Most Welcome Exit for an Unloved Character: Zoe LOST-close enough to the finale to count Best Overall Ending to an Otherwise Crappy Season: Grey Anatomy Worst Overall Ending to an Otherwise Solid Season: 24
Best Romantic Cliffhanger: Michael and the prospect of Holly “The Office” Best Non-Romantic Cliffhanger: Alt Oliva in the known timeline with Peter-Fringe Best Kiss: Jack and Kate “Lost” AWESOME! Best Fight (Verbal or Physical): Jack and Locke “Lost” Top Tissue Moment (Single tear or sobfest): The last ten minutes of “Lost” Most Clever Single Twist: The the sideways world didn’t run parallel to the island real world, but rather, took place at some unspecified time in the future after everyone had died “Lost Weakest Single Twist: N/A Funniest Half Hour: 30 ROCK
Spookiest Image: Locke’s final words then being pushed off the cliff “Lost” Most Rewound Moment: The last ten minutes of “Lost” SPECIAL AWARD: Biggest Regret That I Didn’t See It, I Just Read About It N/A
EW Season finale awards: Submit picks for Best Death, Best Romantic & Non-Romantic Cliffhangers, Funniest Half Hour & more http://bit.ly/d84hCb
As his hit series comes to an end, Matthew Fox looks to the future.
Somewhere, in a parallel universe, Matthew Fox is working on Wall Street. That was his original plan when he attended Columbia University, where he earned a degree economics. But through a combination of chance, perseverance, and fate, he ended up the star of the ABC phenomenon “ Lost.” Over six seasons, his beleaguered Dr. Jack Shephard has roamed past, future, sideways worlds to take on a smoke monster, uncontrollable time travel, and the literal and figurative ghosts of his father. Audiences have watched as Jack has gone from a man science and reluctant leader to a man of faith ready to embrace his destiny. Just what that destiny is will finally be revealed May 23 in the show’s hotly anticipated two-and-a-half-hour series finale.
As Jack’s story has unfolded, Fox has transformed. Previously best known as the eldest sibling on the soapy drama “ Party of Five,” the actor made a conscious decision to pursue different types of roles when that show ended in 2000. His complex, assured work on Lost” led to in films like “ Speed Racer” and “ We Are Marshall,” and he plans continue choosing roles that pair him with filmmakers he respects admires.
But where does one go after six years on a genre-defying, groundbreaking series? In Fox’s case, the answer is Oregon. After living on the Hawaiian island of Oahu “ Lost” is filmed, Fox is moving his family to Pacific Northwest where he can be closer to family and friends and kind of country that I love: mountains and big, big horizons.” He doesn’t worry about missing out being so far from Hollywood; he plans to commute regularly to L. A. to pursue the projects he’s passionate about.
But before that, he’ll be taking much-needed time off after his run as tortured Jack. “ Playing this role has been a challenge all the way along,” he says. “ I feel so proud to have been a part of ‘ Lost’ and so honored to have been given the challenge of playing Jack. It’s the most rewarding experience and the most amazing journey.”
Commercial Break Asked when he first realized he wanted to be an actor, Fox pauses. “ I still haven’t had that realization,” says with a laugh. Growing up on a ranch in Wyoming, he never did school plays or harbored secret dreams of movie stardom. When he moved to New York for his freshman year of college, he was desperate for money to supplement his income. One day, he went to Barnard College to check out its job board and saw that someone was looking for actors for a Clearasil commercial. A SAG strike was taking place, and the producers needed nonunion actors. “ I had never even thought about acting before then,” Fox admits.
The audition, in his words, consisted of “ showing up.” He booked the role— and would like to clarify that he was not the character with the bad complexion. “ I wasn’t guy with the zit; I was the guy who made fun of guy zit,” Fox notes, before joking, “ I would have turned down the zit role.”
Despite nonspeaking role, Fox says, his first time in front of the camera was a nightmare. “ I really hated it,” he reveals. “ At that time, I was ridiculously shy and uncomfortable with any kind of attention. Plus, I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I doing.” However, the job caught the attention of the J. Michael Bloom Agency, which signed him. Fox made it through college on modeling and commercial gigs. But by the time he graduated, he had changed his mind about working in finance. His agent was encouraging him to take his acting career to the next level, which Fox interpreted as a suggestion enroll in an class. “ I don’t like to be bad at things and I’m highly competitive, so if I’m going to do something, I want good at it,” he admits.
