Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lost's Michael Emerson, Part 2: More Burning Questions - TV Guide Interview

Lost's Season 4 finale is being presented in two parts, and thus is my season-ending Q&A with Michael Emerson, who plays Ben. Among the topics this time around: Who exactly is the "her" referred to in the episode "The Other Woman"? And who has Ben never shared a scene with, though that seems destined to change? Read on, and then kick back and enjoy the two-hour conclusion to "There's No Place Like Home," starting Thursday at 9 pm/ET. When the Others' shrink said to Juliet, "Of course Ben has a crush on you. You look just like her," who is "her"? Ben's mother, or the little girl he befriended on the island...?
Michael Emerson: It could be either... or a third choice. That’s a really tantalizing question. I still think we're going to revisit that little girlfriend of his that made him the carved image. The moment where Alex was killed, coming on the heels of Rousseau's death. Was it hard to lose your 'family" there? Or did you suspect it would put this new fire in Ben's belly?
Michael Emerson: That is the way it's to function in the show – Ben now has the great motivation. He was cheated, and the game was upset. Now we see him prone to a feeling of grief and vengeance that is perfectly human. That will fuel his mission for the rest of the series. When do you like playing Ben the most?
Michael Emerson: There are a couple of ways I like playing Ben. I like it when he's in a jolly mood. Like when he had his little dinner party for Juliet. He's bustling around the kitchen, fixing food.... There's something surreal to see him do that. That’s a fun antic Ben. Ben's stock-and-trade is those tense scenes in confined spaces, where a lot hangs on a high-pressure conversation. At the end of the day, what do you think will be harder to explain: Who or what is Jacob, or who or what is the Smoke Monster?
Michael Emerson: The explanation of who or what is Jacob is going to be richer and more satisfying than who or what is the Smoke Monster. I have my own ideas about what the Smoke Monster is, and it's purely scientific. The explanation of Jacob, I think, may be more. When that series finale airs, do you think it will be indisputable that Ben is "the good guy" here?
Michael Emerson: I would be surprised if we walked away from Ben feeling anything but... ambiguous. I don’t think they'd let that go. Because in the future he seems to be doing the right thing.
Michael Emerson: Certainly his mission is going to be recontextualized — maybe many times — before the end of [the series]. Short of some amazing transformation – his becoming a monk or an alien or something like that – Ben seems a man fated to go on with this battle. And I wonder if the battle ever ends.... You seem to give your character a lot of thought.
Michael Emerson: I think about him because I sometimes have to explain things to myself in my own head. I don’t really have interaction with writers, so I just try to impose meanings and contexts on it, partly for my own amusement but partly so I know what to play. It helps me make an unpredictable choice in a scene if I have a new idea about what's going on. Do you feel as if you stumbled upon something special here at Lost?
Michael Emerson: Oh, yes. It's a wonderful role. The ambiguity of it lets me paint it the way I please, episode after episode. Is there anybody you wish you had more scenes with?
Michael Emerson: There are characters that I've never had scenes with, it's so crazy. I've never had a scene with Sun or Jin; Michael only briefly; Desmond.... Now that could be interesting. What could bring Desmond and Ben Linus together? ***** What are you doing with your hiatus?
Michael Emerson: We have three months off. I don’t really have any work to do. My wife (actress Carrie Preston) is working on a series in L.A. that films until the middle of July. She's working on True Blood (based on Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire novels), right?
Michael Emerson: Yes, and that could be really interesting. It's so tantalizing, this idea of [Six Feet Under creator] Alan Ball tackling vampire material. And he has a colorful cast there, not the usual suspects.
Michael Emerson: Right, fresh faces – and from what my wife tells me, some astonishing performances are being given. It's very exciting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lost's Michael Emerson Teases a "Dark, Violent" Finale - TV Guide interview

Say what you will about wily Ben Linus, but Michael Emerson is easily one of Lost's most interesting cast member interviews. Maybe it's the way he searches for just the right words — always cryptic, yet sometimes telling. On the eve of the conclusion of the ABC hit's big finale, I decided to kick off a two-parter of my own. Here, Emerson talks of Ben's fractured bond with the island, names the other (Other?) character that makes his "mouth water," and chimes in on a tale of two Emilys. Give me three words to describe the season finale.
Michael Emerson: [Thinks] Dark.... Violent.... ***. About a year ago, you and I spoke about how Ben was loath to ever leave the island. And yet we've now seen that it is something that does happen. What do you think changed there?
Michael Emerson: Ben's attachment to the island was... provisional. *** ***
Michael Emerson: I think so, yes. Things have gone so wrong. Events have forced his hand in a number of ways. And John Locke appears to have been "anointed" somehow.... And Ben appears to be making some sort of peace with that shift.
Michael Emerson: Yes. His gut reaction is that of a teenage boy, which is to be vengeful and full of rage and bitterness. But eventually, he will always play the board as it is in front of him. He will accept the terms. "Whatever makes Jacob happy."
Michael Emerson: Exactly. When you first were pitched this role, did they give you any hint as to the scope of Ben's involvement in the mythology?
Michael Emerson: No. I doubt if they even knew it at that time! As far as I knew, it was to be three episodes. I think it was an experiment, one that worked out happily. They’ve told me that the same thing happened with Nestor Carbonell. They didn’t have any "grand plan" for Richard Alpert, but once he became available, they said, "We could do something here."
Michael Emerson: Yeah... And he's a great character. It makes my mouth water to think what they could do with Richard Alpert. The guy is just flitting around time no worse for the wear, no nose bleeds....
Michael Emerson: Right, and he's just one of the eeriest characters. You received an Emmy nod last year for Lost. Does an actor ever settle into a role and think, "You know what? This could be an award-winning project, if I do the right things with it"?
Michael Emerson: I tend to just show up and do the work. I don’t think too much about those more popular issues. Partly because I'm a creature of the theater and am therefore more superstitious. Some things are not to be said or thought, if you can avoid it. It begs for the gods to punish you for your hubris. It is flattering when it comes, though. Last year, I thought, "Oh my god, I am having more impact that I thought." And with a dark role that doesn’t always connect with voters.
Michael Emerson: And we work in such isolation, too. That’s a contributing factor. We're out there in Hawaii, there are no paparazzi, there are no fancy parties.... We get up before the sun, drive to some remote location, and punish ourselves all day long. You don’t get a strong grasp as to how it's received on the rest of the globe. Are we to make anything of the fact that both Ben's mother and Locke's mother were named Emily?
Michael Emerson: Well, that very idea occurred to me last week — and I'm usually the slowest on the uptake with those kinds of clues. I thought, "let's hold onto that." They don’t make those kinds of accidents. The guys who write Lost are very careful about names. [Laughs]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ben Linus Plays Mind Games with Quint! - interview

Quint: Hey Michael, what’s up?
Michael Emerson: I’m just having a nice day off.

Quint: I can imagine. You guys all went back to work right after the strike, right?
Michael Emerson: Yeah, and we have just been going at a serious rate of speed with so many endless days of running around in a jungle and fighting and shooting… Oh, my god…

Quint: Well at least it is in Hawaii. You could be doing that in some… I was going to say desert, but you were in the desert last week. Speaking of the show, I’ve been a follower since the beginning, but I saw last week’s episode and I really dug it.
Michael Emerson: Oh, good.

Quint: It must be great for you, because they are making Ben such a central character to whole story.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, they have given me a lot to do lately and it does seem like wherever the uber story is going that it has something to do with Ben and his mission and the things he knows.

Quint: I know at the beginning that it was very much set up as kind of this Locke and Jack as the central figures, but it has slowly over the seasons and especially with the reveal of last week’s episode, it seems that the bigger power struggle is between you and Penny’s father, so it’s pretty interesting, at least for fans. It must be great for you, but it’s probably also got to be a little bit of pressure since there are so many hardcore fans of the show now that if you are playing more of a central role to everything, I would imagine, as a non-actor, that there would be more pressure on your part to appease those fans.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, well you just want to keep the work good and you don’t want your character to become… You don’t want to lose mystery or ambiguity and you want it always to be compelling playing, so yeah there is a little bit of extra responsibility to keep it fresh and hot if you can or if your role gets bigger. It’s interesting though how with each season on the show, the lens through which we do the story, pulls back a little further and includes more territory and more characters, so that the show… I don’t know if they ever actually meant it to be just about survivors on an island. I know a lot of people complain that they have sort of lost that first season blush on the show, but I don’t think they ever meant to stay there. I think that was just one look of many that and that the story was going to grow up and out and away from that.

Quint: Speaking as a fan, I think that as long as they keep the characters that everybody fell in love with in that first season, those who are left, as long as they keep them in the fold… I think that is where a lot of people were struggling with season two, because it focused so much away from all of the characters that everybody had assumed were going to be the leads rightly or wrongly, but I think that’s why the fan base has so roundly given themselves over now to Abrams and Lindelof and his crew, because they did. Now all of our characters are intermingling with all of the newer characters and like you were saying, they “keep it fresh.” I love their change up and when they started doing flash forwards.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, that was a stroke of genius, wasn’t it?

