In case you weren't paying attention last night, Michael Emerson, our beloved Benry, turned in an astonishing performance that was earning Emmy buzz before it even aired, and as far as I'm concerned, no one has ever done better work humanizing a supervillain.
I just rang up Michael to get his take on Lost's big game, Ben's current state of mind after the brutal death of [sobbing drowns out spoiler], and, oh yeah, his brilliant explanation of the monster's mechanics. Click in for the goods.
FAMILY AND UPPING THE ANTE What's going on internally for Ben in that minute after Alex has been shot dead? Well, Ben is in a state of shock. Ben doesn't usually...Ben plays a game where a variety of outcomes are to be expected, but nothing outside the table of contents. In this case, something happened. Ben took what he thought was a safe risk, and it turned out to be a terrible risk. Someone else didn't play fair, so it's about as big a shock as Ben as ever had in his life.
Jumping to the end of episode then, Charles Widmore says, I didn't kill your daughter, you did. How much does Ben feel culpable in her death? Ben is a guy who doesn't take things lightly, and I think he has a long memory. When Charles Widmore says that it's Ben's fault—that's a kind of sophistry on his part. He's suggesting that everything Ben has ever done has led up to this moment, the idea that who we are makes us guilty across the board. But Ben's not having that explanation.
I think Ben knows that his daughter died for a very particular reason, and that Charles Widmore is the guilty one. Whatever is going on between Ben and Charles Widmore, the ante just got raised about tenfold.
In the next episode there's a scene where it looks like Sawyer might get the chance to kill Keamy, who killed Alex. Is that the kind of thing that Ben would want to do personally, or is Ben more of a big-picture thinker, just gunning for Charles? I think Ben is in a state of bloody-mindedness right now. I think he would like to personally pull the trigger on everyone connected. And we'll see whether he has that opportunity.
Interesting. Do you expect to see Danielle and Alex again, hopefully, in one capacity or another? And what has it been like working with Tania Raymonde and Mira Furlan? I love both these actresses, and it feels like when a dear coworker moves on to somewhere, you feel sad and lonesome...and you realize how much you've personally got invested in these fictional relationships. You know how nobody is ever fully dead on Lost, so...I don't expect that we've seen the last of them. But maybe we've seen the last of them in their fleshly state.
So Danielle doesn't pop up in the next episode with just a minor flesh wound and come after Ben or anything? I don't—I don't think that's gonna happen...
Speaking of Danielle, I was hoping she would eventually get to kill Ben. [Laughs.] What a strange wish on your part.
THE LADY JULIET
Well, I say this with the utmost respect and love for the character, but Ben's an unkillable cockroach, and yet you would have to imagine someone eventually gets him. Juliet, perhaps? Well, Juliet is certainly a dangerous character. I think more dangerous than we know at this point, and certainly there are issues between Juliet and Ben that have yet to be resolved. But you know, Ben's...his whole existence may end up being redeemed by the gravity and necessity of his mission.
Speaking of Juliet, that whole "You're mine!" opened so many more questions of what does he want from her. And then...I'm pretty sure Elizabeth Mitchell is like a foot taller than you, does that ever come into play when you guys are shooting scenes together? [Laughs.] Yes, I have to say, that was not one of Ben's prettier moments, there at the place where Goodwin met his demise.
You know, when Ben gets outside his comfort zone, like many men who are geniuses or men of sophistication, there is some part of him, to compensate, that has been undeveloped. I think Ben is maybe socially or emotionally somewhat underdeveloped.
So sometimes, when he's stressed, he behaves like a teenager. Sort of. To me. So he says things bitterly...I think he possibly regrets them later, but he does behave impulsively sometimes. For this character who is supposed to be so calculated and such a chess player, he really does behave impulsively upon occasion.
Does he want to marry Juliet so she can have a million of his babies? I don't think he even has a clear picture what he wants. That he wants is all he knows. She is a prize in his mind. Who knows what his sex life is, or ever would be? But somehow he's decided that she is to be his. MYTHS AND MONSTERS
Do you almost feel like after that conversation with Charles we suddenly learned that Ben is the hero of the show, even though we didn't know he existed for the first season or two? It feels like some kind of shift along those lines is happening, doesn't it? Because each season, it's like the lens of the show steps back a notch and shows the playing field of the show to be a larger one that we had thought at first.
