Damon Lindelof Explains How He Got Involved in Creating Lost
Lost was one of the most popular television series of the early 2000s, captivating audiences with its unique storytelling, complex characters, and mysterious island setting. In this article, co-creator and writer Damon Lindelof shares the story of how he got involved in creating this seminal show of the golden age of TV.
For Lindelof, his interest in Lost was piqued almost immediately.
The Desire to Write Genre Serialized Television
Even though Lindelof enjoyed working on his show Crossing Jordan, he was more drawn to genre serialized television, such as Alias, which he was obsessed with at the time. He expressed a desire to write for Alias, but the timing wasn’t right. However, when his colleague Heather Caden offered him the chance to work with J.J. Abrams on an idea he was passionate about, Lindelof jumped at the opportunity.
The Idea Behind Lost
Lindelof describes the early idea of Lost as “nothing beyond a plane crashes on an island, people survive. That’s kind of all we got.” However, he was excited at the prospect of creating a show from scratch with Abrams, and the potential to build a grander mythology around it.
Making a Good Impression on J.J. Abrams
When Lindelof arrived for the meeting, he was wearing a Bantha Tracks Star Wars t-shirt when J.J. Abrams noticed and commented on it. This small interaction made Lindelof feel like this was the beginning of something amazing, and he desperately wanted this opportunity to work.
Creating a Cult Show
One of Lindelof’s goals for Lost was for it to become a cult show. This is why he was drawn to building a grand mythology and world-building around the story.
Inspiration from The X-Files and Twin Peaks
Lindelof was a huge fan of The X-Files and the level of engagement it inspired, as well as Twin Peaks, which he watched with his dad religiously. He wanted to create a show that would inspire similar levels of fan engagement and interest, and that fans would be willing to go deep on.
Different Television Landscape
Lindelof recognizes that the television landscape has changed since the time when Lost first premiered. He believes that today’s television culture doesn’t leave room for failure, which makes it harder for writers and producers to take risks and experiment with new ideas.
The Pressure to Succeed from the Start
Today, the pressure to succeed is immense. Back in the mid-90s when Lindelof was first trying to become a professional writer, broadcast television was far more established, and you could learn the ropes through a more institutionalized system. These days, you have to put everything on the field on your first opportunity because that show may only exist for a single season, if it gets picked up at all.
The Benefits of Learning to Produce for Broadcast TV
Lindelof and fellow writer Hugh Laurie both credit their time learning to produce for broadcast TV with helping them establish the skills that have made them successful showrunners today. The constraints of working with a limited budget and time frame can teach invaluable discipline and problem-solving skills.
Justin Theroux and the Role of Jack
In this interview, Lindelof reveals that he initially wanted Justin Theroux to play the lead role of Dr. Jack Shephard in Lost, but the actor wasn’t interested in the part.
Theroux’s Selective Career
Lindelof describes Theroux as being very selective about the roles he takes on, which is why he hasn’t appeared in as many movies and TV shows as some of his peers. His distinct look and sound have also made him a natural choice for becoming the star of a blockbuster franchise.
Lost was a landmark show of the early 2000s, thanks in large part to the creativity and imagination of co-creator and writer Damon Lindelof. His passion for genre serialized television, world-building, and fan engagement laid the foundation for one of the most beloved TV shows of all time.
1. What inspired Damon Lindelof to create Lost?
Lindelof was drawn to genre serialized television, such as the show Alias, and wanted to create something similar. He also wanted to build a grand mythology and world-build around the story.
2. Why did Lindelof want Justin Theroux to star in Lost?
Lindelof was impressed with Theroux’s unique look and sound, which he felt would make him a perfect fit for the lead role of Dr. Jack Shephard. However, Theroux wasn’t interested in the part and the role eventually went to Matthew Fox.
3. What skills did Lindelof learn from producing for broadcast TV?
Working with a limited budget and a tight timeline taught Lindelof invaluable discipline and problem-solving skills that have served him well as a showrunner today.
4. Why does Lindelof think the television landscape has changed?
According to Lindelof, today’s television culture doesn’t leave much room for failure, which makes it much harder for writers and producers to take risks and experiment with new ideas.
5. What did Lindelof consider to be the key to creating a cult show like Lost?
Lindelof believed that world-building and creating a grand mythology were key to inspiring fan engagement and interest. By giving fans something to obsess over and theorize about, Lost became a cult show that continues to be remembered and talked about to this day.