Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Beach Boys

More stuff about "LOST" from Entertainment Weekly. This article is written by Jeff Jensen, Josh Wolk, Jennifer Armstrong, Nicholas Fonseca, and Dan Snierson.


We've seen this before, haven't we? The boiling-hot watercooler show, bubbling with peculiar people in a peculiar locale--all harboring so many secrets. Twin Peaks, The X-Files. And now Lost, ABC's unfolding epic about damaged souls with tortured pasts stranded on a menacing, monster-inhabited island that's located on the same parallel as The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, and The Prisoner. It's been thrilling, watching TV's next great cult-pop sensation bloom. Thrilling--and nervous-making. Because we all know how this can end, don't we? Marooned on a spit of frustration. Like Twin Peaks. Like X-Files. Shows that come dressed in alluring mystery, but eventuality reveal themselves to be sporting emperor's clothes. Lost's brain trust is keenly aware of this anxiety. "What we found was that people have this cynical attitude because they felt they've been betrayed," says executive producer Damon Lindelof. "But I identify with that, because I was a fan of those shows too." In fact, according to Lindelof and fellow executive producer Carlton Cuse, Lost's writing staff is engaged in an ongoing conversation about what can be gleaned from these cult-TV predecessors. Here are three lessons that they've learned:

1. Questions must be answered. "The model is Twin Peaks," say Cuse. "It has become a strong lesson for us in not postulating new mysteries without answering old ones." Which means, according to producers, that most of their Big Questions--What's in the hatch? What is the monster? What do Hurley's lotto numbers mean?--have solutions. But how do they know when to disclose them? "Right now, it's just our gut," says Lindelof. "We have ended up in a place where we would rather reveal too much than not enough." Look for the season finale to bring some long-awaited clarifications--and perhaps a new dilemma. "Depending on the reaction, the backlash could be 'I wish you hadn't told me that!' Then we'll have to adjust again," says Lindelof.

2. Beware of too much "mythology." "What worries us about X-Files as a model," says Cuse, "is that the show ran for nine years. Sustaining the mythology of that show ultimately led to it being frustrating for the fans." Lindelof suggests a similar predicament bedeviled Alias (created by Lost cocreator J.J. Abrams), with its dense Rimbaldi mystery. "[Lost's] mythology has to be accessible enough to casual fans, but also involving enough to loyal viewers feel like they're being fed," says Lindelof, pointing to a recent Lost outing in which baffling bits of island lore were introduced and depended through a portrait of Hurley, the show's round mound of dude! Which brings us to the final lesson . . .

3. It's about characters, stupid. "The bigger lessons to be learned from X-Files and Twin Peaks is not to make show about questions but people," says Lindelof, who cites Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a superior example. "When you keep it about characters, the audience never gets bogged in the mire of 'mythology.' On Lost, we [start by saying] 'Whose episode is this?' Then, 'What's happening on the island, and how can it be emotionally connected to this person's past?'" As Lost becomes increasingly character driven (especially with new faces on the horizon; The Last Shift's Daniel Roebuck joins the cast in May), the producers have found themselves looking beyond their genre for inspiration--to The O.C. (a particular staff obsession) and NYPD Blue. "That show was so much about characters searching for redemption in the face of their flaws and struggles," says Cuse. "That's Lost, too."
And nothing speaks to that theme better than Lost's nine men--from Jack, the hero doc haunted by father issues, to poor Boone, who met his maker in Lost's most recent episode. Read on to hear what they have to say about their characters, their first brushes with island life, and all those conspiracy theories.

MATTHEW FOX (Jack Shepard) Age: 38 Casting backstory He clearly impressed Abrams at his audition, because the cocreator let Fox read the entire top-secret pilot script. "He kept running in and out of the room every 20 minutes going, 'Do you like it, do you like it?' I said, 'I'm loving it, but you have to let me finish it!'" says Fox. Our favorite moment Hard to pick one, but we'll say Jack's calm command in the postcrash maelstrom. His favorite moment When Sawyer realizes he'd met Jack's father. "I love that there's all these very subtle interminglings even before they got on the plane--and it has so much to do with destiny and fate and why these people ended up on this particular flight and why it was doomed to go down." Least favorite conspiracy theory That it's purgatory. "[The show] has a lot of redemptive themes which could be metaphorical for purgatory. But them actually not being living, breathing human beings? It takes away the stakes of life and death." Burning question Early on, Jack found some skeletons and a pouch containing black-and-white rocks. Explain. "The black-and-white stones have been a recurring theme in the show," says Lindelof (e.g. Locke's favorite board game, backgammon, and the mysterious Black Rock). "We know who those skeletons are, what they're story was, and why they were doing with those stones. But that's a question we won't be answering this season."

