Remember the show that captivated each and every one of us? The show that had one of the most gripping and riveting opening scenes yet one of the most mind-boggling far-fetched endings in the history of television? In 2004, fans around the world sat down to embark on a twisted journey along with the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.
Lost was addictive and had all of us on the edge of our seats for at least the first several seasons. Then, only the true fans (the “Lostaways” or “Losties”) of the show stuck around to see how such a complex plot would finally unravel itself. Behind all the smoke monsters, inner circle feuds, and the Others, there are little-known secrets of the powerful drama series.
Whether you were a true fan who stuck around or just saw the first few seasons, this is going to be juicy either way. Join us as we revisit the series that has left people divided for nearly two decades now.
With such an insane plotline, you need an insane (in a good way) writing team. Lost’s writer’s room included Star Wars director J.J. Abrams, who helped create the mysterious island and its wild and diverse bunch of inhabitants – a scheme that he cleverly cooked up, knowing it would take over our lives for six seasons.
The series maintained a strong viewership throughout its run, with both critics and audiences giving the show rave reviews. Dedicated fans of the show, the Lostaways or Losties, devoted endless hours developing wild theories to connect the show’s various mysteries. Once the show ended in 2010, its impact could be felt in other shows and films in pop culture.
To this day, fans still mention – even discuss – the lingering mysteries of the Lost island and its controversial (some say disappointing) ending. The idea for the show spawned from the mind of former head of ABC, Lloyd Braun, during a vacation in Hawaii. He came up with and pitched an idea for a show.
The pitch: Cast Away, Survivor, and Gilligan’s Island meets Lord of the Flies. Intrigued by Braun’s idea, ABC gave the green light for a draft to be written, with a projected screen date of September 2003. Written by Jeffrey Lieber, the first draft not only disappointed Braun, but it was also given a pretty lousy title. Lieber’s working title was “Nowhere.”
Braun had always envisioned his show being called Lost, but Lieber decided to change it to Nowhere instead. Dissatisfied, Braun rejected the script completely and reached out to Alias creator J.J. Abrams and the series’ showrunner Damon Lindelof.
Braun had full confidence in their abilities, yet he had one demand, and that was that the name Lost would remain as the show’s title. Abrams went to work, developing the show with all his years of writing, directing, and producing experience. Given his success with Alias, executives were sure he would whip up something great. Abrams brought on Lindelof as his writing partner.
Together, Abrams and Lindelof developed the skeleton for the series, and it was all they needed to convince ABC executives to greenlight the show. All they had were the basics of the premise and developing storylines, yet they still managed to get the ball rolling without having a real script – all thanks to Abrams’ stellar reputation.
And it was all part of the plan. Once the show was approved, Abrams and Lindelof began to expand on the plot outline. Now, by expanding, I mean they basically chucked it out the window. There were, however, details of the show that did make it to the screen.
The two writers knew that they needed to tell the executives what they wanted to hear in order to do things their way and make the show they wanted to make. That original Lost outline was eventually leaked, revealing 20 or so pages of false promises.
The draft noted things like, “the show would be self-contained and not have a serialized structure,” and “everything in Lost will have a scientific explanation,” and “the show will have no ‘ultimate mystery.'” I mean, they even noted that the characters would live in a “primitive Melrose Place” that could be built on a soundstage. Ha!
Here’s a fun fact: Michael Keaton (aka the old school Batman) was supposed to be cast as Lost “front man” Jack Shephard. Abrams and the crew started the casting process for the perfect characters in 2003. One of the first roles that was developed was Jack.
Keaton was purposely selected for the role of Jack, the hero of the show. But the Jack we saw on our screens went through a different journey than the one the writers initially planned. In the original drafts, Jack was meant to die early on. In fact, he was supposed to die during part one of the “Pilot.” And the guy for the part? Michael Keaton.
Keaton was actually pleased to be given the part and was ready to star in a short-term role that would essentially free him of any long-term commitments. But, in the end, the executives insisted that the hero of the show couldn’t just disappear in the pilot. Rather, he needed to appear throughout the series.
