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Since the writer's strike resolved before the end of the 2007-2008 TV season, Matthew Fox is going back to work on Lost. The show had completed eight episodes before the writers started picketing. Had episode eight been the season finale, it might have been a logical cliffhanger for the year, but Fox is glad to get five more chances to delve further into the story. "I think it would work as a finale, but I think obviously it wasn't done in the ideal conditions," Fox told Dish. "It was really the last episode because we were shut down."

This year, Lost has begun telling flash forwards instead of flashbacks, showing what happens to the characters after they return from the island. This has satisfied a lot of fan speculation and intrigue.

"I think what the show did in its premiere, and with the kind of reviews that it got, people definitely were wanting to see new episodes of Lost. I think the story's really got a lot of momentum right now."

As Dr. Jack Shephard, Fox's character is leading a group of airplane crash survivors towards what he hopes is a rescue. Other factions on the island have split off, suspicious of their would-be saviors. Even if he were not playing a leading role, this is the kind of story that Fox says he would watch obsessively.

"I absolutely would watch it if I weren't on it. I think it's, in my opinion, one of the best things on television. Number one, I don't think it has a cultural identity, so I think it translates around the world really well, because it feels not like a show that's an American show or any other. I think it's dealing with philosophical themes that are about all of us. What is the true nature of man? Do we tend towards compassion or self preservation when the chips are down? And I think on a really simple fundamental level, when you watch an episode of Lost, you cannot wait to find out what's going to happen next."

It also provides some swank living arrangements. The show films on Hawaii for both the island scenes, and flashback/flash forward scenes representing different parts of the world. Still, after four years, it's just another home.

"It's amazing how quickly you can lose perspective. I've been living in Hawaii for three and a half years now, so Hawaii's not really paradise anymore. Throwing snowballs on a mountaintop is now paradise. So yes, I enjoy getting off the island. It's a beautiful place and I love it and my kids are very happy there. I think it's been a very good place for us to be for the past three years. I was excited to find a way of getting out of Los Angeles for a while. So it's been a very welcome change for my family, but I don't think it's a place we're going to stay after Lost is finished."

At least Hawaii shields him from some of the prying lenses of the paparazzi, who might clamor for shots of a TV star were he living in the Mecca of actors and pop stars. "I think being in Hawaii is beneficial to me in that respect. I really don't want to get the whole paparazzi thing in my daily life, or photographs of my kids and that type of thing, which happens, but it's very rare. I think if I was living in Los Angeles it'd be more difficult for me. So yes, Hawaii's been good in that respect. There are not a lot of paparazzi that want to do the 2500 mile trek into the South Pacific to get a picture of me walking on the beach."

Lost has also afforded Fox the opportunity to start a movie career. Though he was on the popular drama Party of Five for five seasons, he never jumped into feature films during the '90s. By Lost's fourth season, Fox had already shot three major movies: We Are Marshall, Vantage Point and this summer's Speed Racer.

"I've definitely gotten better opportunities, or opportunities that I wanted to be a part of from the Lost experience than I did on Party of Five. There were opportunities during that time of my life but I also didn't feel ready to take that on. I look back on the six years I did on Party of Five as kind of a graduate school for me. I had a lot to learn and I had a lot to figure out about how to act in film and I wanted to focus on that. I also always had a feeling that for me, it's a marathon, not a sprint. That's the way I always approach this business and I always felt that I needed to get a little bit of life under my belt. I felt that things would start to happen for me later, when I was starting to get into a place where I was playing men, not young men. Then came Lost and then I suddenly started getting opportunities that I was really attracted to and getting an opportunity to work with directors that I'm very excited to work with, so it's been incredibly rewarding. It's been a crazy couple of years but it's been good."

Vantage Point casts Fox as a secret service agent during a presidential assassination attempt shown from eight different points of view. That meant Fox had to perform the scene from eight different points of view, never dropping any hints about the twists that would be revealed at the end.

