Saturday, January 30, 2010
Published: January 31, 2010
Filed at 1:51 a.m. ET
HONOLULU (AP) -- More than 10,000 fans greeted the cast of ''Lost'' on Waikiki Beach and were treated to a special screening of upcoming season premiere.
Fans started lining up 12 hours before the Saturday night's event in hopes of getting a glimpse of the actors. Sitting on beach towels and lawn chairs, they watched the episode that airs Tuesday night on ABC and kicks off the sixth and final season of the castaway drama.
Among the stars that made an island-style, red-carpet arrival were Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim and Michael Emerson.
Actor Daniel Dae Kim called the event ''humbling, outrageous and a lot of fun.''
Namaste Room 23,
We just want you to know about an initiative, if you don’t know about it yet, that has risen because of the coming final season of the show. :’(
Following the example of “The Lord of the Rings” fans, that succeed to get the names of maaaaaaaaany fans around the world on the DVD credits as an extra, we hope to repeat that hit in Lost (with the release of the DVD/BluRay edition of the 6th season).
In other words, we ask for the inclusion of the fan’s names that have dwelt in the Internet communities for the last amazing six years and that have been part of the Lost phenomenon. It’s clear that Lost wouldn’t have been the same without the community ;)
Thank you, Namaste and good luck. :)
LOST Season 6 DVD Set Details and Release Date Confirmed!
Lost - The Complete 6th and Final Season debuts on ABC this coming Tuesday. But even before that last run of episodes begins airing, the word has leaked out about the home video release for this concluding year of the show. According to VideoETA, a website produced by distributor Ingram Entertainment, both DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases will be coming out on Tuesday, August 24, 2010. Running 714 minutes long, each version will come on 5 discs. The site lists the cost of the standard DVD version at $59.99 SRP, and the high-def Blu-ray Disc edition at $79.99 SRP. Our thanks to one of our readers, Richard , for the heads-up about this info. Specs and package art have not been provided there, nor as Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment officially announced the title at this time. But VideoETA does give a list of some of the bonus material on these releases, and we've got a quote of that list for you below:
* Original scripted content that goes deeper into some of the stories, exclusive to Blu-ray and DVD produced by Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse
* LOST Bloopers & Deleted Scenes
* LOST on Location - Go behind-the-scenes and get the stories from the set, on location in Hawaii from the actors and crew who make it happen.
* Crafting A Final Season - Investigation into the goals and expectations of the season through interviews with writers, producers, cast, and crew
* Audio Commentaries
* LOST University (BD Exclusive, powered by BD-Live)
* And MUCH More!
And that’s just the beginning. We want your readers to know they can check out www.VerizonWireless.com/LOST for even more exclusive videos once the season starts.
Watch LOST: THE FINAL SEASON Tuesdays 9/8c on ABC.
Robin Parrish from ApproachingLOST.com here. Can you believe the beginning of the end is here, after all these years? I have something to mark the occasion that I think is kinda nifty, and I'd like to get it into the hands of as many Lost fans who want it as possible.
Like lots of others, I've spent the last year re-watching all of Lost's first 103 hours, and I kept careful track of the many, many unanswered questions. After a lot of thought and consideration, I've rooted out the trivial ones that aren't likely to be addressed, and compiled the rest into a PDF document. It's a topical checklist of Lost's unanswered questions.
I'm not gonna call my list "definitive," because there's no way any list ever could be, since we've all got our own personal wishlists of questions we hope the show answers. But to the best of my reckoning, these are the most important questions that still require an answer, from a storytelling point-of-view. (I know, I know, the characters are what matter most. I'm not suggesting that the mysteries are more important. This is just for kicks.)
If you'd be interested in posting this PDF for your readers to download and use for their own enjoyment, I hereby grant express permission for you to download the PDF and post it on your own website/server for your readers to have and use.
Snag the file here:
Here is the audio to the ESPN Radio (owned by ABC) is airing and apparently has Locke talking about answering why someone is on the island.
If you have kept upto date with spoilers then you will know Locke is actually MiB who is the Smoke Monster and if this is from Season 6, then it seems like he is telling someone that he knows why they are on the island.
Here is the transcript and audio.
Locke : "What If I could answer for you the only question that matters?"
???? : "What question is that?" Someone, not sure who it is
Locke : "Why are you on this Island?"
A big thanks to DarkUFO reader Chris for the following.
I started listening to ESPN radio in order to catch the LOST ad people have talked about hearing and my patience paid off. They aired it. I recorded it in the very low tech way of putting a mic to my PC speaker and using windows pound recorder, so the quality isn't top notch. Nevertheless here's the file. I can see why people have been having a hard time figuring out who the second voice is because it's kind of a whisper. Sounds like Sawyer to me.
By Katherine Nichols
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 29, 2010
The last couple of seasons of "Lost" began with a whimper, slowed by the writers strike that temporarily crippled the television industry into early 2008 and a faltering economy that precluded any notion of gala parties and premieres in 2009.
This year, however, the series returns to its former glory as it prepares for the final exit -- and once again, Hawaii residents will reap the benefits.
Tomorrow night the first episode of the sixth and final season will screen at Sunset on the Beach, three days ahead of the rest of the world (229 countries and 49 states, to be precise), which must wait until Tuesday. The hype sparked "Lost" vacation packages, attracting fans from all over the world to attend the event unique to Hawaii. It could be even more popular than the Season 3 premiere event in October 2006, when throngs of screaming fans paralyzed Waikiki.
SUNSET ON THE BEACH
Featuring the 'Lost' Season 6 world premiere
Where: Queen's Beach, Waikiki
When: 5 p.m. tomorrow (screening starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Info: 923-1094 or www.hsblinks.com/1rj
Most dedicated viewers will stake their territory at Queen's Beach long before the stars and producers walk the international press line. (Consider this: For what other show do the writers and producers stroll the red carpet? Dedicated followers and ingenious plot twists have made Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof celebrities, too!)
Daniel Dae Kim, who has played Jin Kwon in more than 100 episodes since the series premiere, said the writers have always created innovative methods to convey plot, action and character development, and this season will be no different.
"There are going to be changes to the narrative storytelling style," he said in a telephone interview. "We're going back to being character-based in a way that reminds me of Season 1."
Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee Michael Emerson has hinted about the upcoming season's violence and energy, and Kim agreed.
"Every season, our show seems to have gotten a little bigger in scale," he said. But Kim believes the final season will combine the best of both character development and action.
Along the way, some viewers drifted because of the convoluted science-fiction plot, while other fans became even more devoted, forming the show's "smaller but more vocal and hard-core audience." Kim is hopeful the final season will lure both groups.
"At its core I think 'Lost' is a human story," he said. "The characters pique a lot of interest."
And the actors who play them are just as enthralled. Will Jin and Sun reunite happily? At all? Even Kim doesn't know.
In a moment of reflection, Kim pondered the evolution of the show. For him the biggest change occurred between Seasons 1 and 2. Initially, few people thought the series would succeed; nobody really knew the names of the actors involved. The next year, all were a worldwide phenomenon.
"The second-season Sunset on the Beach (premiere) kind of overwhelmed me a bit," he admitted.
But all that fuss certainly has helped the actors' careers. According to Kim, he never would have received the offer to perform the lead in a theater production of "The King and I" in London last summer without the recognition "Lost" has brought him.
He's also proud to have participated in a series that will leave an indelible mark on the television landscape. When discussing the past 10 years of television history, he said, "You can't have that conversation without including 'Lost.'"
But for him there's been much more to the experience.
"Living in Hawaii has been one of the best things about being on this show."
In case you missed it
To prepare for the first episode after the complex Season 5 finale, it's best to watch both installments of "The Incident" again on www.abc.com. There's also a multipage episode summary available on the site.
A few key points:
» We finally meet Jacob, the multilingual leader of the island who permeates many of the characters' lives long before they crash on the island. He crosses paths with Sawyer and Kate as youngsters, as well as Jack as a surgeon. Does he save Locke's life after Locke is thrown from a window? And there he is, attending Jin and Sun's wedding in Korea. In a cab he urges Hurley to return to the island. Jacob appears to be partially responsible for Nadia's death by pulling Sayid aside just before Nadia gets run over by a car. In most instances, Jacob touches fingers with the key characters at some point. And he's obviously behind the miracle that prevents Richard Alpert from aging.
» Locke wants Jacob dead and tells Ben to stab him. Ben agrees because he is fearful of his dead daughter's threat to destroy him if he doesn't follow Locke's orders (and he also resents Jacob for ignoring him for so many years).
» But if Locke's body is still in the coffin on the beach, who is with Ben and Jacob in the tomb underneath the statue? Who, exactly, has found the "loophole"?
» Back in the 1970s in Dharma Initiative time, Jack is trying to blow up the island (for Kate, he explains to Sawyer) in an effort to prevent the crash of Flight 815 and everything that subsequently happens on the island. At the Swan station construction site, Jack throws the plutonium core into the pit. Everything metal gets pulled in, including Juliet, who is tangled in chains. The fall critically injures her. When she sees the explosive beside her, she whacks the core until it detonates. The show ends in a blinding flash of white light.
Who's alive? Who's dead? How will it change the next 30 years, if at all?