I think this battle between Charles Widmore and Benjamin Linus, whatever it is, whatever the stakes are, whatever the game is, I think that's now big. That's a big, important thing.
And I think, I don't know if it's just from familiarity or instinct, but I think we like Ben Linus better than we like Charles Widmore. I think Charles Widmore is a more wicked man.
Partly just because Charles is really mean to Desmond, whereas Ben has always been very courtly and gentlemanly. He'll beat you to death, but he'll say thank you when he's done or something. Yes. [Laughs.] That's right. Manners count, don't they? Come on!
OK I have some fan questions, if you don't mind. Harry asks: "Is Ben the monster's boss? Is Ben able to just take the monster out of his cage?" What's your sense of that whole thing? Ben is privy to the secret mechanics of everything on the Island, so yes, he can sic the smoke monster—smoke's not the right word, but he can sic that thing on someone. But we don't yet know the recipe or the formula for how that's done, and we don't know what it costs. There seem to be a lot of forces on the Island, but nothing is for free. A toll is paid every time the machinery works. Everything is bargained.
Tom asks, "Did you have any sense that between the time Ben disappeared into the tunnel, and came back sooty later, that he was essentially in a time bubble where he worked out that Sayid would help him take down Charles Widmore, or do you think that was genuinely in the future?" I had it in my head that those things were genuinely in the future. But the passage of time is being perceived differently by different people. I thought that period of time when he went down the tunnel to enable the smoke monster and emerged sooty, I thought that was just enough time for him to take care of that, physically, by himself.
I think it all has something to do with metallic dust. I think the smoke monster is connected to that ring of powder that surrounds Jacob's cabin. They've established that there are supermagnetic forces are at work on the Island, so what better medium for those forces to work through than through fine filings of metal? Would you like join the Lost fandom? Because you would be really good at it. We who work on the show—we're all Losties, too! We're all theorizing and trying to put the pieces together. It must tickle the writers to see us trying to work these things out! OK, last question. Mark from Dundee, Scotland: "Where do you think Ben stands on a scale of one to 10 where one is Hurley, totally good; five is Locke, good but willing to do bad things to achieve his ends; and 10 is Charles Widmore, evil?" I think Ben is not bound by your scale.
God love you, sir. Want more of Michael Emerson's answers and personal brand of awesome? Check out the Lost Redux and tune in to the spoiler chat on Monday and we'll get you the hookup! Meanwhile, I want and expect you all to testify toward Michael's Emmy in the comments below. Go.
Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience
Available December 9, 2008
BURBANK, Calif., April 25, 2008 - From the halls of Seattle Grace Hospital to a mysterious South Sea island, life altering changes are everywhere in the latest seasons of two of television's top-rated dramas, available to own when Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Fourth Season - Expanded and Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience come to DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. Along with every intriguing episode from each show's dramatic fourth season, these multi-disc sets come packed with memorable bonus features that will take fans even deeper into these "must watch" shows. Each ABC series comes to DVD and Blu-ray Disc just in time for fans to catch up on their favorite episodes before the new season begins.
Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience Some of the Island's darkest secrets are revealed in the mind-blowing Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience, a five-disc compilation of all 14 one-hour episodes coming to DVD and Blu-ray Disc on December 9, 2008. With mesmerizing bonus features unavailable anywhere else, Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience teems with the kind of astounding discoveries and staggering events that have made Lost television's most compelling adventure.
More than three months after their fateful crash, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 learn the only thing more dangerous than the Island might be the people who have come to save them from it. Every twist and turn, and all the secrets and clues of the boldest show on network television come together in one place, taking fans deeper than ever into the mysteries at its heart. Shocking revelations and subtle clues about The Oceanic 6, The Others, the Black Rock, the Dharma Initiative and much more make Season Four a must own DVD and Blu-ray for any fan.
Lost: The Complete 4th Season stars Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson, Jorge Garcia, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Dae Kim, Henry Ian Cusick, Emilie de Ravin, Elizabeth Mitchell, Naveen Andrews, Yunjin Kim and Harold Perrineau as a group of castaways thrown together by fate. Produced by ABC Studios.
In its first three seasons, the series earned seven Emmy Awards and 20 more nominations, plus a Golden Globe and five more nominations.
