Guess who we just chatted with?!
We tracked down Lost's creative brain trust Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof tonight to pass along our Emmy congrats (the recently deceased series received 12 nods!), and between gentle sobs (literally!) of joy and loss, the onetime "radio silent" twosome opened up about life after the jet-setting phenomenon—just a little...
First, hi. It's so great to be talking to you both again. And congratulations on the 12 Emmy nominations! What kind of emotions go into a day like today—knowing it's Lost's final season?
Carlton Cuse: We never for a minute take for granted that we're entitled to an Emmy nomination. Very worthy shows like Law & Order and 24 and Friday Night Lights weren't nominated today. We recognize that pleasing the fans at the end of Lost was very tall order, so we were extremely happy and gratified to the Academy's recognition for the work of everyone on the Lost team. It was especially gratifying to see that we got Emmy nominations for our really talented collaborators, as well.
Damon Lindelof: Emotionally, it's been a much different experience than we're used to because nomination day has always been on a working day for us. So we'd get the nominations in the morning, I would come into Carlton's office, we would hug, we would do a little bit of press and then we'd go, OK, what is episode three of season four going to be? This is one of those days when you really realize the fact that we're no longer making the show. We've always taken the month of June as a vacation, but the deeper we get into July without writing new episodes of Lost, the more it begins to sink in. It's like, wow, we're really done. It's one thing to write the final episode and to see the final episode, but now that sense of really looking back on it and it's really over—that cold, hard reality. In the stages of grieving, we're now moving into the acceptance stage, and that is a wonderful thing, but there is a certain degree of sadness to it, too.
Lost received a lot of Emmy love today. Do you think the nods were based more on storytelling and acting, rather than honoring its final season?
C.C.: I don't think you can get an Emmy nomination just based on nostalgia or longevity. If that was the case, Law & Order [would have, too]. What an unsurpassed accomplishment for that show to have been on the air for 20 years! That is stupendous. But we were extremely lucky and we remain enormously grateful to ABC for allowing us to end the show on our own terms. The key for Damon and me in doing so was that the story wouldn't go on too long. That we could end Lost before people got tired of it. We didn't have to stretch our storytelling beyond what we had imagined for the series. To actually get nominated after being able to do that has just made today an awesome day all the way around.
Had the two of you always intended on submitting Lost's finale, "The End," for Emmy consideration, or were there other contenders?
C.C.: It wasn't a preplanned thing, but we'd written the finale and shot it and felt really good about it, and it was at that point we made a decision to submit that episode. It did feel like it was representative of our work, and it was the appropriate culmination of the show and might be the best thing for us to submit, so that's what Damon and I decided to do.
D.L.: We certainly had a conversation about it, and we alternate playing devil's advocate. The concern for Lost with the Emmys has always been that you don't want to submit an episode that would make no sense to somebody who's never seen the show. And maybe there were some self-contained episodes this season that would work better, but in the final season there are no self-contained episodes of Lost. Even in episodes like "Ab Aeterno," it works because of three seasons of wondering who Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) is. So the conclusion was, if the finale is not the episode we should be submitting, then season six doesn't really deserve to be nominated for an Emmy.
Have you spoken to any other Lost Emmy nominees today?
C.C.: I've not spoken to the actors directly. I've exchanged some emails with fellow nominees, but it is a little bit different this year because we're not in the office, we're not working, we're not sitting down together having breakfast. It's a little different feeling, but there's plenty of love going back and forth between everybody on the show. It's been a really celebratory day. The hidden secret of Lost's success was the incredible alchemy between everyone who worked on the show. It's been one of those days where we've been happy to have an excuse to be back in communication with each other.
D.L.: It feels like before [the end of Lost], the first thing Carlton and I would do when anybody was nominated for anything, we'd get on the phone and congratulate them. Because we were their bosses and that's what you do. But we're not their bosses anymore, now we're just all friends who worked on a show together. And that started on finale night, when we all came together it felt like we all made the show together and there is not hierarchy because we're not working together. We were able to drop the business-like attachments of the show. We were just able to hug each other and cry it out and be emotional and cool with each other. High school is over, we're graduating, everybody's going off to college, we'll always look back at this time with tremendous affection—And [sarcastically] I don't miss it one bit.
Why break your radio silence now? Was that always the plan, too?
D.L.: It wasn't a thought at the time. Every year after the finale we've always gone into radio silence just because we're pretty sick of ourselves, so we can't even imagine what everybody else thinks of us. And we've always broken our radio silence at Comic-Con, and this year we're obviously not going to Comic-Con because it's about promoting something to come. The idea of looking back on the show is not something we were particularly interested in, looking back at ourselves. But around a week ago, Carlton and I had both been on vacation and received an email from someone at ABC asking [if we would] be willing to do some press. And that was our first contact with each other where it was like, alright, of course. If the show gets recognized, it feels totally appropriate for us to express out feelings about how awesome that is. There's no reason to not talk about Lost ever again, it's just not in our DNA. Had the show not been nominated for anything, I'm sure Carlton and I would have emerged at some appropriate time over the summer to talk about—
CC: To begin begging for work at Starbucks. [Laughs.]
Before you go, we'd love to know if you have any other Emmy nominated faves this year—besides Lost, of course.
C.C.: I was very happy for Ryan Murphy to see how much love Glee got. It's exciting that the show really feels like it's in the zeitgeist now, and for us having been fortunate to ride that zeitgeist wave for awhile, it's great to see that Ryan is surfing it, too. He's a wonderful guy and the show is worthy of all the attention it's getting.
D.L.: And also Carlton and I, and all the writers in the writer's room's favorite show this year was Modern Family. We would talk about it every Thursday morning. And Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd are just really class acts, and everyone on that show is so sweet. Also, in the year Lost came about, it was Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, and people were saying all hail the drama, and the return of comedy is dead. Since Friends and Seinfeld, there really hasn't been anything. And now you look at comedy and there's not just Glee and Modern Family, but also The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men, and comedy has never been bigger. Comedy is completely strong. And that's not even mentioning 30 Rock and The Office, which are two incredible comedies. On the drama side, it was really cool see Matthew [Fox] get recognized as lead actor, but also to see somebody like Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton break into that mix. Friday Night Lights is clearly a show that's gotten enormous critical acclaim, but just never connected with Emmy voters, and it's really cool that it finally got acknowledged.
And that's all, folks. Do you love Darlton, or do you love them? And how much do you miss Lost, because those almost-tears on the phone were very real, and the mere sound of Damon and Carlton's voices pushed up over the edge. In the best way, of course.
Take a peek at some other Notable Nominees here.