Quint: I think it’s an incredible way to keep a dynamic that everybody loves from the show without letting it go stale.
Michael Emerson: Yeah. I think it’s very fresh and I think it lends gravity and a maturity to the story now, because now we see that we are not dealing with the kind of story that has a trite ending, that this is going to be a thing more for grown ups and more about imperfect endings and things with regret; things left undone and unsaid, that kind of stuff.
Quint: Definitely. Let’s talk a little bit about some specifics form last week’s show if you don’t mind.
Michael Emerson: Sure.

Quint: Of course I’m a big sci-fi/horror nerd, so whenever the smoke monster returned and you walked out of that hidden tunnel and were filthy, I turned to my friends who I was watching it with and was like “Oh man, he just summoned the smoke monster, didn’t he?” It was great. That was great, but my favorite part of last week’s show had to be the moment when Alex was killed, because you can so clearly see in your character that you knew that that wasn’t going to happen and when it did, it was the very first thing we have seen in any of the episodes you have been in where you have been genuinely shaken.
Michael Emerson: Yeah.

Quint: I was just wondering how you approached that moment, because it was so new for your character.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, it was shocking and for Ben, he is never fully caught off guard, he’s never flummoxed or shocked really, but clearly something went very wrong and against every expectation in that moment and now he has sort of been shattered in a way. I don’t know how he is going to pull himself together exactly, but it was sweetly played by Tania Raymonde and I will miss her so much, quite afar from us having a fictional relationship, I also just like her very much as a person and have loved working with her. I do feel a fatherly sadness at her going away and not continuing to be on the show. There are a lot of sort of fictional and real impulses at play there and Ben has to play a scene more naked or vulnerable than he is used to doing. There were many challenges for me as an actor in that episode; physical challenges with combat and horses and then getting outside of my emotional comfort zone as well. It was interesting work… hard work.

Quint: Yeah, well it was definitely your episode. You were the flash forward and what is also really interesting, I think, about the episode is it really kind of takes what has been up to this point kind of a villainous person… It’s like the more we see of him, the less of a villain he is then when we first met him.
Michael Emerson: That’s true. I was just saying that to somebody yesterday, that gradually I’m sliding towards this empathetic end of the scale on our show.

Quint: Yeah, definitely. I mean with that moment at the end when you say you are going after Penny it was like you have become… it’s weird, because it is almost like you have become an anti-hero, except everybody loves Penny. It’s a weird place to put the audience, because we feel for you and we want you to get revenge, but we also don’t want to see the people that we like get hurt in the process, so…
Michael Emerson: It creates a dilemma for the viewer, doesn’t it?

Quint: It definitely does.
Michael Emerson: Who do we support here? We know that Ben has been wronged; we have seen his pain, but now he means to take it out on Widmore by way of his daughter and what’s that deal where he and Widmore can’t hurt one another? What’s that about?

Quint: Yeah, that’s one of the talents of the show that it is able to keep posing new questions while solving old ones, so you don’t really feel shafted and that’s something that I think they have been really good about in the last couple of seasons.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, well when people say they never give anything up, that’s just wrong, they give up something every episode and then of course new questions take their place, but I think that that’s what is fun about the show, that is the landscape of this show, that of developing mysteries and puzzles.

Quint: Have you finished the season out yet or are you just taking a break?
Michael Emerson: No, we are still working. We have a lot of material at the end, I think 10, 11, and 12 are maybe done, but there is so much post work to do. So much now has to be done with music. There are way more special effects than there used to be now and now we are dealing not just with people in a jungle, but we are dealing with big boats and helicopters and all of that equipment and stuff that is all difficult to work with, so it has been challenging for the company. We have been working such long days. Finally today they gave us a full weekend off for Saturday and Sunday.

Quint: And now you are spending one of your days talking with an idiot like me.
Michael Emerson: (laughs) Not at all. You know, I actually have a lighter schedule next week. I’m over the hump. ****

Quint: That’s cool. The secrecy surrounding everything that JJ Abrams has his fingers in, especially in LOST, is well known and has almost become his trademark with his devotion to secrecy, so I was just curious how much you as an actor are kept in the dark. How much lead time do you have before you shoot, when you actually know where your character is going?
Michael Emerson: There is very little lead time. I shot a scene about ten days ago in an episode that wasn’t written until the night before and it has been like that and I don’t know if you know, but very often in the finales, there are secret scenes and again this year there are a couple. There are a couple of scenes that no one is allowed to look at until the day we film them, which I think is like May the seventh. ****

Quint: Well, what is it like from an acting standpoint? Does it make it much tougher? Do you think it actually benefits you to work on instinct and not over think it?
Michael Emerson: Yeah, people often ask me whether I need to know the larger story to play the part and luckily in this case at least I don’t. In a way, it’s freeing for me not to be responsible for too much story or thinking “Oh, how do I play this when I know that X is going to happen in ten episodes or two seasons from now?” That would just sort of clutter up my work anyway I think. I just feel free to come in and play the scene that is on the page that day and let the geniuses who run the show put it together and make the larger sense of things.

Quint: Has there ever been a moment when you have played it one way and then they have come to you saying “No, you can’t do it like that. You have to do it this way, but we can’t tell you why.”
Michael Emerson: Yeah, there have been moments like that. In the early going, before I or anyone knew that Henry Gale was going to turn out to be the leader of the others, there were sometimes these difficult moments on the set where they would ask me to do a scene… I would do a scene one way and they would say “Actually, we need it to go this other way…” We still shoot some scenes with a couple of different tones, so that they can pick what works best in the final cut.

Quint: What tone do they usually go for? Is there even a usual one?
Michael Emerson: My experience is if I shoot a scene, they will usually pick the more malevolent read for Ben. They will choose the one that makes him scarier and colder, but then they know what they are doing. They are playing with audience expectation a lot, too. It probably serves their purposes to have made Ben look evil for a spell, so that maybe someday they can then turn that on its head.

Quint: Yeah, and like how we were talking about earlier, it seems like they are laying some tracks to move in that direction, if they choose to.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, I’ll be interested to see what happens in the next season ****

Quint: And they have put a cap on it, right? They have announced that they are ending at a certain point.
Michael Emerson: Two more seasons after this.

Quint: It’s good. As much as I would love to see these characters keep going, like THE SIMPSONS or something, it would feel like it was forced and I like the idea that they are telling a specific story, you know?
Michael Emerson: Yeah. I think it was a bold stroke on their part and it reinvigorated us and the writing team and I think the viewers too, in a way.

Quint: Do they ever get your input on the character, now that you have lived with him for so long?
Michael Emerson: No, we don’t have that kind of dialogue, which suits me fine. I trust them and in a way we communicate by way of our work. They show me what they understand by writing the role and I show them what I understand in the playing of it and that becomes a kind of conversation and I see over time that they are very sensitive to the way I speak and the way I behave and they incorporate it more and more into the writing of the part. I’ll read a script and go “Oh my gosh, they know of that tic I have...” or a certain phrase that I will use in real life and there it turns up coming out of Ben’s mouth. It is kind of an unspoken kind of dialogue that we have between us.

Quint: I think the hardcore fanbase was really excited to see the smoke monster return and I think the idea that Ben has some sort of control over it is really fascinating. I think that that has really piqued the interest of a lot of people, especially what is coming up in the next few weeks. I know you can’t say much, but can you talk about, based on what you know, do you think the fans will be satisfied with the promise of last weeks episode? Do you think that will be fulfilled?
Michael Emerson: Oh yeah, I think they are going in to some mind bending new surprising directions. ****

Quint: That’s really great. One thing that I really don’t like that I’m happy to see them avoiding in LOST is the soap opera or what they are doing in comic books now a lot where nothing means anything, where you can have a character die and it’s OK, because in five issues they will be back and the world has changed or they make this life altering decision and go “Oh, if people don’t like it, then we will just go back and it was something else or we will somehow change the rules midstream” and I like that people on LOST who have died, we can still see them every once and a while in a flashback, or at least we could back in the day, and that gave them a perfect way out, but I like that everything has a consequence and everything has rules.
Michael Emerson: Right, there are rules and there are prices to be paid.

Quint: If that wasn’t the case, then I don’t think LOST would have the fan base that it does. I think people like the fact that surprising stuff will happen, like Alex getting killed, or any number of people getting killed and that being it. Nobody is really safe. We can assume that Jack is safe now. We can assume some people who make it off of the island are safe, but we don’t know to what degree they are safe after that.
Michael Emerson: Right. They may be safe in the moment, but what’s the price tag going to be?

Quint: So yeah, it’s very fascination and I think that it has been getting stronger and stronger and I am really happy, because I have a lot of shows that I like to watch and there are a couple, like HEROES, that just kind of floundered where they had a promising beginning and just kind of floundered and I have hope that the next season will be better, but it’s good to see LOST keeping strong and without flattery intended, I think a lot of that has to do with you and Ben and what you bring to him.
Michael Emerson: Thank you. I think Ben started out as kind of an experiment where they were looking for a way to add another dimension to the antagonism of the island, so that they needed a character who had a face and a voice to go with these strange powers and it was an experiment that turned out very well and luckily I was the actor who got the part and I get to play it all of the time.