—Katherine Nichols, Star-Bulletin
At 8 p.m., NBC will air a "Loser" repeat, which gives some extra breathing room for Fox's "American Idol." The aggressive scheduling move is a bit unusual for NBC ... but then again, the network doesn't have that many hits to be aggressive with. (If "Idol" is the industry's Death Star, "Biggest Loser" is like a squadron of irate TIE Fighters).
NBC's move may have an impact on "Lost" ... but then again, ABC has found that it doesn't matter what show the network pairs airs next to "Lost," the show's audience tends to be an island -- ahem -- of viewership. In other words: I'm not sure how many "Lost" fans are going to be shaken off the final season return by any other show.
Published: January 28, 2010
FROM the time that Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crashed on a mysterious island in the 2004 premiere of “Lost” on ABC, almost everything that appeared to be true about the fate of the survivors has become if not actually false, then at least vastly more complicated that it originally seemed.
The island itself, for example, which at first seemed to be disconcertingly deserted, soon proved itself to be even more disconcertingly inhabited. While those inhabitants (known as the “others”) are liars, kidnappers and murderers, ultimately their crimes are revealed to serve a larger, protective purpose. And though it appears that for survivors of the crash the ultimate goal is to leave the island, many who do leave find themselves inexorably pulled back.
For the men pulling the levers behind the “Lost” curtain, finding ways to wrap up both the fate of the story’s characters and the mysteries of the island for the program’s final 16 episodes, which begins Tuesday, is a multifold challenge.
“Normally the thing that you have to execute is coming up with fulfilling endings and resolve the fate of your characters,” said Damon Lindelof, an executive producer who, with Carlton Cuse, oversees the series and is writing the key episodes for the coming season. “But we also have the added weight of how are we going to resolve this mythology.
“The show is so predicated on questions. So now we’re in answer mode, and have been for quite some time.”
And while the creators of “Lost” have assured viewers for much of the last five years that yes, they know the answers to those questions, they acknowledge that they do not yet know exactly how the series will come to a close. The final episodes have not yet been written, much less filmed.
“We came up with the final image of the show a long time ago, back when we were first plotting out the mythology in the first season,” Mr. Cuse said. But he added: “We still have six hours of the show to make. That is sort of the equivalent of three feature films. We have to do all the writing for those in about eight or nine weeks, and we have to finish shooting them between now and the middle of April.”
The creators are willing to make a few promises, which they outlined this month in an interview and in discussions with reporters at a meeting of the Television Critics Association. Viewers will not have to wait until the last moments of the series finale to get many of their answers, they say. Beginning with the season premiere, revelations about some of the most fundamental mysteries will come fast and furious.
Some of the “Lost” actors, in fact, implied that viewers hoping to quench their thirst for answers in the season premiere might find themselves drinking from a fire hose.
“It felt like a finale,” said Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer, the brooding loner who seems to think best with his shirt off. “That scale. Wow.”
But providing answers does not necessarily means that resolutions will be simple. Emilie de Ravin, whose character, Claire, was pregnant when the plane crashed, gave birth on the island and all but disappeared into a spiritual netherworld in Season 4, admitted that she was initially a bit confused.
“I think I had to read it about three times before it actually made sense,” said Ms. de Ravin, whose character plays a bigger role this year. She was confused, she added, but “in a great way.”
“Not helping,” said Mr. Lindelof, who said of his biggest nightmare, deadpan: “Get ready to scratch your heads, America.”
The creators say their hope is that this final season might feel like a first, in that a viewer does not need to have watched the 95 previous episodes in order to enjoy the final chapter.
“There’s an inherent process when you’re ending something to sort of be thinking about the beginning,” Mr. Lindelof said. “One of the things that I think we are trying to do — all of us, the actors and the writers as well, in the sixth season — is to show the audience the before,” as well as the after.
Therefore episodes in the final season will continue to provide plenty of back story. That way viewers “have some sense of, ‘Oh, this is what he used to be and who they are now,’ ” Mr. Lindelof added. “So you really get a sense of how far that person’s come.”
“Lost” remains, by almost any measure, one of ABC’s biggest hits. But its viewership has fallen by about 30 percent from the first season, when an average of 15.5 million viewers tuned in each week, to the fifth, which drew about 11 million a week, according to Nielsen. Last season’s finale drew about 10 million viewers, compared with 14 million to 20 million in the earlier seasons.
And it is perhaps the most loyal viewers — who, having immersed themselves in every detail of every show, might therefore be hoping that every puzzle will be solved — who stand to be the most disappointed, according to the creators.
“Obviously not every question’s going to be answered,” Mr. Cuse said. “We felt if we tried to just answer questions, it would be very pedantic. Apart from that, we also really embrace this notion that there’s a fundamental sort of sense of mystery that we all have in our lives, and certainly that is a huge part of the lives of these characters.”
“To sort of demystify that by trying to literally explain everything down to the last little sort of midi-chlorian of it all would be a mistake in our view,” he added. (In “Star Wars,” midi-chlorians were life forms existing inside all living things; that the “Lost” creators might explain the real-world implications of their fantasy world by referring to another fantasy world is perhaps part of the reason that the series has lost viewers.)
But Mr. Cuse remains optimistic: “I think there would be, hopefully, a kind of healthy cocktail of answers, mystery, good character resolutions and some surprises.”
As with the Harry Potter series, another fantasy that the creators often cite as inspiration, the end is likely to have more to do with character resolution than with the solving of mysteries like what exactly the island is. Does Kate, the sexy fugitive, for example, end up with Sawyer or Jack, the reluctant leader of the band of survivors? Is John Locke dead or alive? Will Hurley ever lose weight?
If the creators are not saying, they do promise one other thing. While the ending of the series will almost certainly provoke some debate, it will not be of the type created by, say, the black screen that ended “The Sopranos” or the “It was all a dream” or “It all took place in someone’s imagination” endings of “Newhart” or “St. Elsewhere.” And like David Chase, the “Sopranos” creator, they do not plan to answer questions after the finale.
“We feel like over the course of the entire season we’re going to be answering questions and explaining things,” Mr. Cuse said. “We’re really going to focus on making sure the resolution of these characters comes to a place that we as writers feel satisfying. And that’s kind of the best approach we can take to make the show end well.”
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The sixth and final season of Lost is being filmed here. And the level of secrecy would make the founders of the Dharma Initiative proud.
Producers have gone silent regarding details of the epic ABC adventure, which starts its final approach with a two-hour season premiere Tuesday (9 ET/PT). They hope to spring new surprises on a dedicated audience already mesmerized by the twists and turns of the Oceanic 815 plane crash survivors on an eerie island.
"We're in total blackout mode," executive producer Carlton Cuse says. "We want the audience to experience the premiere cold."
USA TODAY visited Lost's set late last year in a lush, tropical area framed by familiar mist-shrouded mountains — though the juicy details still fall under the Cone of Silence. In interviews here and elsewhere, however, the producers and actors discussed the unlikely journey of a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed series that has embraced quantum mechanics, romantic triangles, flashes backward and forward, a monster shaped from smoke and an island research project called Dharma.
"When I think about the premise of this show and what this show has done, there were just so many ways it could have blown up in our faces," says Matthew Fox, who plays the penitent hero, Jack. "What they've done with it, how big and the scope of the show, I've just been so impressed. I always look forward to reading the next script, (and) this year has a heightened anticipation because we're moving toward the end, and much will be revealed."
When viewers last saw Lost in May, it indeed appeared to blow up, as Juliet's (Elizabeth Mitchell) efforts to detonate a nuclear bomb ended the season in a white flash. Jack's plan was to explode the device in hopes it would prevent the plane crash from ever having happened.
Although fans must stew a few days longer before learning whether Jack's plan works, the season isn't an entire mystery:
•Season 1 favorites still on board include Jack, Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Sun (Yunjin Kim), Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), Sayid (Naveen Andrews) and Locke (Terry O'Quinn) — or at least a Locke look-alike — with Claire (Emilie de Ravin) returning after a season away.
•Departed characters — several in the dearly sense of the word — will return, including some who go back to the beginning. Confirmed returnees include Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), Boone (Ian Somerhalder), Michael (Harold Perrineau), Charlotte (Rebecca Mader) and Libby (Cynthia Watros). Mitchell will appear, too.
•There will be a symmetry with the first season, in tone, in storytelling technique and in reminders of where characters were then, emotionally and otherwise, compared with where they are now. At the same time, the series will be trying something different narratively, too.
Producers will say that Season 6 won't be quite as challenging as Season 5, which delved into the intricacies of time travel.
"Last year was like a graduate course in physics, and this year is like a graduate course in the humanities," Cuse says. "To us, the important thing this year is to end the character stories well. There are significant questions to answer, but we hope the audience embraces the final season of the show because it wants to see what happens to these people."
The Jack-Locke relationship, a core Lost dynamic that began as a question of science vs. faith, will be one situation to watch.
'Lost' cast stays in the dark
Producers have long known the ending, but cast members say they don't, which puts them in the same position as Lost fans.
"I'm further from it than I was," says Michael Emerson, who plays the manipulative Ben. "I thought when we began (shooting) Season 6 that I'd begin to see the end and go, 'Aha! This is how it's going to go.' I'm more confused about it (now) than I was last summer."
