For the past 20 years, British actor Dominic Monaghan has been a constant on screens big and small.
The 41-year-old found fame in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy as Hobbit Merry. He then starred in US TV phenomenon Lost as washed-up rocker Charlie Pace.
Now, Dominic is back on TV, playing mysterious police officer Stephen Langley in Aussie drama Bite Club. It's a part he's relishing.
"Stephen has been an interesting challenge for me," Dominic tells TV WEEK.
"And I like to be challenged, because I've been acting for quite a long time now."
The fact he got to work in Australia was also a drawcard for the actor.
"I'm a big fan of Australia," Dominic enthuses. "I've been here a lot, it's such a cool country."
Here, Dominic talks Bite Club, hanging with co-star Todd Lasance, and why he wouldn't rule out a return to Hobbiton.
TV WEEK: How would you describe your character in Bite Club?
I think anybody can see that with Stephen, everything is not quite what it seems. He's kind of complicated. He's a police officer, but is clearly not behaving correctly. So my challenge has been to try to make him as real as possible. Because people could say, "Wait, he's a police officer who works with all these other police officers, yet he's obviously being a criminal – how does he get away with it?" It's been one of my favourite challenges with this. He's definitely a strange one.
How do you get into the mindset to play him?
I've read a lot about serial killers. I've always been interested in people's abnormal abilities, negative or positive. To me, people like [composer] Mozart or Steve Jobs [the late co-founder of Apple], as well as [serial killers] Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, are fascinating. I want to find out about people who do things that are difficult for others to understand.
How do you leave a dark character like Stephen on set at the end of each day?
A friend who's a life coach made this really cool observation for me. He said, "You're the guitar player and the emotion you're playing is a note on the guitar."
Once you put down the guitar, you don't walk around with that note resonating through you the entire time.
Do you prefer playing characters with that dark edge?
When I was younger I think I probably did. I thought darkness meant complexity and that, as an actor, it meant you were doing something with more substance. I don't necessarily subscribe to that idea now.
Your first big TV role was in Lost. If it were on today, do you think it would have made as much of an impact?
The climate has changed. We were living in a time when people were tuning in to "normal" TV on a Wednesday night at eight o'clock. Lost was the biggest television show in the world for a while [it ran for six seasons from 2004], but there was no Twitter or Instagram back then. If you look at the actors from Game Of Thrones, they have a strong social media following; their fame is next-level. If we were doing Lost now, it would be interesting to see how that would have affected things.
Would you revisit Lost?
They keep threatening to bring it back. I think they should, but they should start again – without any of the original cast. Another round with another set of rules. Same writers and producers and here we go again. Shake it up.
Apparently, your Bite Club co-star Todd Lasance is a big fan of your work in the Lord Of The Rings films…
That's very sweet of him. Todd's a big TLOTR fan and when I told him I was going to New Zealand [recently], he was like, "Oh, my God – are you going to see Peter Jackson [the films' director]?" And I was like, "Yeah, I think so." And he said, "Do you have anything at home from the movies?" And I said, "Yeah, he gave me my sword." So Todd asked me to get my girlfriend to send me a video of Merry's sword. He's, like, grabbing my phone to see it. It was so cute! [Laughs]
Is it fun to share your Lost and TLOTR stories with castmates?
I'm always careful because, as an actor, there can be a competitive edge or a bit of envy sometimes. Not on Bite Club – everyone is so sweet. But I'm usually like, "I'll tell you guys if you want to know, but I'm not going to push it." But Todd is like, "Tell me, tell me!"
If there was another TLOTR sequel, would you be on board?
I'll ask Pete when I see him and give you an exclusive if he says anything. There are a few things working against me now – I'm 20 years older, so if Merry was 20 or 30 years older, I might be able to do it. I wouldn't rule it out. It was certainly one of my most formative jobs and I know there's a point in my future, when I'm a grandparent, that I'll be sitting down with my grandchildren to tell them about those movies. It really was an incredible time.
Bite Club airs on Wednesdays, 8:40pm on Nine Network.