Quint: Cool, so what is coming up for you? You have shooting until May 7th and then do you have any more stage work later or any films coming up?
Michael Emerson: I had hoped to sneak in some stage work this summer and if we hadn’t had the writer’s strike, I would have been able to, because we would have finished the season months ago, but as it is, there’s not really time to do a play. My wife, Carrie Preston, is working on an HBO series in LA and I don’t want to go off and do a play somewhere and not be with her, so I’ll probably just hang out in Los Angeles with her while she is working on this series called TRUE BLOOD, the new Alan Ball series.

Quint: That’s cool.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, it has a vampire theme in it, which is kind of interesting.

Quint: That’s good. I like seeing fantasy… in this way a horror fantasy getting representation with something as prestigious as HBO can be and they are giving it the real treatment.
Michael Emerson: Yeah, the series is based on a series of pulp thriller novels and I can’t remember the lady who wrote them, but it is sort of a science fiction premise. In the very near future, vampires are able to come out of the closet, in effect, because science has invented a substitute blood product that they can live off of, so they don’t need to attack people anymore. I think there’s a sort of racial metaphor at the heart of it. What area people’s feelings about vampires and I think it’s sort of a social commentary.

Quint: Yeah, you can put any stigma, you can put the “anti-gay” sentiment that’s out there now or anti-anything. That’s what I love about the genre, that it’s able to have those messages without being preachy. It very much can be used really well to massage in social commentary. George Romero is very well known for doing that.
Michael Emerson: Exactly.

Quint: Cool, well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I really appreciate it.
Michael Emerson: It was good talking to you.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jimmy Kimmel Grills the Lost Bosses (Part 2)

This is part two of funnyman Jimmy Kimmel's interview with Lost producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. TV Guide was able to sit in on the Q&A as the talk show host grilled the show's masterminds with his burning questions about how the season — and series — will end.

Jimmy Kimmel: Will Walt continue to grow until he's 9, 10, 11 feet tall?
Carlton Cuse: That's one of our favorite lines of the whole show: "Who told you that, Taller Ghost Walt?" You know, we went and had lunch at Arnie Morton's with Malcolm David Kelley, the actor who plays Walt.
Damon Lindelof: This was before the finale last year.
Cuse: And he was still the same size. We were like, "Thank God!" So we wrote him into the finale and then somehow, in that intervening six weeks, he hit puberty hardcore. He shows up [to shoot the episode] and it's like, "Wow, can he slam dunk?"

Kimmel: See, you should've gone for an Emmanuel Lewis or a Gary Coleman. [Laughs] In my opinion, the episode where Nikki and Paolo were buried alive was the most different of all the episodes. It almost seemed like a Twilight Zone with a little Romeo & Juliet thrown in or something.
Cuse: I think what you're responding to is that it was the one episode that sort of acknowledged that this is just a TV show. We were responding very directly to the fans' criticism of those characters. I think some people really appreciated it as a satiric exercise and some were kind of offended that we would —
Lindelof: Break the fourth wall.
Cuse: We take the show very seriously, but we do so with a spirit of fun. And I think we have to acknowledge that sometimes we make mistakes. Nikki and Paolo were a mistake. I mean, we're trying to push the envelope — some things work, others crash.

Kimmel: I doubt there's ever been a show more responsive to its audience.
Lindelof: It has to be. Because Lost is highly-serialized, we can jump the shark in such a way that people would stop watching forever. And some people have. If you were to poll them all, the common answer would be it got too complicated. People are constantly threatening to leave the show. It's not the most stable relationship. [Laughs] At a certain point, you go, "Come on! You're four years in. We're almost home. Just stick it out with us!"

Kimmel: By the final season [in 2010], it may get down to like 175 really hard-core viewers.
Lindelof: [Laughs] As long as you're one of them.

Kimmel: I will be. I've never wavered. Some episodes blow me away more than other ones, but I try to look at the big picture. I defend it when people say, "Oh, this episode's not as good." Maybe it's because I have to do a show every night and I know it can't knock your head off every single time.
Lindelof: Do you feel like there's a creative decision we could make that would make you stop watching?
Kimmel: I mean, if the Globetrotters sailed up on to the island or if Tony Danza became a castaway…
Lindelof and Cuse: Uh-oh. [Laugh]

Kimmel: Is everyone on the island from the planet Earth?
Cuse: [Long pause] Yes. That may be one of the best Lost questions we've ever been asked.
Lindelof: When you get asked questions like that, you have to be very careful how you answer.

Kimmel: Will we see the process of the Oceanic Six coming home and becoming international celebrities?
Cuse: We will probably not see them hanging out with Paris Hilton.
Lindelof: **** We really thought about, what would happen if there was a plane crash and everyone was believed dead and then six survivors turned up?

Kimmel: Someone would probably write a book. They'd do Good Morning America. And they'd get a big settlement from the airline.
Cuse: ****
Lindelof: Would you book the Oceanic Six on Jimmy Kimmel Live!?
Kimmel: Absolutely. No question about it.
Cuse: The overriding goal of the characters in Season 5 is to get on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Lindelof: That's what Jack is talking about in the flash-forward. He's not talking about the island.
Cuse: [Laughs] "We've gotta go back…on Kimmel!" And Kate's like, "No!"

TV Guide: Do you feel pressure to live up to last year's finale? How do you beat the flash forwards?
Cuse: I don't know if you beat it. **** We're doing some pretty cool s--t. It's just gonna be on a different bandwidth than last year. It's not about the M. Night Shyamalan trick.
Lindelof: Jimmy, that's actually a question I wanted to ask you. Do you find now that you've done the Ben [Affleck] and Matt [Damon] videos, everyone's saying, "How are you gonna top yourself?"
Kimmel: Yeah, but because that's a departure from my usual show, I have the luxury of not doing anything. So we're just gonna leave it alone. Certainly, if there were some spectacular idea, we'd do it. But there isn't anything better than what we did the last time.
Lindelof: That's the way we feel about last year's finale — that it's a special moment in time. That moment when Kate gets out of the car is a once-in-a-lifetime show experience.

TV Guide: The Internet has played a role in the buzz surrounding both of your shows.
Cuse: I don't think Lost could've existed in the pre-Internet era. Now you have the ability to both catch up with the show and also discuss and explain it. The camaraderie of the fans that come together over the Internet to discuss Lost is a huge factor in its success.
Lindelof: Lost has always been a cult show in its DNA. It started out as being the band that everybody was listening to and is sort of migrating down to the people who are just fans of punk rock.

Kimmel: When the series wraps, is there any chance of a Lost movie?
Cuse: Our goal is to finish the show and have it feel satisfying. We have no plans at this point to do a movie.
Lindelof: We don't wanna do "and then" storytelling. Like, "Yes, that's the entire thing. And then the one thing we didn't tell you was this."
Cuse: When the show ends, it's over.
Lindelof: But I think it goes without being said that [until then], the show is gonna get weird. Weirder.
Cuse: [Laughs] I'm glad you added that amplification. Recently, we were doing [an interview for] a clip show and after about two hours of explaining plot, I was like, "This show is insane! We are certifiably insane people."

Kimmel: Then I'm insane, too, because I'm all in.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Emilie de Ravin: From Lost Princess to Indie Queen

