Published December 30, 2016
Since playing the lucky-unlucky lottery winner Hurley on "Lost," Jorge Garcia's career has moved along nicely from "Alcatraz" to "Hawaii Five-0" and upcoming big-screen roles.
It's logical that the actor might indulge himself in, say, a fast car or pricey wristwatch. But to think that is to badly misjudge the man, and, if you happen to see him decked out on Halloween night, you'll understand why.
"Oh, man, do I admit this?" Garcia said. "I always wanted to have an Elvis jumpsuit made and always found reasons not to do it. But getting the job on 'Five-0,' I said, 'OK, I'm doing it.'"
Specifically a $3,700 "Dragon" jumpsuit — a white version with colorful dragons embroidered in front and back — from a costume design company that also offers, among many others, the "Burning Love" and "Aloha from Hawaii" versions for Elvis impersonators and admirers.
If the custom-tailored suit arrives before Halloween he's definitely wearing it, said Garcia, 41, a fan of the holiday as demonstrated by his Instagram postings. It would also be a nice way to mark Friday's episode of "Hawaii Five-0," in which his character, Jerry Ortega, has a featured role.
Conspiracy theorist Jerry has been spying on a suspicious bookstore, and "It turns out they're also spying on him," Garcia said. "Perhaps he poked his nose in where he shouldn't."
This season represents Garcia's move up from recurring guest star to regular on "Hawaii Five-0," the revamped version of the 1968-80 police drama. Among the show's stars is Daniel Dae Kim, who as Jin Kwon was stranded with Garcia on the Hawaii-based "Lost."
"Half the (production) crew are people I already know" from "Lost," Garcia said. "When I came back and did the show as a guest star it definitely had this feeling of coming home."
Paradise is only rented, however. He still has a house in the Los Angeles area, where he can stay on top of job opportunities.
"It's better to be in the room for certain meetings then do things remotely. You can get a better feel for the personalities," said Garcia, who comes across as drolly funny but also much more focused than his often free-spirited characters.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Southern California's Orange County, he found youthful career inspiration in two very different films.
"It was seeing 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' that made me first want to be an actor. I just loved Tevye so much, I used to sing 'If I Were a Rich Man' when I was little," he recalled.
Was that accompanied by Topol's exuberant, hip-shaking dance from the 1971 movie?
Of course, Garcia said. "If you're gonna play it, play it."
As a fledgling performer, the roles he expected to get were along the lines of the funny neighbor in a three-camera sitcom.
"I knew I wasn't a usual type," said the round-faced, bushy-haired Garcia.
His first big role came in the Ted Danson sitcom "Becker" in 2003-04, followed by small roles in other shows and movies. Then came "Lost" and Hugo "Hurley" Reyes in 2004, a welcome chance to play a character with dimension.
He's adding more movie credits to his resume, including two set for 2015 release: "The Wedding Ringer" starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad, and "Cooties," a horror-comedy featuring Elijah Wood, Alison Pill and Rainn Wilson.
As for his distinctive mane, he's more than ready to part with it ("I've had long hair for so long, I need to start feeling like a grown-up") and step into what he calls "real suit-and-tie guy" roles. He plans a serious trim after "Hawaii Five-0," with his Elvis Presley suit as added inducement. He and friends are planning an indie film that would include a scene with a couple of Elvis impersonators.
But there will be other uses for his treasured outfit.
"It's not like I wouldn't walk around my house in the Elvis suit with a gorilla mask on, just for entertainment," Garcia said.