JOSH HOLLOWAY (Sawyer) Age 35 Casting backstory The drawling Georgia native had only 12 hours to prep an audition for the role of Sawyer, then written as a fast-talking upstate New York con man. "I just threw the [Buffalo] accent out the window--I knew they'd laugh at me if I tried it. I think, that's what they were looking for, someone who was like, 'Oh, f--- it.'" Our favorite moment Staring down the boar with the same bloodthirsty passion that led him to shoot the man he thought was responsible for his parents' murder-suicide . . . only to put his gun away. His favorite moment "Right before the kiss [with Kate]. The buildup to that--the excitement, the tension, the sex between them--is cool." If he could change one thing about Sawyer . . . "I'd make his hair less frickin' annoying. I mean, it looks cool, but it's constantly in my way." On keeping TV's biggest secrets "No one ever cared about anything I was in before, so when everyone started asking me things, I was like, 'Blah blah blah.' The best way for me not to do that is for [the writers] not to tell me s---." Burning question Sawyer's backstory intersects with the Jack and Shannon/Boone histories. Does his pre-island life converge with any or all of the others? "No comment," says Lindelof. "But we'll see, before the end of the season, why he popped up in Boone's flashback."
NAVEEN ANDREWS (Sayid Jarrah) Age 36 Casting backstory "I thought [Sayid] was intriguing in the sense that you don't get a main character on prime time American TV who's Iraqi. That was exciting enough for me to want to be involved." Our favorite moment When he sets off alone to map the island, full of self-loathing (for wrongly torturing Sawyer) and self-confidence: "I can't think of a better person to do it than the only one I trust." His favorite moment "The scene where [Shannon] sings in French. When people are in panic mode, to have those moments of quiet and connection--it's good to play that." Castaway he'd most like to be stranded with "That's obvious, isn't it? Shannon." Isn't it about time for some island romance? "I think there would be a hell of a lot more shagging going on than lingering looks across campsites." Least favorite conspiracy theory "The most idiotic one to me is that it's a dream." How much is he like Sayid? "In real life, I'm less than heroic. There's no way that I would be capable in the way Sayid is. I'd just cave in and give up." Burning question Earlier this season, someone knocked out Sayid while he was trying to operate the plane's radio. Who did it, and why? "You will find out within the next three original episodes, definitively," Lindelof says. "They will find the person, and that person will confess to having done it."
HAROLD PERRINEAU (Michael Dawson) Age 36 Casting backstory He initially turned down an audition, not wanting to drop out of the L.A. production of Topdog/Underdog. But when Lost's pilot shoot was delayed (and word got to him that he was the only actor Abrams wanted for the role of Michael), the ex-Oz con read for the part, but still was wary: After all, he'd just lost out on a role in Grey's Anatomy. It was only during Lost's final callback that he became optimistic: "There are usually three or four people that meet the studio and the network," he says. "For my character there was just me." Our favorite moment When Michael's ex-wife dies and he goes to fetch his long-separated son, Walt. His stilted hesitation shows his difficulty in reuniting with a boy he knows only as a hypothetical. His favorite moment The flashback episode, which altered his view of Michael. The writers had initially framed him as "a white-color guy. But instead of making him a guy who had made it, they changed him to a guy who was still making it." Favorite conspiracy theory "That it's some weird government experiment. That seems to be the most feasible." Burning questions Will Michael's raft set sail by season's end-and who will be on it? "All I can say is, how much would it suck if it didn't set sail?" asks Lindelof. "Wouldn't you feel ripped off? I sure would! As to who is on it? Well, the roster ain't set. Yet."
DOMINIC MONAGHAN (Charlie Pace) Age 28 Casting backstory "I came in for a generic meeting. At that point, Charlie was a 45-year-old rocker, but they didn't have an actor who was working, so they were quick to tell me they would work around things. After receiving nods and winks and comments from J.J. Abrams, it felt like it was being laid out for me." Our [and his] favorite moment Charlie's hilarious fight against his urge to sneak a peek at Claire's mysterious diary. "I like the scene where he's struggling. I didn't know if the powers-that-be were going to allow a moment of slightly surreal comedy in this show, and they went for it." Castaway he'd most like to be stranded with "Locke. He seems to have his s--- together." Favorite conspiracy theory "I've always liked the idea of them being stuck in a Truman Show-type experiment. The government's purposely crashed an airplane, and now Big Brother is watching and seeing how human beings act in environments of tragedy and adventure." Burning question Charlie was hooked on heroin. Recently, Locke and Boone found heroin on a plane. Discuss. "One of the things that has made Charlie's ability to kick the habit so theory is that he hasn't had any temptation," says Lindelof. "Reintroducing temptation is part of our intent. The good news, for now, is that he doesn't know that the plane is out there."