This pivotal change is what turned Keaton off. And so, he backed out. As we know, the part went to Matthew Fox, the former Party of Five actor who fit the part perfectly and also gave us some eye candy (which was probably a ploy to distract us from the crazy and unexplainable things happening on the show).
Actress Evangeline Lilly played our dear Kate Austen. But it almost didn’t happen for the Canadian actress because Lilly didn’t have the proper paperwork to get a work Visa for the United States. Luckily for her, the showrunners wanted her, so they were willing to start filming without her. The scenes with Kate were held off until she could get her Visa approved.
Lilly said she tried over 20 times to apply for a Visa, with no luck. Eventually, the series’ producers were convinced she wouldn’t be available and considered starting the process of recasting her role. That’s when Lilly finally got approval and was immediately flown out to Hawaii, only one day after shooting, the pilot had begun.
The role of James “Sawyer” Ford (some more eye candy) was one of the favorite characters that actors auditioned for. Three of the other casted leads auditioned for the part. Josh Holloway, who landed the role, managed to change the writers’ minds about the role of Sawyer entirely.
During his audition, Holloway messed up his lines and threw what can only be called a mini temper tantrum. He was cursing and kicking furniture. In any other situation, it would be off-putting, but in the casting room, it appealed to the writers. They rewrote Sawyer from being a classy middle-aged conman to the bad boy with a Southern drawl that we all came to love.
It’s not news that onscreen couples become real-life lovers during or after filming together. But not everyone knows about the secret Lost romance. And the romance wasn’t even between two characters that fans would expect, rather they were quite an unlikely pair!
Evangeline Lilly did find love onset, but it wasn’t with Matthew Fox or Josh Holloway. Beginning in 2004, Lilly and Dominic Monaghan started dating as they were filming the show. They tried to keep their budding romance under the radar, but gossip magazines heard the news and started spreading the gossip. The two lasted for three years and ended on bad terms. The rumor was that she cheated on him. Regardless, they remained close and were professional onset.
One of Lindelof’s and Abrams’ false promises was that the cast would be limited. But they knew that it would be more interesting to follow the lives of more of the survivors. With some extras floating in the background, the writers developed the cast of main characters that the audience would follow over the course of the show.
In fact, a number of characters were developed solely based on some outstanding auditions. Jorge Garcia auditioned for Sawyer, but it was his warm personality that convinced writers to create the part of Huge “Hurley” Reyes just for him. And then Yunjin Kim, who auditioned for Kate, was given a custom-made role of Sun-Hwa Kwon based on her audition.
The approval for the development of Lost was based on two main factors: the backing of Lloyd Braun and that first, false outline for the show. But eventually, the truth came to light (as it always does) that the initial outline was not even remotely being followed.
That’s when the show’s realistic cost came to light. They originally promised that the show would be filmed on a film studio lot, but, instead, it was shot on location in Hawaii. In addition, production costs skyrocketed with all the special effects, custom sets, and location costs.
Overall, Lost went from a studio series to a complex and super expensive ordeal, making it the most expensive pilot shot in the history of the ABC network. Final expenses came in at between $10 to 14 million. Understandably, network executives found fault with Braun for having approved such a costly project.
ABC then fired Braun – the original creator of the show – from his position. He lost his job before the show ever debuted. Poor guy. Well, at least he can say he helped create one of the biggest drama series of all time!
Child actors happen to be a constant issue for long-term TV shows. Many shows choose to select young adults as teenagers, but there are shows that need to use stars who are closer to the characters’ depicted ages. With Lost, 11-year-old actor Malcolm David Kelley played 10-year-old Walt.
The ages were basically the same, but Kelley’s real-life physical changes as he entered his pre-teen years became a problem. During the first season, the actor grew noticeably taller (10 inches to be exact), so much so that Walt’s scenes and the plot had to be adjusted. Eventually, Walt was written out earlier than expected, and his appearances that coincided better with his height (the flash forwards and time skips) were kept.
With over eight years of being connected to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, actor Dominic Monaghan was flooded with offers for fantasy roles. But he was hoping to branch out into a new kind of character, so he auditioned for the role of Jack, at first.
The casting directors were so impressed with Monaghan that they offered him the part of Charlie Pace instead and even changed the character’s age and background to suit the actor better. He found himself tapping into his LOTR history, using Andy Serkis’ portrayal of Gollumfor Charlie’s reaction to the drug he was addicted to.
