Ian Somerhalder was on vacation when he found out he was going to die. It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend of wine tasting on the California coast — a well-earned respite during a breakout month for the 26-year-old model-turned-actor. Just days earlier, Somerhalder’s showcase episode of Lost had aired, revealing that his character, Boone, had once knocked boots with stepsister Shannon (Maggie Grace). At long last, fans had an idea of who Boone was — and, by extension, the actor who played him. A hit show, career heat — yes, life was sweet for the young star. Slightly creepy, but sweet. Now he wanted to savor it, along with some very fine wine.
Then came the call.
”Pretty devastating,” says Somerhalder, of getting the bad news from Lost producers. ”Thank God I already had four glasses of really good pinot in me.” It’s two months later on a gray March day in Hollywood. A cold and a night of clubbing have left Somerhalder wiped. A patch of skin across one of his perfect cheekbones looks red-meat rare — a chemical burn from the prosthetic he wore during his final moments as Boone. ”The week [before] I got the call, I started looking for a house in Hawaii. Now I’m looking for a house in Venice Beach,” says Somerhalder, an unlit cigarette wagging from his lip. After bumming a light from a passerby, he takes a stab at perspective: ”I guess this is TV history, huh? The first main character to be killed on Lost.”
It’s a little early in the life of Lost for grandiose contextualization, but what can be said is that Boone’s death on April 6 made for riveting and poignant TV. Brief obit: Boone Carlisle, 28, son of a bridal-shop magnate; died from injuries sustained while investigating a small plane stuck in a big tree (said plane fell out of said tree while Boone was inside); took to his grave the possible revelation that there might be other survivors on the island (voices on the radio in said plane suggested as much). For the actor, playing the death scene really hurt. Like, really hurt: ”I was spacey and nauseous and a little pissed. It’s hard walking a fine line between lucid and not lucid while Matthew Fox is ramming a needle into my chest.”
From the very beginning, Lost cocreators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof have said the threat of death hangs over the crash survivors. As the writers mapped out the season’s final episodes, they followed through on that threat, deciding to kill a character whose story line had run its course. Another reason: Boone’s death would especially affect his father figure, Locke (Terry O’Quinn), and the island’s doctor and resident hero, Jack (Fox). ”It was a narrative imperative that we kill Boone,” says executive producer Carlton Cuse. ”It sets in motion a chain of events leading to the season finale.” Adds Lindelof: ”The show is about the conflict between Jack and Locke. Boone’s death will be a divisive point between them.”