By Michael Ausiello
Updated October 22, 2008 at 08:12 PM EDT


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In what marks his first major TV gig since Lost, Dominic Monaghan has signed on to guest-star on NBC’s Chuck as — stop me if this sounds familiar — a free-spirited British rock star targeted for death by a shadowy group of evildoers. And the similarities to his Lost alter ego Charlie don’t end there. Well, actually, yes, they do. “This is a very, very different kind of character,” insists executive producer Josh Schwartz of Monaghan’s metalhead, who makes an in-store appearance at Buy More and ends up getting entangled in one of Chuck’s spy games. “He’s a lunatic in the best sense of the word. And there’s no heroin [addiction].” Monaghan’s participation is only half the Feb. 2 episode’s sell: It also will air partly in 3-D, piggybacking on NBC’s 3-D Super Bowl stunt. (The network will broadcast the big game the night before.) Aside from the cool factor of seeing himself in 3-D, what drew Monaghan to the role? Did he have any hesitation about channeling someone who, at least on paper, so closely resembles Charlie? And might his tube return be the precursor to another Lost comeback? Hmmm….Sounds like the set-up to an exclusive Q&A with Dominic Monaghan. Scratch that. It is the set-up to an exclusive Q&A with Dominic Monaghan.

AUSIELLO: Welcome back to TV. Why now and why Chuck?
I wanted to work with Josh Schwartz. I’ve been wanting to be in business with him for a long time. My agent got me more and more interested in his work and his background and his sensibilities and we’ve been looking for a way to [connect] for a while now. He’s my age, he’s smart and cool and, obviously, extremely invested in the industry. He’s a comic book fan, he’s a movie fan, he’s a big fan of TV and gives it a lot of respect. It’s the same reason I wanted to work on Lost. I walked into a meeting with Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams and really considered those two people to be the real future of television.

Your Chuck character, Tyler Martin, sounds strangely familiar…
He is an English rock star, so obviously there are similarities [to Charlie]. But this is a comedic role. Charlie was not incredibly comedic on purpose. I think Charlie had funny moments, but Charlie was quite tortured and into meth. The guy that I play on Chuck is just an out-and-out lunatic. If you were to look up “definitive rock star” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of him. But there was definitely a little trepidation. I never want to play the same thing twice.

What persuaded you to do it?
After meeting Josh Schwartz and reading the script, I realized that Charlie could never be this person. Charlie would not be a fan of Tyler. Charlie got into rock and roll for the music and to try and help himself in a therapeutic way. And I think Tyler got into rock and roll because he realizes that that’s the easiest way to get free flights around the world. He’s like Charlie in a hallucinogenic dream. He’s like what Charlie would be in his most brilliant moment, but Tyler is like that all the time. So I thought it might be something that would tickle people to see.

When are you returning to Lost?
That’s more of a question for Damon Lindelof. I don’t really have a huge amount of control over that. I had a great time on the show, and I think Charlie is a character that is definitely missed. I know a lot of people on the show — myself included — get asked a lot of questions about when he’s coming back. The general public seems to think he’s on his way back at some point. But that’s something for Damon to answer. All I can really say is if it was the right thing, of course I’d go back.

Do you still watch the show?
I watch it here and there. It’s not as simple for me to watch it as it used to be, because, obviously, being on the show, I felt it was needed for me to watch it just to stay in that zone. Obviously, it’s not as essential for me to watch it. But of course I know what’s going on.

For more on Monaghan’s Chuck gig, including scoop on the episode’s other potential Lost tie-in, pick up the new issue of EW, on sale Friday. In the meantime, weigh in on Monaghan’s tube comeback below!

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