Mr. Eko was played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and he became one of the most intriguing roles on Lost. Cloaked in secrets and a dark past, Mr. Eko became a fan favorite. But he was only on the show for two seasons. And it wasn’t because of the writers.
It was actually Akinnuoye-Agbaje who lost interest in the show for an unusual reason. The reason: He got tired of living in Hawaii and wanted to go back home to London. His character was then killed off, and he was released from his contract. Later, writers tried to have him return for the season finale, but he refused. He asked for five times the amount they offered.
Lost has been able to divide fans and critics alike, but one thing everyone agreed on was their hate for Nikki and Paulo. The despicable duo who lied, cheated, and killed, were introduced as part of the character backstories in Season Three. The backlash against the onscreen couple was pretty harsh, but the writers hated their inclusion on the show from the beginning.
Lindelof stated that the characters of Nikki and Paulo didn’t feel “right” about a month before the fans started reacting. “We were already starting to think, ‘Maybe our instinct here has been wrong.’” At first, they planned to make the characters redeemable, but the overwhelming number of complaints about them led to their end after only seven episodes.
Originally, the writers planned for Kate to step into the leader’s role after Jack’s death (which was intended to be early). After all, her character was supposed to be a 30-something businesswoman traveling with her husband on that fatal flight.
However, once Jack’s role was expanded, executives figured she would be better cast as his love interest. Her background was then changed to give her a criminal, secretive past. She was also placed into a love triangle with Sawyer and Jack. Kate’s original profile was used for Rose instead of eliminating it entirely.
During the development of one Lost character, a tiny change in the role led to a hilarious incident during the scripting phase. Boone Carlyle and his sister Shannon came from a wealthy family. The writers felt that his name should somehow reflect his background.
In one early draft of the script, Boone (played by Ian Somerhalder) was going to be called Boone Carlyle V and would therefore be referred to as “Five” in the show. But they decided against the idea and performed a “find and replace” function to change all the “Fives” into “Boones.” What this did was accidentally change the dialogue between Jack and Kate when they first met, counting “One, two, three, four, Boone.”
Lost took its time exploring the lives of the survivors. With this extended timeline, their first 100 days on the island was portrayed over the course of the first four seasons. After that, additional time skipped into the future, which expanded the timeline even further (and confused every non-genius watching at home).
These endless skips didn’t affect most of the characters, except for baby Aaron, who had several issues with his role on the show. Because the infant turned into a toddler and then went through his formative years in the series, more than 50 babies were brought in. The kid’s final portrayal was by actor William Blanchette as 3-year-old Aaron in the series finale, aptly titled “The End.”
Behind the scenes, actress Maggie Grace, who played the spoiled brat Shannon, was known for being the onset prankster. One time, after a full day of filming the emotional (and uncomfortable) scene where Boone kisses Shannon, Ian Somerhalder was called back to set to film another take.
What he didn’t expect was for Grace to stuff her mouth full of garlic, smoke a stinky cigar, and put a cup in her pants, grabbing the actor and shoving him onto her “manhood.” Her co-stars later got her back for all her pranks by collectively mooning her!
Several Lost stars found themselves getting traffic violations when they lived in Hawaii. Some of them were cited for speeding, including Josh Holloway, Dominic Monaghan, Naveen Andrews, Ian Somerhalder, and Christian Bowman. Harold Perrineau Jr. had no insurance, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje didn’t have a license.
Then, there was the “Lost DUI Curse,” when a character would leave the show. The legend was that when someone got caught for a DUI, their onscreen character was then killed off the show. Victims of the curse included Michelle Rodriguez (Ana Lucia) and Cynthia Watros (Libby). The producers insisted, though, that both actresses were killed off because their storylines were simply coming to an end. Then, Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) was killed off in Season Four, after his DUI in 2007.
The husband-and-wife team of Michael Emerson (who played Ben Linus) and Carrie Preston (who played Wendy Braun) didn’t play lovers on Lost, as one would think they would. Before her role as Arlene Fowler on True Blood, Preston got the chance to work with her husband on Lost.
