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Garcia's fitting in


Thanks to wsuite for the following.

KAILUA — There was a time, several years ago, when Southern California actor Jorge Garcia defined success as living in Hawai'i and working on location.

Then he got the part of Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, the lovable goofball who says "dude" a lot on ABC's "Lost." Suddenly, success was so much more than a tropical paradise.

Now Garcia not only films in Hawai'i, but ever since the series became a hit in 2004, he has maintained what he calls his "home base" in Kailua.

The popular Hawai'i-based drama about plane crash survivors on a mysterious island made Garcia one of the most recognized faces on TV.

"The audiences have responded really strongly to Hurley, and I love that," said Garcia. " 'Lost' has given me a great exposure to the entire planet, really. There are people all over the world that watch the show."

The 35-year-old Garcia gave his career a boost with "Lost." Before the series, he had worked on the sitcoms "Becker" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," as well as a few minor film roles.

He is about the most laid-back star imaginable. In a T-shirt and shorts, his trademark shoulder-length curls pulled into a ponytail and his feet in slippers, Garcia could pass for a kama'aina haole. He shops at the local grocery store, walks his dog Nunu at neighborhood parks and has a burgeoning garden in the backyard of his rental — he's growing tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and a pineapple.

"I love making salads from what I cut out of the yard," he said. "That feels good. The tomatoes I end up just popping into my mouth."

Garcia met with The Advertiser at Kailua Beach Park to answer a few questions.

Q. How much has Hurley evolved during the course of the series, and what do you like about the character?

A. At the start, Hurley was just kind of recovering from everything. All the trauma of the island and crashing and all that stuff. Then you kind of saw him come into his own and the more he did that, the stronger the stand he could take and he started showing more qualities of a leader. ... I have liked when Hurley got to be the voice of the audience. From the beginning he was wondering if there was a dinosaur in the woods. Every now and again he is the guy who is asking the question that the audience is asking.

Q. Have you ever known anyone like Hurley or is there a bit of you in his character?

A. Usually when writing is good on TV, they are good at getting the gist of your personality quirks and they kind of incorporate it into your dialogue. People have these certain flavors they always seem to exhibit when they talk and they act, and they kind of work toward that to create the personalities of the characters. I usually tend to err on the side of myself and put a lot of me into it, although it is tricky when Hurley does those really crazy things. I have never felt that haunted or cursed by anything or suffered so much from bad luck.

Q. Why did you make Hawai'i — and in particular, Kailua — your full-time home?

A. Making Hawai'i my home has always been something I wanted to do. Getting a job that shot here was a good bonus. ... Kailua reminds me a lot of what San Clemente is like. A lot of small boutique shops. A very simple main drag. And there is a certain air about a beach community that feels very comfortable to me. ... Kailua is great. Kailua has definitely gotten used to me being around. But there is sometimes a difference, like if I don't shop at this Safeway but I shop at the Safeway on the other side of Kailua that I don't normally hit. Certain times I walk around and I feel like I am a bigger deal today than I was yesterday.

Q. Well, you are probably one of the most recognizable members of the cast.

A. Sure. I definitely knew that it would be very difficult just for me to hide in general just because of my specific look, so I don't even try. A lot of it is the energy you send out. If people know you are trying to hide and then they catch you, it becomes a bigger deal if you are just around and they see you and they say hi and stuff. It's just easier, I think, to just not try.

Q. How difficult was it for you to get back into Hurley's character after shooting was interrupted by the writers strike?

A. It was kind of like starting the season all over again, but we got into it pretty quick. After awhile it was like we never left. That first day, the first couple of shots in we were, "OK, we are back in the groove again."

Q. Why did you decide last fall to start a blog, Dispatches From the Island? Doesn't it reveal too much of your private life?

A. I do enjoy connecting with fans on different levels. I tried a MySpace page for a while but the workload of a MySpace page ... it became hours a day just trying to (get) through some of those personal messages. ... The blog I thought would be fun to do because I knew that the first episode was going to be me and it would be fun to have tidbits to kind of tease the year for the audience — and it made some people (from the show) nervous. They were saying, "Make sure you don't give anything away because they will read into everything you write." So I was like, OK, maybe I won't do a blog. But then I thought I can write about other random things.

Q. It must help with your fan base, right?

A. I think that as strong a relationship I can try and form with the fans I have that are out there, the more likely they will be able to follow me after "Lost" is done to whatever I go to next. I like having a certain availability to the public that is interested.

Q. Given how much "Lost" relies on the element of surprise, how difficult is it to keep its plot twists a secret?

A. It is getting harder just because we are not on the air for so long. If we start shooting in August but don't air until February, that is a lot of material to have waiting to air and that burden gets heavier. It's a lot of episodes to have in your head that you can't talk about. But most people don't really ask for details as to what's going to happen. They like to find out with the rest of the world. I think it is always better to see the magic of the magic trick rather than the behind the scenes of how it happens.

Q. Before "Lost," you were doing comedies — "Becker" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" — but now you're acting in something very different. Has "Lost" changed the way you view the roles you can play?

A. It definitely made me think more. When I was doing sitcoms and stuff, I thought I would go from there and be someone's wacky neighbor or something like that. And then "Lost" showed up and it had me crashing my car into people and running away from explosions. They even developed a little romance for me. It definitely gave me a wider palette to play from.

Follow the adventures of Jorge Garcia, aka Hurley from "Lost," by visiting his blog: http://dispatchesfromtheisland.blogspot.com/

The Jorge Garcia file:

# It's pronounced "Horhay"
# He was born in Omaha, Neb., but raised since age 2 in Orange County, Calif.
# At San Clemente High School he was a varsity wrestler whose nickname was "Baby Face Assassin," he sang in the choir, too advanced placement courses and was such an all-around guy that the faculty named him "Triton of the Year."
# He says he sometimes slurs his words, and that caused a reporter once to turn "living on ramen and frozen burritos" into "living on rum and frozen burritos."
# His garden includes a pineapple that he's nurtured for two years. Papaya is next.
# Catch him on the "Lost" two-hour season finale, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow on KITV. The big finish — "There's No Place Like Home," Parts 2 & 3 — continues the face-off between the survivors and the freighter people, and the Oceanic Six find themselves closer to rescue.

Source: Honolulu Advisor

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