Secrets of the island: an interview with William Mapother

Due to work and life, I suspect my episode recap will be a little late this week. But, this week, I have something to hold you all over until its posting! Consider it a late Easter present.

This past weekend none other than William Mapother visited W&M’s campus! For those of you less versed in the show, he plays Ethan Rom on “Lost.” While his visit, in honor of the International Mercury Expo, focused on social activism, the question and answer period immediately devolved into island questions. And guess who was there with a pen and pad ready to gather info for her adoring readers! That’s right – me.

For the record, Mapother (pronounced May-pother) is a funny dude. And extremely nice. Apparently he spent Friday night playing games with some of the Expo workers (me = jealous!) He even sat around for a long time after his presentation taking pictures, signing autographs, and answering everyone’s questions. Including (almost) all of mine.

How did you get onto the show?

William Mapother: I got the offer the day before I was supposed to fly to Lake Michigan for a reunion with college friends. When my agent called I said I have never heard of this show and my agent said it premieres tonight. As an actor, I had to take it. I flew to Honolulu instead of to Lake Michigan. I was just lucky that the show was a hit right out of the gate.

How does the cast get along?

WM: They get along well which is surprising considering the size and how long they have been working together. Many have families and kids so at the end of a day or working they want to get back to them, but it’s a terrific atmosphere.

Everyone “awwwed” in your presentation when you mentioned your character dying, but I have to be honest, I cheered when he died.

WM: But why did you cheer?

At this point, we got into a discussion about the nature of the characters on the show and I got particularly engaged in the discussion and stopped taking notes (oops!) so I will paraphrase. We talked about how Ethan might have been portrayed as bad originally, but we learned as time went on that the shots he was giving Claire were actually helping save her. And sure, Ethan was creepy, but we never saw him hang Charlie. And all of the fights he got into were started by others. Mapother made the point that so many people take their original impression of characters and do not change their minds past that point. In actuality, almost all of the characters have a bloody past but are still portrayed as “good guys.”

So is your character a good guy or a bad guy?

WM: Who isn’t a good guy or a bad guy?

What is your favorite episode?

WM: I would have to say the second episode in the first season.

Do you watch Lost?

WM: Yes I do. I have no idea what the hell is going on.

Theoretically, what would JJ Abrams or Damon Lindelof or Carlton Cuse do to you if you told us a secret about the show?

WM: Paolo got off easy. And only people who know the show know what that means.

What is your favorite part about the show?

WM: I like being a part of something that brings so much happiness, or entertainment, to so many people – or rather such healthy, thought-provoking entertainment. I feel very fortunate.

We talked with the other fans for a little while longer but I got so involved in the discussions I often forgot to take notes. But I can tell you that he is a devoted actor, who actually shook a papaya tree, and all of the crew’s nerves out of fear one would drop on him, when filming to bring reality to the fact that he was supposed to be picking papayas. And he filmed additional scenes that were cut because the creepy facing down but looking up face he makes was deemed sufficient enough.

So my dreams of meeting someone from Lost have been fulfilled. He was tight lipped about our chances of seeing him again before the end, but I still hope we find out more about Ethan Rom because I thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about William Mapother!

See ya in a few days, brotha!


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