Below is a very long interview with Carlton Cuse and Jack Bender at the Curzon Theatre with summary by attendee mcleron and posted on Dark UFO by The ODI. There’s only a couple of bits that are spoilerish so I’ve preceeded them with a red * followed by the usual blacked-out text. Enjoy!
1) D&C confirmed that Stranger In A Strange Land was the turning point for the studio, and they were allowed to establish an end date.
2) Jack’s beard is bad.
3) 16 episodes next year, but 18 hours of Lost. Jack Bender confirmed a two hour season premiere, and a two hour finale.
4) After Lost, they will go in to hiding for a while, due to the inevitably interpretive quality to the series ending.
Damon: You are married to your destiny, you can try to avoid it, but it will catch up to you. This is why Charlie shut the door in the Looking Glass station, because he embraced his death.
Sometimes they get pointers from the studio, telling them stuff is too outlandish. Originally, in the season four premiere, Hurley was going to come across himself in Jacob’s cabin, but the network urged them to change the scene to Christian Shepherd, afraid it would set a precedent of weirdness. With season six, there won’t be any of that
Q: What was your favorite scene to watch or write?
CC: The scoring session we attended for the raft’s launch at the end of Exodus . These musicians were playing this incredible music without having rehearsed it, and the moment was so beautiful, there were tears in the control booth. That was just one of those great moments where you felt this blessed synergy of all these talented collaborators all come together and make Lost what it is.
JB: I love all of them
DL: I have many…but for me, during season one, when we first started writing the show coming out of the pilot, when it first started revealing itself, was really cool. I’m drawn to scenes that take place with just two characters and somehow they’re talking about very very heady things and I’m a huge fan of whenever Jack and Locke talk to each other. We’ve been very judicious in having those guys talk to each other, it happens very rarely. I go back back to White Rabbit and that 6 or 7 minute long scene where they’re just sitting in the jungle and Jack says he’s following the impossible and Locke says what if it’s not impossible and we were all put here for a reason, and that scene is the genesis for those guys’ relationship and if you think about how that was the 3rd episode shot out of the pilot, here we are now, 100 episodes later, and now Jack is finally saying ‘Y’know, Locke might be onto something’
CC: Jack’s kinda slow.
DL: It had to permeate through his beard
Q: My wife is fascinated with the artistry of delivering this idea into a script. We had, in a video podcast last year, a glimpse into the writers’ room and she’s fascinated that you get the idea and put it into a script
CC: We have a call centre in Delhi. We just ask them ‘we need a flashforward this week’
DL: We have a minicamp before we write, where we just discuss the season with the writers, the character arcs and we decide on the season’s final image so we know exactly our beginning and where we’re trying to get to. Once we start writing the show on a week-to-week episode basis it gets a bit more intense
CC: We spend a lot of time breaking each aspect of the story and once we have the story worked out from beginning to end, we’ll put it up on whiteboard and then pitch it back to ourselves, and we’ll have scenes in different colours, withan on island story, an off island story, and a C-story, split it into six acts for the commercial breaks and structure it so you’ll wanna come back after each act. Then we’ll give it to some writers to rewrite and send back, and we’ll give our notes, make some changes
Q: Jack was originally a protagonist for the show, but he seems to have gotten more antagonistic as it goes on. Was this intentional?
JB: Matthew Fox loved the idea of wearing the not so flattering jumpsuits and his character beginning to let go of his heroic side, which people accuse me of, taking Jack Shepherd’s character.
DL: Basically Jack spent a hundred hours majorly rejecting it, there was no purpose whatsoever to the island and now he’s come back in the 70s and he’s still waiting to be told ‘Here’s what you’re supposed to do’ and then when he is told what to do, he then gets to decide what he is going to do, so basically it’s contingent on what he feels his mission is.
Q: Can we get more Lost screening where you project episodes in a cinema like this?
CC: I think so. It’s a good idea and it may happen in some form or other
Q: On the official website, there was a video of behind the scenes and you went into your offices and you had a wall of whose dead and whose alive, I want to know about Claire being on the wall of dead
[shocked gasps from audience]
DL: Are you absolutely sure
Q: I am
DL: [explains wall of alive, dead, undead] Well, uh, if you say you saw her there, I don’t know what to tell you.
JB: I think her agent slipped it in there
DL: She is going to be back on the show.
