INTERVIEW: Dominic Monaghan Talks Lost, Lord Of The Rings & FlashForward

In an exclusive interview for SFX.co.uk Dominic Monaghan talks about tattoos, who he’d play if he were a woman and bulking up

Where are you at the moment?

“I’m in LA.”

You lucky thing. It’s pissing down with rain here in London.

“Just to make you feel jealous, it’s 10am and it’s about 80 degrees.”

We hate you. Not a good way to start an interview... Anyway, let’s talk FlashForward . What attracted you to the show?

“It’s interesting talking about a show that’s not happening any more...”

It’s such a shame it was cancelled!

“It was a bummer! I just thought it was really well-written, and I always want to try and do the exact opposite from what I’ve previously done. I played a very sweet, cuddly, nice character in Lost ; he was very much a sympathetic character. I wanted to play a character who wasn’t sympathetic. Not an easy character for an audience to like.”

How much did you know about Simon Campos when you took the role?

“We were working from week to week but they had to pitch me the idea for Simon before I signed on. Essentially the creators, David Goyer and Jessika Borsiczky, said, ‘What do you want to do next?’ And I said I wanted to play a character very much different from the last character that I played. We just wrote out the things that I wanted to do. I met them a week later and they gave me their pitch for Simon: ‘We want him to be mysterious and not easy to like and have a lot of his own crap going on.’ And once someone starts to customise a role for you, it’s very difficult to say no! It’s a great privilege.”

You seem to work all over the world, from New Zealand to Hawaii. How was it filming in LA?

“It was the first time I’ve ever worked from home in my life! It’s the first time I’d left the house with a key and come back with the same key and slept in my own bed and hung out with my animals and stuff. So yeah, that was a unique experience! But playing Simon was kind of dark – he’s not the most friendly guy in the world, so I was quite isolated. I learnt to do the Rubik’s cube while I was doing FlashForward as I spent most of my time doing that, and crosswords and Sudoku and stuff. Trying to stay in my head as much as possible! It wasn’t the easiest shoot in the world but I kind of set it up that way on purpose.”

That sounds pretty Method...

“Method is taking something home with you. I didn’t tend to take something home with me because he was a little too dark. But certainly on set I tried to be as much like Simon as possible.”

Sounds like you were a bit isolated, as you said. Do you have any good memories of working on the show?

“Yeah, learning the Rubik’s cube was pretty rad! And I got on really well with John Cho, Christine Woods and Michael Ealy – they were cool people. And just playing someone so dark... It doesn’t sound that nice, but I really liked doing the scene where I strangled a guy to death. That was really fun for me; I went somewhere a little different and enjoyed the final result. He’s just a sinister guy! Meeting people on the street and getting that reaction: ‘Whoa, you’re a bit crazy! You’re a bit nasty!’ That’s something new. It was all kind of unique.”

Must make a change from “Hey, show us your feet!” after The Lord of the Rings .

“Or, ‘You’re a lot taller than I thought you were.’”

You were on LA Ink the other day having a very interesting tattoo – Yoda’s quote, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” Why did you get that done?

“I became an actor because of the Star Wars world and it’s still a film that I watch often. I think that Yoda’s a really strong, incredible, bolstering character in that franchise because he reminds you of what’s important and significant, and what really matters, you know? I got an opportunity to hang out with Kat [Von D] and really liked her and I’d been thinking about this tattoo for a long time. I believe in that statement – I believe in most of the things that Yoda says – and I wanted to be reminded of what it was that started me off on this journey.”

So did you empathise with Han Solo or Luke Skywalker the most when you were growing up?

“Well, I don’t think I was more like Han Solo, I think I was probably more like one of the Stormtroopers who got killed early on in the film! But I did like Han more than Luke. I found Luke to be a little bit vanilla – he was a bit of a pushover and I wasn’t crazy about his hair. I’m a bit of a hair freak. And I thought his outfits were a bit namby pamby. But Han was cool. He got Princess Leia, you know? And Princess Leia was my first crush.”