Beyond the specifics of the ending, what stands out about Lost is that it has one that has been planned since 2007. Rarely, if ever, does a successful TV series schedule its conclusion that far in advance, but Lost's producers wanted an endpoint to tell the story properly. (And it's a real end: Producers say they plan no cliffhangers, spinoffs or movies.)
"The show needed to have an ending. It was brave for them to do that," Yunjin Kim says. "Usually, networks want to prolong shows as long as possible."
Having an ending has allowed writers to control the pace of the story and decide when to reveal answers. To that end, "we're taking on some of the biggies right out of the gate," executive producer Damon Lindelof says.
"It would be a huge mistake to wait until the final episodes of the series to start to answer these questions," he says, "because the entire season is predicated on beginning to answer them in the premiere."
Questions will be resolved
They don't promise to answer every single question viewers might have, but they are eager to hit the big ones; the Emmy-winning series has been both hailed and criticized for a complexity that has cost it viewers over the years. From a Season 1 high of 16 million viewers a week, Lost has drifted lower, to last season's 11.3 million average — though it performs well among advertiser-coveted young adults, and is one of TV's most timeshifted series.
Daniel Dae Kim believes those who have remained will stick around for the finish. "That's one of the advantages of having a definite endpoint. Once you're invested and have come five-sixths of the way, it's not that much further to the finish line," he says.
Lilly says she believes Lost will leave a powerful legacy. "I hope and suspect that it will go down in time as a precedent-setting television show, that it will be the show that changed the face of television in the early 2000s. I see our show as fitting in with a very well-esteemed group of entertainment programs, Star Trek being one of them."
It feels different on set because it's the last season, Garcia says. "In some ways, it's like your senior year in high school. You know the sad part's coming, but so far it's been a lot of fun."
Whatever sadness there is, all agree it's time.
"After the pilot aired, people said, 'Come on, honestly, how long do you think this show is going to last?' If we had said, 'About 120 episodes, six years from now,' people would have laughed at us and said 'You're crazy,' " Lindelof says. "But now that we're looking down the tunnel and seeing the light at the end of it, it feels like that was the exact right amount of time."
A Special Screening of ABC's Hit Comedy "Modern Family" will Immediately Follow
"Lost" and a Marathon of "V" Will Be Screened the Next Day, Sunday, January 31
ABC's "Lost" makes its return for its final season with a special screening at "Sunset on the Beach" on Saturday, January 30 at approximately 6:30 p.m. Thousands of fans will congregate on the sandy beach of Waikiki in Oahu to be the first to see the initial hour of the season premiere episode before it airs nationally on the ABC Television Network. Fans can also catch a special screening of an all-new episode of the hit comedy "Modern Family" immediately following "Lost," and will also be able to view a marathon of "V" on Sunday, January 31, beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m. as well.
This marks the final screening of "Lost" at "Sunset on the Beach," with executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse on hand to address fans with a special message. Those attending will also be able to bid on a signed photo of the entire cast among other items in a special auction at the event.
"Lost" premieres Tuesday, February 2 on ABC with an all-night event that begins with a special (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET), followed by the two-hour season premiere (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET).
"Modern Family" airs Wednesdays from9:00-9:30 p.m., ET on ABC.
New episodes of ABC's "V" will return beginning on Tuesday, March 30.
"Sunset on the Beach" screening location:
Waikiki Beach on Oahu between Kapahulu and Monsarrat Avenues on Kalakaua across from the Honolulu Zoo.
Thanks to Kimbery for the heads up.
Matthew Fox is scheduled to appear on "Live with Regis & Kelly" on Tuesday, February 2nd
News that Harold Perrineau will be returning to Lost late in the show’s upcoming final season came as a shocker to many who recalled the actor’s public criticism of the 2008 decision to kill off his character, Michael, and have Michael’s son, Walt, raised by his grandmother (something he felt could be perceived as a “ghetto stereotype”). But speaking publicly for the first time since the announcement, Harold says, “I was always open to returning because there was stuff I thought was unresolved. I’m hoping we can put Michael to rest in a way we haven’t done so far.”
When he returns to the Hawaii set at month’s end, Harold’s anticipating some time in the makeup chair to make him look like Michael, since he’s on loan from the upcoming movie “The Hungry Rabbit Jumps,” in which he plays the principal of a school where Nick Cage is a teacher. “I now have a mustache and short-cropped hair,” Harold says from the New Orleans set. The actor’s deal was finalized just one day before Lost’s executive producers announced that he’d be back, along with Cynthia Watros, whose character, Libby, was shot to death by Harold’s character in 2006. “There are two big hopes I have for Michael,” says Harold. “One is I hope he gets to apologize to his son.” (Unlikely, says exec producer Carlton Cuse, explaining it’s tricky to bring back Malcolm David Kelley, now 17, because “he looks much older than his character. But we’re still seeing if there’s a way to work that out.”)
Harold’s second hope: “That I get to apologize to Libby, since her death was really an accident.” (Oops!) Coincidentally, Harold’s other upcoming film, “30 Days of Night: Dark Days,” casts him as a vampire slayer alongside Kiele Sanchez, who had a brief run on Lost, as Nikki, before her character (along with Rodrigo Santoro’s Paulo) was buried alive in 2007. “I wish she’d been part of our first season, because she’s so much fun,” raves Harold, who was off Lost during Kiele’s run. “When we first met, we literally hugged like we were long-lost brother and sister. I remember her telling me she was so excited to be in Hawaii when she joined Lost, but then people kept telling her tales of what she shouldn’t do on set, and she panicked. And then they killed her.”
Sky1 recently caught up with the stars of Lost and found out some surprising revelations. When asked to sum up what the Lost audience will make of the final season in under three words, the cast were reassuringly cryptic.
Daniel Dae Kim who plays Jin Kwon declared that fans would feel “Content” while Evangeline Lilly felt that the finale would cause a divide amongst fans saying “They’re either gonna love it or hate it.”
Things got s little more revealing as Josh Holloway joked that the final episode of season 6 would be called “Cage Orgy” hinting that the whole cast would be locked in a cage to recreate the famous Sawyer and Kate love scene in season 3. Now that’s something I think every Lost fan would want to see!
How did you first gain an interest in acting?
I grew up in New Zealand, where television didn't arrive until the early sixties and my parents were members of several amature dramatic societies. I would often spend weekends with my parents, building sets and preparing for productions. I was in my first stage play, "Seagulls Over Sorrento", when I was about fifteen. Although I first performed, as a thirteen year old, at my High School Concert imitating an American comedian called Shelley Bermann.
What would you consider your “big break” into the business?
I was driving my milk truck one night and at about 4-00 am the radio announcer I was listening to decided he had had enough and walked off the station, leaving the sound of the record in the wash. I went home, had a shower and drove into the radio station and asked to see the manager. The guy said I could use their spare studio and as soon as I was ready I should bring him a tape of my work. After about three months of practice, I received a phone call from the Manager asking me to fill in on their midnight to dawn show. Three months later I was the afternoon announcer.
Having pulled that off I went to the local Television Station and asked about working as an actor. I was told that they didn't hire people without experience, but none the less, I received a call from them a few weeks later asking me to audition a role in a new series they were making called "Radio Waves". I took the part and worked on that show for seven months.
After “Neighbours” you went into publishing for a while, what made you go down this path?
I published a "Neighbours" magazine because we were having trouble controlling the publication of similar magazines, with unauthorised pictures, by other people. A lawyer told me that the only way to have control over our images was to publish ourselves. It was quite lucrative.
What gave you the push to move to the States in 2000?
I came to the United States ten years ago, to see what would happen. I had always thought that Hollywood was the Mecca of our business and wanted to see if I could make it here. My wife, Tracey, was a great supporter of the idea and it has worked out wonderfully.
Since your move, your career has been bigger than ever, do you think you have finally left the character Jim behind?
I have been able to move out from "Jim Robinson's" shadow, but when I am in Britain or Australia, I still have loud "Jim" days.
You have had had guest roles on Lost over the last few years, do you keep up with the show? Where you a fan before you were cast?
I am still working on "Lost" and just arrived back from Hawaii, where it is shot, two days ago. I leave again on Friday. Tracey and one of my older sons, Simon, are huge fans and have always encouraged me to be part of it. When I was in London in 2008, playing King Arthur in "Spamalot" on the West End, they brought two cast members to London to shoot scenes for the show.
Lost is going into its final season this year, is your character going to be featuring more prominently in this season?
My character "Charles Widmore" is still heavily involved in the story lines of "Lost", but more than that I cannot tell you.
Along with your work in America, you have also guest stared in some British (Torchwood, Midnight man) and Australian (Sea Patrol) shows, how did this compare to your work in America?
I am always amazed at how similar the experience is when working on shows in different counties. There are a few little differences. For example, when a First Assistant director in Britain or New Zealand or Australia wants someone to act silently in the background, they ask the people to "mime" their work, while in the USA, First Assistants always ask them to "pantomime". ( I always thought a Pantomime was a stage show?) You were recently in the musical “Spamalot”, how was working on this different from working on a TV show/Film?
"Spamalot" was the most fun I have ever had in this business. I played King Arthur and we filled the 2,000 seat Palace Theatre in the West End almost every night.
Are you working on anything currently?
