Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pass the Dharma Dressing: An Interview with Hurley's Not-So-Bad Twin

I have the distinct pleasure of offering fellow Lost fans an interview with Stu, the man who many of us know as Hurley's lookalike from Comic-Con!

He's a total Lostaholic, and his enthusiasm for the show is both obvious and infectious. Today is his birthday - and I appreciate that Stu took the time to answer a few questions!!

(photo courtesy of The Transmission)

Did you purposefully grow out your hair and sideburns as homage to Hurley?

I purposely keep it long so I can dress up as Hurley each year. In general I think I look better with longer hair, but in the back of my mind I know I avoid cutting it short just to not ruin the costume opportunity. I considered just getting a wig, but I thought that just wouldn't be the same; even if it looked ok, it wouldn't look right. It's hard to get it all big, curly, and Hurley looking.

The first year I did it, at Comic-Con in 2006, I went to get it cut evenly and the guy ended up making it way too short and gave me more of a Sawyer then a Hurley. It was just my luck that was the year Jorge was there.

After that, I decided I needed to keep it much longer then usual, at least through to the end of the show, then ceremoniously cut it all off. The sideburns were a similar case; I didn't have the patience to grow them out that first year, but I knew it was totally worth it. The next year I made the mistake of trimming them down to be even and accidentally trimmed them too far, so they were pretty unnoticeable. This year I stopped shaving in May!
At what point in time did you make that decision?
When I first decided to dress up for Comic-Con 06, I didn't consider what it would actually take to look more like Hurley, aside from having the exact same color shirt, similar looking shoes, and my wristband.

Even with the botched haircut, I got the attention of Jorge, so I knew I had to dedicate myself to it more, and I'm certainly going to do it through the end of the show.
Were you a Lost fan from Season 1 on?
I was a fan of LOST 6 episodes into the first season. A friend of mine came over and said, "You have to see this! And I can't explain what it is; you just have to see it!" I had no idea, and I'll admit I was still a little skeptical, but then when I saw Jorge (who I liked on Becker)...that's all it really took. I watched it and was completely blown away, it had me every second of the way.

The direction of the show and the high production value made it this cinematic experience unlike any other "show" I'd ever seen on television. I was hooked.
Do you have a favorite episode or season?
To me, every season of LOST gets progressively better as the mythology of the shows grows. Every season just keeps getting better and better, especially after the second season, when they knew they'd have an end date for the show. That's not to say that I didn't love the 2nd season; it just took this noticeable new direction after that and they've been following that path ever since.

I wouldn't know how to choose a favorite season or episode; I have so many fond memories and fascinations attached to so many different ones. Of course any episode that focuses on Hurley specifically has a special place in my heart; any episode that further progresses Hugo's storyline and character development, or gives a classic Hurley moment.
What is it about this show that makes us such fanatics? Which aspects are you most fond of?
I've always been a big fan of the whole stranded-on-an-island Robinson Caruso castaway fantasy situation, as well as everything science fiction, but what really got me about the show was Hurley. I identify with him so much; seeing him go through the experience of being on the island since day 1, I find myself reacting to situations similarly, and that's what makes it feel like I'm being brought along for the ride more then any other show/movie/or book ever has. There's never been a show like LOST, let alone one that has ever been different enough to make the big geeky shy type one of the main characters, or feature them so prominently.

I'm a huge geek, and over the years I have come to love so many different characters in movies, TV, comics, video games and whatnot. But there has never been a character like Hurley, and that's I guess what makes LOST so special to me at its core.
LOST has become its own sort of genre and I've come to love it for the unique characters, their willingness to do their own thing and be different, and not adhere to conventional storytelling methods. I consider myself sort of a film geek, so the way the show is shot/filmed is of great interest to me. All of the music on the show, all of the beautiful moments that had intense impact all because of Michael Giacchino's brilliant scoring, or just the use of music in the show in general. I even made a Lostahloic soundtrack by putting together sound clips from the show as references right before the music tracks, as well as random sounds or lines that were particularly special to me. I gave them out as stocking stuffers to all my Lost associates. I've come to love almost every character (aside from Nikki and Paulo).

How and when did you meet Jorge Garcia? At that time, did he recognize the similarity?

I actually didn't know Jorge was going to be at Comic-Con 06 before I decided to dress up as Hurley. When I found out, I got super nervous and worried about how my hair didn't look right. But that year I had a chance to get up to the mic at the Lost panel, and I was probably more nervous then when I got up than this year!

