Terry O’Quinn (Born Terrance Quinn – the ‘O’ was added after another registered actor already had the name Terrance Quinn) was born on July 15th 1952 in Michigan, USA and was one of 11 siblings. He grew up in Newberry, Michigan.
O’Quinn began acting in the 1970’s during his time at Central Michigan University and later made his way top Baltimore to act with Centre Stage – appearing in many of their productions including Tartuffe and Much Ado About Nothing.
A TV appearance in The Doctors and a the role of James Roosevelt in the TV movie F.D.R.: The Last Year brought O’Quinn onto the box for the first time in 1980 and soon the big screen would also be conquered when O’Quinn was cast in Heaven’s Gate alongside Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Jeff Bridges and John Hurt.
Soon big and small screen role began flooding in including Tales of the Unexpected, Without a Trace, All the Right Moves, Places in the Heart, Miami Vice, Right to Kill?, The Twilight Zone, Silver Bullet, Remington Steele, SpaceCamp, Black Widow and Moonlighting.
“I don’t think I could play a character that I couldn’t relate to somehow. I’m not unfamiliar with frustration, anger, shame, helplessness and a load of other emotions that make up our psycho-soup. I try to focus on that frustration, that sense of unfairness, and multiply it.”
In 1987 O’Quinn starred as deranged serial-killerJerry Blake in The Stepfather, a role he would reprise in Stepfather II (1989) and also made appeared in Pin, Young Guns, Blind Fury, The Forgotten One, Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Deception, Jake and the Fatman, Kaleidoscope, Shoot First: A Cop’s Vengeance, L.A. Law, My Samurai, Amityville: A New Generation, Tombstone, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Matlock, Tales from the Crypt, Shadow Warriors, Earth 2, Homicide: Life on the Street, Primal Fear, Diagnosis Murder, Shadow Conspiracy, and The X Files.
In 1996 O’Quinn starred as Peter Watts alongside Lance Henriksen in Chris Carter’s Millenium. He would play Peter Watts for the entire series run up till 1999. Watts was a former FBI assistant director and a member of the Millennium Group. Watts is Black’s (Henriksen) initial mentor in the group, and they investigate cases together as partners. Although Watts’ faith in the group is shaken when he discovers their responsibility for a deadly viral outbreak, he is reluctant to leave and fights Black’s attempts to sabotage and expose the group’s work.
Following Millenium O’Quinn was more sought after than ever with roles in Harsh Realm, American Outlaws, Roswell, JAG, Old School, Alias, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NCIS, The West Wing, and Masters of Science Fiction.
Then in 2004 came that show about an island… cast as John Locke O’Quinn reigned over LOST for six seasons up until 2010 despite his character dying! The role of Locke gripped fans from the start with his mysterious, intellectual and stoic mannerisms. This was furthered by Locke’s love for living out in the wild and his gift of hunting and tracking. O’Quinn portrayed Locke as a man with mystical and spiritual beliefs and explanations as to why things happen on the island due to a self-described “miracle” that happened to him after the crash of Oceanic 815. Viewers were hooked!
Following the global phenomenon of LOST, O’Quinn was not one to rest on his morals. He continued to carve out interesting characters in Ring of Fire, 666 Park Avenue, Falling Skies, Gang Related, Phineas and Ferb, Hawaii Five-0, Full Circle, Patriot, The Adversaries and most recently in Secrets and Lies.
“I so rarely turned down a role, that I can’t say I have any regrets in that regard. There were many roles that I would rather not have done, but having a home and family requires that we sometimes do things we would rather not. I have done a few roles that I’ve never watched, and if I happen to be flicking through channels and one pops up, I quickly move on. It’s hard enough to sustain some self confidence without being reminded of things we’d rather not revisit but, in the end, it comes with the territory.”