It was beginning to seem like series TV had lost Josh "Sawyer" Holloway forever. Everyone left the "Lost" island in 2010, and his last small-screen gig was a "Community" cameo in 2011, while his film résumé grew steadily ("Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," "Paranoia," "Battle of the Year," and the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger DEA thriller "Sabotage"). Luckily, the idea of playing the first supercomputer in a soldier's body in "Intelligence" lured him back to primetime.
He spoke with Yahoo TV about what had attracted him to the spy series, the physical demands of the role, keeping up with his "little badass" co-star, and what he'd do if his mind had a mainframe.
You were quite in demand during pilot season. What was it about "Intelligence" that won you over?
I grew up on James Bond movies, which are like Disneyland for men, and what guy doesn't want to be Bond at some point in his life? I always wanted to try my hand at action work, and I just barely touched on it with "Mission: Impossible." I just finished a movie ["Sabotage"] where they sent us through SWAT school, so I was feeling tactically trained up and ready to go. But I didn't want to just do something that had been done 100 times. There were offers coming in for remakes and rehashes, but I wanted a new, clean palette. I loved that this married advanced technology with the skill set of a Delta operator. I had also been doing some heavy thinking about our relationship with technology after doing "Paranoia" with Harrison Ford. It's about corporate espionage with cell phones and the Internet. I was recently at a park and realized everybody was looking down. It was like, "Wow. Do we ever touch the earth anymore? Are we ever really connected to it without our gadget? Are we losing the ability to communicate with one another without the aid of technology?" Gabriel has a supercomputer in his head, but we all already have one in our pocket. You are connected to the worldwide grid almost as much as this character is, and that seemed like a fascinating subject to explore while still doing an action-heavy spy show.
Are you much of a gadget guy?
My brothers all made fun of me when I told them about the show because I am not at all a tech guy. "I don't think it's a chip so much as a skull fracture. You may have a bone chip in your head, boy." That kind of talk. I am not very good with technology, and neither is he, so that works for the character. In fact, I thought I was signing on to a sci-fi show, but what I'm learning is that human enhancement is now. There are programs that allow people to control a helicopter through an obstacle course with their mind. That's weird, cool, and scary. So the Clockwork program is just a logical next step in my mind.
Is Gabriel invincible?
No. When I first came in for this role, I asked [them] all that question because I did not want to play this superenhanced superhero guy that never has a problem. It just seemed logical that combining man and machine would cause problems. I mean, how many times do you want to Frisbee your computer across the damn room in a week? A lot. [In upcoming episodes,] Gabriel's been hacked. Viruses, spam, problems with information flow, lost connections — all of that happens to him. The chip can't make him strong or give him special skills. It is mostly about information gathering. I liked that he has limitations and that he is human. And who knows what he is into? Maybe he's addicted to polka dancing or online gambling. He could be constantly watching the game and off in his own world when people are trying to ask him serious questions. Maybe they're saving that for Season 2.
What would you do if you had a chip in your brain?
Wouldn't everybody immediately go to Vegas?
"Lost" was an ensemble show, and every once in a while you'd have a Sawyer-heavy episode, but we imagine playing the lead has been quite an adjustment from island time.
My wife and I were just saying how we were spoiled on "Lost." We were in Hawaii, and I had a lot of downtime. Now, I am in every scene. This is like 60 or 70 hours a week. I have to make time for my family, so I pretty much have a full schedule all the time. I am exhausted, but I am fulfilled. I'm really ready to be in this place in my life. I want to work hard. I want to be tapped out creatively. It leaves no room for anything but creating, and it feels great.
It's a physically demanding role as well. No offense, but you aren't exactly a spy kid.
No, I'm pretty far from that. [Laughs.] It's challenging. I'm not going to lie about that, but I'm an athlete and I love a challenge. I spent my whole life playing sports and doing martial arts. I love that sh--, so I'm used to absorbing pain and going for it. I broke two bones in this hand three weeks ago and still had to fight for two more hours. I've had to do three fight scenes since then. You just have to keep going. Just suck it up. But that's the really fun part. "No acting required" is what we call that.
How is your bodyguard, Meghan Ory, keeping up?
Meghan is a little badass. I love that she's my co-star because she does not complain. She just goes for it to the point that we have to haul her off to the emergency room to get fricking surgery because she's still trying to throw a bomb. She's like, "I must save him as I fall over dead." It's been nice having a tough co-star. She always wants to do more. She's always asking for her next fight, and I'm like, "Didn't you just beat someone up last week? Never mind, go for it. I like your style."
Watch a (shirtless Holloway) clip from the next episode of "Intelligence":
"Intelligence" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS.