Earlier this week, we brought you the news that Grindhouse actor Jeff Fahey was one of five new actors joining the cast of Lost next season. (Estimated premiere date: February 2008.) The others: Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan), Lance Reddick (The Wire), Ken Leung (The Sopranos), and British actress Rebecca Mader (The Devil Wears Prada, Love Monkey). Exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were gracious enough to take time from writing the new season to speak with us about their new hires.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we go any further, let’s clarify some things here. Are these new cast members series regulars or recurring players?
DAMON LINDELOF: None of these guys are doing just one episode. Some of the arcs are staggered over the course of the season, some are intensive at the start of the season and may or may not continue, some of them have potential regular status in future seasons — we don’t want to divulge which is which, because frankly, the actors themselves don’t know.
Gotcha. Now, another thing: Over the past couple weeks, we’ve seen casting call descriptions of some of the characters you’re casting — there’s ”Russell,” a ”brilliant mathematician,” and ”Charlotte,” a ”successful academic,” and ”Arthur Stevens,” a ”ruthless corporate recruiter.” Are these accurate names or summaries? Because I’ve been told that they are not to be taken at face value, and really only serve as rough ideas of what you want.
DL: Your assessment is more or less correct, though I’d rather not say how much more or how much less.
CARLTON CUSE: We actually [have] the actors read fake [scenes] and give them fake character names because those casting [pages] travel so widely, there’s no way to maintain secrecy. So we basically have to come up with fake but analogous scenes that will show us qualities of an actor but won’t give away what the role is. So yes, the stuff out there is not totally accurate.
DL: In fact, only one of the character names that has gotten out there is literally accurate.
Gotcha. Moving on. Why did you cast Ken Leung?
DL: Literally, the morning after his episode of The Sopranos aired, I said to Carlton, ”Have you seen that episode? There’s an actor on this show — I’m not going to tell you who he is — and I wonder if he has the same impression on you that he had on me.” The next morning, Carlton came in and he had seen the episode and said, ”Ken Leung?” And I said, ”Bingo.” We were still [in post-production] on the finale when that aired, in mid-May, so we immediately did an outreach to his people, and we found out he was a New York actor, and that he was getting a lot of interest. So when we came back from our hiatus, we called and luckily he was available and interested. The part he’s playing — it’s a character we wrote very specifically for Ken. Nobody else read for it. It had to be him.
CC: In fact, given the construct of the character, it wouldn’t have been the same if we didn’t have him in the show. It is so specifically geared to what we thought he could do as an actor [that] if he had said no, we would have had to scrap the character and rewrite him and come up with a different one.
As I’m a fan of The Wire, I dig Lance Reddick. Why did you want him?
CC: We had been interested in Lance back when we were casting the Mr. Eko part, but he was unavailable due to The Wire. That’s how we started circling around Adewale [Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who ultimately took the role]. When a window of opportunity arose after the recent season of The Wire, we jumped on it, with a part that seemed right for his complete focus and intensity.
NEXT PAGE: Defining ”corporate recruiter,” plus scoop on Mader, Davis, and Fahey