JORGE GARCIA (Hugo "Hurley" Reyes) Age 31 Casting backstory Garcia earned an audition after Abrams saw him as a scene-stealing drug dealer on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and he was the first one cast. "J.J. Abrams and Hawaii were all I needed to sign on," says Garcia. Our favorite moment Net worth of Hurley after winning the lottery, $156 million. Look on this fast-food employee's face when he realizes he's hit it big: Priceless. His favorite moment "The scene with me and [Matthew Fox]--we're walking carrying torches and I say, 'My name isn't Hurley. It's Hugo Reyes. Hurley's just a nickname.' We were thrilled, like 'Look at how fun this is! We get to carry torches through the jungle.!'" Favorite conspiracy theory "That we're an ant farm--where you can shake it and mess them up. It just makes me laugh." If he could change one thing about Hurley . . . "Give him a little romance--even if it's very innocent, junior-high style." Burning question The lotto numbers: What the hell? "Trying to find greater meaning in the numbers is the direction we are going to continue in for the rest of season 1," says Lindelof. "Hurley doesn't know that the numbers are on the hatch--what happens when he finds out that the numbers are on the hatch should be interesting. Wouldn't you think?"
DANIEL DAE KIM (Jin Kwon) Age 36 Casting backstory "My character only exists because they liked Yunjin [Kim, who plays his wife, Sun] so much," says Kim. "I wish I could say that they are looking for me all over the globe, but my agent got the call that they needed a Korean who could speak Korean and I got the part." Our favorite moment Forced to work for his father-in-law, a corrupt business man, Jin savagely beats a politician. The look of shock and shame that crosses his face as he washes his bloodied hands is wrenching. His favorite moment "When I apologize to my father for lying [about his death]. You really see [Jin's] humanity--which, until then, had been far from apparent." If he could change one thing about Jin . . . "I can't wait for Jin to learn English." Favorite conspiracy theory "Purgatory. I don't think it's correct, but we are all searching for redemption on the island." Burning question Jin worked for his brutish father-in-law; what exactly was his job title? "He was the executive assistant in charge of finger-breaking," jokes Lindelof. "People always ask, 'What's Jin problem?' There are a few missing pieces that will make it even clearer by season's end what he's acted the way he's acted."
TERRY O'QUINN (John Locke) Age 52 Casting backstory O'Quinn received a call from Abrams (who had previously cast him as FBI honcho Kendall on Alias). "He said he was going to do a show and was I interested in being involved and I said yes," O'Quinn told EW in November 2004. "And he said, 'It's going to shoot in Hawaii, which might be a drawback,' and I said, 'That's not a drawback.' Then he said, 'Well, the character isn't going to be too involved in the first episode or two,' and I said, 'I'll take it.'" Our favorite moment The creepy and poignant flashback scene in the travel agency revealing that Locke was paralyzed from the waist down before the plane crash. When he looked into the eye of the island, what did he see? "I talked to Damon and he said, 'All I want to tell you is that you saw the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.' I said, 'I can work with that.'" Burning question What's Locke's motive for keeping the hatch secret from the other castaways? "His motive is revealed soon," says Lindelof. "Everything Locke does he believes is in the best interest of everybody. That's all I'll say."


Blogger Spec said...

Well, "Lost" is coming to a close this season, but fear not. While there is only one episode left, you can rewatch the whole first season in the comfort of your own home (okay, that's where you watch it now, but regardless...) with the 1st season on DVD!! That's right, it's already coming out on DVD. It will be released on Sept. 6th, but you can preorder it from at
It's already the #26 in most purchased DVDs. The first season of "Desperate Housewives" also comes out in September (currently ranked #119 in sales). ABC is back, baby!

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