Josh Holloway: Why He Never Became A Big Star

By Rick Gonzales | 7 months ago

Josh Holloway

Josh Holloway’s rise to fame came with the premiere of the hit TV show Lost. In fact, Lost executive producer and showrunner Carlton Cuse once predicted that Holloway would be “a full-blown movie star.”

While Josh Holloway has continued to work in Hollywood, he hasn’t really seen the level of movie stardom Cuse once predicted. Here’s what happened.


Josh Holloway

Good looks will only get you so far, but for Josh Holloway it kicked off his movie career. Holloway began as a print and runway model, working for such brands as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Dolce & Gabbana. He appeared in the Aerosmith video for “Cryin'” in which he starred as a thief who tries to steal Alicia Silverstone’s purse. He continued to model until he grabbed his first role as “Good Looking Guy” in an episode of Angel.

Josh Holloway continued to model as acting roles weren’t coming his way. Almost two years later, things finally began to pick up, starting with an appearance in the movie Cold Heart, then he was seen on an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

Josh Holloway
Josh Holloway on Walker, Texas Ranger

Next for Josh Holloway were the features Moving August, Mi Amigo, and Dr. Benny. He was also in the TV movie Sabretooth, as well as the CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Lyon’s Den, and finally NCIS, before he was cast in his biggest role.



Josh Holloway blew it. He forgot his lines. Not that big of a deal when you’re in the middle of the shoot, a director yells “cut” and you reset. But he blew these lines during his audition for Sawyer in Lost. His character was originally going to be that of a slick conman who wore a Prada suit. But the lines wouldn’t come for Holloway, only the frustration. Eventually, he was able to remember his lines and move on but it was clear the producers felt Josh Holloway didn’t fit the role as it was drawn up. But they really liked him. He was watchable (thank you modeling career). So, instead of passing on him, they decided to write the character to fit Josh Holloway’s personality. And so was born James “Sawyer” Ford, the narcissistic, rude, offensive, southern “gentleman”.

As Sawyer’s story played out over the course of six seasons on Lost, his character would soften. Even though Josh Holloway tried to fight that softness for as long as possible. He once said to the USA Today during the filming of Lost about maintaining Sawyer’s edge and not being so soft, “He has done some things that are not so Sawyer-esque,” he said. “He’s trying to help people, and people are responding differently to him. It’s too soon to let the (negativity and belligerence) go.”

Josh Holloway on Lost

Series creator Damen Lindelof even agreed at the time, “Sawyer is a guy who needs to be hated, internally. When he survives this knocking-at-death’s-door, everyone will be looking at him as a hero. The fact that he is now looked at as a good guy completely destroys him.”

Sawyer went through many ups and downs in the series. As an actor on the show, he also saw some friends come and go. But the one thing they all agree on is that Josh Holloway really is a southern gentleman. Evangeline Lilly once said about him, “He’s the guy who will open doors for women, who will always carry the bags for women and make sure they feel protected,” Lilly said via USA Today. “It’s a very endearing quality.”

Josh Holloway as Sawyer

Michelle Rodriguez, who joined the cast as Ana Lucia in the second season, only sees Josh Holloway as a brother though, “I feel like pinning him down and farting in his face. We have that kind of sibling energy.” How endearing.


It was at the end of shooting the pilot episode for Lost that Josh Holloway proposed to his long-time girlfriend Yessica Kumala. They had been dating for almost five years at that point.

Josh Holloway once shared how the two met during an interview on the Harry Connick Jr Show. It was pretty evident that Yessie, as he calls her now, was quite the aggressive one, which truly caught him by surprise. He explained to Connick how Kumala simply walked up to him in a Los Angeles bar and slapped him on the shoulder, “She looked me up and down and said, ‘Give me your number before you leave.'” It almost didn’t work until she did it again.

The couple wrote their own wedding vows, but vows they called “realistic.” As Kamala put it, “There’s no ’till death do us part,’ because that doesn’t normally happen. If it doesn’t work, we’ll love each other enough as human beings to release each other.”

Josh Holloway’s love for his wife came shining through one morning in 2005 while the couple was sleeping at their oceanfront home in Hawaii. They were roused from their sleep by a young man with a gun.

“When someone has a gun in your face, don’t give them any reason to pull the trigger. That’s it, there’s nothing you can do. If someone is pointing a 9 millimeter at me, I’m not moving,” Holloway told People. But his main concern was for his wife. “I just covered my wife and protected her, and that was it. And off he went.”

Josh and Yessica

While the man first held the gun to Josh Holloway’s head, he eventually made off with cash, credit cards then stole the couple’s Mercedes-Benz, which police found not too far from the home.

Even though the incident was frightening, Josh and his wife still have an affinity for Hawaii. “It was an unfortunate incident, but it’s something that could have happened anywhere. We still love living in Hawaii,” he said at the time. “We got a wake-up call, and now our house is fully secured.”


Josh Holloway

So, what has happened to Josh Holloway after Lost? What happened to that prediction from Cuse that he’d be a mega-star? Unfortunately, things haven’t progressed as well as predicted in his professional life.

In his personal life, things have gone better. Josh Holloway is still married to his wife Yessica and they have two children together. A daughter born in 2009 and a son born in 2014.

Now 51-years-old, becoming a mega movie star does not seem to be in the cards for Josh Holloway. That doesn’t mean he isn’t working.

Josh Holloway found himself in the Tom Cruise feature Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but it was a quick role with an early exit. He was in a few more features, Paranoia, Battle of the Year, and Sabotage before he found time on the TV series Intelligence. He was the lead in that series which unfortunately lasted only one season. He then reunited with Cuse in the series Colony, in which he also had the lead role. This one fared better than Intelligence as it lasted three seasons before being canceled.

Josh Holloway’s latest role comes on the very popular Kevin Costner-led series Yellowstone. In it he plays Roarke Morris, a pain in John Dutton’s ass. As he told the New York Post, “He’s up to no good. I like to describe him as the inevitable. He is progress incarnate, the velvet hammer. He’s coming down on you whether you like it or not,” and he has the Dutton’s squarely in his sights. “He’s the Duttons’ worst nightmare, because he does it through the government [and] can condemn their land. He’ll try to buy it, and if he can’t, he’ll condemn it. So he’s a problem, and I expect they’re going to deal with him in a real way.”

Josh Holloway
Josh Holloway and Kevin Costner on Yellowstone

When Holloway first got the call about his role on Yellowstone, he was immediately thrilled. He was friends with the show’s creator, Taylor Sheridan, figuring Sheridan would give him a role as a cowboy. “So when I got the call [to be on the show], I was like, “Well gosh, he knows I’m a cowboy for God’s sake, of course, I’m going to get to be one of those guys!” But no. He thought it was hilarious. But I love the character. He wrote it because he knows that I fly fish,” he said to the Post. Well, at least he has that going for him.

Where Josh Holloway’s stint on Yellowstone takes him is anyone’s guess. The show was greenlit for a fourth season, which should premiere (COVID be damned) in June of 2021 so we may know if he continues to be a pain to the Dutton’s or if they are finally able to rid themselves of him. Let’s hope they can’t, for another season at least.