After I did my little Lostaholic bit at the mic, I just kinda went into 'OMG Jorge I Love you Sooo Much!!!' mode, and that made the whole room go "Aww." Daniel Dae Kim was just like, "Breathe brother, breathe!" It was intense and awesome. After he said that, Jorge looked at me and noticed I was wearing my Hurley style wristband, and said "The wristband is a nice touch." That just instantly made me realize that he knew I was dressed up as Hurley, and I then couldn't help but tell him I was also dressing up as him later at the Masquerade Ball. That made the whole room go "Aww" again.

Later, after the panel, they were having a signing with Jorge, Daniel, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, which I wasn't able to get a ticket for. So instead, I started lurking around the booth just trying to get a picture of Jorge. I think he saw me desperately trying to get a picture, and realized I didn't have a ticket. As I wedged my way up as close to the table, I was in view of Jorge and he put up his index finger as if to signal "just a sec."

After he finished signing something for someone, he came up to me and said, "Dude, I gotta get a picture with you." That was literally one of thee most 'Holy Sh*t' moments of my entire life. He asked someone in the crowd to get a picture of us together (on his camera no less!). After a few seconds of futzing with the camera and not getting a good shot, I asked this girl (who ironically was also dressed Kate) to "please, for the love of God, don't mess this picture up." She obviously knew how important it was to me. Jorge came back to try it again with my camera. In the first photo, I look like an absolute nervous wreck with sweat pouring down my face, but luckily she got a good photo for the second shot. You can still see the Grim Adventure of Billy and Mandy stencil I got on my arm at the cartoon network booth the day before, but aside from that, I got my Absolute Perfect Picture opportunity.

Later that summer, I contacted Jorge via MySpace to tell him just how much that meant to me. I got his address and sent him a heartfelt fan letter to let him know just how much I love and appreciate his work (along with a copy of our picture and an 8x10 of it for him to sign). Shortly after, I got it back, and he wrote "To Stuart, Dude You Rock, you will always be my biggest fan! Jorge Garcia."

I was just beyond flabbergasted. It has of course become my most prized picture, sitting in a nice frame on my wall. Jorge has since gotten rid of his MySpace, so these I don't have contact with him aside from reading his blog, where he's always posting awesome pictures and random fun.

I also sent him a copy of my Lostaholic soundtrack, and he sent me back another signed picture saying he liked it! Not only listened to it, but liked it! So now my hope is that someone tells him about what happened at this year's Comic-Con.
What was it like to receive that kind of attention at and following the Lost panel at Comic-Con a few weeks ago?
All the attention was overwhelming, but in a good way. I've never had that much attention in all my life, let alone for such a simple thing as dressing up. Of course I was hoping to have some people recognize me; it is just the biggest payoff to be walking around Comic-con and have someone go, "Hey look, it's Hurley."

The seat I grabbed was within range of getting up to the mic, but there were 6,500 dedicated LOST fans in one room. Hall H had the camera set up to show people at the mic, so I couldn't resist. I thought my costume looked better this year, and I suppose I wanted to whole room to see it and get what I was going for. They did, and it was one of the most awesome things ever.

I know it really is this simple thing, but at Comic-Con, with such a heightened state of reality and fantastic environment that it creates...I know the feeling I get when I'm just walking around and recognize someone's costume. Not only getting the reference, but the execution that person achieved, and that compulsion to get a picture of or with them to document that awesomeness.

So as a Lost fan, to know that I was that for a bunch of people, to see that excitement on their faces to take a picture
with me...made it just the greatest day ever. The panel was one thing. But afterward, the warm reception I got from the Dharamalars during their Comic-Con podcast they let me sit in on was really sweet.

I was just out of mind excited, sitting there with my newest, most prized possession (2nd only to my signed pic w/Jorge) tub of Dharma Ranch Composite with actual island sand stuck around the tape and label! How cool is that! Then at the Jay and Jack Lost podcast networking panel, there are several different great crowd pleaser moments where they mention me and the whole room goes wild. I mean, I couldn't ask for more.

Then, when I thought it was all over, it turned out I had gotten mentioned in 5 different blog/website Comic-Con recaps. Ever since, I've been making all these new friends through the Lost fandom network, and I guess that's what's making this whole experience honestly life-changing; all from this shared/recognized love and passion for LOST. It's just beautiful.

One extra special moment that was so memorable and worth mentioning was while waiting in line to get into Hall H. There was a little boy and his dad who were racing to the back of the line to get in. As they were jetting past me, I saw the kid stop in his tracks and start yelling at the top of his lungs,
"OMG Daddy, it's' Hurley from LOST!!!!" He just went crazy, jumping up and down super ecstatic, and kept trying to run up and see me. His dad just ran up behind him and said, "It's NOT HURLEY, let's go!!!"