* CC: Eventually all of them will be on the wall of the dead.
Q: My question is about the fate of Lost, because I know it ends with season 6, but do you think because of Bryan Fuller with Pushing Daisies continuing it in a comic book, and I love Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk (Damon’s comic) and with Lost it has a disjointed timeline and it comes together in the end, do you think that you’ll do any spin offs in a comic book form?
DL: We feel that if we hold anything back for the final season of the show, it will be bad. People have come along this far, and they need a conclusion.
Q: You make a lot about the characters searching for their destiny and their purpose, do you feel that you yourselves had a purpose in your own lives being involved in the show, or you’ve learned something about life from doing it?
CC: I think as writers we use the show to explore personal issues, spiritual or otherwise. We’re mainly concerned by how much faith and how much control do you have over your own destiny, something which is very fascinating to us, and obviously season 5 was an exploration of that with the time travel leading to an event at the end of the season, so that is going to be something we’re going to explore a lot on the final season of the show. The writers room is diverse and that diversity gets worked out in the characters.
Q: What’s Brian K. Vaughan like?
DL: Unfortunately he has left for greener pastures. When he first came on the show Jorge Garcia was ecstatic because he’s a huge fan of his work.
Q: Where are exactly are you with season 6?
CC: We are here, and the following Monday we’ll start writing.
JB: Shooting starts August 24th (Added by me: Woo Hoo!)
CC: We’ll work continuously until the middle of April and the show will air sometime between January and February and will finish around May.
Q: I want to know about the end of Lost. Michael Emerson said in an interview this week that he suspects it will be quite bittersweet or melancholy. Is it going to be an upbeat ending or ambiguous? Just any kind of hint to the flavour of the ending.
DL: * All of the above. We are aspiring for an ending that is fair. Bittersweet comes with the territory. The ending will be different as for once, we won’t leave you on a cliffhanger. You will stay on the cliff this time.
CC: We hope that if we like it, you will like it.
Q: I was sad Charlie died, but he had to die to give his story credibility. That makes me wonder about John Locke. The fact he is now dead, having hit his lowest ebb…what’s up with that character arc?
CC: We’re not prepared to answer any of those questions here tonight. We feel that the final part of the experience of Lost is that you have this time between to theorise, postulate, agonise.
JB: If the actors really need to know what’s coming ahead, they’ll ask. As an example, Josh Holloway did not know what he was whispering to Kate when he jumped out of the helicopter, and neither did Evangeline Lilly, but the actors sold it so well. Terry O’ Quinn was playing Locke with this dark mysterious quality, unintentionally playing into the ending which he didn’t know. I presented him with the script asking him he wanted to read it and he was sure. He came back after saying ‘I wish I hadn’t read it’
Q: How much do you know about each character’s story, are there any you’re particularly proud of, or not proud of?
DL: When you come up with an idea for a character, and they come into the show, like Eko, who was originally a priest who had a crisis of faith, and we found Adewale in New York, and we basically said we don’t buy that this guy is a priest who has lost his faith, we buy that this guy is a warlord impersonating a priest, and somewhere along the way he’d decide he wasn’t just impersonating a priest, he’d decide to be one. So we’re certainly proud of the way that one worked out, and as for the ones we’re not proud of, we bury alive…or have Michael shoot them.
Q: How do you come up with these amazing twists?
CC: A lot of getting yourself to a point where you cry. We have a really brilliant writing staff and that’s part of the DNA of the show now, and that’s a big part of the writer’s room, how we re-route things one way and flip it back another. We love introducing a character in a certain way and then reveal the character to be very different. You know originally Sawyer tested the second lowest after the pilot, and now of course he’s a very heroic version of that character.
Q: Keep the Smoke!
DL: You’ll be seeing the smoke in a probably interesting character in itself
JB: And it will be in the shape of Jack’s beard
Q: Season 5 was hard work watching, with time travel. How are you going to pay that off
DL: We acknowledge with a degree of difficulty. We were ostensibly frightened at first with the time travel story, were basically desperate to get everybody back together again. * Time travel is now complete and everybody gets back together in one form or another and we feel that season 6 is a lot like season 1 with its community.
Q&A ended here. The guys signed stuff for the fans. My friend had a copy of Half Blood Prince, Damon signed it saying ‘Locke is VERY similar to Snape!’
The entire interview can be viewed at SL-LOST.