Good luck forecasting Emilie de Ravin's next big-screen role. The ambitious Aussie beauty, who TV fans best know as Lost's Claire Littleton, this week is celebrating the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Ball Don't Lie, yet another edgy endeavor she can add to her resume alongside Brick and The Hills Have Eyes. welcomed the chance to ask de Ravin about her latest "interesting" film role, her romantic comedy aspirations (if she has them) and, of course, the increasingly shaky outlook for Lost's Claire. — Matt Webb Mitovich So, tell me not to worry about Claire.
De Ravin: To worry or not to worry.... What can I say? Oh, you know my lips have to be sealed, unfortunately. Her pregnancy was positioned to be so significant to Lost's mythology, I always assumed she would be around for the long haul.
De Ravin: ****, so I guess we will have to wait and see. [Chuckles] Do you have any private, top-secret insight into why Baby Aaron is with Kate in the flash-forwards?
De Ravin: No! I'm very intrigued to find out why, though. That’s one of the big questions I have right now. I always have at least one big question — and I never get answers until I get the script! Was it hard saying goodbye to Dominic Monaghan (Charlie)?
De Ravin: It was hard in many ways. We had gotten so close working together. It was very sad, very emotional. You must have thought that at some point they'd get to dive into their oft-stalled romance....
De Ravin: Yeah, but it got cut short, didn’t it? So, turning to your Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Ball Don't Lie: How does a pretty young thing like Emilie De Ravin fit into a teen boy's coming-of-age story set in the world of street basketball?
De Ravin: [Laughs] I'm actually in the flashbacks, playing the boy's (newcomer Grayson Boucher) mother. There are a lot of flashbacks, a lot of back-and-forth. She's a bipolar prostitute, so she's got a lot going on. But is she the bipolar prostitute with a heart of gold?
De Ravin: With a heart of gold! She's a very sweet girl, but she's on the wrong side of the tracks. This film features quite the ABC all-star team. Harold Perrineau (Lost), Richardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives), James Pickens Jr. (Grey's Anatomy)....
De Ravin: I know! Was that coincidence, or did you all know someone who was putting this project together?
De Ravin: No, it was complete coincidence. It was funny when I heard that Harold was doing it because I never saw him on Lost. We had no work together. Do you have any other films in the works?
De Ravin: I worked on a movie last summer called The Perfect Game, which is a children's baseball movie based on a true story and set in the '30s. How did you like the 1930s' sort of wardrobe?
De Ravin: Oh, it's amazing. My character's wardrobe and speech is based on Katharine Hepburn, so it was a lot of fun researching that. I look at movies like Brick... you playing a bipolar prostitute.... Do you have any aspiration to be the romantic-comedy darling?
De Ravin: Oh, I'd like to do that as well. I'm just trying to explore everything. It's fun to mix it up as much as you can. I don't want to get pigeonholed in any one genre. I like to extend myself as much as I can and challenge myself. A romantic comedy would probably be a day at the beach after the likes of chasing zombies with a pick axe.

De Ravin: [Laughs] Exactly! It's a little bit different.

Yunjin Kim on Lost's Return: Prepare to Be 'Amazed'

She was part of one of this season's time-twistiest moments, but to hear Yunjin Kim tell it, Lost has even bigger tricks up its sleeve. invited the actress to preview the batch of new episodes kicking off tonight. (ABC's Lost now airs Thursdays at 10 pm/ET.) — Matt Webb Mitovich Was it any special thrill, if only because of the job security, to learn you were among the Oceanic Six?
Yunjin Kim: Initially I thought it would mean job security, but it doesn’t really look that way. It doesn't really mean anything. **** When you were reading the script for "Ji Yeon," were you led to believe that Jin was on his way to see Sun?
Kim: Yes and no. The Year of the Dragon was a pretty significant sign that we weren’t talking about in 2005. I got a sense we were in two different time zones. Were you touched to see that Sun and Hurley are still friends?
Kim: I thought that of all the characters, Hurley would be the one coming to see the baby. The question is, why was he so glad none of the other Oceanic Six members would be there? While we were shooting it, we discussed how far Jorge [Garcia] should go with that. Should he be really glad no one else was coming, or half glad...? We did a couple of different variations, and they made it very ambiguous. From where you sit, is the energy on the set at all different this season? Does the show feel tighter, more exciting?
Kim: Because of the huge [strike] break, we were all happy to come back to work and find all the crew members returning with us. I was afraid to walk in and find a new crew. But yeah, I agree that the episodes have been great. [Sun and Jin's] episode had the right combination of the story going forward with Sayid and Desmond on the freighter, and also dealing with the A-story. And, of course, the huge surprise at the end raised so many questions. That’s what Lost is all about. What is Sun's involvement in this week's new episode?
Kim: Well, usually when you do your "own" episode, you take it easy for the next one or two. But the story continues: Are we actually going to leave the island? Right now we’re going crazy trying to shoot three episodes all at once. [Laughs] We have three different units working, we're working every single day.... I think the finale is going to be amazing. I'm a huge fan of the show, and as soon as I get a script, I plow through it to see what happens next. People will be very amazed by how we end this season and set up the next one. What has been your favorite episode of this season?
Kim: I really loved our episode, but I also loved Desmond's. With the love story between Desmond and Penelope and those last few seconds on the phone, as they were trying to get their words out, and the music.... It was so emotional and so satisfying. You really are rooting for those two to get back together. **** Do you know anything about the "Frozen Donkey Wheel," aka the finale's big twist?
Kim: Hmm. They’ve omitted, I think, two scenes from the finale, which was not even a script, it was a book it was so thick! It's amazing. We go out with another huge "What?!" reaction at the end. You're one of TV Guide's Sexiest Stars [to be detailed in the May 5 issue]. How does that honor rank compared to being on Maxim's Hot 100 and a Stuff pinup calendar?
Kim: Now all my dreams have come true. [Laughs] I was very flattered. I feel like we have a very good-looking cast, so we'll each take our turn. It must feel good to be called "sexy" when you spend every episode covered in grit or sand or are in a lot of the same clothes week after week.
Kim: Right! I guess they find dirty sexy nowadays! [Laughs]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jimmy Kimmel Grills the Lost Bosses (Part 1 of 2)

When it comes to Lost, Jimmy Kimmel's not f--king around.

On a Monday morning earlier this month, the late-night talk-show host arrived on the Disney Studio lot in Burbank tasked with a mission: Grill Lost's executive producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, about their massively dissected drama, which returns April 24 to round out its critically hailed fourth season. (We were lucky enough to tag along!) Kimmel, a diehard fan since the pilot, has frequently championed the series on The Jimmy Kimmel Show — interviewing cast members, trekking to Hawaii for a set visit and coining a catchphrase for Hurley ("Hey, ladies, it's Hurley time!"). He's even given the world "Lost: The Musical," a parody skit featuring a Riverdancing polar bear. (And you thought you were obsessed.)

As Kimmel greeted Lindelof and Cuse, there were initially few signs of the funnyman who recently fired up YouTube with his A-list viral video "I'm F--king Ben Affleck" (a retaliation to girlfriend Sarah Silverman's "I'm F--king Matt Damon"). He not only arrived 10 minutes early with a writer from his show in tow, but also came armed with a two-inch-thick stack of research, which he'd diligently printed out the night before after roasting Simon Cowell at Idol Gives Back. As Cuse would later note, Kimmel had "the laser-sharp focus of Mike Wallace." After a tour of the writers' room — which, sadly, had been stripped of any visible top-secret scribblings –– the producers settled onto a sofa in Cuse's sunlit office and noshed on a breakfast of fruit and pastries. Kimmel, meanwhile, took a seat across from them and painstakingly laid out his research on a table in front of him. "Don't be alarmed," he said, "but I want answers."
— Shawna Malcom

Kimmel: The island heals some people and doesn't heal others. For instance, Ben needed an operation from Jack to beat cancer, but it seems like Sawyer gets injured every sixth episode and by the next, he's fine. Is that just a TV thing?
Carlton Cuse: Wow. [Laughs] Where are the softball questions, Jimmy? What about the warm-up?
Damon Lindelof: The short answer is, it's not arbitrary. Yes, there is a certain degree of compressing story. The idea that everything you've seen has really happened in 110 days of real time feels fantastical, but that's the convention of the show. However, who gets sick and how fast they heal is something we talk about. *****

Kimmel: How do cast members find out they're getting killed off?
Cuse: We call them ahead of the publishing of the script. So whenever we actually call a cast member, they're always panicked. Even if it's like, "No, we're just calling to say you were great in this episode."

Kimmel: Did you call Mr. Friendly beforehand to tell him he was gay?
Lindelof: [Laughs] No.

Kimmel: Do all the show's writers know Lost's overarching secret, if there is one?
Lindelof: They all know what the island is and what the history of the island is. But if Carlton and I were kidnapped, and the kidnappers said, "We will not release them until you divulge the last episode of Lost," I don't know if the writers would be able to provide that.

Kimmel: I see. So you don't trust your writers. [Laughs] But you do actually know the final specific scene?
Lindelof: We absolutely, 100 percent know what the last scene of the show is and could put [the pages] in a safe deposit box. But there is an asterisk next to that, which is that we're slaves to fluctuations in reality. If one of the actors in that scene decided to stop being in Lost
Cuse: Or, perchance, got a DUI, the entire ending of the show could change. Basically, the show is in the hands of Hawaii law enforcement. [Laughs]

Kimmel: People come up to you all the time with theories. Has anyone come close to cracking the code?
Cuse: I think there are two assumptions that people make that are incorrect. One is that the whole answer to Lost reduces down to a sentence. It's not like searching for Einstein's Unified Field Theory. And the second is that you have enough information to "crack the code." The flash-forwards completely changed your notion of the show. So how could you do some accurate theorizing before you even knew those existed?

Kimmel: Has anyone made a really lucky guess?
Lindelof: In certain areas. Last season, when we showed what happened when Desmond turned the key in the hatch and he went on this little jaunt back in England, people started saying, "Maybe the electromagnetism on the island is related to space and time." But that's just one road on the map that is ultimately gonna be the entire show. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to construct a theory that basically answers everything you've seen so far.
Cuse: Even though we get asked a lot of questions about the mythology, Jimmy, we're really trying to write a character show. We spend about 80-90 percent of our time talking about how the characters are lost in their own lives as people. The mythology is kind of the frosting on the cake.