I was blushing, it was really one of the more special moments of the whole day, just knowing that to that kid, for that one moment, his suspension of disbelief made him really think I was Hurley. That he's going to probably remember that as part of his Comic-Con is nice; knowing I was a memorable part of so many people's LOST/Comic-Con experience brings me the biggest fandom euphoria ever.

Have you ever considered acting or pursued work as Jorge's stunt double/stand-in?
I've actually always wanted to pursue an acting career. I put my passion on the back burner for a really long time, but Jorge has been the biggest inspiration to not squander my dream. He's helping prove to me that there is a place for the big shy geeky guy type in Hollywood.

WOW, being Jorge's stand in/stunt double - let me make this clear...I would do anything in the world to get to do that. I would drop everything I was doing and be on a plane to Hawaii ASAP. I wouldn't even know where to begin to make something like that happen. I mean secretly, I dream that Damon, Carlton or Bryan Burk would just ask me if I wanted to at Comic-Con, based on them liking my costume so much..but I know that's a really far-fetched fantasy.

If i did ever the chance to in any way shape or form to be able to be Jorge's stand in/stunt double, I would do absolutely anything to make that happen. Not to sound too obsessed, but if anyone has any advice on how to make that happen, email me. LOL.
Have you actually Google'd yourself since the Lost panel at CC? I found a large number of photos/mentions of you online. What do you make of this entire experience?
Actually, before Saturday (the day of the panel) was even over, after I told one of my close friends (Nic, who's a very savvy Googler) about all the day's excitement. He looked me up and sure enough, there were a few different Comic-Con wrap-up articles that had already mentioned me. Then the panel video hit the internet, and I found a couple of different videos of me at the panel. Someone specially put a clip of me on YouTube, and my friend Karen was kind enough to cut my segment of the panel into one clip. A few days later I got mentioned in an article on USA Today's website, TV Guide and several different LOST blogs.

Since the whole thing has happened I've just been coming across random snippets about me. I haven't Google searched myself too much, just based on the overall satisfaction I'm already getting from all this attention. And now this, everything culminating into getting an interview with the ever-so-gracious JOpinionated. It's all just such an honor to be recognized as this dedicated fan.

Now that I think of it, this sort of thing has
always in the back of my mind as something I always hoped would happen, but never dreamed would. I don't mind being recognized as an obsessed fan of the show, kind of like "TheTronguy" or any one of those people who gets recognized by their own community as a fan that takes it to that extra level (hopefully not in a creepy way).

know I'm a fanatic, I just want to express that passion for this show and for that character in a positive way. And with Comic-Con and becoming a bigger part of the LOST fandom community, doing things like this are just what its all about.

Do you have plans to return to Comic-Con next year?
I do have plans to return to Comic-con and dress up as Hurley for at least the next two years, before the show is over. Once it's over and there isn't the yearly LOST panel, I wont have as much ambition to go.
It's not like Lost is the only thing I go to Comic-Con for. But this year (more then any of the years I've been) got bigger and bigger, and not in a good way, actually. They sold 100,000 more tickets this year then last year, and it just made it harder and harder to get around the exhibit hall and be able to get to the kinds of panels that you want to go to. With the extra people, it made it a lot harder to organize the event, so if that continues I won't want to go as much. But I will definitely go as long as LOST has a place there.
Out of curiosity, what do you do for a living?
I am about halfway done getting my Communication Arts Degree from Marymount Manhattan College in NYC, and luckily for me, the school has a really good theater department. So I plan on taking advantage of that opportunity.
Again, thank you Stu, for being such a good sport...from posing for photos with fans at Comic-Con to answering silly questions from Lost bloggers like me.

Happy birthday!


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Stu, and thanks to both for the interview! Way too often cool things happen and then you never hear anything from the people who where involved so it's great to now read how it actually was for Stu to have his special place in ComicCon and what it brought him.
Because let's be honest, for anyone who was not on ComicCon and just watched the video's of the panel, Stu's appearance was way cooler than for example the fact that Matthew Fox was there!

arbitrary said...

Awesome, thanks for posting

maven said...

Happy Birthday, Stu! It's so great to read about one of us crazy LOST fans experiencing all the great things you had doubling as Hurley! You really come across as having a great time...totally awed by everything as a true fan would be!

~Karen~ said...

Jo, This is SO cool that we have a piece on Stuart.
Stuart and I have been friends a long time, and he is a true LOSTAHOLIC through and through.
I am so happy to see him have these wonderful real life LOST moments. He deserves it.
Stuart knows that I know he's a special lostie, and now the rest of the world is getting to share in his passion too. He holds a special place in my heart.

Again, thanks Jo for this wonderful article.

Stuart...Happy Birthday my dear.

Love to all who are "LOST" ™