In an article in Sioux City Journal, Michael Emerson discussed his long and arduous road to fame with LOST. He referenced his career path to the Henry Gale character he portrayed in the latter part of Season 2 of the popular television show. He reminisced of the times when he would tell friends in Iowa that he was going to be an actor, “you might as well have said I was going to Oz. I don't think that was ever plausible." Emerson, who hails form Toledo, OH, attended Drake University, in Des Moines, IA, and received a theater degree with his parent’s blessing. They never pressured him to follow another path or to have something else to fall back on.
Upon graduating college, he moved to New York City to pursue this acting dreams. But getting parts was as difficult as getting auditions, so he started working retail.
Emerson was not satisfied in retail, and he took a weekend class in magazine illustration. Through that course he found a lucrative career. “But it wasn't my passion. It wasn't me. It was a creative way to put food on the table. I felt less tender about it than auditioning.”
His first career break was a role in The Iceman Cometh. Television roles soon followed. He won an Emmy as Best Guest Performer in a Drama on September 9, 2001, two days before 9/11, for his role of the enigmatic possible serial killer, William Hinks, in The Practice. It was this role that ultimately opened the door to his newly found fame. He was hired to the role of Henry Gale without an audition. He was surprised to have been hired for the role, as he didn’t consider himself an action-adventure type.
He was perplexed at his good luck for landing the role in LOST without an audition: “That's one of those rare moments in my life. Usually, I'm jumping through hoops and fire." He is also not taking this opportunity for granted. "It's daunting. It's huge. And to think I fell into this regular role through the back door is dizzying.”
Yet, he still worries about his future. But he is comforted with the thought that he stage will always be a place that he could go back to.
In the article, Emerson mentioned that most rewarding aspect of working on LOST is the fact that millions get to see his work. He also went on further to say that he loves his work, and he loves portraying the character of Ben Linus. (Ben Linus is Henry Gale’s alter ego.)
Emerson feels that the character he plays in not difficult to portray. He claims that the character “gets to be simple and earnest and other people do the reacting. I'm not even sure he's telling the truth. People, who are liars, if they're any good at all, are very believable, so I don't need to play layers of truthfulness. I just have to play it like I mean it."
Source: Sioux City Journal