But she was given the character of Ben’s mother in the Season Three episode “The Man Behind the Curtain.” It was a flashback to his past, so the two never shared a scene together. But we got to see Preston give birth to her husband’s onscreen character. It’s wrong in all kinds of ways.
There’s no shortage of Lost debates online. In one strange fan discussion, the issue of an actor’s eye makeup came up and turned into an argument. Nestor Carbonell joined the Lost cast as Richard Alpert in Season Three.
Fans were convinced that he was wearing very heavy eyeliner. The actor revealed, however, that the dark lines were genuine. In fact, in the DVD extras of the fifth season, Carbonell explained that “the makeup artists for Lost actually use concealer on his lashes and under his eyes to try to tone down the natural darkness of his eye line.”
Something that nobody really mentions about Lost behind-the-scenes facts is that the series was shot on the site of a massacre. On November 2, 1999, a Xerox technician by the name of Byran Uyesugi shot and killed his supervisor as well as six of his co-workers.
It was the worst mass murder in the history of Hawaii, and it occurred inside a Xerox warehouse. Five years later, the abandoned warehouse became a makeshift sound stage, which was used for the sequences inside the Adam and Eve cave.
When she was in Hawaii, Evangeline Lilly bought a home in Kailua, a census-designated house 12 miles northeast of Honolulu. Unfortunately, that house burnt down on December 20, 2006, which occurred right in the middle of the extended Season Three break.
Lilly was shooting scenes at the time and was luckily unharmed, but the fire completely destroyed the house and all of her possessions. So much for Christmas cheer. But, according to Lilly, the fire was “liberating” because it freed her from her “cluttered” lifestyle. Minimalism is trending, after all.
Let’s see where the leading members of Lost are now…
Lilly once said in an interview, “I would say Lost was my destiny because it certainly wasn’t my agenda.” She explained that she was one of those “rare actresses” who wasn’t trying to be an actress when she got the job.
The 41-year-old said she only took the role at the time was because she had “enormous faith” and believed that everything in her life pointed her towards the project. After Lost, she’s had several leading roles. Recently, she was seen as Hope Van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp and as Tauriel in the Hobbit franchise.
Before Lost, 54-year-old Matthew Fox was known for playing Charlie Salinger on Party of Five. After Lost, Fox was in a handful of films, including World War Z, Alex Cross, and Bone Tomahawk. In 2012, he was charged with a DUI in Oregon.
Also, in 2012, his Lost co-star Dominic Monaghan Tweeted about him, claiming that Fox “beats women.” Fox refuted such claims, saying “the Monaghan situation was a pile of bulls—-.” When Monaghan was asked about it, he said, “I’d rather tell the truth and get in trouble for it than lie, and everyone will think it’s OK.” (Yeah, I’m curious, too).
Garcia played the fan-favorite Hurley. His face was even on the cover of a Weezer album in 2010 after the band was named in honor of his Lost character. Since Lost, Garcia has been in many projects, including Alcatraz, Bojack Horseman, Maggie, and Hawaii Five-0.
47-year-old Garcia appeared for a brief run on the Matthew Perry sitcom Mr. Sunshine. He then spent three episodes on Once Upon a Time as the giant Anton. He also played Herm in the film The Ridiculous 6. Anyone who saw the Adam Sandler Netflix comedy The Wrong Missy, Garcia was “guy on a plane.”
57-year-old Perrineau spoke publicly about the way his character, Michael, was written out of the show in 2008. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said, “I didn’t think he got to redeem himself, especially to the people who I feel like he wronged.”
“I wish Michael would have gotten to be the father that he had always wanted to be because he’s a good dude.” Perrineau has been on a few TV shows, like Sons of Anarchy, Criminal Minds, and Claws. He’s also been in the films Zero Dark Thirty, I’m Not Here, and The Best Man Holiday.
As one of the Others, Ben Linus was one of the most enigmatic characters on Lost – the guy we all loved to hate. After Lost, Emerson starred as Harold Finch in Persons of Interest for five seasons. He was also on Arrow and the series Evil.
Emerson lent his voice to several series, such as G.I. Joe: Renegades and Generator Rex. He also narrated the documentary The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements. The 66-year-old actor is typically cast as a psychopath or murderer. It’s those eyes of his!