I have just completed three feature films which are due out this year or next and, as I mentioned, I am still working on "Lost". I begin work on a new Kate Hudson, Kathy Bates movie, "Earthbound" later this month.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
By Jeff Jensen Jan 26, 2010
Writing the words ''The Final Countdown'' reminds of the Europe song, of course. Which reminds me of Will Arnett on Arrested Development. Which reminds me that Amy Poehler's husband has also appeared on 30 Rock. Which reminds me that whenever I watch 30 Rock and see the obligatory establishing shot of the ebony edifice that is Rockefeller Center, I think ''Black Rock.'' Which reminds me of Lost. See how my mind works? Behold the logic that you trust to make sense of the most mysterious show on television! Yes, my friends, there's no question about it — you, dear reader, are truly in the very best of hands.
Next week, the end of Lost begins. Goosebumps, huh? Perhaps a slight flutter of the heart? Or did you just pee yourself? It's okay! No judgment here! All spontaneous physiological expressions of excitable response to the imminent arrival of the final season of the greatest smoke monster/haunted polar bear/rampant boar teeming, peanut-butter stashing, killer-spider crawling, mystery island drama in the history of such televised dramaticals are appropriate! My involuntary reaction? Total grammatical collapse! Also, I automatically think of Sting. That's right, the famous Sting, the one who shot to superstardom by duet-plus-oneing with Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams on the love theme to 1993's The Three Musketeers, starring living legends Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Oliver Platt; the same Sting who first captured our hearts by playing the psychopathic but lovable Feyd in David Lynch's Dune. Ah, Feyd. Lovely, Feyd. Let's revisit, shall we?
Anyway, Sting comes to mind one week before the premiere of Lost because 1 week = 7 days and ''7 Days'' is one of my favorite Sting songs, like, ever. Yes, I am a big Sting fan, and if saying that makes me sound like I'm 40 years old or something, you can bite me: I'm only 39. Truth is, Sting has been a major source of Doc Jensen inspiration over the years as many of his songs deal with ideas, themes, and motifs that are either in Lost or that I merely see in Lost. (Same thing, right?) To ring out the introductory portion of today's monumental column (I did promise you Doc Jensen's ''Final Theory of Lost'' this week, did I not?) and ring in the passion week of Lost (because the premiere is just as important as Easter, is it not?), I present...
THREE STING SONGS THAT ARE ACTUALLY LOST THEORIES!
From the album Ghost In The Machine, by the Police, 1981
The song's inspiration is actually political in nature, but I always got a spiritual/mystical vibe from the title. I hear the refrain and I think, ''Locke's theme.'' The album Ghost in the Machine, inspired by the book of the same name by Arthur Koestler, is chockablock with Lost-esque songs, including ''Secret Journey,'' ''Rehumanize Yourself,'' ''Spirits In The Material World,'' and a tune that serves as my own private cautionary tale, ''Too Much Information.''
From the album of the same name by the Police, 1983
Generally defined as ''a meaningful coincidence.'' Lost is certainly full of those, don't you think? But specifically, Sting was citing Arthur Koestler's take on Carl Jung's theory of a literal space-time force that connects people, things, and events. Or: the medium through which Lost's time travel and course correction happens.
Michelangelo was said to have been inspired by the Christian hymn ''Vein Creator Spirits,'' which, according to Wiklpedia ''asks the 'finger of the paternal right hand' (digitus paternae dexterae) to give the faithful speech, love, and strength.'' In various ways, isn't that what Jacob gave each of the castaways when he touched them? To Sawyer, he gave a pen: speech. To Jin and Sun, he issued a blessing at their wedding: love. To Locke, he encouraged and comforted him in his greatest crisis: strength. Anyway, I digress. What was I supposed to be talking about? Oh, yes...
THE TWO DAMNED SHEPHARDS THEORY OF LOST
''HEAVEN HATH NO FURY LIKE REDEMPTION INTERRUPTED''
It is my belief that season 6 of Lost will tell its greatest parent-child rescue story yet, but with an added twist: It will involve the child also saving the parent. Yes, I am speaking of Lost's two damned Shephards, Christian and Jack. I believe the season will culminate with a major revelation about the role Christian has played in the Lost saga and with reconciliation between Christian and Jack. The season will concern another parental rescue mission: Jacob the Island godfather endeavoring to save his creation from the Man In Black. The story line will culminate with Jacob passing the torch of Island caretaking to his heir, his figurative son...oh, but why give it away so soon? Let's begin with:
WHAT IS THE ISLAND?
The Island is the literal manifestation of an old way of looking at the world common to all people — a world full of magic and spirits, angels and daemons. (I chose that daemon spelling intentionally. If you are confused, consult my essay on the matter.) The Island exists for anyone who believes in the concept of the mythical journey — a heroic odyssey, a ritualistic walkabout, a quest for spiritual redemption. The Island used to be much bigger and occupied much more of the world's psychic geography. The Island once may have even been the whole wide world. But skepticism, cynicism, and disbelief has caused it to shrink away from our mind's eye, becoming nothing more than a slender piece of ephemeral real estate.
WHAT IS THE MONSTER?
Smokey exists to test and judge mankind. It is not meant to be known — hence, its nebulous form. It is meant to be intuitively understood, then battled. Based on clues the series has given us, the Monster is most likely the Man In Black. So I'll say more about him/it in a second.
WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS?
The Numbers are a metaphor for our yearning for meaning amid chaos. They have no intrinsic supernatural power. What's always been most interesting about the Numbers is their interpretation. Indeed, the only meaning they possess is the meaning that the characters — or members of the audience — project upon them. Hurley believed the Numbers were a curse. So they became a curse. There is more that could be said about the Numbers, but since they do not factor into my ''Final Theory,'' I'm not going elaborate here.
IS EVERYONE FROM OCEANIC 815 CONNECTED?
For me, the issue of predestined interconnection really didn't become a legitimate one until last year's finale, when we saw that Jacob had visited several of the castaways in their off-Island past. Prior to that, I viewed this question more as a theme to be mulled, not a mystery to be solved. Yes, we've seen some characters' stories overlap or intersect in direct and indirect ways. Coincidence or synchronicity? Conspiracy or serendipity? My answer is...yes? If I was forced to put forth a theory, I'd say this: Remember in The Matrix, when the heroes saw the same black cat stroll past them twice in a span of seconds? It was explained that this experience of literal dájà vu was a glitch in the simulated reality of the matrix that occurred whenever the simulated had to be rebooted or updated. My theory is that the coincidences/synchronicities/serendipities in Lost are something very similar — they are proofs that reality is being tampered with. They are the clues left behind by the divine conspirators that have been shepherding castaway lives toward a certain end. Of course, the ''problem'' with this mystery is that it's not really a mystery to the characters; these interconnections are things that, for the most part, only the audience can recognize. That's like real life, isn't it? Our day-to-day lives could easily be filled with serendipitous stuff that we simply don't spot or don't let ourselves see. Just like the Numbers, this is a question for us to discuss and debate, but not a question that the show must answer. The only question Lost needs to answer is why Jacob went around touching the castaways he touched.
WHAT'S UP WITH THE GHOSTS, LIKE MR. EKO'S BROTHER, JACK'S FATHER, KATE'S HORSE, AND SAYID'S CAT?
One word: Smokey. Historically speaking, the Monster's m.o. involves manifesting as intimate motifs pulled from the minds of those who come to its Island in order to prompt these people to reflect upon who and what they are. However, with the castaways, Smokey may have generated those aforementioned specific entities to goad or bait them toward fulfilling its master plan — with the exception of Christian Shephard. I remain intrigued by the mystery of his empty coffin and missing corpse. I am open to the idea that Smokey or some other Island agency swiped the body to manipulate Jack toward a certain end. But for now, this is my theory...
We must remember that before his death, Christian Shepard had initiated a hero's journey. That journey: battling his alcoholism; slaying personal demons; earning redemption in the eyes of his son, his family, the world, the cosmos, God. Last week, I showed you how Lost's redemption narrative mirrors the process of addiction recovery. I also showed you how that one addiction recovery model, the Alcoholic's Anonymous model, is fundamentally spiritual in nature. Remember that Christian Shephard had joined an AA group before his death. Remember that Jack had disrupted his father's sobriety/redemption bid, knocking Christian off the wagon and convincing him of his own irreparable, irredeemable damnation. Let me tell it to you plain: THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.
Jack f---ed up something primal and powerful by derailing his dad's redemption journey. But the good news is that this primal and powerful thing is unstoppable and unbeatable. For by initiating that redemption journey, Christian Shephard made covenant with a living force, and that force will move heaven and hell and reality itself to honor that covenant. We're talking some serious old-time religion. No, wait! This is older than old-time religion. This is what Lost-cited author C.S. Lewis called ''the deep magic before the dawn of time.'' Call it what you want, but I say Lost calls it Jacob, and Jacob is the kind of dude that honors a promise.
And so when Christian Shephard called upon That Which Is Represented By Jacob to save his life from himself and his disease, Jacob said, ''Done.'' I'd like to think that when Christian came to the Island, he completed his redemption journey via some kind of adventure the show has chosen not to reveal to us. But the final stage of that story now syncs up with the grand saga Lost has chosen to show us. To complete his redemptive odyssey, Christian must reconcile with his son, Jack, or at least try to. The problem, though, is that for that to happen, Jack had to want that for himself, too, and that meant embarking on his own redemption quest. I think Christian has been working behind the scenes, with Jacob or on behalf of Jacob, to make that happen. The process finally, officially began when Jack Shephard stood on that highway overpass and looked to the sky and pleaded, ''Forgive me.''
