Michelle Rodriguez made an appearance "Lost" last season. She returns this year as permanent member of the cast.

Hollywood ending

Michelle Rodriguez welcomes
the change of scenery as she
joins the TV hit "Lost"

It was a picture-postcard day, three years ago at Ehukai Beach, where the film "Blue Crush" was being filmed. A still photographer started to shoot stars Kate Bosworth and Sanoe Lake walking down the beach carrying surfboards.

Sunset on the Beach

Featuring: 'Lost' season premiere episode
On screen: 7:15 p.m. tomorrow
Place: Waikiki Beach
Admission: Free
Also: For celebrity-watchers, cast arrives at 5:15 p.m.
On TV: The new season of "Lost" officially debuts at 8 p.m. Sept. 21 on ABC

New mystery man

Also joining the "Lost" cast this season is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, 38, who plays an as-yet-unnamed character described by producers as "a mysterious man whose presence on the island -- and intentions -- will be revealed in one of the early episodes."

The London-born actor started his acting career with a part in Frank Marshall's "Congo," which led to appearances in "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls," "Legionnaire," the HBO movie "Deadly Voyage," the television series "Cracker" and "New York Undercover," and the miniseries "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

But Michelle Rodriguez, the third member of the star triumvirate, wasn't in the shot, so a producer asked the photographer not to shoot yet. "It might upset" Rodriguez, the producer said.

"Someone said that?" Rodriguez, 27, asks. "That's pretty nuts, but I guess I had an attitude. Well, sorry about that."

Rodriguez is back living on the North Shore while filming ABC's hit series "Lost." Rodriguez plays Ana-Lucia, who was introduced to viewers at the end of the first season. She returns this year as permanent member of the cast and will be featured in episodes three and four of the new season.

"I told these guys, the producers, that I want to be part of this world, this show in Hawaii, because Hollywood wasn't my thing at the moment," she said. "I was tired of the monotony of it all."

If you're placing bets on survival, the feisty and outspoken Rodriguez would have to be high on the list, but will that personality transfer to the Ana-Lucia character?

"I don't how long it will last because with these guys everyone is expendable," Rodriguez says. "I'm a regular until I'm not a regular."

Producer/co-creator Damon Lindelof described Ana-Lucia as "no nonsense, matter of fact, a take-charge kind of girl."

"It's the way I've been in most of my films," Rodriguez said. "I see Ana-Lucia as a good girl but willing to be a bad girl if it involves survival. She's not your martyr type."

Rodriguez's breakthrough role was an award-winning performance in the feature "Girlfight," for which she won the 2001 Independent Spirit Award for best debut performance and the 2001 National Board of Review Award for breakout performance. Additional film credits include "S.W.A.T.," "Resident Evil" and "The Fast and the Furious," plus the aforementioned "Blue Crush."

"Ah, 'Blue Crush,'" she says. "I liked doing that film, but at the time I was at a place in my life where I just wanted to party ... and I satisfied that in Honolulu. Now I'm in a place where I want peace and quiet, and I satisfy that living on the North Shore."

Rodriguez was discovered at an open casting call in New York City, one of 350 hopefuls considered for the lead role of Diana Guzman in "Girlfight." She trained as a boxer for five months preparing for her role.

Reminded that "Girlfight" director Karyn Kusama wanted a young woman who radiated the powerful, surly charisma of a young Marlon Brando, Rodriguez laughs.

"Surly? There you go again. Not so much anymore. I've been in this business six years, and now I like being at peace and happy. I've learned more about myself and to be myself."

Michelle Rodriguez is shown at far right with the cast of "Lost."

Ana-Lucia came to "Lost" last season, sharing a drink with Jack (Matthew Fox) before the two boarded the ill-fated airplane. Supposedly, she is a survivor who crash-landed on another part of the island.

Lindelof has alluded that Rodriguez's character could create a love triangle that includes Jack (Matthew Fox) and Kate (Evangeline Lily).

"That's interesting ... but honestly I haven't the slightest clue because so far this season Jack and Ana-Lucia haven't met," she said. "Here's what I think: The guys want to see how our chemistry will evolve because maybe there'll be more chemistry with other characters."

Born in Bell County, Texas, Rodriguez, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, moved a lot during her childhood, living in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and New Jersey. Now she's in another distant location, thousands of miles from her Los Angeles home.

"If you're in between the A and B films and the work had narrowed down like 30 or 40 percent, well, it's not the same as three years ago when I had lots of movies thrown at me," she said. "In the process of things slowing down, you get stuck with a kind of monotonous, corny plague of scripts, and I go so fed up with it and needed something else."

Rodriguez spent a weekend watching the "Lost" first season on DVD before meeting with producers. "I like that the show focuses on Earth's unsolved and undiscovered mysteries," she says.

There have been some surprises working on "Lost," she says.

"I am so used to being pampered -- like being picked up, someone coming to my house, knocking on my door, waking me up," Rodriguez said. "Here, they tell you to make sure you have a computer so they can e-mail you about changes and be on time."

She admits the self-discipline is something she needed. "I'm here and I'm ready, and I will be 10 minutes early," Rodriguez said.

So far, being the new kid has gone smoothly. "I'm pretty much like the girl up for adoption; I want to be accepted," she said. "The cast has done a great job, and they know it and I'm definitely the outsider.

"But I'm like a gypsy, always ready to pack."

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