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Lost’s Jorge Garcia on Playing Happy Hurley

In last Tuesday’s Lost premiere, we learned that detonating a nuclear bomb in 1977 can create two alternate dimensions and baffle even viewers who’ve managed to follow the wacky science of the show’s first five seasons. To help explain further, we contacted Jorge Garcia, portrayer of Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, everyone’s favorite marooned lottery winner. He spoke with Vulture about the two timelines, his own re-watching of season one on DVD, and how Hurley became so damned happy all of a sudden.

Was the reveal of two separate timelines in the season-six premiere the biggest “Holy shit!” moment of Lost so far?
It was a big moment. The other two moments that could possibly still trump it are when you first found out that scene with Jack and Kate [to end season three] took place after they were off the island, and when you first found out Locke couldn’t walk before he crashed on the island. For me, because I’ve had a lot of time for that to sink in, [the timelines are] not as shocking as when you saw Kate and you found out they were off the island. When that got revealed to me, I drove home in silence … Just stewing on that. What does that mean now?

The big debate before this season was “Will they be back on the island?” or “Will they be back on the plane that never crashes?” Not too many people were expecting both. How soon do you find these kinds of things out?
It was less than a week before we started shooting it. I’ll give you a little taste right now: Tuesday is [shooting] day one of the fourteenth episode. I still have no script or schedule for this next episode. Usually you get two or three days. Hopefully I see one today to find out if I’m working tomorrow.

Hurley, in this new off-island version of 2004, seems like a pretty happy person. As he says, “the luckiest guy alive.”
Absolutely! The off-island stuff doesn’t pick up for Hurley until later in the season. I have good chunks in other episodes leading up to it, but the one you would definitely call “The Hurley Episode” is the twelfth episode. It’s definitely a completely different life for Hurley. Before, his monetary success all came out of bad things: He won the lottery, but people started dying around him. He would earn more money based on certain settlements or insurance claims because bad stuff would happen to the stuff he invested in. His wealth grew from horrible things happening. And this, you’ll see, it’s going to be the opposite.

It seems Jacob has taken quite an interest in Hurley.
Yeah, I like it. It’s kind of reminiscent of when Obi-Wan Kenobi would come to Luke Skywalker and just appear and give him a little bit of guidance. I’ve enjoyed shooting those things.

Hurley has almost become the voice of reason out of who’s left on the island. Jack has gone off the reservation and Sawyer is just angry. He seems more of a leader this season.
He definitely steps up a lot this season, for sure — more than ever before.

Speaking of Star Wars. In season five, Hurley — living in 1977 — tries to write the script for The Empire Strikes Back, but with, in his words, “a couple of improvements.” That movie is great! What could he have possibly changed?
Jeez. I don’t know if I’d want to touch The Empire Strikes Back. It’s definitely risen to the top of the trilogy. I loved how it ended with so much dissonance. It was the tragedy of them all. I loved it when I read that for the first time in the script. I like all the Hurley Star Wars references, they’re really fun to say. Like when Jack got Shannon to calm down so her asthma wasn’t so aggravated. Hurley was like, “Wow, that was like a Jedi moment.” All that stuff’s been awesome.

Do you ever re-watch Lost episodes?
I just finished watching the whole first season. I’m starting to go through and just remembering moments. Like when we were shooting certain scenes and being like, “Oh man, that day sucked!” or, “That day was really hard.” My girlfriend and I got to the end [of season one]; that last scene pissed off a lot of our fans. And she was like, “Oh, the reason I loved it is because you guys had already been out on DVD so I could just pop in season two,” instead of fans that had to wait to find out what exactly was inside the hole.

Though, we do like it as a week-to-week cliffhanger. It builds up the suspense throughout the week.
We’ve kind of become an event, in a way. We’ve been something to talk about on Wednesday and that’s kind of cool, knowing that in the morning everyone’s going to be talking about what happened last night on the show. This finale is probably going to be like one of those big, eventful, TV finales like I remember when I would watch TV.

Not even just the next morning — Twitter exploded last Tuesday night.
Right! I keep getting stuff from people on the East Coast, then people on the West Coast. It wasn’t airing [in Hawaii] until way later. People kept calling me up and I was like, “It just started over here, I really can’t discuss it yet.” I might sneak a peek at a scene when I’m doing looping, but I really don’t see it until it airs.

Lost’s Jorge Garcia on Playing Happy Hurley