From Lost creator J.J. Abrams (Fringe, Star Trek), there’s another thrilling and mystifying show that puts the spotlight on the infamous California prison Alcatraz. The series Alcatraz, airing Monday nights on Fox, follows a trio investigating the reappearance of 302 of the most notorious prisoners and guards, 50 years after they vanished from Alcatraz.
The threesome who partner up to track down the inmates are an interesting bunch: San Francisco Police detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones); the enigmatic government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) who lives in the basement level at Alcatraz; and “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia), an Alcatraz expert and nerdy comic book enthusiast. All see the history of Alcatraz come alive with each story that hunts down “the rock’s” most dangerous criminals, while there are hints at something more sinister going on.
Jorge Garcia is no stranger to strange storylines, as he was one of the most popular characters, Hurley, on J.J. Abrams’ Lost supernatural series.
It’s always been a joy to chat with Jorge, from day-one when he was introduced with the Lost cast. He’s always been a soft-spoken guy, easy to talk to and thoughtful with his answers. So when I saw him after the Alcatraz interview session he was happy to share his enthusiasm for the project.
“I’m really excited,” Jorge told me. “It’s another project for J.J., and he’s my favorite guy in the world. He’s just great, and he’s also incredibly busy with the new Star Trek movie. To be in a room when he walks in, it’s like I’m always happy to see him and hear his ideas.”
They film Alcatraz in Vancouver and Jorge says it’s been very cold and rainy “so I’ve embraced my inner hermit off the set, and kinda enjoy watching the rain from the comfort of my couch, with the TV set and the dogs nearby. I only brave the weather when I have to. I enjoyed filming Lost in Hawaii so much better.”
Jorge had not visited Alcatraz before doing this series, “Although I had been to San Francisco a few times, and I did get some ‘property of Alcatraz’ souvenirs. But I hadn’t actually gone on the island and done the whole tour.”
What was his reaction when he first went there? Jorge said, “Alcatraz feels like an old skeleton. There are parts that are crumbly, and there’s a lot of open space. So it has that kind of creepiness that an old skeleton has. Which made it kind of exciting to go there for the pilot and work there. What I really want to do now is go on the night tour, where they do stuff like lock you up and turn out the lights. I really want to experience the scary stuff. When I was working there, it didn’t really scare me as much as I was hoping it would.”
The likable 38-year-old actor, who went to San Clemente High, enjoys being part of spooky projects. He said, “I love that stuff. They’re the kind of TV shows I get enthusiastic about, so maybe that helps when I pick something. I don’t think personally I’m particularly scary. You could say that my friend Michael Emerson (from Lost, now on A Person of Interest) is also very good for spooky TV shows, but I think in an entirely different way.”
Of course the Lost experience has been a big part of Jorge’s life, and I wanted to know if he ever reflects back and thinks “Damn, I did some fine work there?” With the biggest smile on his face, Jorge said, “Yes, definitely. Before that opportunity, I did Becker, playing a wacky guy in a sitcom. Then Lost shows up, and the way the writers wrote for me and gave me opportunities to show so many other sides of a person, to show someone who really was funny, in his responses and his every-man qualities, to how he was reacting to this island. But you also saw he had a lot of tragedy, a lot of grief, a lot of strange occurrences in his life. And he had a little romance. That’s what I really loved about it, too.”
Now he’s back on another island, Alcatraz!