And with that, Jacob began weaving together the separate and shared redemption arcs of both Doc Shephards, which will culminate with the last movement of their holy ordeal: reconciliation. This will happen, and woe to anyone or anything that gets in the way of it. Because heaven has no fury like that of redemption interrupted. That's some seriously harrowing s---, sir. Look it up.
WHO ARE JACOB AND THE MAN IN BLACK AND WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THEIR CONFLICT? AND WHAT IS ''THE LOOPHOLE?''
Jacob and MIB are daemons that fulfill the functions of the Island. Jacob served the additional role of Island caretaker. They represent differing views of mankind that have become more volatile, competitive, and hostile as the centuries have progressed and as man has migrated more toward a self-centered, philosophically materialistic worldview. Jacob has hardened around a position of eternal hope and spiritual progress. MIB, who is also Smokey, has hardened around a position of pessimism, cynicism, and despair. Somewhere along the way, MIB/Smokey decided he/it was just done with this Island crap. He's tired of playing out his part in Jacob's increasingly futile redemption dramas. So he's been conspiring to subvert and destroy Jacob and shut the Island down for good. But Jacob is wise to all this. And so it goes that he's been conspiring to subvert and undermine MIB's attempt to subvert and destroy him. (Note that I did not say that Jacob was also trying to destroy MIB. I think Jacob wants to keep MIB on the Island and make him/it continue to perform his/its function.)
I would not assign values of ''good'' and ''evil'' to Jacob and MIB. However, I would say that perhaps both have grossly erred in their respective conspiracies because they violated a rule that is bigger than both of them: the sanctity of mankind's free will. MIB has been using people, notably Locke and Ben, to execute his/its plan. Likewise, Jacob has been using the castaways to subvert MIB's subversion. This brings us to ''The Loophole.'' When MIB spoke of wanting to find a loophole, what he meant was finding a way to make all-powerful Jacob vulnerable so he could kill him. By way of explaining exactly what I mean, let me cite another great story: Nell Gaiman's Sandman, the saga of Morpheus, the lord of dreams. In the final stages of that epic fantasy, it was revealed that much of the story involved a conspiracy by the hero's embittered sister (Desire) to get him to make a big mistake that would trigger a cosmic process that would produce his death. (I won't spoil anything more.) I think MIB tricked/forced Jacob to make a similar error, in this case, violating the holy order of respecting human free will. In trying to stop MIB, Jacob has had to meddle in human affairs to a degree that he's not permitted. (I'm thinking the conspicuous touching of select castaways was a big no-no) The consequence for his transgression is the same one that Adam and Eve received when they decided their own interests were more important than the divine rules: mortality. And so it went that an eternal entity once nigh invincible became vulnerable and killable.
That said, I think Jacob knew exactly what he was doing. He broke the rules and knew he'd have to pay the price for doing so. His violation — and his sacrifice — won't be in vain...as long as the castaways rise to the challenge of the final battle that is at hand. Whatever that is. Geeze Louise! Don't look me! I don't have all the answers! Sheesh.
The Others are a tribe of people that serve the will of Jacob. As for Richard Alpert: I have never had a theory for him, and I still don't. So I'll go with the conventional wisdom: he came to the Island via the Black Rock and was imbued with long life by Jacob.
HOW WILL JOHN LOCKE'S STORY END?
His resolution is this: In the end, Locke will be resurrected and given eternal life and will assume Jacob's role in the Island's function. As I said two weeks ago: I predict the final scene of Lost will be a redux of the Jacob/Man In Black conversation on the beach scene from last season's finale — instead this time, it'll be John Locke in Jacob's place. As for his adversary, he'll be wearing a new identity — that of Benjamin Linus. It ends with this:
Fake Ben: Do you know how badly I want to kill you right now?
And then Locke looks at him with a knowing glint — and they laugh
And there it is. My ''Final Theory of Lost.'' Why ''final''? Am I quitting or joining the Navy or enrolling in viking school or even worse...throwing in the towel on trying to understand Lost? Nope, it's none of those things. But to properly explain why this represents my final theory of Lost, I need 1,000 words, and after last week's War and Peace-length dissertation on addiction, I thought I'd give it a break this week, especially in light of the onslaught of Lost coverage to come. Later this week, look for the new issue of EW, which will contain...well, I can't say, but I'll spill some beans online on Thursday. Then on Monday, Feb. 1, please come to EW.com for the season premiere of Totally Lost, co-hosted with my friend and partner in Lost, Dan Snierson. And then, one week from today, another new Doc Jensen column — and Lost itself. The final countdown has begun! (Cue Europe. And Will Arnett. And Sting...)
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Ending a television series usually means you've been canceled.
In the case of ABC's "Lost," though, a hit show is going out on its own terms. After three years of planning, the new season, starting Feb. 2, will conclude its six-year run in May.
Even with the unusual luxury of planning ahead, engineering a graceful exit can be tricky, as "Seinfeld" and "The Sopranos" found out when many fans felt cheated. "Lost" has its own set of challenges. Set on a mystical island after a group of plane-crash survivors are stranded, the show mixes soap opera and sci-fi. It has dozens of complicated plotlines and mysteries to wrap up, and a base of diehard fans who want answers to the show's many still open questions.
The cast of "Lost" talk to WSJ's Amy Chozick about what they'd like to see happen in the popular series' last season.
Castmembers from "Lost" recently spoke to The Journal about which of the TV show's hanging plotlines they would most like to see answered in the final season (watch video). Evangeline Lilly wanted the numbers in the show to be explained, while Jorge Garcia wanted the mystery of the black-smoke monster solved. Josh Holloway requested that the significance of the horse be revealed. Vote on what you think is the most-pressing "Lost" mystery to be answered.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama rescheduled his first "State of the Union" address so it wouldn't conflict with the season premiere. "I don't foresee a scenario in which the millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion in 'Lost' are pre-empted by the president," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told the press corps during a briefing. "You can quote a senior administration official," he joked.
The show's ratings are still strong, though they have dipped to 11.3 million viewers from a peak of 15.1 million in the 2006-2007 season. "Lost" is an industry leader in DVD sales, video-on-demand and iTunes downloads, which add several million viewers not included in Nielsen ratings, ABC executives say.
ABC has plenty of reasons to want to go out with a bang. President of ABC Entertainment Group Stephen McPherson says that in 2007 he agreed to let the producers euthanize the show after six seasons because the long-term benefits outweighed the short-term financial gains. A large ensemble cast and on-location shooting in Hawaii make "Lost" one of the most expensive shows on television. In addition, actors' standard contracts often allow them to leave a show in the seventh year, giving them leverage to ask for more money. ABC says ending the series was "strictly a creative decision."
Moreover, ABC Studios owns the show and its future on DVD shelves, where serialized shows, best watched from the beginning, are especially popular. A disappointing finale could hurt DVD sales and rerun deals. A successful one is great for convincing people to buy the whole collection.
The mysteries and mythology of 'Lost' are endlessly complicated, but here are some basics for understanding the show.
"Lost" premiered in 2004 with a two-part pilot episode that featured the graphic wreckage of Oceanic flight 815 after it crashed en route from Sydney to Los Angeles. After weeks with no sign of a rescue, survivors try to adjust to life on the island as episodes provide flashbacks to their lives before the crash. In subsequent seasons, episodes provide "flash forwards" that give titillating hints about what happens to the survivors who get off the island.
The two-hour season six premiere picks up right where the season five cliffhanger left off, when spinal surgeon and crash survivor Jack Shephard, played by Matthew Fox, tries to manipulate the island's shadowy time-travel properties. After traveling back to the past, he and other survivors set off a hydrogen bomb designed to change the course of events—so that the plane crash will never happen.
Devising a final episode for a series which has aired for years is daunting enough. But it's especially tough for "Lost," which isn't the kind of show viewers can dip into at will. Fans have lived through dozens of complicated plot twists, many of them mysterious and unexplained. They've encountered time travel, angry island inhabitants, man-eating black smoke and geographically misplaced polar bears. Wrapping up everything seems impossible.
The show's passionate fan base only compounds the danger. Avid Losties aren't shy about telling the writers what they like and don't like via online fan forums and discussion boards. When the show introduced two new characters in season three, fans so despised the good-looking Nikki and Paulo that the couple wound up buried alive in a later episode.
"Fan reaction to our show has been particularly vocal," says actor Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Jin-Soo Kwon on the show, "so I'd be very surprised if you got a consensus that it's the best finale of all time."
Already, fans are flooding "Lost"-devoted Web sites to plead for answers to mysteries. Why was this group of people brought to the island in the first place? What do the strange set of numbers that pops up throughout the seasons symbolize? Who is Jacob, a mysterious figure who appears to have lived on the island for centuries and may have special powers?
Shows that ABC hoped would pick up where "Lost" is leaving off, such as "V" and "FlashForward," are flagging, making a strong showing these next few months even more important. A well-managed finale could be a ratings smash. The final episode of "M*A*S*H" in 1983 remains the highest-rated show in television history, with 122 million people tuning in to see what happened to the Army medical division as the Korean War came to an end.
