Tuesday, April 1, 2008


During the writers' strike, I had the good fortune to interview the Smoke Monster of 'Lost', who was back in New York City while production was halted on the show in Hawaii. The interview was arranged by a mutual friend that we have, Webster "The Web" Endrst, and we met at one of its favorite haunts here in the City (which it asked me to keep confidential, as it's getting hard to find a place where it can relax and just be itself. Especially with these stringent no smoking rules in effect!)

INNER TOOB: Thanks for the chance to do this interview.

SMOKE MONSTER: My pleasure. Happy to be here. But then, what with the strike, I wasn't doing much of anything else.

INNER TOOB: So, um... what should I call you? I know "Smoke Monster" is basically your character. Do they call you "Smokey" on the set?

SMOKE MONSTER: Josh [Holloway] does. All the time. You know how he is with nicknames. But I think it's because he can't remember my name to save his life, dumb redneck.

INNER TOOB: What about 'Cerberus'? I've seen that used to describe you in one of the show's Easter Eggs.

SMOKE MONSTER: Again, that's just for the character; it's a code name. My name is Nichts Aber-Rauch; my parents were German. They were in the camps, but I don't want to talk about that.

INNER TOOB: I understand.....

SMOKE MONSTER: You can call me Nick.

INNER TOOB: Thanks, Nick!

SMOKE MONSTER: Aren't you going to order us anything?

INNER TOOB: Oh yeah. Sorry. [drinks and bar appetizers are ordered] So, Nick, I guess 'Lost' could be considered your big break, right?

SMOKE MONSTER: Definitely. I mean, I was working pretty regular; mostly as an extra. Although we don't like to call ourselves that. We prefer the term "atmosphere people".

INNER TOOB: I guess that's appropriate....

SMOKE MONSTER: But that can get frustrating for an actor. I was hoping to work my way up to a few "under-fives"; you know, those roles that have a couple lines?

INNER TOOB: Sure. [appetizers are brought. Nick takes them all.] Um... I ordered the -#

SMOKE MONSTER: Anyway, those roles are tough to come by when you're made of smoke. It's not like I can play a hospital patient or the foreman of a jury in a courtroom drama.

INNER TOOB: So you found yourself typecast.

SMOKE MONSTER: Exactly! Sure, I was getting roles in movies like "Backdraft" and "Ladder 49", but it wasn't very satisfying in the long run.

INNER TOOB: Any of those roles stand out though?

SMOKE MONSTER: Oh, certainly. "Always". You know, that remake of "A Guy Named Joe"? With Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter and John Goodman? I played the smoke of the doused forest fires.

INNER TOOB: What made that so special? Working on location like that?

SMOKE MONSTER: Audrey Hepburn. It was her last movie, you know. But it was my first and she was such a help to me. I was so nervous! Kept missing my marks. What a sweet lady she was. Very sad when she died. I didn't even know she was ill. I tried to make it to the funeral, but couldn't get out of a job I was doing at the time.

INNER TOOB: Which one was that?

SMOKE MONSTER [shrugs]: I don't remember; some TV production up in Vancouver. Might have been a horror flick, for all I know. I used to do a lot of those.

INNER TOOB: What were you doing when you got cast for 'Lost'?

SMOKE MONSTER: Summer stock in Culver City, actually. I was playing Madame Arcati in "Blithe Spirit" and JJ [Abrams] came to see the show. I think he was going to go in a different direction for the Island's monster, but luckily for me.....

INNER TOOB: It's been a big role for you.

SMOKE MONSTER: I'll say! I'm hoping it will lead to something bigger and better, but at the same time I don't want to get typecast all over again, you know? I'd hate to be up on stage doing a soliloquy from Shakespeare and some punk kids start yelling crap about the Numbers at me.

INNER TOOB: Have you ever performed Shakespeare?

SMOKE MONSTER: LOVE Shakespeare! I played the lead in "The Tempest" here in the Park. Did you see that?

INNER TOOB: Yeah.... but didn't Patrick Stewart play Prospero?

SMOKE MONSTER: Yeah, but I meant the Tempest itself! I guess I should have said I played the title role.....

INNER TOOB: That's pretty cool, though. Working with Captain Picard as it were....

SMOKE MONSTER: Oh, sure! We've worked together in the past, though. I was in a couple of episodes of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'; usually as a cloud nebula or a poisonous atmosphere, that sort of thing. I was hoping to play the monster that killed Tasha Yar, that was a speaking part. But that went to my old room-mate Norman, so I can't complain too much.

INNER TOOB: Any other interesting items on your resume?

