I hope to have some scans shortly.
The Shape of Things to Come really gave the audience its first long look at the smoke monster and what it's truly capable of doing. What were your marching orders in terms of how to portray it?
Well, for this episode the producers were pretty upfront from the beginning that Smokey, as we call it, was going to be in your face and we’d be seeing him. We had the cover of night, which we've never really done before. So we were more concerned, not about how much we were going to see him, but how we were going to make him visible – a blackish, smoke monster in the dark, in the forest, is tricky to see.
How much creative leeway did you have on establishing the details of Smokey's big entrance?
Jack Bender was fairly precise about what he wanted out of this. We scouted locations at several times and we talked about where Smokey might be entering from and what he might be doing. The script was clear on what was supposed to happen in the scene and it was clear that you had to see things. Sometimes we all have rough ideas and it's an evolving process. In this case with the script, what Mr. Bender requested and what he got, we had a strong idea of what to do but how to get there was hard. I mean its just smoke!
What was the most challenging shot?
The one shot that was most subject to interpretation was the shot where Smokey first appeared over the trees. We didn’t know what direction he was going to come from or how much interaction there was going to be, so that evolved over time. It just so happens the way it was shot there was a hole in the trees that made a nice place for him to coil into the shot.
It's a very menacing entrance, so did that evolve or was that clear from the start?
We tried a couple of different ways for him to enter but it wasn't clear if he was supposed to be pouring through or looking around, more cat-like. Then it was very clear from Damon and Carlton that they wanted it to come in like a rollercoaster or a freight train. They wanted it to be forceful and somewhat frightening. We had to spend a lot of time trying to get the smoke to look like something other than smoke in the sense of it moving and how it was lit. A lot of that was just trial and error. That shot, as far as performance, gave us the most to play with and the other shots were a lot of shots of him in the forest.
How were the forest shots different to create?
We were trying to strike a balance between how much we wanted to see him and how much we didn't want to see him and which was going to be scarier. A lot of those shots we were shooting in the forest at night with nothing out there, so there were lots of branches and leaves and we were trying to figure out how to put Smokey in the background. In this case, we didn't use digital trees. We used real trees from the forest. We spent a lot of time trying to come up with ways to separate the leaves and the branches from the background so we didn't have to paint mattes for every single leaf so we could put the shot together. The compositor came up with some mercifully clever techniques that allowed us to put Smokey way in the background. The digital tools we are using are getting better and better and we did do a little bit of rotoscoping [where animators trace over live-action movement frame-by-frame] to separate them, but there was more compositing magic to separate the trees and the branches. It's all about trying to define the foreground and putting Smokey in the background.
Did The Constant episode help you connect the dots with Desmond's time-jumping and let you know that he wasn’t just having these weird mental episodes – that there was a powerful reason for those visions and issues?
I think that, in the other episodes, I always played the scenes just as they were written. In the earlier episodes, I was playing it that I was seeing events that either hadn't happened or could happen. So yeah, the whole time-travelling thing just explained it. But that explanation happened after I did it [laughs] so I am still essentially playing Desmond from scene to scene.
There was a new revelation, however, about Desmond's time spent in prison, which was another mysterious element revealed in his past...
Yes! They haven't explained that one just yet...
Does that unexplained incarceration pique your interest at all? Do you conjecture that it might be tie to why Widmore accuses him of being a coward?
It's interesting to me that Desmond has been called that. Nobody knows why. However, just because he's been called a coward doesn't mean that he is one. Whether that's explained or not, we’ll see... I mean you could argue that Widmore called him a coward for leaving Penny and that's just his opinion as her father. Other than that, there's nothing remotely cowardly about Desmond.
Series four was a huge year for Desmond, so were there any moments that really stood out for you or that you were particularly proud of?
Not really – I'm a really tough critic on myself! There are so many things that I hate about my scenes when I see what I do on TV. But then I'll watch it again and see that it wasn’t that bad [smiles].
As a fan of the show yourself, were there aspects of the fourth series that you really enjoyed watching?
You know, I really enjoyed Matthew Fox's work a lot last season. He gave some truly great performances. I think he, in particular, had a really great season.