Cast Trivia - Michael Emerson
- He was born and raised in Iowa, and graduated from Drake University, where he studied theater and art.
- After college, he moved to New York City. He had trouble finding acting jobs for a while, so he worked in retail and freelanced as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers. Some of the publications he worked for were: Psychology Today, Business Week, Barron’s, and The New York Times. (Here’s one of his drawings - as shown on Jimmy Fallon.)
- He seriously considered giving up acting for a more steady career as a teacher.
- He has narrated a few audio-books, including one by James Patterson.
- He shares a birthday (September 7th) with Mira Furlan (Danielle Rousseau), though he is one year older.
- His first marriage ended in 1993 and he married Carrie Preston in 1998. They met in an Alabama stage production of Hamlet. He played Guildenstern and she was Ophelia.
- He starred along Uma Thurman in a 1998 off-broadway play.
- He appeared in the film The Laramie Project, which also featured Nestor Carbonell and Jeremy Davies.
- He has a great passion for classical theater, especially Shakespeare. He also has said that he loves ghost stories.
- Like many viewers, he’s said that he wonders what could have been further explored with Ben’s childhood friend Annie. Overall though, he loved Ben’s character arc and was delighted by the many surprises.
- He’s said that Ben’s immediate reaction to Alex’s death was the most challenging moment to play. His least favorite season was season 2, because Ben (as Henry Gale) was much flatter, colder and violent. He began to truly enjoy playing Ben as his sense of humor developed.
- After the finale, he said that he planned to watch the whole series over again.
- He never viewed Ben as “bad” or “evil”, but more of “a complicated anti-hero.”
- His most memorable fan encounter was a Japanese tourist couple who showed off their baby to him, and announced they named him Ben after his character. Michael found this quite odd.
- He’s called Mr. Eko one of his favorite characters. He wishes he could have worked with him more.
- He didn’t have to audition for Lost. The producers remembered his terrifying performance as a serial killer in The Practice (which won him a guest-star Emmy) and asked him to appear in two or three episodes. They knew he was “a keeper” when he said the line “You guys got any milk?” so ingeniously.
- He was closest with Terry O’Quinn on set, and often attended parties at Jorge Garcia’s house. Jorge also stayed in his L.A. home for a few days this summer.
(on Dr. Linus) “It’s not often you’re a regular on a TV show and you get to play two characters. It’s like the writers came up with your evil twin or your shipwrecked cousin.”
“I think that’s one of the reasons people pay attention to Ben. His emotional system is off. It’s sometimes inappropriate, the stuff he gets riled up about, the stuff he doesn’t care about. Americans, in general, although we think of ourselves as rough and tumble people, we are sentimental and soft-hearted, at least with our arts, and it worries us when a character is calculating, evil, cold.”
“Sometimes — and I say this only half in jest — sometimes I think I’m in a comedy, only no one knows it except me.”
“Sometimes they would shock me by making Ben more villainous than even I imagined. The massacre of the Dharma Initiative was a shock to me, and the strangling of John Locke was a shock to me, but those are great episodes too, and memorable work. So, I perform whatever they write, but sometimes you think, ‘Wow we’re really going there? OK. Here we go.’ “
“I will always love the scene where Hurley and I shared a candy bar on a log in the rain forest. That was hilarious. We still talk about it because we keep analyzing it as if it were a comic bit, and we feel like it’s missing one beat to make it truly funny.”
(on his wife appearing on Lost) “We didn’t have any scenes together because she was playing my mother, so she had to give birth to a little baby me. It was kind of strange, but it was fun to go to the set, and she’d be clocking out, and I’d be clocking in. It was so crazy to go, ‘Hello honey, how was your day?’ in the middle of this jungle.”
“I think Ben, like all humans, is eligible for the afterlife — it may just take him more time to get there.”
(on what he’ll remember most about Lost) “Landscape, camaraderie, rainbows and taking some beatings.”