As Lost season six and Lost: The Complete Collection become available on DVD and Blu-ray, Emerson phoned to discuss the Lost legacy as well as the extra material that fans will devour. The Lost season six and Lost: The Complete Collection DVD and Blu-ray include a new 12-minute sequence with Emerson’s Ben Linus and Jorge Garcia’s Hurley, that is an epilogue to the series-ending closing of the Lost journey.
Lost and found!
SheKnows: How are you feeling about Lost being over, now that we’re talking about the season six and complete series DVD and Blu-ray debuting in stores, as opposed to when it first concluded when you shot it months ago?
Michael Emerson: We knew the end was coming all season. We were alternating between nostalgia and high spirits all the time. The last day of shooting was actually so difficult, so long and rough and dangerous. There wasn’t that moment of closure where they said, “That’s a wrap” and everybody hugged. It was more like crawling back to your trailer in the middle of the night [laughs]. We were really just glad we survived it. I still haven’t fully absorbed it that it is altogether over. Because every year we take the summer off. So, it still feels like in a week or two, I’ll pack up again and head to Hawaii. When the time comes — I won’t — and as the fall progresses it will begin to sink in.
SheKnows: What do you make of the idea that, as you said, this fall, there is the absence of Lost on the television landscape? A lot of fans are feeling the way that you are — we haven’t fully digested the fact that Lost is gone.
Michael Emerson: The only way I’ll deal is to take a trip down memory lane and start watching the DVDs from season one.
SheKnows: On a show like Lost, the actors cannot have any idea where their characters are going. Is that a difficult task?
Michael Emerson: You don’t think about it much. When you’ve done as many guest-starring roles as I have done, you just show up and try not to get in the way. You deliver the goods as best you can. This was perfect in a way.
SheKnows: One of the prices you had to pay for being on the show, of course fictionally, it’s hard not to notice that your character was one of the most roughed up. Did any of those scenes ever get a little too close, violence-wise? Did you get hurt?
Michael Emerson: Oh yeah, in the next to the last episode where Desmond punches out teacher Ben in the sideways world, the blow you see on the show is a real blow. We got out of distance, a little off the choreography and he completely clocked me. I had the only full-on shiner of my adult life [laughs]. In a way, it’s great the cameras were rolling.
SheKnows: As somebody who is integral into the Lost world portraying Ben Linus, having that sideways world, creatively, that must have been really fascinating to wrap your head around.
Michael Emerson: I thought it was the greatest pleasure of season six, at least in my case, I got the opportunity to play two characters. They are the same person, but, it was a nice actor’s challenge because pitch-wise, they played on such different keys. It was a lot of fun, kind of a great way to cleanse the palate, which was refreshing. It kept me really focused during that final season.
A kinder, gentler Ben
SheKnows: In the sideways world, it was a kinder, gentler Ben. It must have been nice to not have your bad guy hat on.
Michael Emerson: It was. It was nice to figure out how he would be in a kinder, gentler narrative — or a more everyday narrative. The traces of ambition and manipulation were still there, but so much more muted. It was not dominating his personality.
SheKnows: Then, there’s the connection with your on-screen daughter that as an audience member, it just felt good to see after she died because of Ben’s lack of action, honestly.
Michael Emerson: Such a nice variation on the original theme of their original relationship.
SheKnows: Now Lost creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have such infinite imaginations. As an actor, what was the experience like being a part of their world?
Michael Emerson: One of the real bonuses of the work was to have a symbiotic relationship with brilliant writers. It wasn’t like we talked often. I never spoke to them on the phone. We never had character meetings. We seemed to communicate by way of script and me by way of performances. It became a kind of dialogue in an interesting way. It was nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. I could tell they were paying attention to me and customizing the role to suit whatever they thought were my strengths or weaknesses. It was nice to see how much attention they were paying to me, without anything ever being said.
Michael Emerson’s Lost dish: The extra 12 minutes!
SheKnows: For you as the actor behind Ben, what was your reaction to having to film an additional 12 minutes that would land on this DVD that we are about to see?
Michael Emerson: I was thrilled. I had heard rumors there was going to be an extra scene. I hoped that I would be in it. Then, to find out I was in it in such a significant way, I was delighted. I think I was as excited to shoot the extra as I was the finale.
SheKnows: Working with Hurley, Jorge Garcia, on this particular part, was it nice for the two of you to connect? You rarely shared scenes with Jorge.
Michael Emerson: It was relaxing. It was a spoonful of sorbet. It was this nifty little dessert at the end of this great, long meal. I had not done much scene work with Jorge over the years, you’re right. It was nice. Our friendship had blossomed near the end of the series, so it was nice to spend some more time with him filming the extra for the DVD.
SheKnows: Also, you’re so personally vested in the character of Ben. When you found out your character would stay on the island, obviously off screen after the show ended, as Hurley’s second in command — what did you think of that fact that Ben would remain on the island that he adored so much?
Michael Emerson: I thought it was perfect. It was a nice character evolution that the writers were offering us, that he was learning things about life and about himself. He was transforming into a more serene and less tortured character that might yet have potential to do great good.
SheKnows: In the final scene of Lost, Ben was waiting outside the church. He didn’t go in the church. Why do you think he wasn’t ready to go in there with everyone else?
Michael Emerson: Because Ben had done more wrong in his life than the others, I think. He shouldn’t be let off the hook so easily. I thought it was nice, he knows he has work to do. I don’t know what that work is exactly, but it is the work of redeeming himself. He has to stay in whatever you want to call it — purgatory of a sorts — until he feels he has the right to pass into death for eternity that everyone else was heading for. It may also be that he was waiting, because if you notice, people could only pass into eternity two-by-two. They have to go in the company of their mirror redeemer. I’m not sure Ben had found that yet.
SheKnows: Perhaps someday he’ll walk in there with his daughter…
Michael Emerson: Yeah, I like that!
SheKnows: There were a lot of themes and profound ways of thinking on the show Lost. What were the ones that touched you the most?
Michael Emerson: I like the non-religious spirituality of the show — especially the ending. I like the sense of timelessness in the show. I thought, instead of thinking time travel or movement in time in science fiction ways, the writers thought about it in more esoteric or poetic ways that I thought were fascinating.