The actor plays Southern con man Sawyer on ABC's Lost, which is in its fourth season.
How do you balance playing a character who's both callous and sensitive?
It's been a nice evolution. I miss the simplicity of Sawyer's hard line when you're just an ass, it's easy. [Laughs.] I like the subtleties of everything else, but I suck at it sometimes because I get confused.
Was it a relief to be able to keep your Southern drawl?
Absolutely. By nature Southerners like to throw out sayings that help add a little comedy when something's not so comical. But I've got to get back to learning how to lose it again. For eight years in Hollywood, all I heard was "Get rid of that accent."
Do you read the blogs that offer theories about the show?
I don't read them, but I get morning updates from my wife. Audiences are a lot smarter than studios give them credit for. They don't want clichs shoved down their throats.
Lostwas your big break. Did you ever think you'd make it in this business?
When I first started, I thought, I'm gonna be a big star. Then eight years later, I was skeptical. [Laughs.] I was going to move to the country, pursue real estate and be a forest ranger. My real estate license came in the mail three days before I booked Lost. I thought, Wow, I'll file that.