Citizen Kane

Now on primetime television’s “The 100,” all is not “Lost” for actor Henry Ian Cusick. In fact, he’s found himself quite content living la vida local.

“How do you do the panoramic?” Henry Ian Cusick is trying to photograph a textbook Kailua sunrise with his phone. He’s marveling at its beauty that—even after all his years living in Hawai‘i—still manages to take his breath away. He laughs sheepishly when he admits that, like most Hawai‘i residents, he takes this daily occurrence for granted, and doesn’t make any particular e˚ ort to witness the golden glory of the sun rising above the Mokulua Islands.

Early-morning call times in Hawai‘i are nothing new to the former “Lost” actor whose character, Desmond Hume, quickly became a fan favorite.

It was that cult-favorite show that first brought him to Hawai‘i. Growing up in the West Indies, Cusick was no stranger to island life. However, what he found after setting foot in the Aloha State was very different from his expectations.

“I was expecting that picture postcard, you know … grass skirts and nothing,” he says, describing his idea of Hawai‘i before he ˛ rst stepped foot in the state. “And I land, and I was like, ‘Whaaat? Three-lane highways? You know, and all these high-end shops. I was kind of, like—not disappointed—but it wasn’t what I was expecting.”

Arranging for what he thought would be, at most, a season-long stint on “Lost,” Cusick set about finding home base for his family. “I just went online and looked up places, and I saw this amazing house. And I thought—you know, the gig was for only a year—if we’re going to spend a year in Hawai‘i, we’re going to live somewhere that’s going to be cool,” he explains. “So we rented this place online, which happened to be in Lanikai—and we’ve never left. But I knew very quickly, ‘Oh, this is like Trinidad!’ where I grew up, and I was so happy that the boys could have a taste of what I had growing up—because I had a great childhood. I had a wonderful childhood.”

That simplicity of his younger days is something that is a cherished memory for him, and being able to provide that for his family: wife Annie Cusick Wood, and sons Eli, Lucas and Esau, is paramount.

Remembering his childhood, he points out, “Everyone was ‘aunty,’ ‘uncle’—we did that as well; just the community feel,” he explains. “It was living in a bubble, it was respectful, safe … Growing up here is safe—especially your teenaged, high-school years. It’s super-safe.”

Henry Ian Cusick

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Henry Ian Cusick with his dog Koa at sunrise. On Cusick: TORI RICHARD 'Sea Fan' long-sleeve shirt in Pacific Blue and 'Carmel' shorts in Cement.

Providing that secure and simple childhood is a big part of why the Cusicks decided to stay in Hawai‘i after “Lost” ended production. But, with that decision comes the balancing act that most kama‘aina are familiar with: not just living here, but also thriving here. ˝ at means a J-O-B. One common refrain that Cusick repeats is that we need another series here in the Islands.

Not that he’s starving for work. Since “Lost” ended, he’s played Stephen Finch on another über-popular ABC show, “Scandal.” Finch’s return not only was integral to a major plotline this past season, it also was one of the biggest surprises any television show had provided for its audience in recent years. No small feat, given today’s social-networking landscape.

“What was really cool about that is that when Shonda [Rhimes] and I spoke on the phone about it, [she brought up] tweeting, and I’d just started tweeting—and although I don’t do it very much, she said, ‘Do not tell anyone. Keep it a secret,’” he says, with a laugh.

While Finch’s return to “Scandal” after settling down off-screen following season one caused some speculation that Cusick might return to the show, the actor says he knows of no such plans.

“Shonda’s left it open,” he says. “You just never know. I think it would be a fun thing for him to pop up now and again … It’s always good to leave those doors open.”

Of course, his current role, as Chancellor Kane on “˝ e 100,” puts a major kink in any possible gladiator heroics by Finch on “Scandal.” The show about a dystopian future (is there any other type of future?) shares many qualities with “Lost”—most noticeably, a character-rich story about survival.

The show is already renewed for its third season—will it turn into another cult-favorite? Cusick admits that anything’s possible.

“I’ve been quite lucky with the projects that I’ve gone on to [after ‘Lost’],” he says. “And, I guess it’s only after you finish ‘Lost’ that you realize what you were in. I mean, at the time, you thought ‘this is a cool show.’ But because I lived in Hawai‘i and I rarely left

Hawai‘i—I don’t really like traveling—I wasn’t really aware of the impact it had on the world.” Cusick explains that it was Desmond’s storylines that really enthused him.

