His latest is on the vampire drama The Passage, where he plays the role of Dr. Jonas Lear.
The FOX series, which is based on Justin Cronin’s best-selling trilogy of the same name, airs its season finale on Monday. I recently had the chance to speak with Cusick about The Passage and what we can expect from the finale, as well as his work on The 100 and the impact Lost has had on his career.
Originally, Cusick’s role on The Passage was going to be much smaller. “It was a guest role with a possible recurring because I was on another show at the time, and it just so happened that they managed to work it out that I could join that show full time. And I’m really delighted with the way it’s turned out. It’s a very rich and complex character,” Cusick said, adding that he thinks that’s the case for every character on the series.
“They’re all individually very complex, and rich, and diverse, and they all add to the show. We have a really interesting mix in this cast, and also I think we have, in our lead, Saniyya [Sidney], just a phenomenal young talent. It’s a joy to watch her on screen just blossom. She’s just terrific.”
Although much of what we see in Lear’s backstory on the show is a desire to save his wife and find a cure to save mankind, Cusick isn’t convinced Lear’s motives are all good.
“I was of the same opinion, initially, that he was acting from good intentions. But as you [look] closer, I’m a bit suspect about his motives. Yes, he said he wanted to save his wife, and he wanted to do good for mankind. Yet, he’s a scientist; he must have been aware of his place in history, and he must have known what his legacy would have been. So there’s a bit of ego there, and there’s selfishness,” Cusick explained.
“He’s had many opportunities to end it. He could have killed Fanning very early on, and yet he chose to experiment on him, saying that, ‘if I can just find a cure, then I can cure my wife.’ So he’s always been tempted by this carrot of finding the cure, and he justifies it every time. And I’ve said this before, but if history were to judge him, whichever side wins, [he] would come out the worst.”
“He has an ego, [and it] just got the better of him, I think, and that was his downfall. I think he’s aware of that, and that’s where he is. He’s in a terrible place of guilt. He’s aware that he is the root of all of this and possibly thinking, what I just said, how will history judge him? It must be an awful place to be for him, so he’s riddled with guilt and remorse and the what ifs.”
Cusick also spoke a bit about the show overall, which, as anyone who’s been watching knows, actually has a heartfelt story.
“At the heart of the show, it’s a really positive message. The dark and the light. And the heart of the show, the relationship between Amy and Brad, which is a beautiful love — a father-daughter, second chance relationship for Brad and for Amy. It’s a very positive one. I think when we get to the end of the show, what you’ll see, everyone makes a decision. And ultimately we’re trying to survive. It has many things. It’s a post-apocalyptic survival show. It’s a vampire show. It’s relationships, a show with deep relationships with father-daughter. It has, which I really love this storyline, the doomed sort of bizarre love story between Richards and Babcock. And the unfinished business between Fanning and Lear — they’re linked in some sort of eternal hate because somebody loved somebody’s wife.”
“There’s all these different vignettes to it. Lacy gets a message from God: she’s got to save Amy. So everyone’s got their own agenda, their own mission, and they’re all very different. But the ultimate one is the survival of the generation.”
The show explores survival and the way people might react when faced with the worst of circumstances. Cusick currently lives in Hawaii, and he recalled a recent incident where people didn’t react in an expected way.
“We had a little incident here in Hawaii where, on a Saturday morning at eight o’clock, we all were given [a warning.] Phones and sirens and alarms went off saying, there’s a missile alert imminent. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. And the way people reacted is not the way — not everyone did the thing where you pack up your things and head to find cover. A lot of people decided just to sit and look at the sea. I wasn’t here at the time. I was in Vancouver. But my wife phoned me with tears, saying ‘is this real?’ and trying to find out on the internet,” Cusick recalled.
Even his own family didn’t react in the expected ways. “Annie, my wife, said she was walking around the house with half packets of Oreos. Meanwhile, my oldest son soaked all the towels. My other son was looking for a particular white shirt. So we don’t know how we’ll react in these circumstances, and that I thought was really interesting. We all think we know what we’d do. I can imagine the audience saying, ‘Well, why don’t they do this?’ We don’t really know what we’ll do at any given moment.”
As for what exactly we can expect from the two-hour season finale of The Passage, Cusick was able to offer up a few hints that should make fans excited — and possibly a bit nervous.
“I have to say, it’s terrific. There are episodes nine and ten, so even though it’s a two-parter, they’re both separate episodes,” he noted. “It’s epic. It’s really sweeping and beautiful. I can’t wait for the audience to watch and get their feedback because I think they’ve done a terrific job.”
“The show has gone by so quickly, but we’ve gotten to know a lot of characters, and sadly we will lose some people that we love, I think. So there are gonna be deaths. It’s a high-stakes show. There’s always going to be deaths. There’s going to be a lot of deaths by episode ten,” Cusick hinted. “If you’ve read the books, you know what’s coming.”
“Besides that, what’s it going to have? It’s going to have heartfelt moments. It’s going to have people coming to terms with what they’ve done. It’s going to have people making decisions on what they should do to survive all of this. It’s frantic. It’s panic and it’s mayhem. And yet, very touching as well. It’s very beautiful.”
Cusick couldn’t say much as far as what we can expect, but he did say we’d have answers quickly once the show returns for the new season. He hinted that viewers would “find out exactly what happens to Kane” during the first half of the season premiere episode.
“There’s a whole new world, and it’s… I don’t want to give too much away. Tune in on April 30th, and you’ll find out,” he confirmed.
Finally, Cusick took the time to reflect on his most iconic role — the role of Desmond Hume on Lost.
“So Lost, for me, changed my life completely and utterly. It brought me to Hawaii, where I still live. It introduced me to an American audience on television, on one of the biggest shows. We’re still talking about it. It’s still regarded as one of the biggest genre shows in the last 20-30 years. So I really owe my career to it,” Cusick shared.
“A whole new generation is watching the show now, and I still get people talking to me about it. So I think I will always be remembered as Desmond, and I’ll gladly take it. It was just such a dream role.”
That role was yet another one that started out as something much smaller. Cusick said the role of Desmond was “out of the blue” and was “a three-episode arc that turned into a life-changing role for me. So I owe a huge thank you to Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and Jack Bender for that gift.”
And if you’ve followed all three of these shows — Lost, The 100, and now, The Passage, you’ve probably noticed some similarities. That’s something Cusick appreciates, but it’s not necessarily intentional.
“All of the shows like that are connected. And I find that interesting as well, as to how did that happen? That I’ve been in shows that all have similar themes. I often wonder about that, why that happened,” he said. “I’m just speaking to the universe, and it’s responding, I guess.”
Don’t miss the two-hour season finale of The Passage, airing this Monday, March 11th at 8/7c on FOX.
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