HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jorge Garcia, left, has a good laugh with Jeff Oh while signing an autograph. A "Lost" seminar was held at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 yesterday with stars Michael Emerson, who plays Henry Gale aka Ben; Garcia, who plays Hurley; Henry Ian Cusack, Desmond; and Jean Higgins, co-executive producer of the TV show. Afterward, the actors stayed and signed autographs until staff cleared the theater for a scheduled screening.
‘Lost’ stars take interactive a step further
Several hundred attend a seminar with Q&A at the film festival
"Lost" actor Jorge Garcia has a fairly basic explanation for the show's staggering success: "We just showed up, and the audience showed up with us."
Yesterday, several hundred people showed up at the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival for a "Lost" seminar in the Regal Dole Cannery Theaters. As usual, those in the know were tight-lipped about where the show was going, but producer Jean Higgins and several cast members graciously answered questions for 90 minutes. Afterward, nobody left before politely mobbing the stars for pictures and autographs.
Michael Emerson (Henry Gale/Ben), Jorge Garcia (Hurley) and Henry Ian Cusack (Desmond) joined HIFF executive director Chuck Boller and Higgins for an interactive experience tackling both serious and superficial topics.
Emerson believes the show is a hit because of its "logical use of a multicultural cast, and it plays to our taste for mysteries and puzzles in a really good way."
Higgins agreed. "We're looking to stretch the cast all the time," she said. And with the characters and story lines, "we push the envelope."
The nature of television is to avoid anything new until a new idea hits, and then to copy it endlessly.
When "Lost" first appeared, networks were wary of serialization shows, according to Higgins. But now, she said, "I think it's changed the landscape of television." It's notable that several new series this season include survivors and flashbacks, and connect from one episode to the next. "A lot of them are really derivative of 'Lost.'"
Boller noted another way in which "Lost" broke the network television mold: the presence of subtitles. Naveen Andrews (Sayid) speaks Arabic, and Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim speak Korean. "This hopefully will open the door for Asian films on TV," he said.
But even without that level of sophistication, Cusack added, "it's nice to see something besides a cop or a medical drama on TV," a comment that was followed by a huge round of applause.
When asked about his acting history, Emerson drew laughter when he explained that his past had included mostly theater and mostly comedy. But he said that he enjoys the challenge of making Henry Gale/Ben affable. "Shakespeare shows you the way. His evil characters are likable."
Will there ever be a "Lost" movie? "I would never rule that out," said Higgins, who explained that several writers and producers came from feature films. "We all have a big vision. It's oversized."
When asked about the most grueling or surprising episode they shot, Garcia recalled the pilot, when the enormous lights on the beach in Mokuleia attracted plenty of flying critters. "Every single bug that was in the jungle that night came flying out, and most of them found my hair," Garcia said.
Cusack cited his moment in the most recent episode, "when I was naked!"
"Was it ever," mumbled his scene partner Garcia, to the delight of the exuberant crowd.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Henry Ian Cusack, who plays Desmond on "Lost," mugged for our photographer as he paused to answer a question.
Inevitable questions about whether or not their characters would last elicited nonchalant responses. It's the nature of the business, explained Emerson. "You'd better be ready to hit the pavement again."
Not that death really matters anymore, Higgins noted. "They die and they still come back to work!"
The three actors agreed that the exposure -- becoming household names, essentially -- has changed their lives significantly. For Garcia, the creation of action figures in his likeness was a marker that defined his place in pop culture.
Though Emerson has yet to experience the paparazzi the other actors do, someone recognized him on Waikiki Beach after the earthquake and asked, "What are you doing here, walking around with people?'"
A key element that triggered much analysis was the island, which "looms large as a character on the show," said Emerson, who hinted at a metaphysical quality, and the possibility that the entire location is fabricated.
Hurley feels that his being on the island keeps his loved ones safe because he brings bad luck, according to Garcia. And Cusack said that "it's a vortex that won't let Desmond go; it's really his prison."
Higgins said that it's important that the island remain a mystery -- especially to those living on it -- because the show revolves around survival, and not understanding where you are is a key component to that. "We've always been careful not to reveal too much of it," she said.
The chance everyone had been waiting for occurred when the panel discussion ended and fans were given easy access to the stars.
"It's nice how they interact with the community and support Hawaii," said attendee Cory Sievers. She and her friends have been especially appreciative of the show's involvement in the naval community. Some of the stars recently judged a culinary contest on the base, and another signed autographs at the Navy Exchange.
"Since they've been so supportive of us, we're supportive of them," said Sievers.
"And our husbands are gone (deployed), so we're keeping busy doing this!" added Susan Sukols as she and her friends traded photo ops with Michael Emerson.
Wes Haviland, who has been an extra on the show and showed up yesterday to participate, said that there's a feeling on the set "like you're part of something bigger than yourself." And he believes the audience responds to that.
But then again, he said, "When you have a good story, there's something for everybody."