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Hollywood.com

February 5, 2007

Faithful fans of ABC’s hit drama Lost may have been feeling as marooned as the island’s castaways without a single new episode for three full months. But viewers are out to sea no more: The show returns on Feb. 8 with an interrupted run of 16 episodes, straight through to the season finale. And if that’s too long to wait, the creators and cast gave Hollywood.com a teasing peek at the twists and turns to come.

Executive producer Damon Lindelof described the direction of the show, which the writers plotted out at a summit in Hawaii as Season Two wrapped. “As we were coming into Season Three, our mission was ‘We’re going to answer the question in these first six episodes: Why did The Others kidnap Kate, Jack and Sawyer? Why those three? What is the play?’”

“We knew where Season Three was going to end,” said Lindelof. “We’ve known for quite some time that Season Three was going to start with the crash from The Others’ point of view, that we wanted to introduce this character Juliet…all of those things.

Now that the first six episodes that aired last fall in a mini-season format tackled those mysteries—and in classic Lost form, raising all kinds of new ones, Lindelof said “The next level is ‘Who are these people? Why have they been taking kids? Why were they abducting people? How long have they been on the island? Why were they having book clubs? Who is Ben in relation to Juliet?’

Lindelof says that viewers who have been languishing with those questions since late 2006 will get some major answers straight out of the blocks: “In Episode 3-7, the new season premiere, we answer a very significant mystery about Juliet, at least in terms of how she came to the island and why,” he explained. “And that begins to posit sort of new questions, some of which will be answered by the end of the season, and some of which won’t.

Elizabeth Mitchell, who plays Juliet, told Hollywood.com she was intrigued to begin to unravel her character’s enigmatic past in the flashback. “There’s a lot that’s fleshed out there and if you are interested in the character of Juliet, it’s a nice one to watch because you see so much more,” she said. “I believe what happens to Juliet and what her experience is feeds into what she’s doing and why she’s doing it … Some of it threw me. Some of it, I was like, ‘Oh my God!’”

However, Mitchell said she’s under no illusion that she will become a permanent resident of the island. “I think that they like the character but at the same time, you could die at any minute, so you never know,” she admitted. “I believe they’ve invested a lot of time in building up the character so it might be interesting to see where she goes, but then again it might be really interesting to build her up and see her die.” Mitchell said Juliet appears in at least five of the upcoming episodes, though she’s yet to work with any of the cast members she hasn’t already encountered, which begs another question.

With the early focus on Jack, Kate, Sawyer and The Others, one of the biggest concerns fans have is what’s going on with the rest of the characters? “I certainly miss the rest of the cast that I haven’t worked with in a long time,” said Matthew Fox. “The captivity stuff was very, very intense, but I’ve really enjoyed the storyline so far this year. It’s been very challenging and rewarding.”

Evangeline Lilly agreed, “When you are working doing the same job for three years playing the same character on the same island, with the same people, you adore that job and you adore those people, but it’s always really exciting to have something fresh and new brought into the fray. To interact with those other characters and have something new to try. It really has brought out different sides of our character that we haven’t seen before.”

Back to the Beach
With the new faces firmly established, Lindelof’s fellow executive producer Carlton Cuse said the remainder of Season Three will bring the focus back to the regular cast of Lost-aways who were not spotlighted in the initial story arc. “I think there’s a distorted sense of the season in its totality because we only showed six episodes,” said Carlton Cuse. “If we only showed you the first six episodes of last year, you’d probably be saying, ‘Has the show just become about the tail section people?’ Those characters are basically now all dead, and by the time we got on through the entire season last year, we feel like we covered everyone’s story. I think the same will be true when you see the entire third season in its totality. You’ll have a much better sense of what everybody’s been doing.”

Lindelof elaborated: “I think what the audience wants is more beach stories, more sort of Season One stories, a return to the sort of early Charlie, Claire, Sun and Jin of it all,” he said. “The thing that we’re hearing probably the most is, “We want to see the ensemble again with each other.” And in that sense that’s what we are going to be delivering. Not just in the entirety of these 16 episodes, but I’d say sort of bunched in the first five or six, you’re going to be getting back to that version of storytelling. That is the drum that is beating the loudest for us in terms of what the audience craves.”