After experimenting with different teachers and classes, he was drawn to the Atlantic Theater Company, having read a book on directing film by one of its founders, David Mamet. “ I’ve always been fan of David Mamet and his essays and observations about life because he has a pretty amazing ability to boil things down to their most concise,” Fox says. “ So I did a little research
found out he and William H. Macy had started this theater company. I kind of just knocked on the door and said, ‘ Hey, I want to be part of your theater company.’ They were like, ‘ Well, it doesn’t really work that way. But for the first time, we’re going to have a program where we accept 10 or 12 students to study alongside the company for a year.’ ” Fox auditioned and was accepted into the program, where acting, he says, “ really started to come together for me.”
The program involved a lot of scene study, and he believes it worked for him because Mamet’s methods simplified things in a way Fox could approach them. “ I need some sort almost scientific into something,” he says. felt I had been floundering a little bit, and I needed something solid to give me a foothold, which they gave me.”
Into the Oakwoods Fox’s first TV role was on the NBC sitcom “Wings,” playing an all-American, 17-year-old baseball wunderkind. He booked the role in New York and flew to L.A., staying at the Oakwood Apartments, a popular location for visiting actors, for the duration of the shoot. It was a process he would repeat a few times, as he refused to leave New York until he had a more permanent job. “I never wanted to be that actor who moved to L.A. unemployed and kicked around trying to get work,” he says. The “Wings” experience was extremely positive, but Fox wasn’t thinking of it in terms of it being his big break. “I was still wondering if I could even do this for real,” he admits. “So more than anything it was confirmation that I could infiltrate this world, not make an ass of myself, and get paid for it. It was a personal victory more than anything.”
He then landed a role on a series called “Freshman Dorm,” which he refers to as “CBS’s answer to ‘90210.’ ” Once again, he describes the role as “the all-American nice guy.” Though it shot in L.A. and was picked up for six episodes, Fox still chose to stay at Oakwood—a good call, because the show was swiftly canceled.
Two years later, he went to Vancouver to shoot the pilot for “Party of Five,” a drama about five siblings who have to raise each other after their parents are killed. Fox was cast as irresponsible eldest brother Charlie, an endearing screwup who becomes the de facto head of the household. When the show received its order for 13 episodes, Fox made the move west. “I just knew, on some level, that the show was going to work,” he recalls. “I don’t think I knew it would work for six years, but I felt we’d go past 13. And that would be a long time to be living in the Oakwood.”
Fox is proud of his six seasons as Charlie, though he admits the material wasn’t always something he responded to. “That was a great show, and it was written really well,” he says. “But for me it was a tremendously soft character and a show that, in my opinion, was written with the knowledge that mainly women were going to be responding to the show.” He understands why his character was written in such a way: “The premise of the show was this orphaned family and he’s the proxy father figure, so the minute he became a man and actually made good decisions and did things right, the whole conflict of the family was eliminated. So it was a challenging six years for me.”
But Fox was grateful for the experience and learned a lot working on the show. Still, he says, “When it wrapped, I felt I needed to disappear for a while, not take any other work, and let people forget about me in that incarnation. Then I could come back and change my appearance, shave my head, and play something edgy and tough. So that’s what I did.”
‘Lost’ and Found Fox’s first step in getting people to see him in a new light was “Haunted,” a drama in which his ex-cop could communicate with the dead. The show didn’t finish a season, something Fox is now grateful for. “I loved the experience, but I was incredibly happy it didn’t work commercially, because it would have killed me,” he says. “I was working 70-hour weeks; I was nonexistent in my family and would not have been able to maintain that over a long period of time. I felt it accomplished what I wanted because the show got good reviews and I got good reviews and people saw me in a different context.”
When he went in to audition for “Lost,” little was known about the series, other than that it was the brainchild of “Alias” creator J.J. Abrams. Fox auditioned with sides for the character of con man Sawyer. “I don’t think I was actually up for the role; I think they were just using the sides to look at people,” Fox says. He ended up with the role of Jack, a character the creators had once considered casting with a movie star and killing off in the pilot.
