The US actor who plays Benjamin Linus answers our burning questions on the final series. So why are we still Lost?
Jason A Heidemann
How’s shooting going for the Lost finale? The script is highly ambitious with logistical problems galore. It is taking a long time to get it done, but the end is in sight.
Are emotions running high? They are, and sometimes in funny ways. I shot the last scene I’ll ever shoot with Terry O’Quinn [who plays John Locke] the other night, and it was a moment of I-don’t-know-what. Something maybe irretrievable has flown away now. Also, the cast is having more fun than they usually do, in the spirit of ‘let’s go out with a bang and relish this while we still have it’.
So… as you wrap up shooting, how is the character of Ben feeling to you? Good? Evil? Well, he feels the same way he has always felt to me, which is at play. He’s free-floating on the scale of good and evil. If anything, he seems to have been pushed or drifted of his own accord towards a more sympathetic position. But I’m not sure if it is to be trusted.
So you don’t see him as a bad guy? No, no. I see him as a kind of antihero. I don’t know quite how to characterise him, except that what he is he will continue to be.
It’s seemed that Ben has known as much as anyone about the island. Do fans take that out on you? Sometimes people think I hold the secrets of the island. I’m always a grievous disappointment to them when they cross-examine me because hardcore fans of the show usually know more about it than I do.
Some fans point to the fact that you were originally intended to appear in just two episodes as proof that there’s no overarching plan for Lost. They would be mistaken to read too much into that. My character may have had some of the qualities of an experiment about him, but the way [the creators] wanted it to go was firmly set. Had I failed in the role, they could have easily disposed of the character.
Can you share Lost plot details with your family? We do hold a certain amount of spoilers, [but] I don’t even get to test that business of whether I can share it with my family members because my wife is such a fanatical and purist Lost follower. She plugs her ears and starts shrieking if I come home and say, ‘Honey, you’ll never guess who I killed today.’
Is it like a Woody Allen film where you’re only given the script for the scenes you’re in? We get the entire script as a general rule, but a lot of times (and I may be a duller reader of scripts than most actors) I still don’t get quite what we’re doing until I see it all put together and broadcast. I have a feeling that this is how the finale is going to work for me.
Once you see the finale, do you think you’ll understand the show? Yes. I mean, to the extent that it is available for understanding.
How closely are the actors expected to follow the maze of intersecting storylines and time shifting? Most of us have given up trying to hold it all in our heads. Once you cut yourself loose from the back story, the arc of your character and the entire narrative context, everything takes care of itself. It’s kind of freeing.
Has working on the show changed you as an actor? I’m about to find out when I go back to my former, so-called acting life. New York is what’s mostly on my mind, and by that I mean the theatre. Lost airs on Fox Series on Mondays at 11pm and Tuesdays at 8pm; and on Showseries on Tuesdays at 8pm and 9pm