During the panel for ABC’s “Lost” at the TCA Press Tour a few weeks ago, executive producer Carlton Cuse said that the true mystery of the series is, “Is Nestor Carbonell wearing make-up?”

Those familiar with the man who plays Richard Alpert, advisor to the inscrutable Benjamin Linus, have pondered this question for quite some time, and millions more wondered about it after seeing Carbonell playing the Mayor of Gotham City in “The Dark Knight,” but Cuse’s fellow “Lost” producer, Damon Lindelof, swore to an audience of TV critics that Carbonell is not guilty on all charges.

“When we first saw dailies of Nestor, we were, like, ‘Someone’s gotta talk to him about the eyeliner situation,’” Lindelof said. “And he does not wear any mascara, no eyeliner, nothing. He is completely 100 percent sans makeup. That’s the God’s honest truth.”

And, yet, there are those who still refuse to believe it.

Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to talk with Carbonell in connection with the DVD release of “Killer Movie” (he has a small but hilarious part as a Hollywood agent), I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to get confirmation straight from the horse’s mouth. Word of the TCA tour had clearly gotten back to Carbonell, however, since the mere mention of the event led him to start laughing (“My brother told me about it,” he explained), and the laughter increased dramatically, however, when I told him that the changing of my status to indicate my impending interview with him had immediately resulted in one of my friends – okay, it was Mekeisha Madden Toby, who writes for The Detroit News’ TV blog – replying, “OOOH! Ask him if he uses eyeliner!”

So I asked him.

“Let me make this perfectly clear: I do not. I do not wear make-up, and I do not wear eye-liner,” said Carbonell, still laughing. “My brother sent me that article (about the “Lost” panel), and I just laughed so loud. This is something I’ve had to deal with my whole life. When I was a little kid, I was about five years old and living in Mexico, and I remember my mom’s friends would come over and say, ‘Oh, look at his eyelashes!’ I got such a complex about it that I ended up taking scissors to them once, and my mom stopped me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ But they were talking about them, and I got a lot comments about my eye-liner. Eventually, I got over it and was, like, ‘What are you gonna do?’ But I definitely had a complex when I was a kid about having dark eyelashes.”

Sadly, the complex would come back to haunt Carbonell a few years later.

“When I was in college in Boston, I had a commercial agent who sent me out for some print commercial stuff,” he said. “But they called me into the office and said, ‘Look, we called you in to talk to you because we just want you to know that…well, we don’t think you need to wear eyeliner.’ And I’m, like, ‘What?’ ‘Yeah, it’s okay, you don’t have to wear it for print ads.’ ‘No, I’m not wearing eyeliner!’ And I kept dabbing my eyes and saying, ‘Look! No eyeliner! I’m not wearing any!’ And, finally, they started laughing.

“So, yeah, it’s something I’ve dealt with it in the past, and sometimes, makeup artists are able to diminish it…and they’re doing it on ‘Lost’ more and more…by putting a base on my eyelashes so it makes it less dark. But I didn’t know it would be a question at the TCA tour, that’s for sure!”

Stay tuned for the full interview with Mr. Carbonell on Bullz-Eye next week, with more “Lost” talk, plus conversation about the “Dark Knight” / “Tick” connection, his regrets over the too-quick departure of “Cane” from the airwaves, and…yes!…his work on “Suddenly Susan.”

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