The show's producers admit they won't be able to tie up everything. "To over-explain and demystify [the island] would be detrimental," says executive producer Carlton Cuse.
Mr. Cuse and fellow executive producer Damon Lindelof praise the ambiguity of the final minutes of another series, "The Sopranos." It left some viewers grumbling about not knowing exactly what happened to the New Jersey mob boss who quietly sat in a diner with his family as the eight-year epic faded to black.
But they liked that viewers got to go with their own interpretation. "If you want him [Tony Soprano] to die," says Mr. Lindelof, "maybe you extrapolate that there's an approaching gunman, or maybe he's just having another onion ring with his family."
The producers say the series finale will not try to set up any future "Lost" incarnations. "We are ending this story with these characters, and that's all we have planned. We're not setting up a sequel. We're not planting elements for future shows. We certainly understand and absolutely respect that ABC and Disney have an incredibly valuable franchise and they want to do more things with 'Lost,' but the story we're telling ends in May," Mr. Cuse says.
ABC says it has no plans at this time for a "Lost" sequel or spinoff, nor any "Lost"-related items like comic books, additional action figures (there are some out there), or an island-inspired theme park ride. But executives don't rule anything out.
J.J. Abrams, who created "Alias" and co-created "Lost" before handing the series over to Mr. Lindelof and Mr. Cuse in season one, says the intricate plots of "Lost" make it doubly difficult to step back and provide a sweeping, predetermined dénouement rather than a random snip of the ribbon.
"Suddenly in episode five you're in a different place than you were in the pilot," he says. "The goal is to find a moment that feels like it would fit into the pantheon of great moments of a series."
Consider the 1998 "Seinfeld" finale. It stayed true to the spirit of the show with Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer sitting in a jail cell discussing a button on George's shirt. But after a nine-year run, the conclusion didn't seem monumental enough to some. Last year executive producer and co-creator Larry David poked fun at his own ending in the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The "Seinfeld" cast returns to remake the final episode. "Larry, we already screwed up one finale," Jerry Seinfeld says.
A finale that convincingly resolves unanswered questions can help the longevity of a series in syndication and DVD sales, says Jeff Wachtel, head of original programming at NBC Universal's USA network. His own network's "Monk" had Tony Shalhoub's character solving his wife's murder. "You don't want to throw the audience a curve ball," he says.
When Ricky Gervais ended the British original of "The Office" in 2003 he made sure some light shined into the dreary lives of his characters. "We dragged people over the coals and gave them a depressing, existential look at white-collar workers," Mr. Gervais says. "We wanted there to be some hope."
Historically based series have other issues. Michael Hirst, creator and executive producer of "The Tudors," told Showtime the costume drama had to end after the fourth season, premiering in April, because King Henry VIII had "simply run out of wives."
In 1990 "Newhart" star Bob Newhart woke up in the series finale to find himself in "The Bob Newhart Show," a sitcom that ended in 1978. The entire "Newhart" series had been a dream in the mind of Mr. Newhart's 1970s character. Although some think the dream device is a cop-out, this one was well-received.
"That was a stroke of genius," says actor Michael Emerson who plays villain Benjamin Linus on "Lost." "What you want is to make your audience go, 'Yes!' "
The "Lost" producers have promised not to "snow globe" the audience, a reference to "St. Elsewhere," when it turns out that the entire series took place in a child's snow globe.
20 Jan 2010, 7:00 AM
Daniel Dae Kim’s Jin has been able to say a lot with just a little bit of dialogue — or often, none at all — over six seasons of Lost. Still, as ABC’s epic adventure drama nears its endpoint, both Jin (who’s finally become conversant in English) and Kim himself have plenty to say.
I caught up with Kim while he was in Los Angeles recently for the TCA press tour, and we indulged in our own series of flashbacks (find out the most difficult — and rewarding — surprises of Jin’s character arc) and flash-forwards (will Jin and his star-crossed wife Sun reunite this year?) in advance of the final season’s premiere on February 2.
Do you feel a certain amount of pride to have made it through all six seasons alive?
[Laughs] Yeah, I guess so! Although we haven’t finished, so it might be a little premature to say that.
Now that you’re bringing Jin’s arc to an end, do you think all those elements of his story have all lined up in a straight line?
Not quite yet, but I think the important thing is that we’re not quite at the end. I think that by the end, we’ll see that all the characters will have a…gosh, “resolution” is probably too strong a word, but they’ll come to sort of resting place and be able to look back with maturity.
I know you can’t say too much about plot particulars, but emotionally, what’s in store for Jin in season six?
I think you might have heard this before, but it reminds me a little bit of season one in a certain way because we relearn the characters. It’s like what you mentioned earlier — you’re going to see the end of the journey that people started back in season one. To answer your question, it’s going to be fantastic as always, but there will be some emotions on a pretty grand scale.
It’s interesting how often Jin and Sun have been parted, then epically reunited, during the lifespan of Lost. They were apart for the entire fifth season, even! How long will fans have to wait to see them together again?
That’s a really good question. Maybe Jin and Sun won’t get back together again. That’s a legitimate possibility, I think.
"We, like you, always assumed that maybe in the finale of last season, we’d be reunited."
Did you have any idea that you and Yunjin Kim would be separated for so long last year?
No! We, like you, always assumed that maybe in the finale of last season, we’d be reunited. [Laughs] As in so many instances, our guess didn’t turn out to be correct.
There have been some seasons and arcs where you had a lot to do, and some where you had to stay in the background a bit. Do the writers give you a heads-up when the work will ebb and flow?
Yeah. We kind of learned that along the way in season one, and it was a surprise for all of us at first, because we weren’t sure how the writers were going to handle such a large ensemble. As we discovered how it was going to play out, it gradually became easier and easier, and it actually helped us as far as our endurance. It’s such a large show and it requires so much that it’s nice to know that if we’re heavy for a couple of episodes, we’ll get a break afterwards and another part of the ensemble will do the heavy lifting.
So in Season 4, when it looked to the audience like your character had died, did the writers let you know that you shouldn’t be worried?
Actually, they did. When the script was about to break, they called me and said, “Listen, you’re going to see something in this script. We just want to tell you not to worry. Things are not as they appear.” I appreciated that. To be honest, by the fourth season, I had already learned to stop conjecturing about the future of my character. All they needed to tell me was that everything was gonna be all right, and that was it.
Is that sort of interaction a typical? Do you have a lot of contact with the writers, or do you only see them every so often at events like TCA?
That’s one of the big disadvantages of shooting so far away from the writers room: We don’t get to have as much contact with them as most actors do with their showrunners. At the same time, it doesn’t feel awkward once we do see them, because there’s a level of trust there that goes back to season one.
Since season four, Lost has had a delayed premiere date. When you shoot so many episode of the season before any of them have even aired, are there pros and cons to that approach?
Yeah, of course. I think there’s definitely a risk — you kind of lose an awareness of the show’s [perception], but conversely, it allows the writers and the people creating the show a certain freedom to do things without so much vocal feedback, because you know our show is characterized by some ardent fans. It’s nice to be able to see through the writer’s vision without outside influence.
I live in LA, and I have a friend in Koreatown who said that his neighborhood used to shut down when Lost was airing because people were so excited to see regular Korean characters on American TV. Do you ever get feedback like that?
Yeah, I do hear a lot of those kinds of stories. It makes me proud to be a part of the show because at that time, there weren’t many casts like ours on television with a high level of international representation. Those kinds of stories are really heartwarming — at the same time, though, you can’t really invest too much in them. For every person who’s saying that the show is the best thing since slices bread, there’s someone saying something negative about it. Soon, there just gets to be a lot of noise, and it can get to be a little distracting from the work you need to do.
Was there a point when you stopped listening to that?
When we were going through season one, I did read a lot of the blogs. I would go on websites and fansites and read a lot about the theories about the show, things like that. By the end of season one, I thought, “You know what? This is doing as much harm as it is good. I get a sense now of what the show means to people, and what the general criticisms and compliments are, and I think that’s enough. I’ll move on from here.”
I imagine you were reading some interesting feedback at that time, since Jin wasn’t entirely sympathetic until later in season one.
Yeah, that’s a good point. I had my share of people who came up to me when season two started airing who were like, “I hated you.” And I was like, “Well, hello to you too!” I’ve been so lucky in that I knew from discussing with J.J. [Abrams] and Damon [Lindelof] that my character was going to make a turn, so I had trust in them that I could hold out and handle the criticism while that was going on. I knew something better was around the corner.
Which development in Jin’s arc was the most satisfying for you?
I think Jin’s ability to speak English was a big turning point for him. Before that, he was really limited in the interactions he could have with the other Islanders. Once he learned how to speak English, his character took on other dimensions, and I was really, really grateful for that.
Before Jin learned English, was it challenging to you to do so much acting with so little dialogue?
You know, they say that acting is all about reacting, and I really found that to be the case. I found myself listening with my whole body. When you’re in another country and you’re trying to glean any bit of information, you will use every part of your physicality to try to communicate an idea or understand what a person is saying. I realized how much nonverbal communicating we do without thinking about it, and that was a great lesson to learn.
