Hello my dear friends -
I told you I had an extra-special post coming!
But to be honest, even I had no idea when I last wrote that it would be THIS extra-special.
So without further ado, here's a picture that's worth at least TEN thousand words (especially considering the average length of my episode write-ups...):
Now please pause and observe a moment of silence out of respect for the enormity of the moment captured above.
I must admit that I seriously considered just posting this picture and then nothing else -- ever again -- on this site. I mean, how can I possibly top meeting my main man?
But don't worry... though I did come close to hyperventilating and then dying of Extreme Elation after the fact sank in that I was hugged by my favorite actor -- the Emmy Award winner who breathes life into the character after which this site that I've toiled over for years is named -- I love Lost enough and am in way too deep to stop with my obsessive analysis of the show now. If anything, my passion for the series has been reignited after spending a day on the beautiful island of Oahu (where it's filmed).
Oh, and did I mention that I exchanged greetings with the one and only Michael Emerson (an Emmy Award winner himself) -- aka "Ben" -- too?!? Yep, October 29, 2008 was quite a day.
So... I bet you're wondering how I actually got to see Michael and meet Terry, right? The beauty of it all is that it only happened because a series of decisions and events led to me being in exactly the right place at the right time. Mr. Eko once told Locke to not mistake coincidence for fate, but I'd say that you can't mistake fate for coincidence, either!
I think it's only appropriate to tell the story Lost flashback style...
Because of our drama-filled journey to Antarctica last fall and several shorter trips my husband and I had planned for 2008, a vacation to Hawaii was not even remotely on our radar earlier this year.
But then, a relative decided that he didn't want to take his annual pilgrimage to the Aloha State and emailed out an offer to use his timeshare on Maui during the last week of October. It was an offer that big travelers like us simply couldn't refuse.
Within seconds of receiving word that a week in Hawaii could be ours for a low, low price, we decided we had to go, so we emailed back and secured our spot.
TEN MINUTES LATER
It hit me that filming for Season Five of Lost might be taking place on Oahu at the same time we'd be close by in Maui.
But then I immediately pushed the thought out of my mind... Season Four still wasn't over at that point, Season Five wasn't going to be back on the air until early 2009, and so I figured that October 2008 would be way too early for new episodes to be in production.
JUNE 6 - 7, 2008
After the Season Four finale aired and I had posted my recap of "There's No Place Like Home, Parts Two & Three" on both this site and DarkUFO, I wrote the following to Andy Page, the man behind the curtain, if you will, at DarkUFO: "I'm going to Maui in October, but I don't think I'll be able to make it over to Oahu to check out any Lost filming locations (do you think they'd be filming in late October anyway? I think it's still too early)."
Andy responded that he did indeed think that Lost filming would be underway at that time, and offered to put me in touch with one of his contacts on Oahu, should I change my mind about island-hopping.
The (frozen donkey) wheels in my head started turning...
SEPTEMBER 3, 2008
Fellow blogger JOpinionated posted that some of her friends had randomly run into Terry O'Quinn while vacationing in Oahu. !?!?!?!?!? Talk about a kick in the pants! I started researching the best way to travel between islands...
SEPTEMBER 24, 2008
I had dinner with a good friend and reader of this blog (shout-out to MG!) and told her of my dilemma. My flight to Maui was almost exactly a month away, and I knew I had to decide sooner rather than later whether or not I would also take a side trip to Oahu. MG brought up a point that I hadn't even considered: "What if you run into Terry O'Quinn and the experience doesn't live up to your expectations?"
Her take was that when it came to meeting one of your heroes, maybe it was better to "keep the dream alive" than deal with the disappointment that might result from actually talking to that person.
While I had read way too much about Mr. O'Quinn to believe that he could be anything other than the nicest man alive, my friend's words weighed on my mind. I put off the decision once more...
SEPTEMBER 29 - OCTOBER 2, 2008
... But not for long. I emailed Andy at DarkUFO again and told him that I needed to get my act together and at least try to see if there was any way I could improve my odds of running into Lost filming or cast members, should I choose to fly over to Oahu. He immediately responded with the email address of Ryan Ozawa, who runs The Transmission podcast from Oahu. In addition, he suggested that I check out Kos Hummer Tours, as he had heard good things about them from other Lost fans who had trekked to "the Island."
