Asked if he had any reservations about again playing a man who appears to be a step ahead of the game in a supernatural drama, the 60-year-old Michigan native told United Press International in a recent phone interview, "I didn't have any problem playing it at all.
"I don't really think John Locke was a step ahead of everybody," he explained. "I think he was confused and weak, but determined and hugely vulnerable. This guy, so far, Gavin, is very strong and very determined, but not terribly confused. So, they are worlds apart in that respect. Gavin, apparently, is conscious of power he controls or is in league with, whereas Locke really was a man of faith and he simply had to believe in something. ... Gavin, I think, he knows a lot more at the point you meet him than John Locke did."
So, who is this puppet-master who savors manipulating the lives of his building's tenants?
"I don't know exactly who Gavin is. I think he will evolve. I hope he will. And gain some depth and layers. I assume that we will find out he will have his weaknesses and his problems. So that will all add to his evolution," O'Quinn said. "The only other character I played for a very, very long time is John Locke on 'Lost' and I'm still not exactly sure who he was.
"Come to think of it, I'm not exactly sure who I am," he joked. "I think it's a long process of discovery that should be fun."
An accomplished stage actor who has also had high-profile recurring roles on the TV shows "The West Wing," "Millennium" and "Hawaii 5-0," O'Quinn said he has seen the benefits and drawbacks of playing characters with definite arcs resolved at the end of a play or episode or season compared with those whose destinies remain more open-ended, sometimes for years.
"I do like that not knowing [where a character is headed,] but I also like knowing," he admitted. "I remember doing 'The Glass Menagerie.' I'm looking at a picture of it on my wall from a long, long time ago. It's also nice to plan out a performance like carving something, like building something. You know where things go and where everything fits. You can kind of count on that. And that's really fun and very satisfying. The process of not knowing is also fun and can also be satisfying. A lot of it depends upon what gets delivered to you in each progressive script. What comes next week? It's like being a little kid opening up a present under the Christmas tree. He may love it or he may be disappointed."
O'Quinn confessed moving to New York and wearing designer suits every day has been a big change for him after years of living in California and Hawaii.
"It's a huge transition. I spent time in New York in the 1970s and '80s. It was a lot different then," he recalled. "It was a lot sketchier then, a lot smellier. It's a huge transition, but, like the clothes, it's a useful transition. It helps you understand the world people live and work in. I think that can be useful."
The actor, who also starred in the cult favorite horror movies "The Stepfather" and "The Stepfather II," said he wasn't necessarily looking for another TV series to star in after "Lost" wrapped up its six-season run in 2010, but the writing and cast of "666 Park Avenue" were simply too good to pass up.
"I like to do any kind of acting. I take jobs that I can get. I don't go, 'I'm going to do a TV series.' It's more like, 'I'm out of work, let's find some work.' That's the way it's always been with me. I like that about my business. It's a gypsy business. I had to move to New York because that's where the work was. So, when people ask me where I live, the real honest answer is, 'I live where I work.' And I happen to work in New York right now, so that's where I live."
Co-starring Rachael Taylor, Dave Annable and Vanessa Williams, "666 Park Avenue" airs Sunday nights on ABC.