Ten years ago this past May, the enormously successful (and occasionally extremely divisive) sci-fi drama LOST came to an end on the Disney-owned ABC network. And in celebration of that occasion, LOST showrunners Damon Lindelof (most recently of HBO’s Watchmen) and Carlton Cuse (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) sat down for a remote, pre-recorded interview with TV host Josh Horowitz (MTV News) to discuss the legacy of the series and take questions from fans as part of New York Comic Con’s Metaverse virtual convention.
In the bullet-point list below, I’ve jotted down the most interesting tidbits of information that came out of this LOST discussion, but you can also watch the full interview in the following embedded YouTube video.
Watch Lost Anniversary Fan Q&A | Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse:
- Horowitz opened the panel by saying “This is going to be bumpier than Oceanic flight 815” and asked “Damon, isn’t this why you got rid of Twitter? To avoid answering questions like this?”
- Carlton Cuse says the one question he would want to skip is “Who are the people in the other outrigger?”
- The interview was recorded on September 22 of this year, the date Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island. Lindelof says this date corresponded to the date the series first premiered in 2004.
- Damon Lindelof seems to own a replica of Pee-Wee Herman’s bike from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
- The remainder of the questions are from the fans:
- “What aspects of the show are you most nostalgic about?” Carlton says traveling down to Hawaii and visiting the set in the physical beauty of those islands. Damon says he misses the interaction with the fans, especially at conventions.
- “If Lost was a 2020 show, what would you have written differently?” Carlton says the restrictions were part of what defined the content, particularly the act breaks in network television. He doesn’t think the absence of commercials would necessarily be better for the show. Swears were written into the stage direction for the show instead of the dialogue. Damon says Sawyer would have had a more colorful vernacular than he had on ABC and certain moments would have called for more swearing, like Dr. Arzt blows up. “Lost wouldn’t have been Lost if it had been made in 2020.”
- “Do you have any theories or head canon that you choose to believe even if they weren’t in the show?” Damon verifies the fan’s theory that Hurley hosts a golf tournament on the Island every year called the DHARMA Open. He also likes the theory that Jack was his own dad.
- “Will there be a new podcast starring Damon and Carlton?” Carlton says they don’t have a good topic to talk about anymore. Damon jokes that everyone can agree there are not enough podcasts out there.
- “What was the saddest death on Lost?” Carlton jokes “the guy Sayid shot on the golf course,” but then he says it’s very hard to pick a serious answer. Damon says Charlie’s death is number one and talks about the production and editing of that scene. He also says Sun and Jin’s death gets him every time.
- “What were your plans for a main villain if Michael Emerson hadn’t come along as Ben?” Carlton says to make a television show successful, you have to listen to what the show is telling you it wants to be. They had a plan for Ben to perhaps be the leader of the Others, but the backup plan was for him to be a lesser member. At some point there would have been a leader, though it wasn’t always planned to be Emerson. Having to write out Mr. Eko in season three also created more space for Ben.
- “How would other characters you’ve created fare on the Island?” Damon says it depends if they were there from the very beginning or if they came on in subsequent seasons. There would be a lot of infighting for dominance and discussions of who would fall in which camp. Angela Abar would form her own camp separate from Jack and Locke. Carlton says Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates would become the leader of the Island.
- “Is time travel difficult to write?” “The short answer is yes,” says Carlton. It took about a week and a half to break each episode on average, but “The Constant” took about seven weeks and put them horribly behind. Damon says there are two forms of time-travel storytelling: one in which you can change the future, and one in which you can’t, and it’s much more time-consuming to write the second one, since you can’t create any paradoxes. You have to approach each story choice with a great degree of delicacy, which they didn’t ordinarily do on Lost.
- “Are you more of a Nikki or a Paolo?” Carlton says Paolo, and Damon says Nikki because he likes the attention and the stripper pole. He credits “Exposé” to Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and says it’s one of his favorite episodes, because they had to dedicate the entire hour to admitting their mistake in introducing those characters and making sure they were never seen again.
- “Who are your favorite obscure characters?” Carlton says Neil Frogurt, because his entire backstory had been worked out but never worked into the show. Damon says Scott and/or Steve because they could never keep straight which one of them was killed by Ethan and it became a running joke on the show.
- “Can Carlton Cuse do the Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, since the character was named after him?” “No I can’t, and no I won’t,” he says, but then jokes that he might do it for charity.
- “Did Hurley leave the Island to watch the Star Wars sequel trilogy?” Damon says he wouldn’t need to leave the Island to watch them, as he has connections. Hurley loved all three movies and also wrote long essays about how deeply flawed they are. Damon also says it would hurt his brain that J.J. Abrams made two of those movies and also co-created Lost.
- “Is Amy Goodspeed Amelia Earhart?” Carlton says this is difficult territory to address.
- “What aren’t you allowed to have before dinner?” This question references Charlotte’s final words before she dies. Damon says happiness, and Carlton says he can’t top that.
- “The whispers were associated with the Others for a long time, but were later revealed to be ghosts of the Island. Is there still a connection between the whispers and the Others?” Damon says 80% of that question was discussed in the writing room. He says the Smoke Monster was always a quasi-ghost since it could appear as dead people, and the fact that Ben could control the monster ties those concepts together. He also admits it’s a horrific story problem that they had to weasel their way out of.
- “Why will you never answer who was on the other outrigger?” Carlton jokingly walks out of the interview at this point. Damon says one of the things he’s always admired about David Chase is that he refuses to talk about the ending of The Sopranos. He says they have tried to answer any and all fan questions except the one about the outrigger. They actually wrote the scene that answered the question. Other people have seen the scene and those people are allowed to give away the answer after both Damon and Carlton are dead.
- “What do you think about a Lost spinoff or reboot?” Neither of them want to do it or see a reason to do it, but they are open to other people exploring that universe. They feel that they told the story they wanted to tell and put a lot of emotional energy into ending the show on their own terms.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.