Kimmel: Do you have one jerk on staff whose job it is to come up with all of Sawyer's nicknames?
Cuse: I wouldn't call him a jerk. [Laughs] I'd call him one of our most valued writers, and his name is Eddy Kitsis.
Lindelof: And Adam [Horowitz], too. They both come up with a whole cavalcade of them.

Kimmel: What happened to the smoke monster? High winds?
Cuse: We'll see the smoke monster in the **** episode.

Kimmel: [Laughs] Do people find clues that surprise you guys?
Lindelof: In the pilot, there's a still frame of Walt, and behind him, burnt into the fuselage wreckage, is what looks like a Dharma symbol. We'd talked about the idea that there had been a group of hippies on the island, but the phrase "The Dharma Initiative" or the design for the logo didn't come along until much later. But it's there and it's not Photoshopped. Suddenly, you understand how hundreds of people can show up and see…
Cuse: The Virgin Mary in a piece of toast. It's a mystery that's even greater than our understanding.
Lindelof: We would love in moments like that to go, "Yes. We knew we'd be introducing the idea of the Dharma Initiative in the second season premiere and we wanted people to go back to the pilot and see that the symbol had been burned into the fuselage." But if we had known, we wouldn't have done it in such an oblique way. Sawyer would've went [adopts Southern twang], "Hey, what's this?" We want people to see our Easter eggs.

Kimmel: Something I noticed early on is that many of the characters have issues with their lousy fathers.
Cuse: Is this the part where we have to cry?

Kimmel: Jack obviously. Locke. Sun's father is a killer. Kate killed hers.
Cuse: You'd be better off just listing the people who have healthy relationships with their fathers.

Kimmel: Is that a coincidence?
Cuse: No. We're sort of working out our own psychological traumas in front of 15 million people.
Lindelof: Look, there's a certain aspect of the hero's journey, whether it's Luke Skywalker or Hercules or Harry Potter, where they're either orphans or have incredibly dysfunctional relationships with their fathers. They haven't been told what to do. They have to find a mentor character outside of their own family. The show's called Lost and we always imagined it from the beginning as a show about characters trying to be better people and evolve past their own petty insecurities and problems. And if you're gonna do flashbacks, some of them are gonna be about stuff that was put on them by their parents.

Kimmel: Is the person in the coffin someone who's not from the island?
Lindelof: [To Cuse] Tread lightly.
Cuse: ****
Lindelof: The only people you can rule out, based on what you saw in last year's finale, are Kate and Jack.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lost and Found: Scads of Scoopy Nuggets!

By Michael Ausiello,

"Team Darlton" (aka exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) on Thursday afternoon treated the press to a conference call teasing Lost's April 24 return as well as the now three-hour finale.

Before I dive into the full transcript, some nuggets to tide you over:

On the season finale:
"***" — which the boys just finished writing this past Monday and are now polishing/starting to shoot — kicks off Thursday, May 15 (at 10 pm/ET), and then continues with Parts 2 and 3, airing May 29, from 9 to 11.

On the fate of the Sawyer/Kate/Jack triangle:
"All we can say is that Sawyer is not one of the Oceanic Six, and Jack and Kate are," notes Lindelof. "*** We think that both fans of Sawyer and Kate — otherwise known as the 'Skaters,' I am told — and Jack and Kate, the 'Jaters,' will have a bounty of interesting romance scenes."

On Jack and Juliet:

On buzz that *****’s days are numbered:
"We don't really want to comment on any particular character's fate," Cuse defers. *******

On the prospect of any non-Oceanic Sixer being killed off soon:
"It's always a tricky thing when it comes to talking about death on the show," Cuse told "If we were to tease a death, like when Shannon died, it leads everybody to chase it down and spoil it. On the other hand, if we were to say that everybody is safe, that would ruin the dramatic impact of the finale. So, we're excited about what's happening and there are definitely some very large and seismic events that will happen to our castaways between now and the end of the season. *****"

On a new between-seasons online experience:
"We loved Find815[.com]," says Cuse, "and hope to do a similar thing where there will be an online prologue that leads into Season 5."

On their plans for Comic-Con:
"Last year we showed the Orchid [orientation] video, ******" says Lindelof. ***** "We would love to give the Comic-Con fans an advance first look at what we have planned for Season 5."

On Jeff Fahey:
******* Fahey, interestingly, was plucked away from working at an orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan, when Lost came calling.

On Seasons 5 and 6:
Since this season delivered just 14 out of 16 planned episodes, the next two rounds will indeed get boosted to 17 episodes each.

On the series' very last scene:
"The last line of dialogue, we have a little bit of wiggle room. But the last scene has definitely been determined," says Lindelof. "There would have to be some major sort of shift in both our mindsets to back off that. That’s what we've been working towards for a couple of years now, even before the [May 2010] end date was announced."

On the number of people who know about that final scene:
Outside of "Darlton" and J.J. Abrams "not a lot," says Lindelof. "You can sort of count them all on one hand. But if we were to disclose the names of any others, they might be kidnapped and taken off to Central America and tortured." Adds Cuse, "We told Dick Cheney because we were pretty sure nobody would be able to find him and get the secret from him."

Friday, April 11, 2008

‘Lost': Secrets from the Set!

Doc Jensen

Due to the fact that there are some major spoilers in this four-page article, two complete pages must be pretty much removed. I’ll go page-by-page on what’s left. – Melissa

Page One:
Life on the Oahu set of Lost isn't always a day at the beach.
You'll start seeing it on April 24, when Lost returns with the first of five fresh episodes that will wrap up its buzzy, strike-abbreviated fourth season.

Page Two:
Camp Locke is actually Camp Erdman in real life, a YMCA facility on Oahu's North Shore. On this rain-splashed afternoon, a couple dozen day campers sit on the grass, waiting to watch Lost XXX. XXX, the man who plays con-artist bad boy Sawyer, Josh Holloway , gamely takes questions. One boy shares how his mother, a big Lost fan, talks about the show so incessantly that he has to cover his ears and beg her to stop. The kids laugh, and so does Holloway, but the camp counselor is embarrassed. ''Now, remember,'' she scolds. ''Respectful questions.''

The stars of Lost have heard worse, especially last year when they were put in the awkward position of answering harsh criticism about how Lost had lost its way. ''When you came out here last season, I remember I didn't talk to you,'' Andrews tells an EW writer, ''because if all you have to say is something negative, why talk at all?'' Asked where he thought season 3 went wrong, Andrews smiles. ''Well, I wasn't in it much, so that's flaw number one, without sounding ridiculously arrogant,'' laughs the actor, whose Sayid was truly underutilized. ''A lot of us didn't know which way the show was going, and I'm not sure the writers did, either. They seemed to be meandering in the dark. But it's good now. We're on track.''

So how did they find the light? By negotiating the death of Lost itself. Last May, the show's guiding hands, Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, reached a deal with ABC to end the series in 2010 after three 16-episode seasons; as a result, Lost's storytellers have been able to bring structure and focus to their saga. It began with last year's bravura finale, which brought the promise of rescue and introduced ''flash-forward'' storytelling into the mix. Fox — who was the only actor besides Evangeline Lily (Kate) privy to the episode's it's-not-a-flashback twist — recalls barely being able to keep the secret from the rest of the cast. ''I knew it would take Lost to the next level,'' he says.

Season 4 has gone even further with new twists, new characters, and a new forward-moving, future-revealing mythology. Front and center are the Oceanic 6, a privileged clutch of castaways — Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sun (Yunjin Kim), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and baby Aaron — who have somehow, someway escaped the Island. ''I think this flash-forward business is a stroke of genius,'' says Emerson. ''I think everybody here feels that we are now a more mature show, that we are now a show for grown-ups, because XXX.''

Page Three:
At the very least, Lost has become a show no longer dogged by skepticism that its producers lack a master plan. ''The question of 'Do you guys know where you're going?' kind of evaporated,'' says Cuse. ''People are no longer fearful that they're going to be led like lemmings to a cliff edge and plunge off.'' Nobody is more thrilled than the cast; across the board, their enthusiasm — and, in some cases, relief — is palpable. ''Now, the story carries everything and we're just players in it, which I like,'' says Holloway. ''The writers can be concise. I like that, too.'' Adds Fox: ''Our writers have always said we needed an end in order to start ripping. Now, we're ripping.''

This isn't to say that season 4 has been perfect. After hitting a high-water mark with ''The Constant,'' a deftly plotted, unabashedly romantic time-travel yarn that ended with Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) finally making contact with soul mate Penelope Widmore (Sonya Walger), Lost slowed the pace and muffed some plays. A trick ending — She's in the future! He's in the past! — to an otherwise powerful episode featuring Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun alienated some perplexed fans. And the hyped-up return of castaway traitor Michael (Harold Perrineau) defied continuity logic and generally failed to meet expectations. Still, these are minor concerns compared with past infractions such as a guest turn by Bai Ling and last year's awkward introductions of — we hesitate to even bring up their names — Nikki and Paulo.

