On May 23, 2010, “Lost” — a series that we spent an enormous amount of time analyzing right here in Celebritology — came to an end with the closing of Jack Shephard’s eye.
But among the show’s diehard fans, the discussions and debates about the Dharma Initiative, Ben Linus’s Machiavellian ways and the effectiveness of that polarizing series finale continue to unfold.
On the eve of the first anniversary of our collective farewell to “Lost,” I managed to get some telephone time with Damon Lindelof, the executive producer and co-creator of the series. While currently hard at work on the script for J.J. Abrams’s next “Star Trek” movie and mentoring former “Lost” executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis as they launch the ABC fall series “Once Upon a Time,” Lindelof took a few minutes to reflect on how it feels one year after “The End.” (For another quick trip back in time, here’s video of Lindelof and fellow showrunner Carlton Cuse, recorded just days before the series finale.)
On Monday, look for a second “Lost” finale redux post in which I ask several “Lost” bloggers — as well as Mr. Lindelof — what they would change about the series finale if they could alter only a single thing.
You still make references to the show on a regular basis on Twitter. How do you feel a year later -- do you feel like you put Lost behind you or is it still pretty present in your life?
Damon Lindelof: I don’t think it’s something that I need to put behind me. I’m 38 years old, and six years of my life -- so at the time that it ended, close to one-sixth of my entire life -- was spent making “Lost.” So certainly a year after it’s over, I think that it’s very natural to use that as part of what I think defines me. It’s certainly the piece of work that I’m most proud of, and I feel like, you know, whether I were to die tomorrow or die in 40 years, the first word next to my name in the obituary is probably going to be “Lost.” So kind of saying I dont want to talk about that anymore, or I’ve put that behind me, as if it were some sort of toxic presence in my life like alcohol that I’ve now sworn off, as opposed to something that I have a really healthy relationship with — complex but healthy. I really kind of embrace it.
I was on the Nerdist podcast about a month ago. We were kind of talking about Twitter in general. You know, there are people in my feed who complain about the fact that I make “Lost” references on occasion. Or too occasionally. And I said, you know, if you don’t want me to talk about “Lost,” I don’t understand why you’re following me. That’s kind of really all I’ve got going for me right now.
Well, that’s not true.
Lindelof: Well, you know, I’m producing the new “Trek ” movie. I produced the first one. But that’s kind of like -- I don’t want to follow Jorge Posada and then have him not talk about baseball. I have to sort of embrace what it is I think people want me to be talking about .
Looking back on the show from a personal standpoint -- not what did “Lost” say to the viewers, but more what you remember about your personal experience -- what are the first things that you think about? Have your memories changed in any way in terms of what you focus on when you recall making the show?
Lindelof: Not really.
Another way of reframing that question is sort of what do I think about the most when I think about “Lost.” The two things I find myself thinking about the most are a. the pilot, the process of kind of writing the pilot, making the pilot, the insanity of that. I met J.J. [Abrams] maybe the last week of January, which was very late in the pilot development process. And we delivered maybe May 1 or 2, so 12 or 13 weeks later. I found myself really thinking about that period a lot. And that was a period I didn’t think about a lot while we were making the show because it was very traumatizing and terrifying and confusing and it just -- I felt like Charlie must have felt when Willy Wonka takes him in the glass elevator and says, ‘The factory is yours’, Charlie, and I’m leaving. You’re on your own.’ Just so overwhelming.
I kept this really detailed journal while we were shooting the pilot and tried to keep it up when we got back from Hawaii but kind of got sucked into the abyss of making the show, as opposed to my own meditations on the show. [I’ve] kind of been going back and reading that for the first time and going, wow.
And then the other thing I think about is these people I was very intensely connected with -- Carlton [Cuse, co-showrunner] as a partner, sort of attached at the hip, but definitely the writers’ room where I spent six to eight hours of every day for all the time that the show was up and running, with that group of people, many of whom came on late in the first season or early in the second season and were kind of there as mainstays and were, as corny as it sounds, my family ... I looked at my iPhone the other day and I’ve got my favorites on my phone, my speed dial or whatever it is. My wife is number one, and then the five numbers belows hers’ are all “Lost” -- it’s Carlton, it’s [director] Jack [Bender]], it’s [producers] Eddie Kitsis and Adam [Horowitz], it’s [prducer]Liz Sarnoff. I am still keeping this here on my favorites as if I still talk to these people nine times a day or 10 times a day like I used to but I don’t anymore.
A year ago there was a lot of speculation about whether there might be a “Lost” movie or comic book or some other property that would extend the show into a franchise. You guys were pretty clear that you didn’t want to participate in anything like that. Have your feelings changed about that at all?
Lindelof: I still feel the same way. I think that, I guess maybe where there’s been a little give -- and maybe I said this at the time. If I didn’t, I don’t remember whether or not I was feeling it.
Certainly shortly after the show, I started kind of thinking, boy, it sure would be cool to revisit this world but not as one of its creators. And I mean that in the sense of, I think I’d be fairly excited if I heard they were doing a “Lost” movie or a “Lost” comic book. Or some kind of Lost” story-telling but that I had nothing to do with, so that I could kind of play the role of, and now I get to b an audience member, that these people are now playing in this world that we created. In the same way that J.J. and I and [writers] Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] played in the world of “Star Trek,” which is we kind of did our spin on it. All those toys were designed by other people ... I would be jazzed about somebody taking a rip at it but I just absolutely, 100 percent do not think that somebody should be me.
Has anybody expressed interest in taking a rip at it?
Lindelof: No, I haven’t been approached by anyone. I think that it’s kind of too soon. I think that there’s still a period of time that has to elapse for true nostalgia to kick in. I think that, in my own personal experience, there’s still some very strong feelings on both sides of the spectrum.
It’s kind of one of those things where it’s like, I need a couple of years to go by before I’m ready to see Mulder and Scully again. Just romanticize it a little more. Is there a way to do an “X Files” movie without Mulder and Scully in it? Is the brand bigger than that?
I kind of feel like one of the things that we really tried to do in the finale, ironically given some people’s response to it, was really make it feel like an ending. So that the idea of like wanting to come back and seeing what happened next to Hurley and those guys? We kind of really showed you the ending-ending. Does it really matter what happened in the gaps between those two things?
We really wanted to give a definitive sense of we are finished watching these characters’ adventures on the island. Are there other adventures for other characters on the island, or other adventures for other characters that are relatd to that island? What is the brand “Lost”? Who knows?
But it is cool to think that somebody who watched the show, eight years from now might say, hey I’ve got a cool “Lost” idea.
What will you do to commemorate the anniversary of the finale?
Lindelof: I don’t know. On Monday I am going camping with my wife and my 4-yr-old son. It’s his annual school camping trip. Part of the allure of this is to unplug, so I’ll be kind of fundamentally disconnected from the Internets on the anniversary, as it were.
It’s a year after the finale aired -- the more important date in my own anniversary lexicon is Sept. 22, when the show premiered. But I get that this one time, because it’s exactly one year later, there might be a thing. So I’ll probably tweet something corny in the morning. You know, just try to go a more sincere route than my usual tongue-firmly-in-cheek to mask my actual intense emotions about this.