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October 22, 2014

Michael Emerson On the Final 'Lost' DVD, His Next Gig & 'Big Bang Theory'

by Maggie Furlong, posted Aug 11th 2010 9:00AM
Michael Emerson, 'Lost'Have you been debating about polar bears, glowing caves and alternate timelines for the better part of six years? Find yourself humming those catchy Drive Shaft lyrics every now and then? Maybe you've been staring at Weezer's new "Hurley" album cover a little too much?

Diagnosis: You're missing 'Lost' as much as I am.

As the release date for the final season DVD nears (Tues., Aug. 24), I can't help but imagine what special features we'll find on those precious discs. (And for those of you who watched the leaked epilogue, never fear -- there's still more bonus material where that came from.)

Emmy-winning star Michael Emerson tells me all about the mechanics and lighter tone of that now-infamous epilogue, in which he's compelling as ever. He also talks about the finale (he approves), the upcoming cast reunion at the Emmys, his 'Lost' houseguests and life on another island. Then he humors me with talk of the much buzzed about project with him and fellow 'Lost' alum Terry O'Quinn, his love of TV and mixing things up.

Hey guys at 'Big Bang Theory,' are you reading this? Call the man now!

How has life been post-'Lost'?
Well, it's been more domestic and less exciting than it was when I was on that other island. But now I'm on the island that I really like best, which is Manhattan, so that's fine.

Carrie Preston & Michael EmersonAnd your wife, Carrie Preston, is done shooting this season of 'True Blood' too, so she's home with you I guess?
She is, yeah. So we're just chilling. Well I say chilling ... I'm kind of taking it easy. Carrie always has 5,000 projects cooking. Where is she today? If today is Monday, she's in Berkeley, CA, shooting a short film.

Who have you been in touch with the most since the show wrapped?
I stay in touch with Terry, of course, because we're joined at the hip. Also Jorge [Garcia] because Jorge and Beth are housesitting for Carrie and I in Los Angeles while they try to find a place to live out there.

How perfect is that!
Yeah, I thought well we're coming back to New York for the summer, and it's better to have someone in the house in case a pipe bursts or a tree falls on the roof or something, so it worked out for everybody. So we'll see them ... I guess we're gonna fly out on the 20th, and I guess we'll be roommates for a week or so until the Emmys! [Laughs] Sitting around the breakfast table ... [Laughs]

Terry O'Quinn & Michael EmersonWe're all rooting for the show with you and Terry O'Quinn to pan out one of these days. Where do things stand with that?
Well I know there are people out there working on it. Neither one of us is doing a lot of other projects because we're waiting to see if someone comes up with a crackerjack idea for something for us to work on together. I don't know what it'll be. I hope it's something exciting and different, and maybe lighter in tone than what we have done previously.

So you'd really go back to TV for your next gig?
Or back to TV sometime next year. The wheels on these things turn very slowly. And it's possible, like so many things in Hollywood that get talked about, that it could just go poof. It could just not turn out to be anything. But I think there's enough excitement and will on the part of a whole variety of producers, actors and writers that something -- something -- should be done. And there's an audience for it.

Carrie Preston, 'True Blood'Now that you've got a little more time on your hands, what do you find yourself watching on TV?
Well I watch 'True Blood' religiously, of course -- that's a no-brainer. And so many of the shows that are nominated for Emmys are among our favorites. You look on the DVR list on our TV and it's 'Mad Men,' 'Dexter' and 'Nurse Jackie.' And I watch my movies and news and documentary programming ... some of that more serious stuff. It's hard! There really is too much good TV now. I think that we are living through a second Golden Age of Television. There aren't enough hours in the day to watch all the shows that you're interested in, just to keep up with what's going on, who's doing good writing, who's doing smashing acting, all of that -- I find it difficult.

It's so nice to talk to an actor who'll admit to loving TV as much as the general population!
It's interesting that, in our household at least, no one ever talks about movies. Our discourse is always focused on television. And not just the shows that we work on -- TV in general. I don't know ... maybe it's a symptom of working in that industry ... but that seems to be where the interesting stories are being told.

'The Big Bang Theory'Any shows you'd particularly like to guest star on?
Oh, there's lots! You know, if there was something interesting on 'True Blood,' that would be fun. I think 'The Good Wife' is such a cool show. It might be fun if I had some kind of unusual comic turn on some unexpected show like 'The Big Bang Theory' or 'Nurse Jackie.' You know, I have to re-set my brain to being an actor for hire again -- I need to be ready to go out there and do whatever anyone will have for me.

With the release of the final season DVD, do you think it'll officially start to close this chapter of your working life?
I think so. I kept thinking that when the finale aired that 'Lost' would start receding into the past, but of course with the DVD extras and the Emmy Awards and all of that, it's still very much a living issue. Plus there's the fact that I've spent the last five summers taking a break from 'Lost' and then always going back to it. So when it will hit home is late this month when my body says, "OK, it's time to get on the plane and go to Honolulu," and I won't.

Oh the Emmys! Congratulations yet again ...
I'm so pleased that 'Lost' is nominated in such a broad array of categories so there will be so many of is to go to the show and have a little reunion. I think we'll be happy and have a nice party no matter what.

I'm sure you've heard that the DVD epilogue leaked. Did you watch it online like everyone else?
No! I haven't seen it. But see, I don't know how to find those things. I read it in the paper that such-and-such got leaked, but I don't know where to look. Plus, I want to preserve my little bit of narrative innocence and wait and see it when it comes out for real ... and for legal.

What mysteries will the epilogue and special features tie up for fans?
Well, there's a couple of procedural mysteries that get cleared up I think, and I was happy to have that. The writers weren't dealing with procedural mysteries in the finale. They were bringing the show to kind of a spiritual conclusion, and that was the right emphasis I think. But I'd have to say that this DVD extra feature thing is lighter spirited and a little more mechanical in the best sense of that word. And we do have the satisfaction of seeing what happened to some of the people whose storylines were not resolved in the finale. That's good.

My fingers are crossed for a little bit of Walt ...
[Laughs, then quickly changes subject] And what is chiefly pleasurable about it was, the finale leaves open that great dark gap of time when Hurley and Ben make their agreement to become the management of the Island. Between that and the afterlife, what happened? What happened for the hundreds, thousands of years during which they were in charge? That's all a complete blank, but we do get a little peek at that world in this DVD extra feature. Although it's just a little whiff of a thing ... it's just a little taste. And people are gonna go, "Oh, but we want more!" But it's nice to know sort of what the tone of that world is, and I think you get a sense of that.

And I thought we all got a sense of it with the nod between Ben and Hurley in the finale -- "You were a real good number two" and "You were a great number one." I was pleased with that, so to have any more is just a cherry on top.
Yeah, that's right. It is just a bonus.

Jorge told me the DVD guys recorded him reading the finale script. Did they get you doing anything special for the DVD beyond starring in this epilogue?
There was so much of that stuff -- I can't tell you how dizzying it was. Because we were shooting the finale, and that's like two and a half episodes, and we're shooting the DVD extra feature, and we're shooting all that box set extra stuff -- at-home interviews and Jorge and I going out in the Kualoa Valley and walking around to different places where we played different scenes, and reminiscing about it. There's all this extra stuff in there! Half of it I can't remember. We were so overloaded with stuff. I'll be pleased [to see it] -- I'll go, "Oh my, I completely forgot that I did that thing."

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