BONUS FEATURES - LOST: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON*
* Lost Bloopers * Audio Commentaries * Deleted Scenes * Lost on Location - Go on location with the cast and crew of Lost for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of some of Season Four's hottest episodes. * Freighter Folk (working title) - Where did the folks on the freighter come from? Get to know them and find out what the show runners looked for in new cast members. * Transforming Hawaii (working title) - From the deserted beach to urban Los Angeles, Hawaii serves as a global backdrop for the excitement and intrigue of Lost. Join the small army of technicians that transforms Hawaii to the Island as they go about their duties. * Gun Tracking(working title) - Lost features a formidable array of firearms Get real life gun profiles and find out what it's like working with so much firepower. * The Music of Lost (working title) - The Honolulu Symphony performs Michael Giacchino's award-winning score live for the first time ever. Witness the power of the show's many musical themes as well as its innovative use of instruments-and learn how music affects the production, from writing to directing.
*(Bonus info subject to change)
Lost: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD is priced $59.99 (SRP) for U.S.; $79.99 (SRP) Canada, from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
STREET DATE: December 9, 2008 DVD Suggested retail price: $59.99 SRP U.S., $79.99 SRP Canada Blu-ray(R) Disc Suggest retail price: $96.99 SRP U.S., $109.99 SRP Canada Feature run time: TBD Rated: TV-14
Technical specifications may only apply to feature DVD Specifications Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen (Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions) Sound: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound Languages: English, French
Blu-ray(R) Disc Specifications Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen (Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions) Sound: 5.1 Uncompressed (48kHz/16-bit) Languages: English, French
THE FACE-OFF BETWEEN THE SURVIVORS AND THE FREIGHTER PEOPLE BEGINS, ON ABC’S “LOST”
“There’s No Place Like Home,” Part 1 – The face-off between the survivors and the freighter people begins, on “Lost,” THURSDAY, MAY 15 (10:02-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“Lost” stars Naveen Andrews as Sayid, Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond, Emilie de Ravin as Claire, Michael Emerson as Ben, Matthew Fox as Jack, Jorge Garcia as Hurley, Josh Holloway as Sawyer, Daniel Dae Kim as Jin, Yunjin Kim as Sun, Evangeline Lilly as Kate, Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet, Terry O’Quinn as Locke and Harold Perrineau as Michael.
Guest starring are L. Scott Caldwell as Rose, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday, Ken Leung as Miles Straume, Rebecca Mader as Charlotte Lewis, Jeff Fahey as Frank Lapidus, Kevin Durand as Keamy, Anthony Azizi as Omar, Andrea Gabriel as Noor “Nadia” Abed Jaseem, Byron Chung as Mr. Paik, June Kyoko Lu as Mrs. Paik, Lillian Hurst as Carmen Reyes, Cheech Marin as David Reyes, Veronica Hamel as Margo Shephard, Michelle Forbes as Karen Decker, Susan Duerden as Carole Littleton and Noah Craft as Hendricks.
“There’s No Place Like Home,” Part 1 was written by Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse and directed by Stephen Williams.
After a five-week hiatus induced by the Hollywood writer's strike, Lost finally returns this week with a new episode, "The Shape of Things to Come." Show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who both produce and write episodes of the ABC drama, are self-professed geeks who haven't promised sci-fi entirely based in real-life science, but they still want to get it right—or at least right enough that the show's rabid fans will believe it. The duo took a break from editing Lost's three-hour season finale script to take us behind the scenes in the writer's room, talk physics and drop exclusive hints about what we can expect from the show's future. —Erin McCarthy
We fact-check the science and technology behind Lost every week and most of the time you guys get it right. How much time do you spend researching each episode, and where do you do your research? Do you have a panel of experts on speed dial? Carlton Cuse: We do not have a panel of experts on speed dial, although we do have Greg Nations, who is our script coordinator, who is someone we will turn to who will track down specific facts. The internet is also a beautiful and wonderful thing, and we have our own areas of expertise. Damon is a real comic book geek and I'm a little bit more of a science geek. I took a couple of years of high school physics and my dad was an engineer. I think even though I maybe don't possess a deep science knowledge, I do feel like my brain kind of works a little bit in the way of, you know, does this seem like it makes sense or not, and then Damon and I will go and find an expert or some factual stuff to try to support what it is that we want to do narratively. Damon Lindelof: We have an awesome production team in Hawaii, so if we send down a script that says "Faraday has equations scribbled all over the chalkboard behind him," that falls upon them and Jeremy Davies, the actor who plays Faraday—who is very method and has been reading a lot about physics and trying to understand it—[to execute] what it says on the script page.
