After we down the tacos, we head back toward a very suburban block in Kailua, to Fox’s modest rental house with huge windows overlooking the ocean and a pool and a safety-netted, tented trampoline in the back. Like much of Hawaii, it is simultaneously generic, opulent, and very Brady. Walking through the side screen door, Fox puts out his sixth Marlboro Red of the day and palms the box backhanded to hide it from his two kids, his 8-year-old daughter, Kyle, and 3-year-old son, Byron. He and his wife of 13 years, Margherita, which he pronounces with a full-on Italian accent, hope to stay there even after Lost ends, figuring he can commute to film shoots. Fox says he’s waiting for better scripts than the eight horror movies he’s been offered so far. So while his costars are working on films right now, he’s optioning books and trying to develop a project for Lost’s next hiatus.

Fox suggests we go for a walk on the beach. I pretend this is a common offer from interview subjects. It’s breezy and kite surfers dot the ocean—a sport Fox is eager to learn. As we stroll, I ask him about his many tattoos, and for the first time, he holds back, telling me he doesn’t talk about them. “The tattoos I have are really meaningful. They’re about marking certain events or mottoes or themes that have become important to me,” he says. When I tell him that sounds like the worst idea I’ve ever heard, contemplating the huge Dungeons & Dragons tat I’d have on my left forearm, he says, “I love the thought that in 20 years I’ll say, ‘Holy shit. That was important to me?’ But, honestly, so far all of my tattoos have held up over time as far as what they mean.” Judging from the vaguely Asian symbols I can see poking out of his white T-shirt, it’s clear that Fox did not have a significant D&D period.

Approaching his house, the heat dissipating, no one around, just the two of us, we come to a stop and Fox starts telling me about his extensive skinny-dipping exploits with his castmates. “We’ve had some good parties here where we’ve gotten most of the people to go in naked,” he says, and seeing my face light up in a moment—finally—of clear, pure heterosexuality, he tells me that no, his costar Evangeline Lilly hasn’t stripped down. Jorge Garcia, the heavyset guy on the show, however, has participated in Fox’s favorite group-bonding activity. “I was still taking my clothes off and Jorge went rightby me. A bolt of naked lightning,” he says. All I can think about is that our date is going to end with the ultimate male humiliation, me naked next to Matthew Fox, mano a mini-mano, but it does not.