Next, I emailed Ryan, who also highly recommended Kos Tours, as they have access to the private ranch on which many Lost scenes are shot. In fact, he mentioned that there had been activity at the ranch within the past few weeks. However, he also tried to set my expectations about being able to interact with any cast members. In his experience, direct contact with anyone on the show is extremely rare, even if you happen to run across a set. No one is allowed near the actors during a live shoot, which is of course understandable. He said to let him know if I ended up visiting Oahu.
OCTOBER 9, 2008
My trip to Maui was now only 17 days away. In my head I was wrestling with the knowledge that I would always wonder "What if?" if I didn't go over to Oahu... but I still wasn't sure if that scenario would be worse than making the trip to "the Island" and inevitably being disappointed if I didn't run into any filming. However, when I went on my nerdy Lord of the Rings tours in New Zealand, I had an absolute blast seeing the spots where key scenes in the trilogy were filmed years earlier, so I knew that I would enjoy visiting past locations used in Lost as well, even if nothing else happened while I was on Oahu.
Those of you who read my other site, According to e, understsand that I absolutely HATE wondering "what if?" To avoid wondering "what if?" when I'm eighty years old is actually why I left Corporate America to try my hand at freelance writing. So I guess I should've known all along that I would end up finding my way to Oahu -- my final decision was based on the fact that I knew I would drive myself (and my husband) nuts wondering "what if I had gone to Oahu and ended up meeting someone in the Lost cast?" for the rest of my life. The show's only on for two more years and I am certainly not going to get back to Hawaii before the credits roll on the series' final episode, so I HAD to go! It was now or never!
Finally, I shifted into high gear and put in a call to Ed Kos at Kos Tours. I had a long talk with him and was pleased to find that he and his staff were also huge Lost fans. After much deliberation about the different tours Kos offered (and a panicked call to my brother for advice), I decided to go all-out and spend mucho dinero to not only fly my husband and I over to Oahu for a day (Wednesday, October 29 -- a decision that turned out to be critical (I had also considered the 28th)), but also to buy out all of the seats in one of Ed's Hummers so that we could have a private, customized TEN-HOUR tour. I was finally getting even with my husband for his purchase of crazy-expensive backstage passes to the Van Halen concert almost exactly a year ago (as a side note: if you never read that post, I highly encourage you to... it's one of my favorites).
Ed, like Ryan from The Transmission, tried to keep my expectations in check about actually coming across a set or meeting any cast members. He said that it was hard to know in advance when or where anything for the show would be filmed because they shoot scenes across the entire island in addition to filming in their studio -- which is closed to the public. But just as I was writing off the idea of being able to catch any live action, he mentioned that a writer from About.com, who took the five-hour Kos tour earlier this year, saw Josh Holloway (Sawyer) and Terry O'Quinn in between takes. AAHHHHHH!!!!!!
THE BIG DAY
OCTOBER 29, 2008
It was Go Time! The airport was an hour away from where we were staying and our flight to Oahu was at 6 AM, so we had to wake up ridiculously early. Amazingly, I had slept well and felt refreshed when the alarm went off.
I had worn my "Team Locke" shirt to bed for good luck, but otherwise kept telling myself that I needed to just relax and enjoy the day and not have any expectations about running into live filming. It was hard to do that, though, because while no Lost activity had been seen in public areas on Oahu in the weeks leading up to my trip, on both October 27 and 28, the production crew was spotted in various locations around the island. In fact, Long Live Locke reader LF from Australia was on the Kos Tour two days before me, and she had narrowly missed seeing a few actors (their trailers were still up!). My hopes were inching higher...
We landed in Oahu on time and waited outside to be picked up by Jeff, our driver from Kos Tours. A few moments passed and then we saw a yellow Hummer pass by us about six lanes from where we were standing and then exit to return to the highway. Normally, the tour does not pick up from the airport because of the intense traffic surrounding the area, but since my husband and I booked a private tour, they made an exception.