It sounds like you love your sci-fi and you’ve appeared in everything from Rings to Wolverine – is it something that’s a huge part of your life? Are you proud to be a geek?

“Yeah, I have a geeky element! I’m a big animal fan, specifically a big reptile and insect fan; I have snakes, spiders, a praying mantis, scorpions... so that’s kind of a geeky thing. And I geek out on things like shoes and a lot of SF movies. My favourite movie last year was a Sam Rockwell movie called Moon . The whole sci-fi world is something that I’m into. I collect a lot of Star Wars memorabilia and Beatles memorabilia. I call myself a geek. I think a geek is someone with specific interests who’s keen to learn about things.”

Do you like Doctor Who ?

“I wasn’t really a Doctor Who fan, to be honest.”

We were going to ask if you would like to play the Doctor, but if you’re not a fan...

“Well, look, I’m not a fan but that doesn’t cancel it out! I always felt like the FX left a lot to be desired. I grew up with things like Star War s, Labyrinth , Dark Crystal , The A-Team ... Worzel Gummidge was a big one for me, though it scared the hell out of me. And a lot of football, Manchester United stuff. Those were my major influences!”

Does it ever freak you out that there’s a generation growing up who are using YOU as that kind of role model? Do you ever sit down and think, “Wow, there are seven-year-olds out there who think that Merry’s the greatest thing on the planet!”

“Ha! No, I try not to. I don’t think it’s super-valuable to take your brain to those places for too long. Unfortunately, there are times where you have to, because you go to events or you go to conventions or openings and you can’t help but be affected by the people that are there and the reaction that you get, which is always positive. But in my day-to-day life I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I’m extremely proud that I’ve been involved in projects like The Lord of the Rings and Lost , which have a huge fanbase, but I definitely don’t sit around twiddling my thumbs thinking ‘I’m so awesome!’”

You mentioned Lost – what did you think of the finale?

“I didn’t see it, I was working at the time. I don’t really have an opinion about it. I know that certain people felt different ways about it, but I was working, so...”

Were you happy with what they did with Charlie in the end?

“Sure, sure. They gave Charlie a lot of respect – he was probably the most-respected dead character on the show! I was happy with how they treated him.”

Some random questions for you now... If you could go down the pub with any of your characters, who would you choose?

[Sounding absolutely delighted at the thought] “I’d like to go for a drink with Merry, it would be wicked! He could drink a whole bunch, he’d be a great drinking partner because he never gets drunk, he’s always happy, he’s got some amazing stories about what he’s done with his life, he’s funny, he can sing a good song... And you’d probably always get free drinks because he’s 3ft 6ins and he’s got big Hobbit feet.”

Plus you’d be taller than him for once!

“And I could beat him up in a fight!”

If you were a woman, what role would you like to play?

“Princess Leia would be pretty good, and I think apart from Princess Leia... maybe Hit Girl from Kick-Ass.”

You liked Kick-Ass , then?

“It was excellent. I don’t think it should have been called Kick-Ass , though. It should have been called Hit Girl because it was all about her. But I thought the movie was fantastic.”

How many tattoos do you have?

“I have... [Pause as he counts them] Six.”

Are all of them public knowledge?

“Naw, I think I’ve got away with maybe two of them still being hidden right now, but we’ll see.”

Mysterious... Are they Star Wars -related?

“One’s kind of Beatles-related, and the other one’s kind of a ‘me’ thing that even if I explained it, it wouldn’t make much sense.”

Are you thinking of getting any more done?

“I don’t know, I think I’m probably done for a little bit as I’ve covered major places on my body. I think I’ll wait for at least a few years before I have it again. Kat’s always said to me that if I want anything else, let her know and we’ll work it out, but for me tattoos have to be something that you believe in and something you’re not going to be embarrassed to have on your body when you’re 70. People say to me, ‘Won’t you be embarrassed when you’re a granddad and your grandchildren are asking you what all your tattoos are about?’ and I say, ‘No, I hope I’ll be able to say that I got this in this time of my life and this means this and this represents that...’ I don’t think those things will change.”

