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Exclusive Extended Interviews!
'Lost' is found at Comic-Con

Popular TV Show Returns
for Its Third Year
at Comic-Con

Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan and Matthew Fox at Comic-Con 2004
Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan and Matthew Fox at Comic-Con 2004

Maggie Grace at Comic-Con 2005
Maggie Grace at Comic-Con 2005
B. McLelland © SDCC

Itís a show that has become a phenomenon, sparking Internet message board debate, water cooler arguments and intensive downloading to itsy-bitsy iPod screens for viewers to pour over again and again. Lost came out of nowhere, but as Comic-Con attendees know, it started right here in San Diego in July of 2004 when Comic-Con presented the first-ever look at the show, months before it debuted on ABC. Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan were 3 of the stars who made that first trip back to the mainland to introduce the show to its very first audience. In 2005, Lost returned to Comic-Con with appearances by stars Josh Holloway and Maggie Grace, co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof, executive producers Bryan Burk and Carlton Cruse, and writer Javier Grillo-Marxauch.

And now in 2006, Lost returns once again to the Comic-Con stage in Ballroom 20 on Saturday, July 22 at 10:30AM in what just might be their biggest presentation to date. Comic-Con talked to Lindelof, Cuse and star Jorge Garcia in these exclusive extended interviews.


Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse

Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof
© ABC

Damon Lindelof (right) started in TV as a writer on Nash Bridges. He was executive producer and story editor on Crossing Jordan and recently added comic book writer to his resume with this work on Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk for Marvel Comics. Heís the co-creator and an executive producer of Lost.

Executive producer Carlton Cuse (left) started as a writer on Crime Story. Cuse is the co-creator of the fondly-remembered Adventures of Brisco County Jr., starring cult favorite Bruce Campbell as a bounty hunter in a show that can best be described as a science fiction western action adventure comedy series. Cuse also created Nash Bridges, the long-running series about a San Francisco cop starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin.

CCI: When you appear at Comic-Con in July youíll be starting production on season three of Lost. By the time our fans read this theyíll already know what happens at the end of season two. Is there anything youíd like to mention about this last season to talk them down off the ledge?

Carlton Cuse: We hope that we provided more answers in the finale this year than we did in season one. And I think, hopefully at the end of the finale this year, weíve instilled an exciting new mystery that will keep people tuning into the show next year. Weíre sort of setting into motion a new story and mystery at the end, which the audience hopefully is going to be very engaged in.

Damon Lindelof: And you know last yearís big question over the summer was Ďwhatís in the hatchí and there will be an equally compelling question that people will be asking, hopefully, this summer and if weíve done our job right, theyíll be hungry for the answer.

CCI: Season two introduced a whole new tribe of survivors on the island. With the storyline that already included more than a dozen characters all vying for screen time, why introduce a whole second set of survivors?

Carlton: You know, I think the show has to constantly keep moving forward, itís a story-based series, itís not a franchise based series. So with any great epic story, youíre constantly going to meet new characters and thatís just a part of the evolution of the story. There will always be new characters that will be joining the cast of Lost. We will try to give the audience a lot of stuff with your favorite characters and introducing new characters and evolving the story is just part of the DNA of the show.

Damon: And youíll notice we sort of Lost two to gain two. You know, Ana Lucia and Mr. Echo were sort of the two main characters to sort of incorporate from the tail section, although Libby and Bernard were sort of second tier characters. But those two characters actually ended up replacing Shannon and Boone. We have sort of a critical mass of characters, so we try not to add them just for the sake of adding them.

CCI: We all know that visits to beautiful tropical islands has therapeutic value but the island of Lost seems to actually cure people. Locke walks again and Rose is cancer free. Is the island some kind of healing zone where the medical problems people arrive with are miraculously cured?

Damon: Well, thatís certainly a big part of the speculation. As we donít entirely know what Locke was doing in the wheelchair yet, that question is up for grabs. Certainly one could argue that Rose believing sheís healed does not necessarily mean that she is. So this is one of those places the show lives where we as storytellers find it really interesting. All these stories that you read about, that someone is convinced that theyíre terminal, then just sort of on faith and faith alone theyíre actually able to go into remission. And whether the island is doing that, or whether itís a degree of their own faith in being on the island lies the rub, but you know, going into season three, that very question is something that will be a real central focus of the storytelling next year.

Carlton: Especially since why is it that Locke can get out of his wheelchair on the island, and yet Hurley canít be cured of his bunions?

Damon: Thatís right. Horrible bunions.

Carlton: Bunions are just not susceptible to the magical powers of the island.

Damon: You can say that again.

CCI: Before Lost debuted, dramatic TV seemed to be going the way of the dinosaur. Now weíre seeing a plethora of intricately plotted multi storyline shows. Did Lost revive the drama series for network TV?

Carlton: I think it changed the paradigm. It sort of made it possible for shows with large casts, and story-based as opposed to franchise-based series to be seen as highly viable. And I think it also opened the door for science fiction, which is something that while we see Lost as a show that is a character show with science fiction embedded in it, you know it really has opened the door for that genre which was pretty much closed. The networks considered it pretty much a closed door for science fiction before Lost.