I called Ed and he explained that Jeff had made a wrong turn and was now circling back to the airport, but was caught in the standstill traffic on the expressway. We weren't in any hurry, so we stayed put and waited it out.
Jeff successfully battled his way back to the airport and apologized profusely for being a half-hour late. We climbed in the Hummer and were on our way. Soon, we saw exactly what several of our friends meant when they forewarned us about the horrific gridlock in Honolulu.
But just as Jeff passed the main exit that led into the heart of the city (we had no plans to check out old filming locations downtown because of the time it would eat up), my husband's Blackberry started buzzing...
Ryan from The Transmission, who I had informed of my plans to be in Oahu on the 29th, had emailed us with a tip that Lost scenes were going to be filmed at an intersection downtown and that there should be several opportunities to watch the production. I immediately wrote him back and asked when he thought the action would begin, and he responded, "Within the hour."
I know you're not surprised to hear that my heart started pounding so furiously that I feared I might spontaneously combust. I told Jeff what we had just learned, but he worried that it was bogus information and that we would waste at least an hour getting into and then out of the city again if the tip didn't pan out. I assured him that I wouldn't be mad if that ended up being the case, and that I absolutely could not pass up the opportunity to possibly see some filming. I mean, that's why I shelled out the big bucks to go on a private tour -- so that we could change the itinerary on a dime!
Jeff obliged with our request and started circling back toward downtown Honolulu.
We eventually made it to the intersection that Ryan had mentioned in his email. And lo and behold, what did I spy, but this:
Before I go any further with this post, let me assure you that I am not going to mention or show pictures of anything that would spoil the Season Five scenes that I saw being filmed -- you all know how vehemently anti-spoiler I am. I will probably post a few of my pictures after those scenes air (right now I obviously have no idea what episode they'll be in), but the good news is that I couldn't figure out the significance of what I watched anyway. The Season Five promo is much more telling than anything I came across on the 29th, that's for sure!
Anyway, you might be thinking that once I saw Terry's chair, I leapt out of the moving Hummer and tried to hunt down Mr. O'Quinn. But believe it or not, I honestly didn't think that the presence of his chair meant anything. I figured that they probably carried around the chairs for ALL cast members wherever filming is set up. Plus, I thought that if a scene was being filmed downtown, the least likely person to be in it would be John Locke. Yes, my head just really wasn't on straight that day. More evidence of that comes shortly.
After we confirmed that Lost was obviously going to be filming in the area, Jeff drove us several blocks away and parked the Hummer. He said that since he was wearing a not-so-inconspicuous "Got Lost?" shirt, it was probably best if my husband and I headed back to the Intersection Of The Hour by foot on our own, and we agreed.
We arrived back at the shoot and found a few other Lost fans standing on a corner taking pictures of some filming that was going on across the street. They worked downtown and had seen production before, so they actually left shortly after we arrived. I searched the area, but couldn't recognize any of the people who were in the scene. And then my eyes refocused and I saw Ben (Mr. Michael Emerson). I'm sure I didn't breathe for like twenty seconds as I realized that this was really happening! I was watching Lost in the making!
It was a completely surreal experience to observe a scene being filmed -- that's the only way I can describe it. Surreal, but thrilling at the same time. I was so caught up in the exhilaration of it all that before I could even fully mentally process what was happening, Mr. Emerson started walking directly toward me.
He crossed the intersection and was literally two feet away. He was passing right in front of me when I made eye contact with him.
"Hi..." I said nervously.
"Hi!" my husband shouted.
"HI!!!" Michael shot back loudly and confidently, and then flashed us a huge grin. I'm sure he got a kick out of whatever look I must have had on my face!
Time seemed to stand still as I watched him walk down the block and out of view. Finally, my husband broke the silence: "WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK HIM FOR A PICTURE?!?!!?"