They‘re a road map of your life.

“They signify certain transitions that you go through.”

You must be so sick of being asked this question, but we’re going to have to ask it anyway.... The Hobbit. What do you know about it? Will you be in it?

“I don’t know a huge amount about The Hobbit . I’m obviously really good friends and really supportive of Pete [Jackson] and Fran [Walsh], but all I know is that they’re trying to get it made and it’s really problematical. I know that they’re incredibly passionate about getting it made and they want the fans to see it, and I think that they’re having as much frustration in getting it made as the rest of the world is in waiting for it to be greenlit. I know that Ian McKellen will be in it and obviously Andy Serkis will be in it, but apart from that I’m not sure who would be in it.”

Not Merry?

“Unfortunately, we’re not alive! Bilbo’s in his early thirties, which would mean that we’re not even born yet! We’ve been saying that we’d love to come back as some sort of cameo, or turn up in the background, and Pete and Fran and Philippa [Boyens] have said that would be a great thing for us to do, but I think they’ve got slightly more important things to deal with before they talk about the four Hobbits doing a cameo. I’m the same as you guys – I just really want it to get made and I’m really supportive of them getting it made in the right way. And I just hope that sooner or later it will work out.”

Would you consider popping up in prosthetics? As one of the Dwarves, perhaps? People wouldn’t recognise you.

“I’d do anything! I mean, I knew that once I went through that process with Pete, I knew that if he ever called me and said, ‘Could you come out for a favour to New Zealand?’ I’d say, ‘Of course.’ He’s just someone I owe so much to, and someone I call a good friend. If he called me, I’d do it. And if he didn’t call me, I know Elijah [Wood] and Billy [Boyd] and I would probably fly over to New Zealand just to be in Middle-earth again for a little bit of time.”

So what plans do you have on the horizon, then?

“I think I’m doing a film in the middle of October but I’m not sure about that yet, and then I’m in the process of changing up my physicality, changing the way I look a little bit, the way I eat a little bit, just to see what that does...”

You’re bulking up?

“A little bit. Just changing the way that I look physically. It’s kind of like when a professional footballer goes from downtime into actually playing in the season – I’m trying to get myself into that kind of headspace. I’m reading a whole bunch of scripts, I’m probably going back to Manchester at some point before Christmas to see my folks and see my mates, and then I’m just working stuff out.”

You’ve been very lucky in the past, not just with Rings but with TV: Lost was massive. Going from that onto FlashForward , which got cancelled after one season... was that a shock for you?

“It wasn’t that much of a shock because I don’t tend to do shows based on how well they’ll do in the ratings – I do them based on the characters that I play. At that point it’s just a bonus if they do well! I thought it would go on a little longer; there’s a lot of stuff that went on with FlashForward that wasn’t anything to do with the ratings, it was to do with inside the studio and how they thought about the show and changes that were taking place. You know, I don’t really write off particular mediums; if it’s good TV I’ll do it, but it has to be on the same level as the TV I’ve done previously. I’m always on the lookout for something new. I’d like to do something in England because I’m from England and I feel English and I haven’t done an English project for a long, long time. I’ve always wanted to support this fictional thing that they call the British Film Industry. And also support the English TV channels. But nothing’s come up that I’d like.”

No guest spot on Coronation Street , then? We can see you on Corrie ...

“Yeeeah. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that one!”

So finally: sell us FlashForward season one in one paragraph.

“I’d say it’s a hugely ambitious, imaginative piece of work about a world catastrophe which affects everyone, whether it’s in a small way or some huge way; there’s great characters and there’s great drama and there’s some really cool mysteries. It’s a rollercoaster of a show, something that hasn’t been seen before, and it has a unique voice. So check it out.”

And you’re playing a right bastard, which helps as well.

“It always helps, yes.”

Interview by Jayne Nelson

FlashForward: The Complete Series is available on DVD from Monday 27 September
Lost The Final Season and Lost The Complete Season Box Set are out now on Blu-Ray and DVD