Damon: Yeah, when there was a similar thing when X-Files became a hit, which was X-Files spawned a whole series of X-Files types spin-offs and sci-fi sort of made itís way over and the reality is these shows function, they work the same reason most shows work is because people really attached to the characters. You know there was something so compelling about Mulder and Scully, what they were doing, so we donít think that weíve really reinvented anything weíve just sort of taken elements from shows and movies that we really love and put them all into one big pot and mixed it up. And hopefully that has allowed the networks to think a little more outside the box in terms of what a successful TV show can look like.

CCI: Carlton, youíre known for the Adventures of Brisco County Jr., which was a genre bending series in its time. What exactly is Lost? Is it action, adventure, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, soap opera or all the above.

Carlton: I think itís definitely all of the above. I think what Damon and I have really tried to do in the show is to never limit ourselves in terms of what types of stories we tell. Part of the process of making a series is you experiment and you discover what the bandwidth of the series is and I think weíve discovered that Lost has a pretty wide bandwidth and can be really intense and dark at times, and yet we can have really comedic moments and weíve discovered they can exists side by side.

Damon: Itís hard really to sort of peg it into any specific genre. We really think of Lost as sort of in the spirit of the Indiana Jones movies. The Indiana Jones movies certainly operate in the fantasy realm, that is to say, youíve got peopleís faces melting off, or Indiana Jones having a conversation with one of the original Knights Templar, but itís set sort of in the real world in terms of the adventure components of it. And it very much spins on sort of a character fun with that intermingled with sort of really dark maneuvering. We like to think of it as sort of an adventure show, with all of the above.

CCI: Actually Jorge said he felt it was a character driven drama about survival.

Carlton: Well, thatís good, I mean, I think at its core thatís what it is. I mean we get asked a lot more questions about the mythology but at the core weíre really making a character show and the mythology is the icing on the cake. But itís obviously the thing that captivates and engages people and leads to the sort of Thursday morning water cooler conversations. But if it was just about that, then weíd probably have a much smaller audience.

Damon: Yeah, I mean weíre really doing two shows in one. The first show is about these people on this island and what theyíre doing there, and the second show is who they were before they came to this island. And obviously itís the latter that gives the show its real character drive.

CCI: The fans have embraced Lost and you seem to listen to them. How do you react to all the fan theories about what the show is really about?

Damon: You know there are obviously a lot of theories out there, some incredibly intricate. And the reality is, some theories have pieces that are accurate and pieces that are wildly off base. For us itís sort of a fun guessing game for the fans to continue to play, but at the end of the day we have to stay on point and we cannot allow the fansí theorizing reflect on what our master plan is for the show, or to affect our storytelling.

Itís always cool to see them land relatively close to center but then go scurrying off in the wrong direction again. And you know as far as the big meta questions of Lost, that is where we really canít be interactive. There is a gripe about maintaining that balance between mythological answers and frustration, which we can always sort of course-correct, but Carlton and I were just talking about this the other day and the reality is itís sort of a catch 22. Either the porridge is too hot or the porridge is too cold. And if we gave too many answers in the finale last year, there probably would have been some blowback in terms of it being too confusing or it being too mythological-driven and not enough character-based. And when you donít give enough answers you get fans being frustrated. So, we will constantly be vacillating between those two poles.

CCI: Whatís the craziest theory youíve heard so far?

Damon: I think I heard that it was all happening in the dogís head. That was a good one. The dog was imagining all this.

CCI: Pop culture references like abound in Lost and have your legion of fans scurrying to figure out every arcane mention. While we know sometimes a banana is just a banana, do these references offer real clues?

Carlton: They do. I think part of what makes Lost special is that itís kind of an interactive experience. The fans can participate, and they can sort of ferret out what the meaning is of certain things and they can dig up the Easter eggs that we imbed in the show. Then they can go online and share those with others and they can become sort of proxy storytellers, and I think thatís something which we really enjoy. We try to make the show work on a lot of different levels. If youíre just a casual viewer you can watch the show, you can watch a good Hurley flashback story, and if you want to be more involved you can really try to ferret out the nuggets that we place and hide there and try to discern what their meaning is.

CCI: Damon, you recently joined the ranks of comic book writers with your work on Marvelís Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. Are there any more comics in your future, and whatís the possibility of a Lost comics series?

Damon: You know, once Iím actually finished with Wolverine and Hulk-and its been a lot harder and a lot slower than I imagined it to be-because of the focus on the day job. But itís been enormously rewarding and exciting work for me to be doing.

And Iím probably going to sit down with Joe Quesada when all is said and done and see if there is anything we can work on again together down the road. But as far as a Lost comic goes, Carlton and I have been sort of trying to wrap our brains around what that would look like and how it would work, and until the concept sort of presents itself, we really held back on doing it. We feel there are television shows like CSI and the X-Files that sort of lend themselves more to comic book storytelling because they are franchise dramas, but because Lost is an ongoing and unfurling story, we havenít quite isolated exactly what the comic book could be.