Ironically, season 4's overall strength and sophistication may have renewed Lost's creative mojo, but it has also sealed the show's rep as an intimidating weekly TV commitment. Viewership has steadily declined throughout the season, from 17.8 million for the season 4 premiere to 13.4 for episode 8. When the show returns April 24, it will air after Grey’s Anatomy, at 10 p.m., and while it may get some draft from the hospital hit, it's a less-than-McDreamy hour for a series that demands maximum alertness. But ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson says that even though he'd ''love to see the show grow...the reality is that the numbers are pretty good.'' And he's as excited as anyone about the new direction. ''Lost has established itself as one of the great shows of all time. I'm proud that by agreeing to end the show, we have freed them up to do what they want to do.''

Page Four:
And what they'll be doing is kicking things off with a meaty sweep of story.
While fans wait to see what form Lost's future takes, the cast waits to see whether they'll be part of it: XXX. XXX Daniel Dae Kim addressed a reporter's question about Jin's uncertain flash-forward fate (he seemingly died in the March 13 episode) with a mock-frantic cry: ''I don't know!'' As it was at the start, Lost is once more the show where anything can happen. Drying out in the sun after scurrying away from a big wave that washed out the scene, Yunjin Kim sits in the tall grass of the beach and sums it up: ''It feels like season 1. And I love it.''

Thursday, March 20, 2008

TV Guide - Harold Perrineau Gets Lost and Found

by Shawna Malcom
Harold Perrineau is back on the island — and ready to talk about why he left.

"It only goes about five feet deep," Harold Perrineau says, nodding in the direction of the swimming pool in his backyard. "If I stand in it, part of me's still above water."

From the hint of relief in his voice, you'd think a shallow pool was a major selling point when Perrineau bought the unassuming Los Angeles home more than a year ago. You wouldn't be entirely wrong.

As the T-shirt- and jeans-clad actor, 44, settles onto a sofa in the family room, he admits he's not a big water guy. He doesn't swim and he's prone to seasickness. So it's not hard to imagine Perrineau's anxiety when he found out his hotly anticipated return to Lost (Thursdays at 9 pm/ET, ABC) would take place on a ship in the vast Pacific. "My first day it was like, jump in a speedboat, drive 20 minutes out in the rain, step on the freighter," Perrineau says with a laugh. "I was sick all day."

Nausea aside, the actor is relieved to once again be part of the Lost crew. His character, Michael, hadn't been seen or heard from since motoring off the island in the Others' boat with son Walt at the end of Season 2, leaving fans to wonder what the holy smoke monster had happened to them. "It was time to come back," Perrineau says. "Even if Michael was going to die, I [wanted] him to finish, as opposed to just disappearing."

When the character finally resurfaced, pushing a mop aboard the mystery freighter in the March 13 episode, he was very much alive — if very much pretending to be someone else.

Perrineau's off-screen Lost journey has been nearly as dramatic. By the time Michael — desperate to get his son back from the Others — shot and killed Ana Lucia and Libby near the end of Season 2, Perrineau wasn't hiding his displeasure with the evolution of his character. "Michael's been such a decent guy," he told TV Guide at the time. "To suddenly be the executioner, I don't know how happy I am about that." Still, when he ultimately left, Perrineau says now, "I was a little bummed out. I'd put my heart and soul into the show."

From the start, Cuse and fellow exec producer Damon Lindelof insisted Michael would eventually return. "He was always coming back on the freighter," Lindelof says. "It was just a matter of [when] we were gonna reveal the freighter." The initial plan was the third-season finale, but Perrineau chose to sign on to the CBS pilot Demons instead.

Reports at the time blamed the lack of a Lost deal on Perrineau's outrageous salary demands, something the actor — who starred in the horror flick 28 Weeks Later and wrote and recorded a song called "Stay Strong" in support of the U.S. troops in Iraq last year — denies. "They were not throwing money at me," he says. Instead, he claims he didn't want to again uproot wife Brittany and daughter Aurora, 13, to Hawaii, where the ABC drama shoots. (Demons shot in L.A.) "I was actually making less money on Demons [than Lost]," Perrineau says. "I just needed some stability for my family."

When Demons didn't make CBS' fall '07 lineup, Perrineau was once again available and, this time, the Lost deal came together quickly. Regardless of what came before, "I'm really happy to be back," he says. "It's been like going home to family."

His immediate family, meanwhile, will stay in L.A. while Perrineau returns to Hawaii to shoot the rest of Season 4. His wife is pregnant with the couple's second child and due in less than two months. "We're gonna have a little girl," he says quietly, "and I'm looking forward to meeting her."

To make sure he doesn't miss the blessed event, he's got a plan: "When I have downtime from the show, [I'll] get on a plane. Fly back and forth to make sure the baby hasn't come. It's gonna be crazy."

But at least there won't be any boats.

Doc Jensen LOST:XXX

Note to readers: The second page of Doc Jensen's article marked off here by a line of ***s is Doc's speculation regarding an occurrence teased in last week's trailer for tonight's episode. If you consider the promos spoilers or don't want to engage in such speculation skip that section. If you do want to speculate, read away. Anything not related to that specific promo tease has been redacted.


Doc Jensen
Doc Jensen sizes up the odds for XXX tonight's XXX episode. Plus: Speculation on the Oceanic 6

By Jeff Jensen

XXX is the eighth episode of Lost's fourth season and the last episode that was filmed before the Writers Guild of America went on strike for three months. The good news is that the strike is over and the show is back at work; at present, cast and crew are shooting the ninth episode. The bad news is that we'll have to wait until April 24 to see it. (Curse you, post-production demands!) The slightly worse news is that when our mutual obsession comes back next month, it will air at 10 p.m., a brutal time slot for people like me, whose glittering mental carriage morphs back into a moldy pumpkin at exactly 10:01 p.m. So relish this, the last installment of the year to air at a sane hour. It promises to be a dynamite chapter in the unfolding Lost saga, according to executive producer Damon Lindelof:

''Yes, you'll find out a lot about XXX. But you'll ALSO learn XXX''

The promise of additional intrigue about XXX? Curious. I want to see this thing NOW (which for me is Monday morning, not your present Thursday time-space coordinate, so you can understand my impatience).


Deathwatch ODDS!

Handicapping killability — how tasteless am I? (Don't answer that.) But hey: Death is important, according to ABC, and so we must dutifully give ourselves over to excited speculation over which Lost actor is about to become unemployed. . I'm leaving out all the flash-forward future figures like Oceanic 6 and Ben. And I'm not going to include any of the Freighter Four, because it's too soon to off them...although I do wonder if Frank Lapidus' possibly mutinous late-night chopper errands will run him fatally afoul with crusty Captain Gault. So who's left?

SAWYER: 10,000-1
WHY? Because all outrageously handsome men who cause our wives to swoon must die.
WHY NOT? Because said wives would take up sledgehammers and storm the offices of Lost's producers and threaten Kathy Bates-style horror upon them until they brought Sawyer back to life. And anyway, he probably has a story or two left to tell.

LOCKE: 1,000-1
WHY? His flashback story seems complete. He doesn't seem to figure into the flash-forward future. And [insert your own strained reach in logic here; make sure you use the word seem].
WHY NOT? Actually, I think Locke has more history to unpack and plays a key role in the flash-forward future. Regardless, he's intrinsic to the overall Island-set saga of Lost. When the Island goes, Locke will go with it. I don't think either will be disappearing for exactly 40 more episodes. Besides, I still think he's Jacob.

WHY? He might have the time-travel sickness. Are his days numbered?
WHY NOT? The former Hatchman has more secrets to spill. Plus, it would be an ice-cold end to the fan-fave DesPen love story. Moreover — and with all due respect to you Jack-Kate time-loop theorists — he and Penelope are my picks for the Adam and Eve skeletons, so at some point in time he's gotta travel back to the past.
THEN AGAIN... Given how quantum leaping in the Lost-verse is a consciousness projection affair, maybe his death would help facilitate my Adam-Eve time-loop conjecture. Okay, then: 20-1!

WHY? The French Lady has been lurking in the background all season instead of slinking off into the jungle as usual after the premiere. The sneak peek clips released to the Web this past week XXX; is Alex's mommy due for a heroic death? Or is it vice versa: Will Alex meet an untimely end, serving as a catalyst for a new chapter in her troubled mother's dark Island life?
WHY NOT? Again, Rousseau is another character with too much valuable intel; if she dies, how would we get it? As for Alex, well, you need to keep her alive to react to the death of my top choice.

CLAIRE: 17-3
WHY? At some point, Baby Aaron has to transfer custody from the Charlie-grieving Aussie momma to Kate. Might her death be the catalyst? Also: a whopping 40 percent of Lost fans think she's the one, according to a deathwatch poll over at
WHY NOT? It would be more emotional and dramatic if Lost was setting up a story line in which Kate must find some way to facilitate a mother-and-child reunion in the flash-forward future.

