Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse on the End (?) of Lost
Has it sunk in yet that you're done filming? Carlton Cuse: No. Because while we have locked the cut editorially, we're still doing a lot of work. Excuse us for being on our cell phones, but we're on route to the scoring stage where Michael Giacchino is going to be recording all of the music for the finale with a live orchestra. We have a lot of work and visual effects to do. I think it really will sink in on the 24th when we are literally done-done.
So there was no moment at the wrap party when someone had too much to drink and yelled out, "Let's do a season seven!" followed by a round of cheers? Damon Lindelof: [Laughs.] We haven't gotten that drunk yet.
So it sounds like you're ready to move on. Cuse: I think we've been prepared for a long time for the ending of the show. I think that we feel certain that it was the right decision. We're prepared for it. I think that there will certainly be a mourning period when it's all said and done. It's funny: There's this special feature for the DVDs in which some other show-runners discuss what it's like ending a show. There's an interview with Stephen Cannell [The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, Wiseguy] who said that he's produced something like 42 television series, for network television, and he never ended any of them on his own terms. We're far more grateful for the fact we're able to do this on our own terms. I think that's the emotion, at least at this moment, that outweighs the other ones.
Tonight's episode, "Across the Sea," focuses on Jacob and the Man In Black. When were these guys first conceived? Lindelof: We had to start talking about the overall mythology of the island in greater detail in the cracks between the first and second seasons, before our characters went down into the hatch. That conversation basically kicked out into the other major arc of the second season. Which was: Who are the Others? Who are these other people on the island, and who was their leader? And who was he receiving his instructions from? By the time the show got into its third season, we started to hear references to this character, Jacob. And I think it's safe to say that those conversations started then.
Do you think some fans get disappointed when they find out that everything wasn't plotted out from the first episode? Cuse: I think the answer is, once we announced the end date, I think a lot of those concerns went away. I can't imagine that there are many authors that are able to, basically, conceive something entirely beforehand. We feel strongly that the show would be worse if we were just marching forward. The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries and there's ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it's really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow. I think that's how we approached the show: We had a rough idea of certain things, a specific idea about other things. Over six years, everything got a lot richer and fuller because we spent all that time thinking about the show and thinking about how to make the show better.
As opposed to someone like George Lucas who, today, claims he knew the entire arc of Star Wars when he was filming the first movie. Even his old interviews prove that's not true. Lindelof: Totally. The other thing is, we never had the hubris or the audacity to try and plot out too far in advance, because we didn't even know if the viewers were going to want another season of Lost. Just to say in season three that we'll end the show after season six, then people decide they hated the show in season four, there wouldn't have even have been a season five. You have to focus on what's in front of you. If J.K. Rowling was only thinking about the seventh Harry Potter book when she was writing the third one, she wouldn't have been able to write the third one. You kind of have to say, "Hey, we have a cool idea for this character named Jacob and his nemesis, the Man in Black. But let's not put that idea in front of the audience until we're really ready to start telling that chapter of the story. We'll allude to it, because we have it in mind. In the meantime, this chapter of the story is that the island is moving through time and that's what the characters are dealing with right now. If you throw Jacob and the Man in Black into that story, people's heads are going to explode.
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