She may have had a strange relationship with her stepbrother Boone, but Shannon did have a character redemption during her stint on the show. The 37-year-old actress adopted a feral cat named Roo while working on Lost. She said the cat was “literally dying” in the jungle on the set.
Since Lost, Maggie Grace has landed some impressive roles, like recurring parts on Californication and Fear the Walking Dead. She also played Liam Neeson’s onscreen daughter in the Taken films. Grace appeared in the final two Twilight films alongside her onscreen stepbrother Ian Somerhalder’s real-life wife, Nikki Reed.
Remember Juliet? She was sent to the island because the women on it couldn’t sustain viable pregnancies. Mitchell is known for her lead roles in the series V, Revolution, and Dead of Summer, as well as for her recurring roles as the Snow Queen on Once Upon a Time and Anna on The Expanse.
Mitchell has also starred in films like Gia, Frequency, Nurse Betty, The Santa Clause 2, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Running Scared, Answers to Nothing, and The Purge: Election Year.
Fun fact: She shares the same name as the actress Elizabeth Banks, who changed her name to join the Screen Actors Guild since the name Elizabeth Mitchell was already taken.
“The fact that Sayid was Iraqi was at least superficially what pricked my interest,” Andrews confessed to Red Book Mag in 2010. “I couldn’t bloody believe a prime-time TV show would have an Iraqi ex-Republican Guard torturer as a main character,” he said before adding, “but he is a romantic, as well.”
Andrews has largely kept to TV shows since Lost, playing Lord Akbari on the series Sinbad, Jafar on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Jonas Maliki on Sense8. The 51-year-old also plays guitar, sings, and tap-dances as a hobby.
Toward the end of Lost, Vulture interviewed Yunjin Kim about her character Sun’s evolution from shy to bold. “It’s been a pleasure figuring her out and learning more about her as the seasons went on,” Kim said.
“I think out of all the characters… I think Sun’s developed more out of all the characters on the island.” Kim has starred in a number of Korean dramas, including Heartbeat, Ode to My Father, and House of the Disappeared. After Lost, the 47-year-old’s biggest role was as Karen Kim on the series Mistresses.
After Lost, the 51-year-old starred as Chin Ho Kelly in Hawaii Five-0. He also voiced Hiroshi Sato on The Legend of Korra. Kim revealed that he was leaving Hawaii Five-0 early due to the pay inequality between him and his white co-stars.
“As an Asian American actor, I know first-hand how difficult it is to find opportunities at all, let alone play a well-developed, three-dimensional character like Chin Ho,” he wrote on Facebook. Since his departure, he’s stepped into a larger role as producer on The Good Doctor, and he’s playing Ben Daimio in the film Hellboy.
Monaghan was one of the more well-known actors on Lost. Before Lost, he played Merry the hobbit in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He’s also popped up in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as Bolt and has been on the shows The Unknown, 100 Code, Quantum Break, and Bite Club.
Monaghan was part of the cast for the last Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, where he’ll be reuniting with JJ Abrams. He’s playing Beaumont. The 44-year-old is also a photographer and has held exhibitions in L.A.
Holloway has starred in some action films since Lost, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Paranoia, and Sabotage. Recently, he played Will Bowman in the adventure drama Colony.
In an interview with Nerdist, he compared the character of Will Bowman to Lost’s Sawyer. “On Lost, Sawyer went on a journey basically from the darkness into the light… Whereas Sawyer grew and evolved to be a better human, Will Bowman is a good guy who is being tainted by the darkness. It’s not making him an evil person, but it is definitely compromising his character.”
Emilie de Ravin played Claire, the single mother who gave birth on the island. After Lost, she starred in the popular series Once Upon a Time, which ran for seven seasons on ABC.
The 38-year-old has graced the covers of international fashion magazines, like US, Entertainment Weekly, Finland’s Demi, Belgium’s Ciné Télé Revue, Australia’s Sunday and People, and UK’s Fabric. She’s also modeled for CosmoGirl, JCPenney, and Hanes. In 2005, she ranked #47, #65 in 2006 and #68 in 2008 on Maxim’s Hot 100 list.