Really, there are infinity things we don’t know, and will never know, about J.J. Abrams‘ mindbender Lost. But Damon Lindelof (left), who served as co-creator and head writer, shared a bunch of fascinating tidbits about the creation of the hit show during the New York Television Festival last week.
1. Damon took the gig just ’cause he wanted to be on Alias. After “stalking” an ABC executive friend, Damon was excited to get a phone call… only, she was offering him the chance to develop this weird new show. Here’s how Damon describes her pitch to him:
“The bad news is,” he recalled her saying, “it’s this ridiculous show idea about a plane that crashes on an island and everyone here doesn’t think anything is ever going to happen with it. But Lloyd Braun who was the president of ABC at the time, just thought he had lightning in a bottle: He wanted to do a drama version of Survivor… So Heather told me, you meet with J.J., this pilot goes nowhere, but then you get a job on Alias!”
2. The flashbacks were just a plot device. Damon and J.J. needed a way to keep viewers interested, since a bunch of strangers on an island wasn’t going to cut it. So Damon came up with the nonlinear storytelling and inserting each character’s backstory in season 1, intended more as distraction than illumination.
3. They made up a lot of stuff as they went along. Those seven years, when you were waiting for the explanations behind the polar bear and the hatch? That was never gonna happen. Even though this exchange might hurt your fan soul, it’s amazing:
“[J.J. said,] ‘There should be a hatch on this island! They spend the entire season trying to get it open. And there should be these other people on the island.’ And I’m like, ‘We can call them The Others.’ And he’s like, ‘They should hear this noise out there in the jungle.’ And I’m like, ‘What’s the noise?’ And he’s like, ‘I don’t…know. They’re never going to pick this thing up anyway.’”
4. Damon tried to quit over and over again. Even if the show started on a lark, shit got real fast, and Damon got overwhelmed by the pressures of running it. (J.J. had moved on to more high-profile projects in the early stages of the show.) He hired Carlton Cuse before the end of season 1, and the two have run the show ever since.
5. He never got the Alias job. He got so wrapped up in making Lost the cultural classic it is that by the time Alias wrapped in 2006, Damon and Carlton had just started up with all that hatch nonsense. They didn’t have a chance of leaving the show by then.