When Fox began the show, Jack was the moral center of the castaways, a heroic type who drew a definitive line between right and wrong. Fox admits that he had concerns such a character could be, frankly, dull. “When we were shooting the pilot, [executive producer] Damon Lindelof and I were literally having conversations about how this would work if the show went on for a long time,” Fox recalls. “Neither of us wanted me to be the knight in shining armor for six years. That would have been a tremendous bore. So we set him up as that guy—he’s saving people after this plane crash, and people are looking to him. And then we spent four seasons destroying him.”
As Jack, Fox’s all-American good looks belied a darker nature, and the actor was a revelation from the very first season. In the fifth episode, “White Rabbit,” Jack struggles not to crumble while begging an airline employee to allow his father’s coffin on the plane. It was the first chink of armor in the fearless leader, and Fox executed the moment flawlessly. But as the show continued and Jack dissolved into an alcoholic depression, Fox admits the role wasn’t always enjoyable to play. “That period between ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’ sometimes requires you to put yourself through certain things that are the opposite of comfortable,” he notes. “I definitely take it home with me. There are people that can leave it all behind, but I find I’m one of those who has residual effects of the stuff I put myself through. Luckily, I have a family that’s very, very understanding about that.”
Asked if there’s a scene he struggled with the most during his run, Fox points to the finale. “There is some of the toughest material I’ve ever had to play in there,” he says. “But Jack is always a challenge; he’s always been evolving and changing. I’m so lucky that I never felt the character was static.”
Two weeks after his last day of shooting, Fox says it is still sinking in that the show has come to an end. And while he’s uncertain what the future will bring, he knows it likely won’t include a return to the small screen anytime soon. “I think the TV world’s probably done for me,” he admits. “At least in the traditional model. There are more short runs of programs and special series right now, and I feel like the line between television and film is going to get increasingly blurred. But at this point, I’ve done close to 300 hours of television. I’m just never going to get into a six-year relationship with one employer again.” What Fox is looking for, he says, is variety and flexibility. “I want to get involved in a gig for three to four months and pour my heart and soul into it, have a great experience, and then move on to the next opportunity.”
‘Lost’ articles Over the years, Back Stage has spoken to many of the great actors on “Lost.” Here we look back at some of their comments about the show and their characters.
“We all had to audition not being given a script. We all had our own sets of scenes and we just went in with that one scene and met J.J. [Abrams] and Damon [Lindelof]. It’s been like that sort of ever since. Television’s very different from film. You don’t know anything; you’re really in the dark most of the time. I think that’s a good thing, because it seems that you’re discovering things at the same time as the audience is.” —Naveen Andrews, on being cast as Sayid
“One of the things I’ve learned is I don’t need a backstory. I can be backstory-free or I can have 15 backstories; it doesn’t matter. I’m already playing Ben in a sort of neutral gear. All the places in a regular performance where you would insert qualities or nuances of your backstory, those places in Ben are supposed to be neutral. The point is, his past does not inform who he is.” —Michael Emerson on playing Ben Linus
“This part has allowed me to do things that I’ve never done before, like run away from a burning plane wing that explodes behind me and dive down into the sand. Full-on action star diving out into the sand! And that is awesome. I never thought I’d get to do that. I thought I’d be wacky guys for a long time. It also gives me times when I’m not being just the funny guy—times when I can be a little sensitive or emotional or I have to take charge all of a sudden. So, one day, [when] I want to do whatever my Hamlet is—whatever it is, that thing—this job, I think, allows me to skip a few steps along the way, because I get to show a wider range of what my chops are.” —Jorge Garcia, on playing lovable and laid-back Hurley
“On the page, she wasn’t particularly likable, but she was really complex and interesting. She was so strong yet weak at the same time. All of those things you search for when you’re looking for a character.” —Elizabeth Mitchell on her first impressions of Juliet
“I was in the middle of reading a lot of film scripts, and I actually said to my agent that I didn’t think I wanted to do television until something really special came along. And I was blown away by this.” —Dominic Monaghan, on accepting the role of Charlie
“People used to know me, and they would do that thing where they look at you and shake their finger and go, ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ Some people would recognize me from ‘Stepfather,’ which is weird because it was 18 years ago. But most people would say, ‘Do you shop at the Home Depot in my neighborhood?’ Now they just say, ‘It’s Locke!’ Which is funny…and nice. I’d be less happy if I didn’t think Locke was such a cool guy. But it’s okay to be Locke.” —Terry O’Quinn on being John Locke, the role that won him an Emmy
“There’s so much secrecy surrounding the show that they literally send out false sides with false character names. I think his name was Jason in the sides, and all I knew was I was doing a scene on the beach with somebody. It wasn’t until the first day of shooting when someone said, ‘Yeah, we’ve been building this character up for about three years.’ I’m kind of glad I didn’t know that, to be honest with you. It might have freaked me out a little.” —Mark Pellegrino, on being cast as the mysterious island caretaker Jacob
“I would love to continue on with Michael and Walt. As a fan of the show, I want to know what happened to them. Are they in the Bahamas? Did they make it? What happened?” —Harold Perrineau, after his character Michael left the show in the second season
