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Monday, January 24, 2005
"My back story is still being put together, and even when I find out what it is, I can't tell anyone," Garcia says. "What's so cool is that audiences have gotten to know what I am on the island, so they may be more understanding when they find out what I was back home."
Is his history dark?
"I hope so," Garcia says. "Hurley is so always the good guy, and I hope along the way something happens where there's something he's been hiding."
Garcia said viewers will learn more about him in the 18th episode, to air next month. The producers have clued him in on the major event in his past, but he won't give it up.
One line of Hurley's -- "I'm known as something of a warrior myself" -- has fueled speculation on the Internet that the character could be anything from an undercover spy to a Dungeons and Dragons player.
"I didn't realize anything important about the warrior comment until I read all the attention it was on the Internet," he said. "So it got me thinking, well ..."
Garcia does offer one hint, secondhand, on another "Lost" mystery, the beast: One of the characters, Locke, played by Terry O'Quinn, has seen the monster. The cast watched that episode at O'Quinn's Pupukea home.
"So we're all asking, 'Terry, what did they tell you it was supposed to be?' " Garcia says.
"They told him, 'What I was looking at was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.' "
Garcia grew up in the heart of Southern California. He recalls seeing photos of himself in grade school, and "it definitely looks like I wanted attention."
He acted in school plays, then enrolled in UCLA as a communications major to get a degree "and appease my parent's worries," he says. Then he attended a lecture by Dustin Hoffman, who told an anecdote about Sir Lawrence Olivier, in which he asked the actor if he felt like returning to the craft.
"I don't have it anymore," Olivier said.
Hoffman asked, "What is this 'it' thing everyone talks about?"
"It," Olivier says, "is 'look at me, look at me, look at me.'"
"Well," Garcia says, laughing, "that was pretty much me."
He worked for nearly six years at Borders Books & Records in West Los Angeles while pursuing an acting career and did a few commercials.
"I would have to take these long lunches, like two hours, to go to auditions," he said. "I kept pushing that line, and they started busting me on it."
Fortunately, Garcia had a sympathetic supervisor -- a wannabe musician -- who had his own dreams.
Eventually, Garcia was cast to shoot a pilot. Then came a six-year run on "Becker" and Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
He auditioned for "Lost" before the Hurley character even existed. "I read pages for the Sawyer role," he said. "I think I was the first one cast."
Garcia knew he wanted whatever role it was.
"Hey, it was J.J. Abrams and filming in Hawaii," he says. "That pretty much sealed the deal for me."
Garcia enjoys learning in stages about each character. "J.J. and Damon like to explore the relationships between the characters stuck on this island," he says. 'It's like all of us who didn't know one another before and are in this sorta lab, and the writers observe us. Maybe we're an experiment."
Living in Kailua, where several of the actors reside, has kept their notoriety low, though they still get recognized.
"I walked into a store yesterday, and this woman yelled, 'Hey, Hurley!' then ran over to give me a hug," he says.
"It's a bit romantic to go somewhere and do something well and have fun and not be distracted with other stuff.
"All I gotta do is ... play my little songs on the piano and just concentrate on that."
When Garcia leaves the restaurant, another fan -- this one in his 60s -- stops to shake Garcia's hand and tell him how much he enjoys "Lost." When he sees the actor's well-used car, he asks, "You drive that?"
"It's a great car, and no one ever thinks of breaking into it," Garcia says.
"Sometimes when I'm driving, I pull to the side of the road and look at the scenery and think about where I was a few years ago and where I am now," he says. "I think about the quality of 'Lost,' my part, the great cast, and I always smile. I say to myself, I've done what's referred to as making it."