How important is it for you to get the science right? CC: The science needs to be right enough that we kind of create a sense of believability to the story telling. DL: We function on Jurassic Park rules, which are, if you can convince me that a mosquito can bite a dinosaur and then get preserved in amber, and that the DNA will not degrade over all that period of time, then you can show me a cloned dinosaur and I won't call it a science-fiction movie. And, you know, we try to do the same thing on the show. If something highly unlikely occurs, we try to offer up some grounding in the actual physical world that we understand in an effort to explain it—except in the case of things that don't potentially have a scientific explanation, which is where the show begins to go into its own territory. CC: But we're always trying to skirt that line between the two possible explanations, the scientific one or a mythical and magical one, and we are purposefully ambiguous about which one might be correct. Obviously, certain things fall into the science category and certain things fall more into the mystical category, and that just sort of depends on what story we're telling that week.
There's a lot of fan talk that any non-rational or fictional or magical explanation of the island's happenings is a completely unacceptable cop-out. So far, there are plausible scientific explanations for everything that's happening, so people have accepted what's going on. Does being called out by viewers (or the press) worry you? DL: Well, first off, I would challenge that assertion, and say, how does Yemi walking out of the jungle, the deceased brother of Eko, have a scientific explanation? I guess you would argue that he doesn't walk out of the jungle, that this is all sort of happening in Eko's head, that it's a hallucination. Would that be the case, is that...
No, what I was thinking was the stuff that has been explained so far has a scientific explanation, whereas the other stuff, we're waiting, we don't really know. DL: Right. CC: I think the question kind of strikes right at the core of the central theme of the show, which is the notion of faith versus empiricism. Jack represents the empiricist camp, and Locke represents the faith camp, and, you know, who is right? Well, the show hasn't fully answered that question yet. DL: Hopefully it won't feel like it's a cop out when the show does answer that question, because we never promised a show that was based entirely and grounded in science. It's nice that it's able to do that, but we reserve the right to go in the direction that the uber-plan directs us.
Desmond first time traveled in the third season, but it's not until season four that we see the scientific explanation for it. So this is a chicken-or-the-egg type question: Did you learn about the science first, then work it into the show? Or do you think of a plot element and then research different scientific theories that back it up? DL: This is where, while Carlton has a much more practical background in science and engineering, I have a long and storied history in every single time travel story that's ever been written, and draw upon that to fundamentally provide our stories with what we want to do. In this case, we said the way that we want to do time travel on Lost is consciousness based, as opposed to somebody gets in a DeLorean or a HG Wells-like apparatus and zaps themself back in time where they can interact with an earlier version of themself. It's more interesting if your brain basically drops into your body at different points in your life, which is more consistent with the sort of Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5, paradigm, and also helps insulate you from paradox. So we decided to do that with Desmond. He felt like the logical person to do it with. We find an emotional core for the story—in his case, it's his desire to be reunited with Penny—so we tell time travel stories that sort of focus on the romantic element, which is why we think Peggy Sue in Back to the Future and Somewhere in Time all work. They're science-fiction stories, but they have an emotional core. And we go from there. And then we do the research. CC: But the two aren't really separable, that's the thing. It's like, when we're actually talking about a story, and we're constructing elements, you know, we're always talking about the plausibility of any given beat. I think the danger that always exists on this kind of show is that the audience has to buy what you're doing. We use all sorts of different things to inspire our storytelling, but you're constantly weighing any sort of story beat against that criteria—will the audience believe it, will they buy it, particularly when we do something as out there as consciousness traveling. So we try to find a way to make it seem plausible, and yet, at the same time, clearly it's a real flight of fantasy kind of story. DL: And the coolest thing about consciousness time travel is, you know, you're sort of a slave to your memory. So if Desmond travels back in time and he remembers that a certain team beat another team in a football game, and then something different happens, we're hinting at the idea that the future has changed, when in fact he just remembered it wrong, which is kinda cool for us.