"You do want to do that but you have to be careful. That was the real fun thing for [Director] Pete Travis and I to do together. I loved working with him and he's a real actor's director in that he gets right in there with you. He's thinking about the character from the point of view of the character. We really tried to orchestrate and massage those little opportunities that we had that in the rewind, in the sort of review, either visually or in your mind, to go, 'Oh, I should have seen that the first time.' But you can push that too far."

Fox needed only to turn to his co-stars for inspiration. With Dennis Quaid playing another secret service agent, Forest Whitaker playing a tourist and William Hurt playing the president himself, there were many examples of professionals who could repeat their performance identically take after take.

"I was just very happy to be working in the same movie as all three of them. I’m a huge fan and I respect their work a great deal. William Hurt I'm a huge fan of. One of the first movies I remember seeing and it really affected me, was Body Heat. I was probably 16, I guess, and man, that was a hot movie. I just love that movie, noir-ish, femme fatale, it was cool. In Vantage Point I remember watching William get shot on that podium and I was so impressed, it didn't matter what perspective we were in and how far away that action was happening from what the perspective that Pete Travis was focusing on, William Hurt’s every single take was so there. He was so there. That's a professionalism that I respect a great deal."

As of this interview, Fox did not even know how the eight different sequences played together. He has a personal tradition that required him to wait. "I have yet to see the film. I'm going to see it tonight. I always have a rule to see these projects with my wife for the first time. It's a team effort for us. We've got two children, so I'm looking forward to seeing it. The response has been very positive."

Fox's wife, Margherita Ronchi, is not an industry insider, so he trusts her to keep him grounded. "It's very, very important to me. Margarita doesn’t have any [Hollywood connection.] She's never acted or written or anything but she has an incredibly strong instinct for what is true and what is real and what has a voice that's good. So we read scripts and I value her opinion a lot."

They also value their own relationship, understanding that it is vital to maintain their marriage in order to remain good parents. "We've always felt it was very important. We're very consumed with being parents and our children are everything. We spent 10 years together before we brought these other people into the house, so you've got to make sure that you take the time to check back into that core relationship. I think the more you maintain that, the better energy you can give to the kids in the long run anyway."

With Valentine's Day recently passed, Fox completed a lengthy run of demonstrating his affection via material gifts. "This was a tough string of things for me. You've got Christmas and my wife's birthday and then I had Valentine's Day. Every year I get to this place and it's like three major gifts that I've got to come up with. So yeah, she's amazing. She's fun to get things for."

From the Wachowski Brothers, their first directing gig since The Matrix trilogy, Speed Racer is sure to be a blockbuster and elevate Fox to another career level. He is not thinking that far ahead though.

"I never do any of these projects as a means to an end. I fall in love with the idea of being a part of them on an individual basis. I can tell you I am incredibly excited about Speed Racer. I spent three and a half months in Berlin working with the Wachowskis and a cast that was like a family, because we're playing a family. It was an extraordinarily amazing experience for me. I really, really loved it. The movie is going to be just fantastic."

Shot on green screen with post production turning old Japanese style animation into a live-action modern marvel. Fox was witnessing filmmaking the likes of which he has never seen.

"They love the original source material. They grew up on it and they were huge fans, so there will be much homage paid to that. There are many, many things that will be in the movie but then, they're also creating an entire new world that only exists in the world of Speed Racer. It's unbelievable what it's going to look like and how it's going to transition, how it's edited. I mean, traditional editing is pretty much just completely blown away here. It's a whole new movement, transition."

However, one person who Fox is most excited to have see it is his six-year-old son. "My little boy, literally every day asks me when this movie's coming out. I showed him the trailer and he asked me to play it over and over again until I just had to say, 'I'm not going to play it again.' He would've asked me to play it 50 times. He came to the set in Berlin and saw me in the Racer X and he turned to my wife and he goes, 'I want to be Racer X for Halloween next year.'"

Vantage Point is now playing. Lost airs Thursdays on ABC. Speed Racer hits theaters in May.
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 78 - September 2017
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