Exclusive Interview: Eric Lange (Radzinsky) from LOST

Eric Lange as Radzinsky on Lost

Recently, Daemon’s TV got the chance to talk with Eric Lange about not only his character on LOST, but also his career.

As most of you know by now, Eric Lange is one of the new addition to the cast of Lost. He plays the mysterious Radzinsky. For those of you who hadn’t realized, Radzinsky has been mentioned a few times in Lost and holds the answer to quite a few secrets. For instance, Radzinsky is the one who created the blast door map that Locke found. He also edited the Swan Orientation film and placed the edited portions in a Bible in the Arrow. However, the biggest question remaining about him is why he ended up taking his own life during his time in the Swan with Kelvin Inman.

Now while Eric Lange doesn’t have all the answers, it is still quite a treat to be able to hear from the person that portrays such an interesting character. And so without further ado, enjoy our interview with Eric Lange and don’t forget to tune in this Wednesday and watch him on Lost.

Were you a fan of the show before getting the part?

Eric Lange: Oh, yeah. When it first started way back with the pilot I was hooked on the thing. I just thought that it was something that I hadn’t seen on television before. The scope of it was so big and it was like watching a movie every week. Then sometime around the end of season two, I think, the mysteries and the lack of the solving of the mysteries got to me a bit and I bailed for a while. Then when I got this job I of course went and got the DVD’s and watched three and four. They had a little – I don’t know – middle of season three, beginning of season three I thought it dipped a bit, but it’s just such a well made show. I’m a bit of a geek about it.

You’re probably in one of the best seasons right now.

Eric Lange: It’s fantastic. It’s an incredible opportunity.

Can you talk a little bit about what’s coming up for your character? I think your next episode is on April 15, is that correct?

Eric Lange: Exactly, yeah. Well, unfortunately ABC has me on a really tight little leash and they’ve given us some stuff, but it was for previous episodes and they haven’t given me much more to be able to say about what’s coming up. But obviously he’s a bit of a mad scientist. He has some control issues and some anger management issues. He’s a bit of an annoyance for the heroes there in 1977.

Can you tell us if how many more episode he’ll be in?

Eric Lange: I’m every episode until the end of the season. Through to the finale. So there’s more of him to come.

Have you already shot the finale and now know everything that’s going to happen?

Eric Lange: Yeah. I know almost everything. There’s some stuff that they try to keep secret from just about everybody except the people involved in it. But yes, we just finished the finale. I got back about – I don’t know – a week and a half ago. They left, I think, April 3rd or something like that. So we’re just finishing the season.

I’m so jealous right now.

Eric Lange: I’m telling you, it was like winning a prize package, getting to go visit the set and meet the cast. That would’ve been enough for me.

And then you actually get to act in it.

Eric Lange: Yeah. Then you get to actually speak and run around there for a while. I’m right there with you. It’s just an incredible thing.

We kind of know a little bit of what happens Radzinsky in the future, but I wonder if they were thinking about doing some flash forward episode centered on him? Are we going to learn more about why he killed himself?

Eric Lange: Yeah, with the map and all of that. I certainly hope so. I would love to see that because when that map showed up in season two I was pretty riveted by that just because of all this information. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness gracious. What?’ Then of course the theory is that he off’d himself. All the information we have about him is from that guy Kelvin who ended up being not too trustworthy a source. So I think there is some mystery about what actually went down in that Swan hatch. I sure hope we get to see that, but I have no confirmation from any powers that be that that’ll happen or not. But I have my fingers crossed.

I think a lot of people didn’t realize who he was. I had to search online to figure that he was the guy who wrote the map.

Eric Lange: Exactly, yeah. I think it’d be fascinating to find out more about that. When I auditioned for the show I was thrilled because I’d always wanted to be on it. It was like a two episode arch and the character’s name was Marty Jankowski in the sides. So I got the part and I was like, ‘Fantastic.’ I didn’t know anything.
Then a couple of days later the costumer called and said, ‘Alright, you’re going to be playin…who are you playing? Let me see. Oh, you’re playing Radzinsky’. I was like, ‘No, no, no. I’m playing this Marty Jankowski guy.’ He said, ‘No, no. That’s a fake name. They made that up so that if the sides got out no one know you were showing up.’ The name off the bat didn’t ring a bell to me, but I just Googled it after I saw it. I thought, ‘Why are they making such a secret of it.’ My gosh, the amount of information on the internet about him is astonishing. For someone who was mentioned in one episode three years ago there’s a lot of people talking about him for a long time. I was a little intimidated with those shoes to fill. My impression was that these fans have a definite view of what they’d like to see him be or who they think he is. I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, how am I going to measure up to that.’ But it’s been just a blast, what an honor to play someone so entrenched in the mythology of ‘Lost’.