What's the vibe like in the writer's room when you're putting together these really scientific and technical episodes? Is there a lot of back and forth, or is it ironed out ahead of time? CC: The writer's room is a very lively place where every story point is debated and kicked around. We break the stories in their totality in the writer's room down to really the very very kind of minute details of scenes, so, you know, you're kind of harnessing the brain power of eight people in there, and that mind hive is very helpful in problem solving. And different people know more about various subjects, so, you know, one of our favorite pastimes in the room is we play this game...ah, what's the actual title...? It's Geek versus Jock. DL: We have one writer, Brian K. Vaughn, who writes comic books, and then another writer, Adam Horowitz, who's like a die-hard sports fan. CC: Yankees fan. He used to sell hot dogs at Yankees Stadium. DL: We'll ask Vaughn an easy sports question, like how many innings are there in a baseball game... CC: Or what is the color of the Carolina Panthers or what sport do the Carolina Panthers play... DL: And then we'll ask Horowitz to name two of the Avengers. And they will face off, and it's fun to watch them, you know, try to answer questions outside of their specific area of expertise.
And what's the prize if they get it right? DL: Bragging rights, and they avoid the scorn of the rest of the room. In fact, there's a lot of betting...once the questions are asked, all the other writers basically bet whether or not that person will get it right, so it's just, it's a face saving technique.
Is there a scientific explanation for the smoke monster? CC: We can't answer that question without answering the question of what is the smoke monster or without giving too much away. So we have to pass on that one. DL: We have ruled out that the smoke monster has a basis in nanotechnology, though, which is the most popular scientific explanation for the smoke monster.
When are we going to find out what the smoke monster is? CC: Before the end of the show. That's one of the big questions, along with what is this island, and those are kinds of questions that get answered in the end run of episodes when the show is drawing to a conclusion in 2010. They're not, they're sort of foundational questions and I think those questions are the ones that we're building towards answers for.
What sort of science and techy stuff can we look forward to proving or debunking when the show comes back? DL: We basically did an Orchid Darma orientation film for the Orchid for Comic Con last year, which is available online, I'm sure, and was set up for where we were going in our season finale. Our characters are in fact going to discover the Orchid and see a bit more of that film. There will be plenty to sort of fact check and debunk on that axis. CC: We can say that we've been very interested in these physicists who have been building this particle accelerator in the Alps, and there's been a lot of debate and concern about what's going to happen when they start smashing these particles into each other. People who are following that will probably enjoy some of the stuff that we're doing in the upcoming run of episodes.
Obviously this piece is about the science behind Lost, but I wouldn't be a good fan if I didn't ask you to give me some scoop on what's going to the rest of the season. CC: It just seems really appropriate that we tell Popular Mechanics that there's going to be a really juicy kiss coming up in the finale and that there's going to be a lot more on the Sawyer-Kate-Jack romantic triangle. I mean, that's the scoop that should really be in Popular Mechanics. DL: Here's the scoop for Popular Mechanics: According to the rules of our show, a communication between sat phones is not affected by temporal distortion, but if you were to send a radio broadcast and/or a telegraph message, it would be affected by temporal distortion. That's the scoop for Popular Mechanics and Popular Mechanics only, and it will make a lot more sense after you've seen the first episode back.
Speaking of satellite phones, one of the tech things that didn't stand up was your satellite phone, and you guys got a lot of flack in the press for that. Why did you decide to go with that particular idea? CC: I think one of the things that struck us is that [when] watch an old Julia Roberts movie and she's walking around New York holding a cell phone to her head that's the size of a toaster, we didn't really want to put ourselves in a position where we were literally married to everything that exists technologically. We decided that our satellite phone would be a very modern, high-tech version of it, and created one that we thought was cool. DL: We have technical experts down in Hawaii on the production end, and I think that the thinking at the time was, that although these sat phones were built in 2004, that the people who had them had access to the latest technology. So it's sort of like when you travel to Japan, their cell phones are two years ahead of our cell phones. You can walk up to a vending machine with your cell phone and scan a barcode and it'll spit a bag of chips and a coke out at you. The technology existed to build a phone like that in 2004, they just weren't readily available in any American market.