WHY? Rose does have cancer; maybe she isn't as healed as she thinks. (If so, does that portend bad news for Locke's legs?) But maybe it's Bernard: In retrospect, that fishing-boat heart-to-heart last week with Jin might have been a setup for his tragic end.
WHY NOT? Because it's rude to kill your elders.

JIN: 5-2
WHY? One interpretation of last's week episode was that at some point in the near future, Jin will bite it...
WHY NOT? ...but another interpretation is that the Oceanic 6 are merely pretending that Jin — and the rest of their castaway friends — are dead, victims of the 9/22/04 crash of Oceanic 815.

KARL: 2-1
WHY: If you're asking ''Who's Karl?'' then you've established one reason why he's a good candidate for goner-dom. For the record, he's the Room 23-tortured boyfriend of Alex. And he seems to be the kind of guy who's bound to blunder into a bullet or machete swipe or deadly jellyfish sting sooner or later.
WHY NOT? Ummm...because he's got blackmail pics of Damon and Carlton?


*No, not the Kate Winslet movie — I mean Aaron!

Last week in my recap of ''Ji Yeon,'' I declared that the mystery of the Oceanic 6 lineup was over. Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Aaron, and now Sun — these are the castaways that wind up making it off the Island and shocking the world with the fact of their miraculous existence. You didn't need to be a fake doctor to make this quasi-brilliant diagnosis: the producers have told us in interviews over the past few weeks that by the end of episode 7, the O6 IDs would all be revealed — and episode 7 was last week. So, mystery solved. Right?

Wrong! Some of you are convinced that the matter isn't resolved — that twists await, that there's one and maybe even two more members of the O6 still to be revealed. Many of you suspect that Sayid isn't really part of the O6 team, even though he said he was Oceanic 6 right before he shot that Italian guy on the golf course. But since I don't think that Sayid could get away with lying about something like that — the O6 are super-celebs, after all — I believe he was telling the truth. I think you Sayid doubters are over-thinking this — and I admire that, as over-thinking things is my bread and butter. But I think you should prepare to give up on your theory: A little birdy tells me XXX.

Then, there is Aaron. It seems a whole mess of you are just like flash-forward Jack: You can't quite accept the fact of Kate's so-called child. The argument against Aaron rests on the following two assertions:

1. Aaron was not a ticket-buying Oceanic 815 passenger, as he was still gestating inside Claire's tummy (or Kate's, per the O6 cover story), so no one in the outside world would reasonably include him among the Oceanic 6. The knee-jerk reactionary part of me wants to flame this stinky piece of overly literal thinking into smoky little embers. Seriously?! That minuscule inconsistency fries your logic grid?! Think this through: In the off-Island world, every single passenger on Oceanic 815 has been declared dead. Remember, that salvage vessel found the wreckage and 324 corpses at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Moreover, the video of this discovery was international news. EVERYONE saw those pictures. EVERYONE beheld the terrible reality of rotting airline passenger flesh. Now: Imagine the reaction when five of these passengers are subsequently discovered ALIVE — and with a baby, no less! It's a killer story for the media, and speaking as a journalist, it just makes sense to me that the reporters who would tell that story would give this bunch of miracle people a punchy group name. And sorry, ''Oceanic 5 (Plus One)'' just doesn't have a good ring to it.

2. Aaron isn't Oceanic 6 because Kate's claim that Aaron is her baby wouldn't stand up to scrutiny. She wasn't pregnant before the flight, and if the Oceanic 6 leave the Island soon, that means she'll have only been missing for five months — not enough time to bring a child into the world. Another common sense-challenged argument. The only person who could have possibly known that Kate wasn't pregnant prior to the crash was the now-dead marshal who nabbed her in Australia. But are wanted women immediately given pregnancy tests upon being captured? I doubt it. As for the rest of the argument, our sci-fi fixation of the moment, time travel, neatly nullifies it. Think about this: If the Oceanic 6 moves forward in time when they leave the Island — like, say, one full year — it gives Kate the extra months required to support her cover story.

There's a THIRD argument out there for why so many of you don't believe/don't want Aaron to be one of the Oceanic 6, but it's an argument that most of you are too ashamed to voice. I say most, because there is at least one reader who's got enough stones to give this shockingly unsentimental and possibly even hideously inhuman sentiment public voice. His name is Christopher Lastrapes, and this past week, he wrote to say:

''Part of me just doesn't want to accept it's Aaron — mainly because I really don't care about Aaron. [Emphasis mine.] So I'm still trying to figure out who it might be. Maybe Ben is assuming the identity of someone on the plane. He certainly has the means, and might be able to find someone on the flight who had little or no connections in the world. Or now, maybe Michael. I just don't want to call this case closed just yet.''

Chris, I admire your frank baby-hating honesty. But it's time you and the rest of your Aaron-denying kind face facts: The kid is Oceanic 6. And the mystery is settled.


''Jeff: When you get a few free minutes, please check out the site I dedicated to my new time loop theory on Lost ( It gets over 10k hits/day and there is an active message board with over 500 posts regarding the theory. I'm very curious to hear your thought on it, being the avid Lost fan that you are!'' —Jason Hunter

Wow, what a little self-promoter this Jason Hunter is! But I think all of you should check out his theory nonetheless. It's an extraordinarily elaborate, creative, and well-researched piece of work, and an expression of Lost fandom that I absolutely admire. Try to look past the fact that it is also a brain-cramping crush of information, speculative thinking, and leaps in logic. Just admire the beauty of its head-shaking insanity. Similarly, I encourage you to check out two other theories currently getting a lot of fan attention, one of which I don't quite understand and one of which seemed to have a lot of promise for several weeks and could still be relevant in some form, but needs refinement due to recent Oceanic 6 revelations.

That's it for this week. Even though Lost will be MIA until April 24, I'll be back next week with a new column that will process the revelations of tonight's episode and put some big-picture perspective on Lost's so-far-sensational fourth season. And make sure you come back tomorrow morning for our recap of XXX. Until then, send your reactions and theories to

Theoretically yours,
Doc Jensen

Thursday, March 13, 2008

TV Guide - Interview with Elizabeth Mitchell

Elizabeth Mitchell: Lost's Juliet Kisses Jack and Tells!
By Matt Webb Mitovich

It was a genuine, tender moment that all but made up for the somewhat silly "Stop the nerve gas!" antics that preceded it. Lost's Juliet, haunted by Ben's obsession, shared a rain-soaked lip-lock with Jack. Elizabeth Mitchell shares with us what's ahead, names the episode she deems "perfect" and talks about returning to work after the strike. What was with that bait-and-switch you did for the TV Guide cover shoot? I saw you and Naveen [Andrews] and thought, "Oh, Sayid is going to pop up in Juliet's flashback or flash-forward" and... no such thing.
Elizabeth Mitchell: You know, it was more wishful thinking, wasn't it? I called it "a little fantasy episode." It was a hot photo shoot, though.
Mitchell: It really was! Naveen and I have known each other for a long time, so we're comfortable together and we were able to play. It was very film noir-ish, and we both enjoyed that tremendously. Let me pull out this quote you gave me a year and a half ago: "I don't know what kind of past Juliet and Ben have, but it definitely is complicated and intricate."
Mitchell: Yeah! [Laughs] I guess so! And you were probably just pulling that out of your bum!
Mitchell: Well, I knew it was something really, really bad. But I didn't anticipate standing over the body of my dead lover with a stake sticking out of his heart, and having Ben claim responsibility. That wasn't in my imagination. I thought it was an interesting twist. Can we talk about the ill-advised decision to engage in an extramarital affair on a small, isolated island? I mean, people are going to talk.
Mitchell: It's the same thing as, "You should never have an affair with anyone you work with," and of course that never happens. [Laughs] I get this weird feeling that at the end of the day, it's going to come down to Juliet sacrificing herself to save Jack.
Mitchell: Well, I think that Juliet loves Jack. I've always said that. If she did do that... It certainly seems very likely to me, something along those lines. She's also tied up with [pregnant] Sun, so who knows, but it's a possibility. She's very rabid about the people she cares about. My mom said that this morning: "You know what I like about Juliet? I like that she likes the people she cares about so much." I said, "Well, that is lovely. It is good." Let's talk about Juliet's kiss with Jack. Are we going to get any more of that?
Mitchell: I think we are, actually. I knew that was coming because there was all this stuff with Jack and Kate. That's the fun for them, creating these "triangles." And when they went back into the Jack and Kate connection, I thought, "It seems like they're going to pump up the stuff between Jack and Juliet," and that's what happened. [Pauses] I was very happy that Jack kissed her. I thought that was a particularly good scene for Matthew [Fox], in that he came across as a very strong and very leading man. I really enjoyed how he played that. His whole face changed when she said that she cared about him, and I thought that was fascinating. I've always liked them together, but I also liked Jack and Kate together, in the first season. But in watching Jack and Juliet, I hate to say the word, but there's such a maturity to them in the way they complement each other. So we'll see where that goes. Are you able to still watch the show as a fan?
Mitchell: Yeah, I am! It's kind of fun to watch it now. The making of the episode was such a struggle because there was so much emotion, that to sit back and watch it as a fan was much nicer. I didn't realize what a build there would be to the kiss. I didn't realize how we are so sucked into our romantic archetypes that when Jack steps forward and takes care of Juliet, something in me went, "Ohhh!" My sweet husband was in Washington, and he said he stood up and started clapping: "He did it! He did it!" [Laughs] He was really excited. Lost really gives you two different kinds of episodes: the "real" episodes, like last night, and ones like the week before, which are a whole different kind of entertainment.
Mitchell: I have to say, that Desmond episode was as perfect an episode as you can get. I freakin' loved it. I don't think he had a bad moment as an actor, the writing was A-plus.... It was fantastic in every way. And the speed! It was like a roller-coaster. I felt like ours was more of a "Sit back and take a deep breath" episode. Are you able to shed any light on what Juliet's therapist meant when she said, "Of course [Ben likes you]. You look just like her." There are theories that it's a childhood crush, or perhaps his late mother (glimpsed in the May 2007 episode "The Man Behind the Curtain").
Mitchell: No, I'm not [able to shed light]. It could be a love-of-his-life kind of thing, or it could be his mother. You never know with Ben. It could be someone we haven't even met yet. We actually did a reader poll at the start of the season, asking which character people want to learn more about. Ben and Juliet placed Nos. 1 and 2.
Mitchell: Oh, that's so nice. They created an amazing and complicated woman, and they made her very much a woman. I was very proud — proud is an odd word to use — but I was proud of the creation of her and the way they did it. It was very brave, I thought. Is there a sort of "letdown" for a Lost actor after you get "your" episode for the season?
Mitchell: [Laughs] I'm so flipping hard on myself that for me it's a relief! Other people's episodes are a heck of a lot easier to watch. This is like pulling nails. I suppose there is [a letdown], but at the same time I'm a story dork. I'm a book reader, a comic-book reader, so I'm always interested in what happens next. I actually just got the script for [Episode] 409, and I was sitting here reading it just completely entranced, and it had very little to do with me. That's the kind of show it is. I was already a fan, so to be on the "inside" of it is kind of crazy. Are you excited to be back at work?
Mitchell: Yeah.... Aren't you excited the strike's over? Um, yeah!
Mitchell: It's nice, isn't it? It's exciting that people are watching Lost and getting intrigued with it. That makes me happy. The TV Guide cover story featured "Burning Questions from the Cast Members." Did you have any that didn't make the cut?
Mitchell: I don't! Do you have any? Well....
Mitchell: I'm always curious what people are curious about. Me, I'm just going to sit back and see what happens next!

