The Stepfather (1987)
O’Quinn got his big break by playing deranged serial killer Jerry Blake in this flick.
It was the first time I had that much work to do in a film. I got a taste of thinking I was important on a set. The guy was obviously psychotic; I just thought there were opportunities to be insane and to try to act as normal as possible while being insane, and that was fun. But it didn’t really launch me in any way. It made people call me up to play more psychotics, and I didn’t want to just become that. So I stayed hungry for a good long while.
The Cutting Edge (1992)
In this blink-and-you’ll-miss-him role, O’Quinn played Moira Kelly’s overprotective father, Jack.
A lot of people mention it to me. It was a sweet little movie with D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly. I was her dad. D.B. was kind of talking about how he played hockey and he was a skater, but Moira wasn’t. By the time it was over, she was practically a full-fledged figure skater. It was amazing. D.B. was still scuffling around.
O’Quinn often played roles of authority on TV, like this one as FBI assistant director Kendall.
It began as a scene with me and Jennifer Garner. She was being severely questioned, and I was asking the questions. I think it was remarkable because we shot about 25 pages of questions and answers in one long day. We had a really good working relationship, and they wanted me to come back. Consequently, Jennifer, Victor Garber, and Michael Vartan nicknamed me Mr. Exposition because that was the role I fulfilled on the show.
He earned an Emmy for playing John Locke.
People ask me, ”Are you worried you’re going to be typecast as a John Locke type of guy?” I say he’s the perfect guy to be typecast as! He’s vulnerable and ambitious and sort of unstable. It was a good actor’s role. I developed more as an actor in the course of Lost than I had in any period in my career before, because they trusted me and allowed me to use the tools that I finally brought out. And quite honestly, it’s only been since Lost that I’ve had any sort of financial stability. The wolf is not at the door but is always in the neighborhood in this business.
Odd Jobs (2011)
Earlier this year, O’Quinn and fellow Lost alum Michael Emerson starred as two former black-ops cops in this failed NBC project.
I was actually looking to do a series after Lost. Michael and I fiddled around with one and we sort of got through the process of generating some interest in it, and we just didn’t come up with a script that everyone agreed on. Michael and I stay in touch; we still talk about that. Maybe we’ll make it happen before we get too creaky. I would love to have at least one more good experience like Lost.
Hawaii Five-0 (2011)
O’Quinn plays the recurring role of Lieut. Commander Joe White this season.
He’s an old Navy SEAL who trained Steve McGarrett and was friends with his father. McGarrett was in trouble at the end of last season, and I’ve turned up to help him. One of the great attractions of the job was being able to come back to and spend time working in Hawaii. And it’s the same crew, practically, that we had on Lost. I like the working atmosphere a lot. I like to walk on the beaches and play a lot of golf.