Reporting from Oahu, Hawaii — "In a world of conflict and strife, there is but one fact we all can agree upon: Everybody loves Hugo."
Last week's "Lost" episode began with that statement, as Hugo Reyes, also known as the lovable Hurley, accepted a Man of the Year award. As played by Jorge Garcia, Hurley is the sweet, emotional center of the "bizarro" island, the chicken-loving, numbers-plagued hero who has grown from follower to leader, always expressing what the audience is thinking. Garcia's funny, heartfelt and self-possessed performance made Hurley a fan favorite from the moment Oceanic 815 crashed on the island.
By now, most "Lost" fans know that the show's executive producers went after him for the pilot when one of them saw him on " Curb Your Enthusiasm." Six years and more than 300 "dudes" later, Garcia says he's "dreading" moving back to Los Angeles and knows finding his next gig isn't going to be easy.
"Now when I think about the next job, I use 'Lost' as my benchmark, so I have to think about if it's something that's going to be as satisfying as 'Lost' was," he said. "It's a pretty high mark to have to meet."
For one thing, Garcia knows there probably won't be any turtles on the beach or whales jumping out of the ocean when he drives to work in Los Angeles. "It's very hard to go, very hard. But I think someday I'll live here again," he said, looking out at Mokule'ia Beach, where it all began. That beach on the North Shore is where Oceanic 815 crashed in the pilot, and essentially where the ABC hit was born.
Garcia took The Times on a special "Lost" tour of the island to offer a glimpse at the island's secrets as he has lived them. The series filmed at nearly 600 locations in Hawaii during six seasons, and the tour included some of the most iconic spots used in its 117 episodes. For "Lost" fans, landmarks such as the Santa Rosa Medical Health Institute, Hurley's Golf Course and Dharmaville are freighted with meaning and mythology. For Garcia, even more so.
Visiting those places during the tour, he encountered eager Losties, who stalked him for miles from the Waikane Pier to Kualoa Ranch, asked him to pose for photographs in the pouring rain at the Byodo-In Temple and at Police Beach, where the castaways set up their camp.
As production on the series finale winds down and Garcia prepares to return to the mainland, the 36-year-old actor provided a rare backstage peek at the series that made him a bona fide TV star.
"This period feels a little bit like your senior year in high school, where you're savoring it more," Garcia said. "You're leaving room to have fun but you know there's a moment of sadness in your future and you're keeping it at bay for as long as you can. We're too buried in work to really sit and think about it too much, but it's definitely more real now that the end is coming."