I had been so shocked by the whole thing that I had just frozen in place. Maybe I was subconsciously worried that he would whip out his black ASP baton and whack me? I don't know what I was thinking. Later, my husband admitted that he, too, assumed that filming was still in process when "Ben" passed us. Of course I deeply regret not being able to think clearly enough to get a snapshot with the Best Villain of All Time, but I will always have the memory our quick exchange, right? Plus, I think my disappointment over missing the chance to get a picture with Mr. Emerson served to prepare me for what was about to happen...
Before she headed back to work, a local Lost fan who had been standing near us learned that Terry O'Quinn was in fact going to be filming a scene in the area at some point (Terry and Michael were not in any scenes together that day, though, so don't get any ideas).
It seemed too good to be true. But I knew that filming was supposedly going to continue for three more hours, and grew nervous that the majority of the day would be eaten up before anything else happened downtown.
OF COURSE I was going to wait it out, though!
I had one false alarm when I spotted a bald-headed man under the "sound tent" and thought it was Terry. Thankfully, I realized it wasn't him before I made a fool of myself. I tried to calm down and just take it all in... I loved the fact that a lot of the security guards, craft tents and random carts wheeled around the street bore the Dharma logo. And it was so cool to see how the production team could transform a city street in downtown Honolulu into... well, whatever they wanted it to be.
About ten more minutes passed. I went up to one of the security guards (not the one pictured above) and told him that I was only on Oahu for the day and was already supposed to be heading out of Honolulu, but that I was a huge fan of Terry O'Quinn's, heard he was going to be shooting a scene soon, and didn't know what to do. The guard wouldn't look directly at me, but he smiled and responded, "Ma'am, I'm not allowed to tell you any details about the production... but if I were you, I'd stick around."
That was all I needed to hear! The guard was right, too. I didn't wait much longer...
I was scanning the nearby blocks when all of a sudden, I SAW HIM. Terry O'Quinn was across the street and down the block from where I stood. He was completely alone and biting into what looked like an apple.
My dear friends, I would pay good money to see what I must have looked like when I realized that yes, it was ACTUALLY HIM. But I kept my emotions under control and silently caught my husband's attention (he was about fifteen feet away from me) and he followed my gaze. His eyes lit up when he caught on, and we hurried across the intersection as nonchalantly as we could (I wasn't sure if the guards were instructed to keep people away from the cast... that's why we were trying to be discreet). We still had a half-block to go when Terry crossed the street and disappeared from view.
My heart sank; I thought for sure that he had gone into his trailer or was going to be otherwise unapproachable. According to my husband, I stopped dead in my tracks at this point and looked totally defeated (I honestly don't even remember a lot of what happened during these few minutes -- it's all a blur). One thing I've learned from this whole experience is that I could absolutely never make it as a paparazzo. But anyway, my husband still had his wits about him and sped up, crossed the street and found Terry standing under the archway of a corner pub, still by himself.
"My wife is a huge fan, do you mind if she gets a picture with you?" my husband supposedly asked (I seriously don't remember this part). The next thing I knew, I was shaking Terry O'Quinn's hand and posing for this picture:
Finally I came to my senses and hopefully appeared to be semi-normal as I stood face-to-face with Terry and had a quick chat with him. I did get to mention that I ran Long Live Locke and that I wasn't going to change the site's name no matter what happened on the show. He laughed and replied, "That's good!" Since he is originally from Michigan and so am I, we talked a little bit about that, and I mentioned that I had a cousin at his alma mater, Central Michigan University (shout-out to EJ!). I then said that I felt like I needed to get a picture of us doing "something funny," which probably scared him (my plan was to get a shot of me bowing down before him), but before I could mention any of my ideas, he said "Well, how about this?" and gave me a big hug.
Yes, I look like I'm about to implode. No, my smile couldn't have stretched any wider. And yes, meeting Terry O'Quinn was absolutely everything I could've hoped it would be. Believe the hype, my dear friends, he's the real deal! And lest you think I'm (obviously) biased, my husband was also pleasantly surprised at how gracious, personable and truly nice this beloved actor was. And let's face it, my husband has good reason to be really jealous of this man! But Terry won him over, too.
We could see another fan approaching, so my husband and I each shook Terry's hand again, thanked him for his time and set off on our way.
