to that.
What was your favorite scene to shoot during your three seasons?
The sequence in season 2 where Charlie’s reading Claire’s diary. He knows that it’s wrong so he keeps putting it down, and then picking it up again, and putting it down, and picking it up again. Jack Bender and I were joking around with each other and I said, ”I’m going to try to do my Peter Sellers scene right now.” I just tried to make it as Peter Sellers-esque as possible, bordering on the point of being ridiculous. And as I was doing it, I could hear Jack in the other room, laughing his head off. That just made me feel great.
Any last words?
I had this dream not so long ago. And in the dream Charlie was off the island. He survived the whole ordeal and he was with his old band. And they were going, ”F—, man, we didn’t know where you were!” And they sat around the table and he told them the whole story, and they were like, ”What? You got hung from a tree? And you killed a guy? And you got chased by a polar bear?!?” They were laughing and joking about it — kind of like that English sensibility: ”F—ing A, you killed a guy?!?” And at the end of it Charlie said something like, ”After all that crap that happened, it was fun. It was the adventure of my life.” And later on, I thought, ”That’s interesting, because maybe that wasn’t Charlie — maybe that was me thinking about when all this ends: Hell, I was hung from a tree, I was beaten up, I nearly drowned, I got chased by a polar bear. But it was a great adventure, and that’s all you can ask for not only in work, but in life.”
NEXT PAGE: The producers on the big Charlie decision