Lost premiered in September of 2004 and quickly spiraled into one of the most compelling, divisive shows on TV. Its unconventional, complexly wrought structure, enigmatic characters, and collection of perplexing mysteries became an immediate part of the cultural conversation, engaging fans in a truly obsessive way. It's arguable that no show since has generated such an extreme level of viewer involvement and debate that continues nearly four years after its finale aired. Lindelof and Cuse, who note that they hope to work together again in the future, remain as involved as the fans, and had some thoughts on why exactly Lost affected pop culture so deeply. Just don't ask them if you can take the hatch home with you.
ESQUIRE.COM: So I have one really burning question about Lost that has bothered me for years and I have to ask it first: In season one, why were Sayid's fingernails so weirdly long?
DAMON LINDELOF: Because Naveen Andrews liked to play the guitar between set-ups at night in an effort to lull the cast into submission. He's an amazing guitar player. I remember J.J. [Abrams] asking him about his nails when he came in to audition and Naveen was like, "Oh, I'd be happy to clip them but you'll just take away from me the one meaningful artistic expression I have in my life other than acting." Completely and totally deadpan in a way only Naveen can. But he did clip them at a certain point — or at least whittled them down. But they're aggressively long and disquieting.
CARLTON CUSE: That is a unique question. We have never been asked that. That's awesome because it's really hard to come up with an original Lost question so kudos to you.
DL: I wish we could back it to some sort of plot machination.
ESQ: It's the tenth anniversary of the show's premiere this year but when did Lost officially begin for each of you?
CC: Well, it started earlier for Damon since he wrote the pilot but we started working together after the first few episodes of the first season.
From left: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
DL: I started in late January of 2004. That's the first time I met J.J. and it was the formal beginning of the show. We shot the pilot in March and April of 2004, and started writing the series in early June. I was with it until the end, which was May 2010.
ESQ: Literally the end and also that was the title of the finale, right?
DL: We wanted to make sure there was no ambiguity as to whether we were finished. We'll call the final episode "The End," we'll kill every major character off — and then not only kill them off but show what happens to them after they're dead. That's as far as you can go!
CC: We thought about reincarnation but that was just a step too far.
ESQ: That's for the inevitable reboot?
CC: I hope that the reboot involves reincarnation.
DL: I would suspect it does.
CC: I could see Jack as a grasshopper.