Doc Jensen - 'Lost': XXX

Doc Jensen figures that the ex-castaway is Ben's freighter spy, but has theories on how that came to be. Plus: Lindelof talks Numbers

By Jeff Jensen

At exactly the 30-minute mark in tonight's episode, the strike-shortened fourth season of Lost will reach its halfway mark. At the 31-minute mark, we'll have seen more Lost this year than we will see for the rest of the year. And by the 60-minute mark, we'll have just six more episodes of Lost left until the show waddles into its cave for another nine-month nap. This kind of thinking makes me kinda sad. Didn't this season just start, like, yesterday? As Kool and the Gang taught us long ago, we should cherish the time we have. So I invite you to savor this, our sixth-to-last tease of the year, an enticing tidbit about ''Ji Yeon,'' tonight's ... installment of Lost:


For several weeks now, all of us (or enough of us to create the impression of an ''all'') have assumed that our old friend Michael. ... Wouldn't it be awesome if the spy actually turned out to be Sayid's lost love, Nadia? Or Charlie's ex-junkie rocker brother, Liam? Or even — my crazy conjecture of the week — a returned-from-the-dead Libby, resurrected via the magic of course correction?

Still, I don't want to get your hopes up. All signs point to Michael. But how? Think this through, my fellow Lost theorists: Michael's return to the Island would defy storytelling logic. According to the well-researched timeline housed at, Michael and Walt left the Island 67 days after the crash of Oceanic 815 — in other words, late November 2004. But the freighter has been offshore since mid-December. Surely it took longer than just a couple weeks for Ben to get Michael in position.


First thing's first: Yes, you got me — it's Obi-WAN, not Obi-WON. But you know, it SHOULD be Obi-Won, don't you think? ''Wan'' is just so...wan. Still, I goofed, and so to atone for my fanboy sin, I'm making it up to you in the form of some scoop from Damon Lindelof about the Numbers — complete with a cool, fact-checked Star Wars reference. Wizard! But first, some other burning questions — and answers:

''Doc: Harold Perrineau is the spy...but maybe he's actually the grown-up Walt! The vector that Ben sent them on may have caused them to lose 15 years. Thoughts?'' —Bill

Bill: Good one! Let's make that Possibility Number 3!

''My theory is that Ben's spy on the boat is...Ben. Here's why. We don't know that the freighter and the Island are happening at the same time. Maybe the freighter is in the future. Also, when Ben tells Locke who the spy is, he tells him to sit down — which you would definitely say if you were telling someone you can travel through time. People keep saying Ben is right where he wants to be — that is, in captivity — so no one can see when he goes catatonic as he time travels. It would explain how he knows so much of what's going on even though he's a prisoner. What do you think? Maybe this is impossible, but it would be fun.'' —Will

Will: Your last sentence sums up my reaction — probably impossible, definitely fun.

''In 'The Constant,' when Charles Widmore was in the bathroom with Desmond and turned on the faucet, he very purposely used a towel so that he wouldn't touch the knob directly. Later, when Desmond touched the faucet directly with his hand, he was 'transported' to another time. Do you have any theories on the significance of this?'' —Maria S.

Maria S: Your curiosity about Widmore's curious bathroom routine is shared by a number of readers. I can't quite recall Chuck's paper-towel act (he's probably just a big germaphobe), but I definitely saw what other people saw: that Penelope's papa left the water running. Many have suspected that Widmore was keenly aware that Desmond was time-trippin' and somehow knew that by leaving the water on for Desmond to turn off, it would trigger another quantum leap. Maybe water serves as a kind of activation for cross-time consciousness transfer, at least for Desmond.

But here's another idea. I think Widmore knows the future — some or all of it. He's used this foreknowledge to build his financial empire. Now, the example of Desmond has shown us that those who have flashes of the future, and wish to facilitate that future, become slaves to predestination, because in order to get the desired outcome, you must make sure that the flashes play out in real life EXACTLY as you see them. So maybe the reason Widmore left the water running was simply because that was the way it HAD to happen, per his knowledge of future events. Even if I'm wrong about applying this theory to the bathroom business, I think the theory itself holds: Papa Widmore knows the future, and it drives everything he does.

''Jeff: I am convinced that Harper, as she appeared in the jungle, was indeed a manifestation of Smokey/the Island. What is your opinion on this matter?'' —CS

Clay: You are not alone. Many of you e-mailed suggesting the possibility that Harper could be the Monster. Was Harper's profession a clue? Harper was an all-knowing psychotherapist — and Smokey has the power to probe minds. I have long argued that Smokey is capable of taking human form, and more, that he/she/it has more on its cloudy mind than just killing castaways. Smokey could be manipulating our heroes toward various ends, much like the Island's other resident evil, Ben. Which suggests a possibility: Is Ben a manifestation of Smokey? Or, put another way: Is Smokey a manifestation of Ben? Tune in next week when I put some more flesh on this theory.

''I was wondering about The Numbers. Are we going to find out the meaning behind them?'' —Amy

Amy: A couple years ago, Lost staged an alternate-reality game called ''The Lost Experience'' that, with great fanfare, provided an answer to this mystery. The Numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) are values in a mathematical formula called the Valenzetti Equation, which was designed to estimate the date in which (cue dramatic music) the world as we know it will come to an end. The Dharma Initiative was trying to harness the powers of the Island to change the equation so as to prolong the life of the world. Now, we've also seen how the Numbers play an almost supernatural role in Hurley's life. However, ''The Lost Experience'' didn't address that. Personally, I have become content with accepting the Numbers as a thematic idea — an inexplicable but dramatically potent manifestation of fate, fatalism, and freaky phenomena that defies easy understanding. But I can understand why other fans might want a more concrete explanation. So: Will the show ever give us specific Numbers resolution? I ran the question by Damon Lindelof, and here's what he had to say:

''There will be more ON the Numbers, yes. But explaining WHY and HOW they are magic is like trying to explain why some magic kids are born to two muggles. The Valenzetti Equation USES those numbers, but trust me, they were around LONG before the early '60s. But for fans waiting for an advanced dissertation on the mythic significance of the numbers, I direct them to Qui-Gon Jinn's speech to Shmi Skywalker regarding midichlorians and pose the following question: Happy now?''

Point taken!

And with that, we bring another Doc Jensen column to a close. I spend my Thursdays returning e-mail, although I answer older e-mails first, so be patient. Send your theories and questions to And I'll be here tomorrow morning to recap tonight's episode.


—Doc J