We hadn’t really seen him younger or older so you were free to go with however you thought he was going to be.

Eric Lange: Exactly. I did a bunch of little back story work on my own because that was the other thing. When I got it it’s not like I know who this guy is and we know that he makes it for quite some time. I called my manager and I said, ‘Is there something that they need me to know about where they’re taking this thing or if they want me to do this a certain way because he eventually blows himself…shoots himself in the head with a shotgun.’ They just called back and said, ‘No. We don’t need him to know anything. If we do we’ll tell him.’ So I was sort of free to create this guy. I mean, the writing is pretty…I’m certainly a bull in a china shop and there’s not a lot of getting around that, but I get to sort of originate the guy which is such an honor.

Do you have a theory for yourself on why he would kill himself or did you do your preparation without thinking about any of that?

Eric Lange: I didn’t have a theory about him killing himself until we see all these people with the bloody noses and the various hints towards suicide that various characters have taken and that this time travel was making people sick. So I started to think that, like, maybe he’s one of the earlier time travelers and that whatever goes down in the Swan was sort of like that sickness that they were all going through.
Now I don’t know. I have no idea because there are so many other things that have been revealed. But he’s obviously a hot blooded guy and sort of wanting to control everything all the time and constantly stepping into other people’s jobs and sort of the crossing the line there. So I don’t know. I guess if you start there and you continue at that pace you might get angry enough to off yourself, but I just don’t know. I really hope that we find out. I think it would be a great little flash forward episode.

Can you talk about the atmosphere on the set a little bit?

Eric Lange: Yeah. Well, I had been sort of catching up on all these DVD’s like twenty four hours a day before I went there, got there and then my first morning they picked me up at like four o’clock in the morning and drove me an hour and a half into this jungle. I got out of the van and there’s the little yellow bungalows and then I get into a van and I’m sitting with Josh Holloway and Naveen Andrews and all these people.
It was so immediately surreal that it was just the wildest thing. When you get on a show that’s that big there’s a concern that you’re maybe going to be working with some big egos and these guys are just the most down to earth people. I mean, from moment one I was treated like an equal and everyone was friendly. It really is a very, oddly enough, laid back set. It’s not that it’s laid back and casual and too relaxed, but it’s just fun. Everyone is very lighthearted about it and it’s just a really amazing group of people. The crew is incredible. A lot of them are Hawaii based. It was a really wonderful family to get to step into.
With regards to shooting there, it’s not necessarily for the faint of heart. You’re not on a soundstage a lot. You’re out in that jungle there and it’s like eighty five, ninety degrees some days and it’s awfully humid sometimes. There are bugs. I got multiple mosquito bites and little spider bites here and there. I wanted to get a t-shirt made at one point that said ‘I came to Hawaii to do “Lost” and all I got were these bug bites’ or something like that. I never did. So all that stuff is in the scene with you. It’s kind of exciting that way, but it’s a beautiful place, Hawaii. I just can’t speak highly enough of the people that I got to work with.

How is this experience different from other shows you’ve worked on?

Eric Lange: Well, maybe it’s because of the length of time that I got to be there. Most guest stars you’re there, maybe it’s five days or maybe as long as eight. But you’re sort of being dropped into this family that you don’t know very well and they’ve been around together for years usually. So a lot of the time is spent just sort of trying to figure out where you fit in this thing and how best you can help keep the train running. So it was really nice to have something where I was there for an extended period of time and you could actually sort of feel at home there after a while and get sort of comfy working with the people you were with. Then the crew as well. So in that way it was a much better experience. It’s just so awkward guest starring because you’re really trying to look often like you’ve been there for a while and you’ve really just been there for a week or so.