It can be a powerful storytelling technique when you can’t use dialogue. Maybe the Jin and Sun romance is all the more resonant because so much of it is communicated through nonverbal looks.
I think that’s true. I think our show takes advantage of that by giving us a lot of close-ups that can communicate things that our mouths may not.
"There were kind of some racist undertones to his character that I really was surprised by, you know?"
Were there any things you learned about Jin that surprised you or you worried about playing?
Yeah, I guess in season one, where it turned out that he had a problem with Michael. There were kind of some racist undertones to his character that I really was surprised by, you know? That was something that I grappled with for a little while and accepted eventually as part of Jin’s journey. He had to be accepting of outsiders in general.
And there have been a lot of outsiders cycled into Lost’s cast in the form of new characters. Do you help them or haze them?
I’ve found that there is an adjustment period for actors who are new to the show. They’re a little bit dazed — they have to get their bearings from the physical move and the move of being on a show like ours. If I sense that they could use a hand here or there, not just with creative or logistical things to do with the show, but with where to get a burger or something, I like to offer. I would have appreciated it when I was in their shoes.
Meanwhile, you’ve also rotated a lot of people out of the cast. Who have you missed when you’re not working with them?
That’s a really good question. I’m good friends with Josh Holloway, Harold Perrineau and Dom Monaghan, and a lot of them have come and gone, so I miss them when they’re not on set. At the same time, there isn’t anyone I’m uncomfortable with and we all enjoy working together, so that’s a big plus.
Will you be watching this last run of episodes with your castmates? I know you all used to get together and watch them at each others’ houses in season one.
We did. We were a very close-knit group in season one — we all had moved to the island together and given up our respective homes in LA. We had each other for companionship on and off-set, but now in season six, we’ve all become part of the community to varying degrees. We’ve got other friends as well as the cast members. We’ll see how it goes in season six. We’ll see.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
But with the anticipation of the "Lost" Season 6 premiere building -- the start of the final season is only two weeks away on Feb. 2 -- I thought I'd start posting the full transcript of the interview. It's looong. Check back here for additional installments (there should be two more installments over the next week or so).
Yes, what follows is only about a third of the interview. I know! But given that Lindelof and Cuse were kind enough to give me an hour of their time, I'm going to share everything they said with my fellow island fanatics. Casual fans might not want to read the whole thing; if that's the case, there are a few choice excepts here. All my other "Lost" coverage is here.
This interview contains no spoilers for Season 6. I didn't (and still don't) want to know any specifics about the season to come.
I was interested in finding out how Cuse and Lindelof approached Season 6 and how they feel about the fans' expectations for the last season. This section of the transcript also contains the first set of 'Star Wars references, and there are several "Battlestar Galactica" and "Sopranos" references too. Also, giraffes.
In the next exciting installment: Time travel!!! Later: Ewoks!!!
Here's Part 1 -- enjoy!
NOTICE (THIS IS THE NOT-FUN PART BUT PLEASE READ THIS): Do not reproduce this entire interview on your Web site. Feel free to excerpt it on your site and link back here (and if you do that, thanks much). But if you reproduce the entire thing, I'll have to send you a DMCA legal notice and that's no fun and it becomes a huge drag for all of us. So just excerpt and link, mmmmkay? Thanks!
Ryan: Even as a hardcore “Battlestar Galactica” fan, I was taken aback at how impassioned people were about the last set of episodes of that show. And I was really unprepared for how harsh people could get over the smallest things and what they meant, and over what and wasn’t dealt with in those final set of episodes. It was as if everyone had a different checklist in their mind of what had to happen.
In approaching this last season, do you have the sense that it's going to be like that? Or did you just not think about the intensity of the fan reaction?
Lindelof: I’m sure we both have similar yet vastly verbose responses to that because we talk a lot about it and been talking a lot about the ending of the show for a long time. But I think that there is a disproportionate focus on a finale and there always has been. And this happens on a micro level, where the critically and fan-hated season, Season 3, also happens to have the greatest finale probably of the series. And the taste left in your mouth in the wake of the finale is really all that matters.
If the entire series is going to be judged based on our ability to execute the dive, you can’t do your job. Part of it is -- despite what people think or say, so much of it has been talked about and planned for years now that you’re just kind of executing the plan to the best of your ability. You're changing the plan when it’s not working, but otherwise, you’re kind of married to the inevitable -- the stuff that we want to do.
Cuse: We also spent a lot of time talking about how we don’t want the last season of the show to be didactic. It’s very dangerous to basically create a checklist of answers and then start trying to tick them off, because we want to make sure we’re telling engaging stories. For us really, while the mythology is important, for us it’s a story about these characters. And so most of our focus has been on, how are we going to resolve the character stories?
We really feel we are very committed to this notion of not stripping the show of its essential mystery. I mean, mystery exists in life and we kind of always go back to the midi-chlorians example [in the 'Star Wars' prequel films]. Your understanding the Force was not aided by knowing that there were little particles swimming around in the bloodstreams of Jedi.
There are sort of fundamental elements of mystery and magic to the show that are unexplainable, and any attempt to explain them would actually harm the show, and in our opinion, the legacy of the show. So we’re trying to find the right blend of answering questions, but also leaving the things that should be mysterious mysterious.
Ryan: Yeah. I did not need to know more about Boba Fett. He has a jet pack. He a ship named Slave 1. I don’t need to know more than that.
Cuse: Yeah, exactly.
Lindelof: And for us, there are questions that we’re clearly presenting. It’s not like Lucas ever presented in the first three “Star Wars” films, "What is The Force?"
And therefore, it’s like, when people ask us, "What is the island, what do the numbers mean?" You know, we don’t know how to answer the question, "What do the numbers mean?" We can tell you what the practical application of the numbers is in the series, but how do you answer a question like that?
It’s like, if you could have a sitdown with God and say, "Why is a giraffe’s neck so tall?" You know, because he can eat from large trees. And it’s like, "But you made all these other animals that don’t need tall necks to eat, so why?" So you get into a conversation where every answer you give only makes it more frustrating.
Cuse: Or that leads to the question of, did God in fact create that giraffe or not, which is also a very, very tricky question to attempt to answer.
Lindelof: Of course. Look, the franchise of “Lost” -- in addition to the primary franchise, which is the characters and the mysteries of the island that have always been in support of the characters -- there's this idea of, "What did they mean by that?" The zeitgeist of the show has developed around different iterations of that question. What do they mean by that?
Because the show isn’t like a traditional cop show where by the end of it somebody basically says, “Here’s who did it, here’s why they did it, and here is what is going to happen to them.” Or a law show with no ambiguity. There’s going to be an element of "What do they mean by that?" long after “Lost” is done and no matter what we did, there’s nothing we could do to prevent it.
Cuse: And also, we also are aware that answering questions inevitably raises other questions. We call it the Big Bang conundrum.
Lindelof: A.k.a, Kate’s plane.
Cuse: Yeah, if you go back and you say, "OK, Jacob is obviously someone who was of great significance to the mythology of the show, but who was before Jacob? And then but who created that person?" If you go back in the universe you can say, the universe was created in an event called the Big Bang, but then you can inevitably ask the question, "Well, what was before the Big Bang?"
I think the audience has to have a sort of respect for the fact that there is only a circumscribed set of answers that we can ever give. And we’re not sitting here trying to evade our responsibility to provide answers. We are going to answer the questions that, for us, feel like they need to be answered and we feel like we have some cool and satisfying answers for them.
Lindelof: One of which will be, we will answer what caused the Big Bang.
Ryan: It was giraffes.
Cuse: It was giraffes.
You know, ultimately, we’re excited though, because it does feel like we concocted the mythology of the show a long time ago and it’s like having a Christmas present and you kept it on the shelf a long time and people are finally going to get to open it and see it. So we’re finally getting to deploy the ending of the show and that is exciting to us. It is a story and I think as storytellers, that’s always what’s delicious -- you set up the audience and then you basically finish the story. There’s a payoff and we’re actually going to finally give the audience our payoff.
And we are going to go off the grid after the show is over to avoid the actual issue of having to interpret the ending. Again, we’ve always felt that one of the compelling elements of “Lost” is its intentional ambiguity. The fact is, it’s open for interpretation and discussion and we feel like we would be doing a disservice to the fans and the viewers to say, “No, you must only look at this in one way.” We don’t think that is really good for the show or for people’s ability to read into the show what they want. I mean, that’s what I like to do when I read a good book -- basically be able to debate what the real meaning and intention of that story is.
Ryan: So, what you’re saying is, you're going to France?
Cuse: We’re not saying. We’re not saying where we are.
Lindelof: It’s an undisclosed location.
Ryan: Is it Dick Cheney’s bunker?
Lindelof: Exactly. The one promise that we are making is that what we’re not going to do is leave the show hanging so we can pick up the ball and run with it two years from now in some other television project or movie. I think that we owe ourselves and the story and the audience a sense of finality.
Cuse: The most complete ending that we can give them.
Lindelof: Yeah, you can’t break up with somebody and say, "Let’s not go out anymore, but I still want to sleep together, I still want to live in the same house, and we should still go on dates all the time." No. If it’s over, it’s over.