But of course once we do, obviously thatís a medium we would love to get involved in.

CCI: This is your third year at Comic-Con and your first appearance at the event was before Lost even debuted. Why Comic-Con and what do you get from your yearly visits here?

Carlton: We view Comic-Con as our core fan base and itís really become a gathering place for more than just comics but really sort of the ground zero for popular culture these days. We just feel that we love being able to go back at the beginning of each new season and reconnect with the fans who are most passionate about our show.

Damon: Weíre also really fan boys ourselves, you know, itís very exciting to see what other panels are down there, and all the stuff thatís at Comic-Con really speaks to our sensibility as storytellers. Itís been very exciting and obviously as Carlton said itís just like those are our people. So the idea of going back to Comic-Con every year, where it all began, because one of the first audiences to ever see the show was the Comic-Con audience, outside of the network. We screened the pilot for Comic-Con and we were met with such a warm reception that we just want to sort of continue to give back to our fans. We feel the experience at the panel this year is going to be especially interesting with some of the stuff weíre planning.


Jorge Garcia

Jorge Garcia, 'Hurley' from Lost
© ABC

Jorge Garcia stars in Lost as Hugo ďHurleyĒ Reyes, the unluckiest lucky man in the world. Garciaís other TV work includes Curb Your Enthusiasm and a recurring role on the sitcom Becker.

CCI: Do you think Hurley is the luckiest man in the world, or the unluckiest man in the world?

Jorge: (Laughs) Well, yeah I guess now Iíve got to go with heís actually quite unlucky. I mean, he won the money but thereís so much bad connected to that money that I donít know how you can consider that being lucky.

CCI: There seems to be a real connection between you and the new cast member Libby played by Cynthia Watros. Is it cool for your character to have a bit of a love interest there.

Jorge: It was. It was very cool, especially because how often does a guy like me get an onscreen kiss?

CCI: And then again there was that scene this season with Hurley in the mental institution and Libby sitting across from you. Is all of Lost just a fantasy in Hurleyís mind?

Jorge: Well, you might think that if it was in Hurleyís mind there would be a lot more going his way. Seriously, his girlfriend wouldnít have been shot.

CCI: When you give interviews like this are you told upfront what you can and canít say?

Jorge: Well, it depends, most times interviewers will contact the show first and then the show gives them a little briefing of whatís been going on up to the point of the interview. Some people get briefed with certain information, but it mainly has to do with when the interview will appear.

CCI: Hurley since the beginning of the show has been kind of a happy go lucky guy, and very down to earth. Now weíre learning more and more about him and heís probably one of the richest characters in the cast when it comes to the back story. How do you feel about the challenges as an actor from all these different sides of your character?

Jorge: I think itís fantastic. I think the fact that this show just gives me opportunities to show more sides of my talent than I think I might normally be allowed to show. You know, up until this, Iíve played characters that have always been just kind of like the funny guy.

But since this show Iíve been able to get some real emotion and sensitivity like that, and itís a very cool opportunity.

CCI: Lost is a really hard show to categorize. Itís action, adventure, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and soap opera. I mean, what would you call Lost? If you had to describe it to somebody in one or two sentences what would you tell them it was about?

Jorge: If I had to describe it, Iíd say it was a character driven drama about survival. But to say that still leaves out the whole mythology and mystery of it. So youíre right, itís very difficult to categorize. But thatís the best thing I can come up with now, on the spot.

CCI: How do fans react to you in public these days, and whatís it like going from relatively unknown to being constantly recognized?

Jorge: Itís interesting, really. You kind of have to think twice about going to the supermarket in cut-off sweats and a stained shirt. I mean, especially in some parts of Hawaii, thereís a lot of people who just happen to have their cameras on them. And they take a lot of pictures. But yeah, itís cool, itís kind of nice. Terry OíQuinn (Locke) put it best when he said it really feels good when you can make someoneís day by just showing up.

CCI: Before Lost, dramatic TV seemed to be going the way of the dinosaur, especially with reality shows being so prevalent. Do you think Lost revived the drama series for network television?

Jorge: I think it definitely had an impact just by how many pilots the year after Lost (debuted) had Lost type qualities to them. I heard from Sam who plays Bernard on the show, he was talking about pilot season this year being full of shows that included flashbacks and, well, for me, anything that gets more actors working I think is fantastic. So yeah, Iím glad Lost has had that influence.

Itís also kind of cool that it seems to have put new energy and a little more risk in narrative drama series.

CCI: Itís also a really intelligent show too. It doesnít talk down to the audience. And obviously from the fan reaction, people spend a lot of time thinking about the show and discussing it with their friends.

Jorge: Yeah, the audience doesnít know the end ahead of time, the fact that it keeps them enough in the dark, and of course it has to keep them in the dark too, because of the whole Ďbig pictureí aspect of the show.

CCI: Do you know about Comic-Con?

Jorge: You know Iíve heard about it but Iíve never been, but of course everyoneís heard of Comic-Con.

CCI: We look forward to seeing you at Comic-Con in July.

Jorge: Yeah man, me too!



 

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