With “Lost,” because you knew what (executive producers) Damon [Lindelof] and Carlton [Cuse] were going to be doing, as the selesai season was playing out, were there moments of real excitement and joy, as you learned what was going to happen?
JJ: With this season, they’re doing some amazing, intricate stuff that’s really unexpected and very different, in a lot of ways. The way that it’s going to conclude is consistent with their unbelievable track record of brilliant storytelling, that’s really surprising in ways that are mind-bending, which is the thing about the show that I think they’ve done so wonderfully.
Is the end of the series what you thought it would be, from the beginning?
JJ: Oh, no way! No. There are little threads and elements, here and there, but truthfully, when we started it, we didn’t know exactly what was in the hatch. We had ideas, but we didn’t know to what extent it would be. The notion of The Others was there, but we didn’t know exactly what that would mean. Damon hadn’t come up with the idea of flash forwards yet. To see where we are and what they’ve created is insanely gratifying and it’s something that no one could have predicted, at the beginning of it. The evolution of it is really part of their glorious experiment of taking a show that we were all, at the beginning, saying, “How do you make this a series?,” and to see what Damon and Carlton have done is amazing to me.
You had the idea for the basis of it though, right?
JJ: There were a lot of ideas, but the specificity with which the thing played out was part of that leap of faith that it was going to work. That doesn’t mean that you plan everything out. You have big ideas, but when the better bigger ideas show up, you go with them.
What have you learned from “Lost” that you can take to other genre shows?
JJ: “Lost” is a special example. It’s hard to know. You could say that you shouldn’t get too intricately serialized because, at a certain point, it’s difficult. But, the truth is, I don’t know if Lost would have worked, if it had been anything else, and I don’t know how you would apply that to another show.
If the minutia and mythology hadn’t worked with the viewers, would you have tried to change “Lost,” or would you have just walked away?
JJ: It’s hard to imagine the alternate universe version of “Lost” where you think, “Oh, that’s the version that is the other way to tell the story.” It really does feel like the trajectory that was started had no obvious place to go. Over time, they created this amazing narrative that is really just a result of that leap of faith and trusting that the characters will tell us what the show is, as much as anything. Damon and Carlton really did an amazing job.
With ABC announcing an end-date so far in advance, did that help immeasurably, in terms of the storytelling?
JJ: That’s something that Damon and Carlton insisted upon. They said, “Tell us how fast we’re running, so that we know what the end-game is and where the finish line is.” If you don’t know whether it’s 10 seasons or 6 seasons, you’re spinning your wheels. I’m thrilled to see billboards that say, “The Final Season.” You don’t see that very often. To know that it’s a show that’s going to end on its terms means that there will be a sense of inevitability to it, and not a sense of a series reacting to a marketplace or a viewership. It’s really cool.
How satisfying do you think this selesai season will be for those who have followed the show since the beginning?
JJ: I think it will be really bittersweet. While I think it will be very satisfying, I also think it’s going to be the end of something that, for the cast and everyone involved, has been a magical ride. So, the idea that it’s ending is a little sad, but it’s much better to end this way than to have it be, “You should have ended two years ago.” I believe it will be a satisfying ending, for sure.