SMOKE MONSTER: Well, let's see... I was the artist's model for that smoke creature in "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest"... Oh! And did you see "Enchanted" last year? I shared a scene with Susan Sarandon when she came out of the sewer grate. I filmed that during the 'Lost' hiatus.

INNER TOOB: Kind of a step back though, wasn't it?

SMOKE MONSTER: What can you do, am I right? It's not like I was going to be offered Foxie's role in "We Are Marshall", was I? [Foxie is 'Lost' co-star Matthew Fox.] Me and Foxie were up for the same role in "Vantage Point", but the producer said that being a big black cloud of smoke made the title "Vantage Point" something of a joke. I did get to be in the movie as a cabbie, but my scenes were cut....

[awkward silence]

INNER TOOB: So um, tell me about 'Lost'. Have they clued you in as to what you're supposed to be in the show?

SMOKE MONSTER: My glass has been empty for a couple minutes now....

INNER TOOB: Sorry! [another round is ordered. Nick drains his glass.]

SMOKE MONSTER: I have no clue what's going to happen.

INNER TOOB: Aw, come on!

SMOKE MONSTER: No, really! I'm only told enough by Lindelof and Cuse to get my motivation for the scene. None of us have been given the inside scoop on the show. But I've got a few ideas of what may happen.......

INNER TOOB: Such as?

SMOKE MONSTER: Well, I'm thinking I'll eventually have a big scene with Elizabeth [Mitchell]. She plays Juliet. Remember that scene she and I had where the sonic fence kept me from attacking her? Yeah, well, I think she's not going to survive the end of the series - after all, we know she's not one of the Oceanic Six. So I think there's a pretty good chance that I'll be responsible for taking her out of the picture.

INNER TOOB: In the same way you killed Mr. Eko?

SMOKE MONSTER [laughing]: Except that I won't enjoy doing it this time around.

INNER TOOB: You didn't get along with Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje? [name added later - no way I'd ever remember that!]

SMOKE MONSTER [after a slight pause to consider its words carefully]: Let's just say I was more than happy to film that last scene we had together and leave it at that.....

INNER TOOB: Who do you get along with on the show then?

SMOKE MONSTER: Well, he's not on the show anymore, but I was best buds with Dom [Dominic Monaghan]. We both got into surfing in a big way once we got out to Hawaii. And there's Jorge [Garcia] of course. I don't care what the episode title was, everybody does love Hugo. How can you not love Hurley? And then there's this girl, you see her in the background among the Others every so often.....

[a reddish hue imbues his smoke form]

INNER TOOB: Are you blushing?

SMOKE MONSTER: Well, I'm not exactly sure where the two of us stand right now, you know? I mean, I THOUGHT we were on a break and -# I don't really want to get into that......

INNER TOOB: Okay.... Any roles you wish you had a chance to do?

SMOKE MONSTER: Yeah, that water-based alien thingie in "Abyss". I like to kid myself into thinking it's because I was just starting out in the business, that's why I lost out on the role. But let's face it - I just wasn't right for the part.
INNER TOOB: What did you do before you got into acting?

SMOKE MONSTER: The usual - grunt jobs like factory work, construction... even served in the military, laying down cover for the men. I got called back in for the first Gulf War, and ended up meeting a lot of distant relatives in the Iraqi oil fields.....

INNER TOOB: What else is new in your life? Any projects coming up? Or any role that you're hoping to get?

SMOKE MONSTER: Well, I just got back from the White House, where I was invited as a special guest at a State Dinner. That was pretty cool. But as far as new projects... I keep hearing that they'll be making a new version of Patrick McGoohan's TV show, 'The Prisoner'. Ever see it?

INNER TOOB: My all-time favorite series!

SMOKE MONSTER: Well, I hope they'll consider me when it comes time to recasting Rover.

INNER TOOB: I think that would be cool! Well, except for the remaking 'The Prisoner' part.... I don't want my memories of the show sullied.

SMOKE MONSTER: Ha! Too bad! I need the work. Otherwise, I'm just hoping to ride out the 'Lost' wave until it's all over in 2010. And to do that, I have to make sure I don't get caught in a DUI! One good thing about being back in New York City, I can drink all I want and then just take a taxi! Speaking of which... Another round?

INNER TOOB: Um, I really have to wrap this up, Nick. Thanks again for the chance to do this interview.

SMOKE MONSTER: My pleasure. You are picking up the tab, right? Then it really was great talking to you! Be seeing you! Hahahahaha!

Toby 0B


Anonymous said...

My fave is your interview with the smoke monster! LLOL!


Dr. Bob T said...

U R the April Fool(er) LOL

I thought the smoke around the Whitehouse was Shrub farting ;>)