Moonlight's Alex O'Loughlin talks guest spots, TV pilots, and vampire smackdowns
by Mike Moody, posted Apr 28th 2009 11:00AM
Moonlight is history, but Alex O'Loughlin is still in demand. The actor, who garnered a huge fan base playing Moonlight's good guy vampire Mick St. John, returns to TV this week. O'Loughlin will guest star as a conflicted serial killer on CBS's Criminal Minds on Wednesday.
For O'Loughlin fans, the guest appearance is only a tease. What they really want to see is their favorite Aussie actor starring in a new weekly series. They might get their wish if CBS picks up Three Rivers, a drama pilot starring O'Loughlin as an organ transplant surgeon.
I got a chance to speak with O'Loughlin this week. We chatted about his new projects, his love for the vampire genre, and how Mick St. John could totally kick Kate Beckinsale's ass. Click through for the conversation, plus preview images and video from the actor's appearance on Criminal Minds.
Moonlight got the axe, but you've landed a high-profile guest spot on CBS's Criminal Minds and you're starring in a new pilot for the network, Three Rivers. How does it feel to be so in demand at a major network?
It feels good, Mike. It feels good. I mean, as an artist, you spend a lot of your life maybe not working and training, reading and really trying to further yourself. And the reality is a lot of us never really get to make a living at it. So it brings me great joy to be in demand. It's a lovely feeling. I've worked hard for a long time to be able to choose what I want to do ... It's a lovely feeling.
You play a serial killer who's possibly seeking redemption in Criminal Minds. Can you draw any parallels from that character to Mick St. John from Moonlight, or is this something completely different?
It's definitely different, which is what drew me to the part. With Mick St John, the only thing the two have in common is that they are both in control of what they're doing, but Mick was more in control than this guy. This character has a crippling case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which now runs his entire life. He's had to stop working to maintain his anxiety, and it takes him all day and every moment to control it. And the killing is part of that as well. It's a form of control for him, and yes, he is seeking redemption.
Did you study the effects of obsessive-compulsive disorder before taking on this role?
Yeah, I actually had it. I think a lot of us have a certain degree of it, I know I do, but I'm not crippled by it. When I was a young boy in elementary school I was quite a blatant example of a child with OCD, and I remember how it used to make me feel and how difficult it was. I also did a lot of reading and I studied the effects of OCD on children and how it continues from childhood to adulthood if left untreated.
Let's talk about Three Rivers, the CBS pilot you're starring in. The character you play is based on a remarkable real-life surgeon, Dr. Gonzalo Gonzales-Stawinski. What was it like getting to know the doctor and playing a character based on him?
Well, I don't get star struck by many people, but I'm completely star struck by this guy. I love this guy so much. He's become such a great friend of mine. He's a rock star, he's a hero, and he's so cool. I spent many hours shoulder to shoulder with him in the operating room, and I've never met anyone like him before. I've really been affected by him. He's a great source of inspiration to many people. He gives life to people, and he's a wonderful, funny guy and really enjoyable to be around.
Three Rivers can be called a "show about doctors," but it seems to be more than that. What's unique about this project?
It's not a show about doctors, it's about transplant surgery, and it's called Three Rivers because it takes place where the Allegheny River and Monongahela River meet with the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. And it's also called Three Rivers because it's about three perspectives of transplant surgery: the recipient, the donor and the surgical team. That's what unique about it.
Do you think it will appeal to Moonlight fans?
I think it's going to appeal to a lot of people. It's a different genre. I love the vampire genre, though. I always have. Actually, I want to recommend a film, Let the Right One In ... It's directed by Tomas Alfredson.
I've seen it. It's great.
You've seen it?
Yeah, I liked it.
Oh, it's f*ckin' brilliant. Yeah, I'm a huge vampire fan, but (Three Rivers) is a different show, and I love it. It's really smart, it's grown-up, it's clever, it's funny and sensitive, it's got everything.
You've been involved with a few causes, like the American Red Cross, that seem to stem from the roles you take on. What are your hopes or goals for Three Rivers, not on an entertainment level, but on a social or awareness level?
My hope is to become involved with Donate Life America or an equally large non-profit organization to educate about organ donation. I want to be in a position where we can leverage the philanthropical aspects of what we do with TV spots, PSA's and campaigns.
You have a few big movies coming up, including White Out with Kate Beckinsale, who was in the Underworld films. Did you two trade vampire stories on the set?
A little bit, yeah. It was more like, "Who was the better vampire?" I was the better vampire! No, I was the better vampire! No, I'm a boy, I was better and I'm stronger than you!" (Laughs) We went back and forth, and I think she finally said, "You're an idiot" and walked away. But the bottom line is Mick St. John would kill what's her name, I don't even remember her name, from the (Underworld) movie! Mick St. John would kill her!
So you're obviously a big fan of the vampire genre. Is there any chance you'll return to genre television or maybe do a genre film anytime soon?
Sure, why not genre film? Why don't we do a big film? I'd love to do more genre work. I don't know about anytime soon, but it's not out of the question for me.
Audiences really responded to your onscreen relationship with Sophia Myles on Moonlight. Any chance you might work with her again?
Yeah, maybe. There's nothing set up, but she's a friend, and you never know. It's a small world and we have a scarcely small acting fraternity, so I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. She's great.
We look forward to seeing you on Criminal Minds next week. Anything you want to say to your fans about the show?
Tune in. Come on! Show up! It's a good episode. I think you'll like it.
Official episode description:
Criminal Minds -- "The Big Wheel" -- Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) guest stars as a serial killer who sends a videotape of one of his crimes to the BAU team in an effort to stop his own crime spree, on CRIMINAL MINDS, Wednesday, April 29 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT on the CBS Television Network)/