But that doesn’t mean some new faces will be ignored. Heretofore unexplored Oceanic survivors Nicki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), a pair of characters glimpsed in that first six episode arc, will also emerge in a prominent story line. “The point will become very clear in Episode 3-14,” said Cuse.

Lindelof said the character were created in response to “a very legitimate point, which is what the hell is going on with the other 35 people who nothing ever happens to? We saw Dr. Arzt explode, and every once in a while one of those guys will sort of come forward for a fleeting moment, but are they just ‘red shirts?’ Are they just monster food? What has their experience been? And why aren’t they participating in the primary decision-making on the island? So we thought we had this really cool idea, which is we’ll introduce Nicki and Paulo.”

“We knew we were never going to be able to do their entire story in the first six,” explained Lindelof, “but they had to have a significant story somewhere in the first six so they would make an impression, so we put them on the truck in the same episode in which Mr. Eko dies so that when we pay it off on Episode 14, the audience won’t go, ‘Wait a minute. I have never seen those guys before!’ At least you will be able to look at the previous 13 episodes and sort of pick Nicki and Paulo out of the crowd.”

Another major rumor that’s been buzzed about on the Internet is that the secrets behind Jack’s mysterious tattoos will finally be revealed. The tats actually belong to Matthew Fox himself and the writers have crafted a tale around them, but Fox isn’t giving up their significance, either to the show or to himself.

“I don’t ever tell anybody what they mean, but they’re all very meaningful for me,” said Fox. “They’re about events or moments that happen to me that I think are really important and things that feel worthy of something that I want to carry my whole life. I also love the idea that there will be moments when I’m older and I’ll look at them and say, ‘Really? That’s what you were thinking when you were 28 years old?’”

The Season of Sex
Since before the launch of Season Three, Lost’s creative team had been hinting that this will be a season in which some of the male-female relationships grow even more complicated.

Or as Josh Holloway put it with a sly, Sawyer-esque smirk, “Sex.”

Holloway knew what he was talking about, as the long-running Jack-Kate-Sawyer triangle was finally resolved—at least for the moment—when Kate and Sawyer’s torturous imprisonment finally led them to consummate their flirtation, in a polar bear cage, no less. But don’t expect their relationship to be smooth sailing.

“I’m sure that he’s gonna mess that up pretty quick, because it’s his nature,” Holloway told Hollywood.com, though he hopes Sawyer gives the romance a fighting chance. “As an actor, it’s more intriguing to me if he tried to make it work, because it’d be so foreign to him. And to explore that as an actor, that fine line of falling in love, when that is not a part of that person’s make-up is challenging, and would be a fun line to walk. But I’m sure he’s gonna mess it up…He makes the same mistakes over and over again. It’s kind of a dichotomy, because he’s not a dumb person. He’s pretty smart, makes references to books all the time, is well-read and all this. But he makes the dumbest mistakes, over and over again.”

“Who do I want to end up with?” mused Lilly. “The obvious answer is whatever serves the story. I think the writers have a very tricky job in dealing with the romance on the show and when to bring people together and bring them apart. And I wouldn’t claim to be smart enough to figure out which is the best answer for that.”

And just because Sawyer and Kate have hooked up, don’t believe for a second that hunky Jack’s prospects for romance on the island are exhausted. “I think the Jack/Juliet relationship is one that’s very interesting for us,” hinted Cuse.

“I’m a Jack girl,” confessed Mitchell. “I like your good guys. The bad guy thing, I did it in my 20s.” Mitchell also admitted that she had another good match in mind for her character. “Juliet and Sayid would be a really interesting match-up. Don’t you think? Bcause he was a torturer, obviously, and Juliet seems to be very good at a particular kind of brand of psychological warfare. So I would be kind of interested to see them work with each other.” And, she added, “I think he’s kind of hot.”

But the romances don’t end there. “Also, I think the Claire/Charlie story is something where there will be some really good additional growth,” said Cuse.

Things make be getting rockier for one of the island’s established couples, thanks to the mystery surrounding Sun’s pregnancy and the question of whether Jin is really the father. The couple has a flashback coming up, and “I hear that it’s really juicy,” revealed Yunjin Kim. “We take it per episode. I still don’t know who the baby’s father is for my character; that’s how little we all know.”