The words of Will Ferrell's "Ricky Bobby" in Talladega Nights whirled through my mind:
That. Just. Happened!
Once we were at the end of the block, the physical ramifications of the whole ordeal hit me. I realized that my mouth and throat had gone completely dry, my skin felt feverish and I was breaking out in a profuse sweat. But I was indescribably happy.
After I could swallow and had regained my voice, I called my brother, but don't even remember anything about our conversation except him yelling, "CALM DOWN!!!! CALM DOWN!!!!!"
On our way back to meet Jeff and continue on our tour in the Hummer, my husband lamented that we should've mentioned something about Terry's performance in Old School, one of our favorite movies. Then I wished that I'd brought up all of the other things he's been in that I've enjoyed, like The X-Files, Primal Fear and Masters of Science Fiction. But even though I didn't get to express the full extent of my fandom verbally, I'm quite positive that Terry understood that I was a big admirer of his. After all, when we first approached him, he looked pretty darn amused (in a kind way) as he took in the state of my starstruck-ness.
If you are shocked that I didn't hang around to actually see the scene that "Locke" was in, then let me repeat what I've said several times before on this site... I HATE BEING SPOILED! Even watching the filming of Ben's short scene took a little bit of magic out of the show for me, so there was no way I was going to expose myself to a Locke scene. I'd met my hero, that's all I wanted. There is no way I could've been happier.
We successfully reunited with Jeff. As we made our way out of the city, I emailed Ryan and told him about our experience. He ended up checking things out for himself later, and saw two more actors and a pretty cool scene going down. I will let you know what it was after it airs. On that note, did you hear that the Season Five premiere is set for January 21? And that it consists of two new episodes back-to-back? And that January 21 just so happens to be my birthday?
The Lost Gods are with me, I tell you!
Here's the new, very short trailer that's up on ABC.com:
As if seeing Michael Emerson and meeting Terry O'Quinn weren't enough, I spent the next eight hours visiting tons of other Lost filming locations from the past four seasons (and a few from Season Five - but once again, mum's the word!). Jeff couldn't help but point out that in a Lost-like twist of fate, if he hadn't missed the turn at the airport and subsequently picked us up a half-hour late, we would've been too far away to turn back and head downtown and I definitely wouldn't have run into my main man. Freaky!
I will be writing up everything (well, almost everything) I saw on the Kos Hummer Tour over the next few weeks, so stay tuned. But for now I will tell you that I was pretty much in a daze for the duration of October 29, 2008. I literally couldn't believe that I had actually met Terry O'Quinn. I kept checking my digital camera like a maniac every five seconds, thinking that the pictures with Terry were going to make like Jacob's Cabin and disappear or something.
On that momentous day I also thought about all of you, my readers -- especially those of you who have followed my posts since the beginning, when they were just email messages that kept getting forwarded on, and forwarded on, and forwarded on. I knew that you all would be very, very excited for me, and I couldn't wait to write about my experience.
Even though I've now been home for a week, that day still seems like a dream. I mean, seriously, what are the odds that in the mere TEN HOURS I was on Oahu, I would not only run into an active Lost set, but would also get to chat with -- of all cast members -- TERRY O'QUINN?!? I know how lucky I am, believe you me.
But obviously I would've never achieved my dream of meeting "Locke" if it weren't for Andy from DarkUFO and Ryan from The Transmission. If I ever meet either of YOU in person, be prepared for me to tackle you and smother you with hugs and kisses! A huge "CHEERS!" to Andy and "MAHALO!" to Ryan.
Looking back on the series of events that ended with me meeting my favorite actor, I now believe more strongly than ever that, as Locke said best in the Season Two promo below, "Everything happens for a reason."
Although I wouldn't trade my time spent talking to Terry for anything, I must admit that I'm a little bit worried about my safety from here on out. After all, as fellow Lost fans on Facebook brought to my attention, what is going to become of me now that I've LEFT THE ISLAND?!?!
You know what this means ... I HAVE TO GO BACK!!!
(Pictures from the rest of my Lost tour of Oahu have now been posted here, and a few shots of the movie locations we saw are here.)