Has it really been ten years?
A decade ago this September, a little show called "Lost" debuted on ABC — and subsequently blew everyone's minds. It was a television series unlike any other, sparking intense online discussions, fan theories, and complex philosophies.
To honor the ten-year anniversary of the "Lost" premiere, the Paley Center for Media hosted a panel with the cast and crew Sunday night. Attending were executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, as well as actors Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Yunjin Kim, Ian Somerhalder, Maggie Grace, Henry Ian Cusick, and Malcolm David Kelley.
Here are 12 highlights from the warm, engaging, and sometimes smutty panel:
1. Were they dead the entire time?
"No. They were not dead the entire time," Cuse said. Happy now?!
He said that theory may have been exacerbated by the closing shot of the show. An ABC executive had suggested they include a buffer between the last scene and the commercial break, so the producers found some footage of the plane fuselage sitting on the beach. That footage incited the theories that everyone aboard had actually perished.
The characters definitely survived the plane crash and really were on a very real island. Lindelof added of the incorrect purgatory theory: "For us, one of the ongoing conversations with the audience and there was a very early perception, was that the island was purgatory and we were always out there saying, 'It's not purgatory, this is real, we're not going to Sixth Sense you.'"
But that scene of everyone in the church? Yeah, they’re all dead there.
2. When they knew "Lost" was going to be big:
Holloway recalled that he went to a supermarket after the gym, and was "sweaty and gross" (cue audience sighs). A couple of girls approached him, he said, "and were like, 'Ewww.'" That's when he knew he was famous.
3. The stuff they stole from set:
Everyone played coy, but Lindelof acknowledged that "maybe the cover of the hatch fell off a truck?" (And subsequently became his coffee table.) Cuse took the countdown clock from the hatch. Kim kept a few dresses, while Garcia still has Hurley's two paintings from the mental institution. Somerhalder cracked, "I took my dignity."
4. The beauty and difficulty of shooting in Hawaii:
Both Lindelof and Cuse praised Jack Bender, who directed many episodes and was the primary presence on set. They recounted the troubles of shooting the big raft scene — the first time, it sank, and the second time, "it was too fast... the camera boat couldn't keep up." And Vincent the dog improvised by swimming out with the raft.
5. Getting accosted by fans wanting answers:
"I had one fan I saw a few too many times," Holloway laughed. That fan offered him a "chicken dinner," which quickly became a euphemism for sex. Other panelists joked about whether he got four or six pieces and biscuits with gravy. (The phrase "chicken dinner" came up on the panel several times afterward.)
6. Dumb theories they heard or had themselves:
"I had a guy once said that when the plane was in the air, we were all cloned," Garcia said. "And the story of 'Lost' was the story of clones."
7. How the characters evolved:
Lindelof admitted that when they cast the show, there was no script. Kim read for the part of Kate. "There was no Sun in the 'Lost' script — because there was no 'Lost' script," he said. "Jorge read for Sawyer, because Hurley didn't exist."
And how did they decide Locke had been in a wheelchair? Lindelof revealed that while shooting the pilot, Terry O'Quinn would go down the beach and listen to his iPod during breaks. Co-creator J.J. Abrams pointed at O'Quinn and told Lindelof, "That guy's got a secret." What secret? "You figure it out."
8. Killing off characters:
As many "Lost" fans know by now, the initial plan had been to kill off Jack in the pilot episode. Luckily, ABC executives questioned that move, and the show's producers changed their minds. Instead, the first major character they killed off was Boone, played by Somerhalder, who took the decision so well that Lindelof joked, "We gotta kill more of these guys!"
9. That outrigger scene:
Lindelof and Cuse admitted that there is an answer to who shot at Sawyer on the outrigger. But the writers ultimately decided that it was "cooler" to keep it a mystery.
"The scene exists. It actually is on paper," Lindelof said. Years from now, they'll auction it off for charity.
10. Easter eggs that were never laid:
An audience member asked about the Easter eggs that "Lost" became famous for, and Lindelof said the one he was proudest of was an egg that was never meant to be an egg.
He recounted that someone sent him a screencap from the pilot of Walt standing in front of the fuselage. There was a burn mark on the fuselage that looked like the Dharma Initiative logo — but this was before the writers had even conceived the Dharma Initiative. "Whoa, this is an Easter egg that we did not hide," Lindelof said, jokingly adding, "And I lost all faith in religion."
11. Hating Nikki and Paulo:
As they've said before, the writers introduced Nikki and Paulo as a reaction to fan discussion about the background characters. But even before the backlash to those characters began, the writers themselves started hating Nikki and Paulo. So they decided to acknowledge their "horrible mistake" in the episode "Expose."
12. How the ending came to be:
As Cuse said, "The show was about people who were lost in their lives." And as he and Lindelof discussed the ending of the series, they agreed it should be spiritual.
Lindelof added that they decided to "solve a mystery we never asked: What's the meaning of life, and what happens when you die?"