“No matter what the answer to that is I have to play it like Jin is the father,” Daniel Dae Kim told Hollywood.com. “He’s got to believe that he is the father. It just makes the tension and the drama higher if he believes that, and if he’s not there’ll be some consequences.”

“Sun’s just been advertised to be just too perfect, so I knew something was behind her,” Yunjin Kim explained. “And it was really exciting to sort of have a little bit of action, and to see that she’s got tons of dark sides, and that she’s a pathological liar to begin with. Especially to her husband.”

And for the record, she hopes Sun gets a shot at someone else on the island as well. “I just want to make sure that I get a kiss scene with Sawyer,” she giggled.

A New Tongue, A Bit of Cheek and Cheech
There are even more tidbits of a non-hook-up nature.”Jin’s progression with English is something I think to look forward to,” said Daniel Dae Kim.”I certainly look forward to it. I think once he starts to learn better English he’ll be able to have different kinds of conversations with people which will lead to different kinds of adventures. I’m looking forward to that.”

“I’ve got a good episode in 3-8 which is Desmond flashback,” said Henry Ian Cusick, who’ll be showing a whole new side of himself. “I get to run a lot. Run on the beach, run in the jungle, run naked, stuff like that.” How naked? “I don’t know if they’ll show my ass. I’m not sure.”

Jorge Garcia says the fourth episode will focus on his character, the fan-favorite Hurley. “It’s got me and my dad, played by Cheech Marin, and it was a blast,” he told Hollywood.com. “It’s going to be really good and I’m hearing great things about it even though I haven’t seen it myself. I’m very anxious to get to see a little taste of it.”

And like Desmond, Hurley will getting some exercise, although not naked. “I have to run in this, too,” said Garcia. “Apparently people like to watch me run.”

Lost’s Endpoint Found
The producers are acutely aware that fans of the show’s elaborate and frequently impenetrable mythology are growing more and more anxious for some serious resolutions to lingering mysteries, but they remained dedicated to answering questions dramatically rather than merely downloading information.

“Lost is not a small genre show because we don’t allow the characters to focus on the mythology,” said Cuse. “We want the characters to focus on primarily their relationships with each other. We always view the show as a character show with a mythology frosting over the top. All the questions we get asked are about the mythology, but when we sit down and we work on the stories, we’re primarily spending most of our time talking about these characters and how they interact. And I think that if the characters became focused on the mythology, a lot of people would drop out.”

Lindelof agreed, and provided a vivid, if slightly exaggerated, example. “If, when Kate was first stitching up Jack, she’s like, “Who are you?” he’s like, ‘I’m a spinal surgeon. I’ve got some hardcore father issues. I don’t think I’m going to be a good leader,’ and she’s like, ‘You’ve got father issues? I blew up my f*cking step-dad,’ then it would have been like, ‘Why even do the show?’ because everything’s right there.”

One thing the creative team is dedicated to avoiding is the sense that they’re vamping or stalling for time, simply because the show is a big hit and ABC wants to keep it on the air as long as possible, and they cite the X-Files as a series that overstayed its storytelling life in a bid to extend its ratings run. To that end, they’re in the midst of a rather groundbreaking—for broadcast television—round of negotiations with the network to firmly set an endpoint for the series, so plotlines and mysteries can be more organically resolved as the finish line draws near.

“Once we do that, a lot of the anxiety and a lot of these questions like, ‘We’re not getting answers,’ will go away,” said Cuse. “They really represent, I think, an underlying anxiety that this is not going to end well, or that we don’t know what we’re doing. J.K. Rowling has announced that there’s going to be seven Harry Potter books, and it gives everybody a sort of feeling of certainty that that story is driving towards a conclusion…It’s always been discussed that the show would have a beginning, middle and end. I think once we figure out exactly when that is going to be, I think a lot of these concerns will go away.”

Though the producers are certain to have several more seasons to craft the perfect conclusion, Holloway already has his own dream finale in mind. “A big, bloody Braveheart battle is what I want, really,” he said. “And I want Sawyer to die badly. But as a last thing, he does something good.”

HOLLYWOOD

Lost | Damon Lindelof | Carlton Cuse


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