“I was on Sunset and La Cienega [in L.A.], and my manager called me and said that there was a pilot audition in my fax machine and I needed to go look at it immediately. I went upstairs, and she said, ‘Look at the director, look at the location, and call me back.’ I ran up there and looked, and it said J.J. Abrams and Hawaii. I went, ‘Sign me up.’ ” —Ian Somerhalder, on being cast as faithful brother Boone
Extended explanation of Lost from Bad Robot-JJ's production company
Apparently, what follows below is an extended explanation of Lost by someone from Bad Robot. In a nutshell, the Dharma Initiative were people brought to the island to help Jacob devise a way to kill the Man in Black. But the Man in Black used Ben to destroy them. The sideways world was the bardo/limbo, where souls bound to one another meet before passing on to their next life. The group that meets and leaves in the church is a group of bound souls (Ben for example, must be waiting for other people bound to him, like Alex, to die before he can go on). If you like the concept, then you should try Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt - - it’s all about a group of bound souls being reincarnated together over and over again through an alternate version of our history where most Europeans were killed by the Black Plague.
Anyway, here you go:
Good stuff on here! I can finally throw in my two cents! I’ve had to bite my tongue for far too long. Also, hopefully I can answer some of John’s questions about Dharma and the “pointless breadcrumbs” that really, weren’t so pointless …
First … The Island:
It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people’s heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a “Protector”. Jacob wasn’t the first, Hurley won’t be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him — even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.
Thus began Jacob’s plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn’t do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn’t take a more active role, then his plan would never work.
Enter Dharma — which I’m not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by “corrupting” Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben’s “off-island” activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the “Others” killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that’s what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn’t do for himself.
Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB’s corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That’s a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still … Dharma’s purpose is not “pointless” or even vague. Hell, it’s pretty blantent.
Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his “candidates” (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of “candidates” through the decades and letting them “choose” which one would actually do the job in the end. Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn’t. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector — I know that’s how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won’t answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the fun.
In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he’d always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we’ll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on …
Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least — because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer’s room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we’re all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it’s not exactly the best word). But these people we’re linked to are with us duing “the most important moments of our lives” as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It’s loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.
The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this “sideways” world where they exist in purgatory until they are “awakened” and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show’s concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own “Sideways” purgatory with their “soulmates” throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That’s a beautiful notion. Even if you aren’t religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.
It’s a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events — not JUST because of Jacob. But because that’s what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith — and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.
How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that’s THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.
But the writer’s took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways “purgatory” with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn’t allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died — some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley’s case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are “awakened” and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.
They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren’t in the chuch — basically everyone who wasn’t in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here’s where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soulmates before they can wake up. It’s possible that those links aren’t people from the island but from their other life (Anna’s parnter, the guy she shot —- Roussou’s husband, etc etc).
A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn’t go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can’t move on yet because he hasn’t connected with the people he needs to. It’s going to be his job to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley’s number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It’s really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.
But, from a more “behind the scenes” note: the reason Ben’s not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn’t believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It’s pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church — but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church … and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder — the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ’s ending. And they kept it.
For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I’ve been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I’ve loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.
In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don’t touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story — even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.