Do you have any other projects coming up apart from ‘Lost’? Do you know if you’re coming back for season six?

Eric Lange: I don’t at the moment. I just installed a ceiling fan and that will tell you how exciting life is at the moment [laughs]. I’m just sort of back home and trying to get some projects done. I’m just continuing to audition and I of course have my fingers crossed for the next season. They don’t start back again until August. But I don’t take anything for granted and if this is where the whole thing ends for me then it’s been a great ride. It’s just back to the grind, trying to lock down some more work and see what the future holds.

If you audition and get cast in another show do you have a contract with ‘Lost’ where they say you can’t accept certain things because they might want to expand on your character?

Eric Lange: No. Right now there’s nothing like that in place. So we just go out and if something of size came up and there was any sort of thought on their part that they were bringing me back, obviously we’d want to talk to them about that and try to make that work. I would absolutely love to go back. So that’s always in the back of my mind, of course, but at the same time you can’t just sort of hang around and hope and not go out for other jobs. So in the best of all possible worlds it all works together, but so far I’m just sitting here with fingers crossed and my ceiling fan.

What would your dream role be?

Eric Lange: My dream role? Oh, gosh. Goodness gracious. I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it like that. Some people have.
In terms of the things that I’ve wanted to do in television, ‘Lost’ has always been something that I’ve said I wanted to work on. That’s been a dream of mine since the pilot. I have a friend of mine and we used to watch the show every week together and I just kept babbling every week. ‘God, if I could just get one scene. Put me in there somewhere.’ So one of those dreams has been accomplished.
I don’t know. I’d like to get into some more film work. I’ve been doing a lot of television and that’s great. You’re not locked into a forty two minute timeline on films. There’s just a little freedom. You have a little more leeway in that way and that would be nice to explore and just to get to work with some people in that genre.
But in terms of roles, I have more people that I’d like to work with rather than roles that I’d like to play I guess. I’m a big Phillip Seymour Hoffman fan. Mark Ruffalo. Jack Nicholson. I have this list of people that I would just love to do something with, but in terms of roles, I’ve never thought about it that way.

What originally drew you to acting? How did that all start for you?

Eric Lange: I was in choirs when I was in middle school. I was never very good at sports of any kind, but I would draw and I played the piano and I sang. So I sort of had an artistic bent from the beginning and then when I got into high school, we were in our own school in for my freshman year and there was no choir. So I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with myself. A buddy of mine was going to this meeting of the drama club and so I went with him and the people there, I didn’t really have any intention in being an actor, but the people that I met there were just the most extraordinary group of folks; so confident and comfortable with themselves and really odd and unique. I just thought, ‘Whatever these guys are into that’s helping them achieve this I want to know more about.’ So I got into the plays and it was just a really natural fit from the beginning.
I remember the first show that I did, at the end of the show when the curtain came up and we got our little applause I just felt more at home than I had felt anywhere. I thought, ‘I have to get some more of this.’ So I stayed with it through high school and then felt confident enough about it to go get a degree in it at college. I got a BFA from the Miami University of Ohio and college went well. I got to work a lot there.
After college I think I waited about three months and I was just too antsy. I had to get out there and see what I could do. So I moved to L.A. three months after college and that was fourteen years ago. I’ve been here ever since. It’s worked out well.
When I first got here I did a lot of theater because that’s what I had done in college. A year or two here I got into commercials and I made my living in commercials for seven years because I couldn’t get much representation here as an actor. I didn’t have any TV credits and I was sort of a balding kid with a really skinny body and a young face. So no one quite knew what to do with me and then eventually I started doing theater with the Rubicon Theater Company which is an equity company in Ventura. I did Mitch in ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ and a friend of mine brought her manager to see me and he picked me up.
That was five or six years ago and ever since then it’s just been a complete hundred and eighty degree turn. We’ve been quite busy since then. So I’m glad. I sort of look at those early years in commercials as time where I was marinating and by the time someone picked me up and put me in a room I was ready to work. So that’s sort of the Cliff Notes version of my experience.

Thanks, Eric. It was nice talking to you.

Eric Lange: Nice talking to you, too and I hope that you really enjoy the rest of the season. It’s really a doozy.