How do you keep track of all the complicated plot angles? You've got characters in flashbacks and flashforwards and everyone's interconnected in some way...how do you even begin to keep track of that? CC: I don't think that Damon or me would win a Lost trivia contest, but we obviously know the general details of everything and we keep that in our brains. But Greg Nations keeps the sort of elaborate series of bibles and timelines and charts the number of days of stories and, you know, he's sort of the keeper of the wisdom of Lost. So whenever there's a question about continuity or where an event takes place in relation to another event, Greg can plot it in the overall kind of schema of the show. So he is an invaluable resource and he is the guy who makes sure that everything makes sense or at least makes as much sense as we can make it make sense. DL: You know, the chronology of the show has become very intricate, especially since we just started doing flash forwards. Before it was which happened first: Sawyer met Jack's dad in a bar in Australia, or, Walt and Michael get on Oceanic 815? Now that we're in the future, and we're telling future stories out of order, so last year's finale you got bearded, pill-popping Jack screaming at Kate "We've gotta go back!" And this year you're seeing Jack in other people's flash forwards obviously before that series of events took place, so...he's testifying at Kate's trial, or he's visiting Hurley at the mental institution and we need to sort of plot out when in time are those events happening in relation to each other. It's not an easy job.
One of the things that the fans really love is assigning meaning to things that they see in the show, and sometimes they assign meaning to things that have no meaning. So do you ever place a scientific name or an Easter Egg that's a joke or meant to confuse people? CC: I think it's more a question of how much meaning do things have. I mean, sometimes names, like Minkowsky, that's meaningful. Sometimes we name characters and they're named after somebody's friend but it also turns out that they're a famous person. So, you know, without kind of detailing which are which, we have a spectrum of meanings that we assign to things, and it's just sort of circumstantial or narratively we get to a place where somebody has to be named something that's really important for the story, but it really does vary... DL: If you look at the freighter folk, Charlotte Staples Lewis is named after C.S. Lewis. Miles Strom is named after a pun because his name sounds like maelstrom, you know, when you pronounce it very quickly, and... CC: Oh, Faraday is obviously a famous scientist... DL: Yeah, and Frank Lapidus is a name that Eddie Kitsis, Adam Horowitz's writing partner, actually, and one of our other writer/producers, has just been saying for years, "There's gotta be a character on the show named Frank Lapidus." CC: And he has a buddy whose name is Lapidus. DL: So if there's anyone out there going, oh, you know... CC: Working on the Lapidus anagram... DL: That would be somebody finding something we did not intend.
Does it amaze you the lengths that people go to to research the show? CC: It does, in fact. And it's kind of flattering and it kind of boggles our minds, actually. We actually really just set out to make a show that we thought was kind of cool and entertaining, and we never imagined that people would get wrapped up in the intricacies of it to the degree that they have. I think Lost was really a pioneer in the use of the kind of connection between a television show and the internet, and the internet really gave fans an opportunity to create a community around the show. That was something that wasn't really planned, it just sort of grew up in the wake of the show.
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. TVGuide.com 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
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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: They're doing a lot of interesting things with my character, so I guess we will have to wait and see. [Chuckles]
TVGuide.com: 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!
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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?
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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!
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
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 Jimmy Kimmel Live! — 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. In the second episode back [airing May 1], that becomes a major issue in the story. One character gets sick and another who has had experience being healed voices exactly that question: Is there any rhyme or reason to it? Cuse: The healing is related to the degree to which you are in communion with the island at any given moment. Perhaps Ben getting sick and needing surgery had to do with the fact that he had fallen out of favor, that his connection with the island was maybe not what it had been in the past.
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 April 24 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 Lostand 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: You will know who's in the coffin before the season is over, and it will not be like, "Who's that person?" Lindelof: The only people you can rule out, based on what you saw in last year's finale, are Kate and Jack.
Kimmel: And the baby, just based on the size. Cuse: Yeah, it's too big a coffin for a baby.
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: But you will see that period of excitement when they first come back before the end of the year. 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: The settlement does actually come into play. That's a big plot point in the finale. 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. But the audience has been waiting to find out what happens after that scene between Jack and Kate [at the end of Season 3], and we're gonna deliver on that in the finale. 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."
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. TVGuide.com 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
TVGuide.com: 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. If you're not one of the Oceanic Six, that doesn’t mean you're going to be killed off the show.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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. I hope people will do the same at the end of the season finale for Sun and Jin! People could have the same reaction.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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.
TVGuide.com: 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]