“Being part of it, now, I’m very aware of the legacy of ‘Lost,’ because every show wants to be the next ‘Lost.’ I’m very proud of it. I wish I’d appreciated it more while I was doing it. I was in a bubble, and I was enjoying it. It was a lot of fun, working on the beach, and running around in the jungles …”

Nowadays, it’s the scenery in British Columbia, Canada, that’s providing Cusick’s backdrop. During filming for the recent seasons of “The 100,” Cusick’s made more of an effort to explore the area, unlike his first season. “Vancouver is stunning,” he says. “So now, we’ve found Whistler, and we love it there.”

In between jetting off to Canada for “The 100” and spending time at home, Cusick has found time to work in film. His “baby,” so to speak, is “Dress”: a short film he directed and starred in. At first, his plan was to film it with one camera and his boys.

“Then I approached [Hawai‘i-based producer] Angie Laprete, and before you know it, I have 50 people in my house, two cameras, a whole crew all working for nothing,” he says. “It was just phenomenal. We had a great team.” The short—in which he starred and also featured an all-Hawai‘i cast, including Tony Award-nominated actress Loretta Ables Sayre—was entered into the Hawaii International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.

“I was so pleased with the way it turned out—not just the product, but the whole getting together,” he says.

One of Cusick’s upcoming projects, “Just Let Go,” an indie movie based on the true story of Chris Williams’ forgiveness for the drunk driver who killed his family, took him to Utah. He also got to work with his eldest son, Eli. The younger Cusick was hired to work as a production assistant, when Cusick was asked if Eli would want to play the younger version of his character.

“They said, ‘Would your son play you?’ and I said, ‘Sure, but he’s 6-foot-3! How’s that going to work? You know? Because, I’m only 5-11,’” Cusick recalls. Being able to watch his son film that scene was a touching experience for Cusick, who was impressed with Eli’s poise. “I thought he did a great job … It’s not a huge role, but it’s an important moment in the film.”

Also in the works, another short film, “Visible” that reunites him with his “Lost” co-star, Sonya Walger (who played “Penny Widmore”), whom Cusick had wanted to work with again.

Cusick is thankful for one film, “Pali Road,” that he did not have to fly away for.

“That came out of the blue,” he explains. “Shooting in Hawai‘i is great! That was very sweet.” He was also thrilled to be reunited with many of the crew-members he’d worked with on “Lost.”

The psychological thriller keeps the audience guessing—the story is about a young doctor Lily Zhang (played by Michelle Chen), who awakens from a car accident and finds she’s living a life she can’t remember. Cusick plays her psychologist. Other cast members include Jackson Rathbone (“The Twilight Saga”) and Sung Kang (“Furious Seven”).

“Ian was the consummate professional, and his ability to grasp his character’s essence was absolutely stunning,” says Jonathan Lim, “Pali Road” director. “He is an extremely considerate and patient actor and person.”

While he’s here, he and Annie spend time raising their sons. He also supports Annie’s deep involvement with Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY). In fact, their life here in Hawai‘i is a bit of a role reversal. “I was a stay-at-home husband, doing a bit of theater,” Cusick says, pointing out that Annie used to run a theater company in London. “I became the guy [who] worked, and she stayed at home … she needed an outlet, so she got involved, did a lot of charity, and the one that stuck was HTY.”

As for Annie, she finds great fulfillment in her work for HTY. “I’ve found that my passion is to do shows for under-5s,” she says. Her previous works have included organizing script readings with “Lost” actors—including Jorge Garcia and Daniel Dae Kim—as a fundraiser for the Artists & Actors Fund, writing and directing plays, such as Happy and Blue which recently traveled to Washington, D.C., opening to rave reviews. Up next, The Tiny Tree, a play that shows keiki the beauty of caring for the environment.

Central to their life here, though, is enjoying their home. The family enjoys walking their dog, Koa (a rescue from Hawaiian Humane Society), at quiet times on the beach and hiking. “I play a little bit of soccer,” Ian adds. “I do a little bit of everything.”

Soon after that early morning shoot, Cusick flew off for another few weeks of filming away from Hawai‘i.

However, much like many of the “Lost” characters, the island keeps calling him back.


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