Since playing the lucky-unlucky lottery winner Hurley on Lost, Jorge Garcia and his career have moved along nicely from Alcatraz to Hawaii Five-0 and upcoming movies.
This season represents Garcia’s move up from recurring guest star to series regular on Five-0, the revamped version of the 1968-’80 police drama. Among the show’s stars is Daniel Dae Kim, who as Jin Kwon was stranded with Garcia on the Hawaii-based Lost.
“Half the (production) crew are people I already know” from Lost, Garcia said. “When I came back and did the show as a guest star, it definitely had this feeling of coming home.”
Paradise is only rented, however. He still has a house in the Los Angeles area, where he can stay on top of job opportunities.
“It’s better to be in the room for certain meetings then do things remotely. You can get a better feel for the personalities,” said Garcia, who comes across as drolly funny but also much more focused than his often free-spirited characters.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Southern California’s Orange County, he found youthful career inspiration in two very different films.
“It was seeing Fiddler on the Roof and Raiders of the Lost Ark that made me first want to be an actor. I just loved Tevye so much; I used to sing If I Were a Rich Man when I was little,” he recalled.
Was that accompanied by Topol’s exuberant, hip-shaking dance from the 1971 movie?
Of course, Garcia said. “If you’re gonna play it, play it.”
As a fledgling performer, the roles he expected to get were along the lines of the funny neighbor in a three-camera sitcom.
“I knew I wasn’t a usual type,” said the round-faced, bushy-haired Garcia.
His first big role came in the Ted Danson sitcom Becker in 2003-’04, followed by small roles in other shows and movies. Then came Hugo “Hurley” Reyes in 2004, a welcome chance to play a character with dimension.
He’s adding more movie credits to his resume, including two set for 2015 release: The Wedding Ringer, starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad, and Cooties, a horror-comedy featuring Elijah Wood, Alison Pill and Rainn Wilson.
As for his distinctive mane, he’s more than ready to part with it (“I’ve had long hair for so long, I need to start feeling like a grown-up”) and step into what he calls “real suit-and-tie guy” roles. He plans a serious trim after Hawaii Five-0, with his Elvis Presley suit as added inducement. He and friends are planning an indie film that would include a scene with a couple of Elvis impersonators.
But there will be other uses for his treasured outfit.
“It’s not like I wouldn’t walk around my house in the Elvis suit with a gorilla mask on, just for entertainment.”