We’re trying to create a season that really feels like it’s over as opposed to [left open-ended]. People keep saying, "Is there going to be a Sopranos movie?" And I actually feel the question in itself is offensive to anybody who likes the cut-to-black [ending] because it completely neutralizes the deftness. Carlton and I happen to be huge fans of the “Sopranos.” But to do a “Sopranos” movie, you could never watch that series finale again with any level of respect [if you know] know that something followed it.
Cuse: The other phenomenon which is interesting is that the immediate interpretation of the ending of “Lost” may not be the same as the ultimate interpretation of the ending of “Lost.”
I mean, you as a “Battlestar” fan probably have experienced the sensation that there was an immediate reaction to how “Battlestar” ended, and [now] it seems like there’s a bit of and evolving reaction to how “Battlestar” ended. And we anticipate that the same thing might happen with “Lost.”
There’s an instantaneous sense of loss, and using the “Sopranos,” again as an example -- a lot of people were sort of outraged because the story ended and it wasn’t conclusive, but then with some perspective and a little distance from the show, the metaphor of what Chase was doing there became clearer and that seemed to resonate better over time than in the immediate aftermath.
Lindelof: What was so impactful about that ending is, as a huge “Sopranos” fan myself, I can tell you almost nothing about that episode other than that Anthony Jr. was considering going into the military and then he got into a car accident. But the episode itself is like completely like sand through my fingers. I don’t remember anything about it. All I remember is that [last] scene...
Ryan: The only other thing I remember, apart from the final scene, is Meadow trying to park the car.
Lindelof: Right. All I remember is that Journey song. What are people going to take away from the final episode of “Lost?” Will it be the final image?
Cuse: Will it be the episode in its totality?
Lindelof: We keep getting asked about the final image and we’re like, "Yeah, sure, we know what it is." But people are acting like the final image of the show is revelatory in some way, as opposed to maybe [what's revelatory] is what happens in the first hour of the finale.
Cuse: But what’s happened is, I think people have expectations that have grown from other shows, where that last moment is such a sting. Whether it’s all of a sudden you see a snow globe [as in "St. Elsewhere"] or you cut to black or somebody wakes up and it’s all been a dream. Whatever it is, it’s like that final twist negates or completely overshines everything that’s come before it.
Lindelof: Which is amazing because the fact that people invested six years of their lives and over 120 hours on “Lost” and they’re going to pay it all off in this 30-second scene. "That is going to change the entire way that I feel about the show."
Cuse: We hope it doesn’t.
Lindelof: We’ll be riding either a wave of goodwill into the finale, or bad will, and it’s happened different ways in different seasons for us. Last year, [we had] the overt time travel story mechanism and the rise of characters like Faraday and the risk of putting Sawyer with Juliet. All of those things could have been [big problems] in any other world, and we were just fortuitous enough that it worked. But we really don’t have any sense of how this season is going to be received until it’s on the air.
Ryan: James Poniewozik [Time's television critic] has written about this, about how the finale of a sci-fi show can't just be a finale, it has to provide an Answer. It can't just be an ending, it has to solve the problem. And I felt like I definitely saw that split in the "Battlestar" fandom, between the people who wanted or feel they got character payoffs and the people who don't feel various solutions to the plot and the story were arrived at correctly.
Your show, if anything, has more fans and more different camps invested in different people and also in different parts of the mythology.
Cuse: I feel like there will be diverse opinions and again, we understand that the hardcore mythology fans might react differently than the people who are really waiting to find out if Kate ends up with Sawyer or with Jack. And for us, we feel that the story lines that ultimately will be the most satisfying are the character stories. In discussing the various conundrums of mythology answers, we are very well aware that for people who are really focused on the mythology, it’s hard to provide probably completely sufficient answers for those group of people. So there will be there’ll probably be different levels of satisfaction based on what it is that interested you about the show in the first place.
All we can do is trust our guts, which is kind of where we’ve been from the beginning. We started the show sitting in my office every morning having breakfast, talking about what we thought was cool. And whatever we both would get excited about would go into the show and that’s how we’ve approached it [all along] and that’s how we approached it at the end.
So, our barometer can only be: Does this ending feel satisfying to us and to the other writers? And if we can achieve that, we feel like we will have done what we can do and what we should do. Beyond that, I think every show – certainly a lot of people have rejected “Lost” along the way. We started with a 10.2 rating at the beginning of the second season and a certain group of people said, “You know what? This is too much to invest; this is too much mythological show to invest in."
People found a way to part with the show for various reasons, or they embraced it all the way down the line. So, we’re not trying to reverse-engineer the process, we’re basically committed to doing the best version that we feel we can do and that’s all we can do.
Lindelof: There’s a certain amount of security in the idea of saying the show was never supposed to work in the first place. In the wake of the pilot, to say, "This show is actually going to be on the air for over 120 episodes," we would have laughed in your face. So the idea that it sustained as long as it has and that some of our best episodes were in our fifth season as opposed to [earlier in the shows run], or that we were able to bounce back from some sub par episodes and sort of regain our momentum. That makes us kind of think -- it’s becoming a lot more about the journey for us than it is about the ending and we hope that that’s the show's ultimate legacy.
But I think the sci-fi distinction you make is an interesting one because, when you talk about the “Sopranos” ending or the last episode of “Seinfeld” or “Friends,” there’s only so many iterations of what can happen. The “Sopranos,” the only thing that people were talking about is, "Is Tony going to live, or is somebody going to kill him?"
With “Lost,” nobody can even guess what the ending is going to be. If you were to have a contest right now saying, "In one paragraph, summarize what you think the last episode of 'Lost' might be" -- if you say it to 100 people, you will get 100 paragraphs that have nothing to do with each other.
If you say that to somebody about the “Sopranos,” 50 people will say, "I think Tony’s going to get whacked," maybe 10 people will say, "Carmela is going to kill him, but he’s going to get whacked." But no one would have said, "They’re going to be eating in a friggin' restaurant -- onion rings." That's what was so brilliant about it -- how do you do the unexpected?
Ryan: You brought up in the first season and how you thought it would never last this long. As you look back, are there things you wish you could have done differently?
Cuse: No, I don’t think so. You could ask the same question about your life. I suppose everyone has regrets, but at the same time, you can either focus on your regrets as a path to nowhere. The journey of the show has been the absolutely right journey of the show. We had to take all the steps and the occasional missteps that we took in order to get where we are. So, everything that we’ve done has been sort of right in the larger karmic sense.
It’s interesting that you talk about this. One of the central themes of the show is free will versus predetermination and that same issue was very much in play in how the show was constructed. Yes, the mythological architecture was constructed back in the first season and between the first and second season, but the actual journey of these characters is something that evolves literally, episode by episode. We view the process of making the show as a very organic one. We watch what happens and how characters play off each other, what relationships are working, what aren’t working.
So there still is an element of discovery that is a part of getting into the finale. We sort of know what the Incident is, but how that’s going to play out with the characters is still something that we discover as we write each episode of the show.
We are not only the stewards of this journey, but we also have this wonderful process of discovery ourselves, which is, I think, the essence of the creative process. It's when you get into that transcendence where the show tells you what it wants to be and that’s something that we didn’t even anticipate. So, that to us is what’s fun.
Ryan: You guys have obviously a unique relationship with the fans. Have you ever changed what you wanted to do, or reconfigured what you thought you were going to do, based on good or bad fan reaction?
Lindelof: There hasn’t been an instance in the show where we disagreed with fan reaction, or were incredibly surprised by fan reaction. By the time fans saw Nikki and Paolo deliver their first lines of dialogue, we were already writing [their final episode,] 'Expose.' Had the fans said "We actually love these characters," maybe it would have given us pause, but by then we fundamentally acknowledged we had taken a shot and it didn’t work.
We did the Sawyer/Juliet thing last year. We were introducing Juliet into a relationship with Sawyer, [even though] the debate has been about whether Kate going to chose Sawyer or Jack. Now we’re changing it into a quadrangle for the first time, and it’s going to be it is a mature love at that – we don’t even see how [their relationship] really starts. When we introduced the audience to it, [the relationship] is already up and running for three years. That was the bold risk, but when we saw those dailies with Elizabeth [Mitchell as Juliet] and Josh [Holloway as Sawyer], they just sold it and we’re like, "This works."
If the audience doesn’t like the relationship, hopefully they won’t fault us for the idea and the good news is, “LaFleur” is Episode 8 and the season is only 16 episodes long and then Juliet falls into a hole. So, if they hate it, it’s only going to last for eight episodes, but it’s really going to govern every decision that Sawyer makes from here on out.
So, there are moments where we go, "What is the fan reaction going to be to this thing?" But especially since we started premiering in January [the season is mostly written by then]. On February 2 [when the final season premieres], Carlton and I and the writers are going to be writing Episode 15 of Season 6.
Cuse: Yeah, there will be no time for course correction. Last year we committed to this concept of time travel with a certain expectation that some people really might not respond to it. I think the most pleasant surprise was how much people embraced it, because it was difficult and it was much more overtly science fiction, and yet people really seemed to like the season.
But we have the same anxiety about what we’re doing this season. We kind of feel like the fundamental tenet that we’ve tried to follow as storytellers is "Be bold." But in being bold sometimes you fall on your face.
So we committed to a narrative approach this season which we feel is bold and it’s different than what we’ve done before. And if it works, it’ll be exciting, but it might not be everybody’s cup of tea either.