In interviews with our resident expert, Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) and Harold Perrineau (Michael) talk about the season finale and do a little theorizing of their own
EDITOR’S NOTE: In between observing the filming of scenes for Lost‘s final episodes of season 2, Doc Jensen got a chance to sit down with several members of the cast and talk with them about their experiences on the show. Today, we present Doc J’s revealing chats with Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) and Harold Perrineau (Michael).
DANIEL DAE KIM
Jin certainly has had an eventful year on Lost. After surviving the ordeal on the raft and a proverbial death march through the jungle with those angry, tragedy-scarred Tailies, Jin was reunited with his wife, Sun (Yunjin Kim), and worked on rebuilding their rocky marriage. Apparently, their healing process included putting a bun in the oven. This despite the fact that, in Kim’s words, ”Jin’s boys can’t swim.” The Jin/Sun journey remains one of Lost‘s most radical yet grounding storylines: American TV viewers have never seen love, Korean-style, played out in prime time, and yet the couple’s poignant struggle is universal. My conversation with the cordial and candid Kim (previous credits: 24, Angel) was conducted in his trailer, shortly before he was due on set to shoot a scene for the season finale involving Sun, Sayid (Naveen Andrews), and Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick).
DOC JENSEN: So… do you have a theory as to what’s going on in Lost?
DANIEL DAE KIM: I originally thought it was purgatory until it was said pretty explicitly by [executive producers] Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse that it wasn’t. But the one I’m holding onto is [that] we are in a kind of ant farm, and we are being watched as an experiment, as a microcosm of human society. What’s your theory?
Uh… I have quite a few. Too many, actually. But one thought I’ve had lately is that the show could do Lost theorists a favor by establishing a historical context for the island. In fact, I recently posted something I call The History Theory of ‘Lost’. The details of the theory could be ridiculously wrong, but its main point is that there is no unified field theory for Lost. Meaning, the Others have nothing to do with the Dharma Initiative, which has nothing to do with the Monster, etc. Instead, what we have on Lost are different elements from different eras of the island colliding and affecting each other. Does that make sense?
I think that’s dead-on — I don’t think one theory explains it all. I think the one thing you’re dead-on about is that history on the island has evolved and continues to evolve. I think it started off as one small thing, which caused X to happen, which caused Y to happen…. Once you see the finale, I think that point will be more reinforced. There is a very causal relationship now. I think Damon has said we’re going to see how the plane crashes, so I’m not giving anything away there. But once you see how that happens, you’re going to learn a lot about why we’re here.
How would you characterize the difference between season 1 and season 2?
During season 1, people thought this was a story about castaways on a mysterious, deserted island. I think by the end of season 2, people will realize that the scope of the show has expanded greatly. It’s no longer about these particular characters, but the island has become more of a prominent character than ever. And I think it will continue to go in that direction.
In the first season, the actors were constantly quoted as saying that none of you really knew what was going on. Is that still the case?
Let’s put it this way: We started shooting the season finale two days ago — and we just got the scripts yesterday. In this show, the actors are often the last to know. I just read the season finale last night, and there’s one sequence that’s just mind-blowing. It opens the door for so many other things to happen in season 3.
Is that frustrating?
It can make things a little hectic in terms of preparation. But the good thing about it is that we never have to lie about what we know. Or don’t know.
The third episode of the season gave the audience — and the actors — their first major download of Lost mythology via the orientation film. What did you make of the Dharma Initiative when you first read about it in the script?
Pretty much my reaction was this: ”We can be here for a while figuring this out.” I saw right there the potential for where the series could go — not only this season, but the season after that. That was my first indication that we could be here for the long haul.
This season also saw the introduction of a new group of characters: the Tailies. What’s it been like for the original cast to make room for the newcomers?
I’ve often said the lives of the actors on this show parallel the fictitious lives of the characters. The addition of the Tailies was no exception. When they came aboard, we were all trying to get a feel for one another. Fortunately, they were great people and we were able to accept them… so it was especially sad when we lost them, because it just felt like we were getting to know them. It was also an indication of what was going to come on this show. I think we can expect new faces every season, and expect to lose some old, familiar faces every season. That’s a mixed blessing.
We hear so much that there’s this anxious, panic-stricken sense of ”I could be the next to go” among the cast — is that for real, or is that hype?
Absolutely [that feeling exists]. Now, more than ever. We’re starting to see the prominence of the story of the island, as opposed to the story of the individual characters. If the mythology becomes big and elaborate enough, it no longer really becomes about who services the island but how the island gets serviced…. I think the challenge for all the characters and the actors now is to find our place in that mythology. How are they essential to telling the bigger story of the island? That’s the question that the actors have to answer for themselves. And that the writers have to answer for each of the actors, because clearly, if there is no place for them, we won’t be around. The deaths on this show have shown that.
Do you know if Jin will be back for next season?
I wish I could tell you! I don’t think any of us know. Last season almost all of us were put in a place of jeopardy in the season finale. This year really isn’t an exception. There is a distinct possibility that any one of us may not come back. It is a little scary to not know 100 percent.
What have been your favorite moments of season 2?
My favorite moments on the show have always been when we are surprised by the character, something we never expected to see. The tender side of Jin was something that was fantastically explored. There was once criticism that he was ”traditional” or domineering, but I don’t think that criticism is valid anymore. We now see a fully fleshed-out character, and a fully fleshed-out relationship. And I think that’s one thing that Jin and Sun have to offer the show that nobody else does. Anyone who’s married or in a long-term relationship goes through ups and downs, and I think if they can identify with anyone, it’s us — despite the fact that we may not be speaking their language.
So Sun is having a baby. What’s your take on that storyline? Do you think Jin is — or was — infertile? Or do you think it’s possible that Sun could be having another man’s baby?
I choose to believe the doctor was correct [when he told Sun that Jin was infertile]. Whether the baby is mine, I choose to believe that it is, given all the information I have at the moment.
Are you buying into the idea that the island’s ”unique” electromagnetic energy has healed Jin’s infertility?
I definitely think there is a connection between the electromagnetic energy and the fact that Locke can walk. As for the fact that maybe Rose is in remission, and the fact that maybe Jin’s boys are starting to swim — it’s possible that the electromagnetic energy is responsible. At the same time, I think it would be unwise to think we have the whole story.
So much of this season — so much of this show — is about ambiguity, about living in a perpetual state of not knowing what the hell is really going on. From an actor’s point of view, how hard is it to bring this smoke-and-mirrors reality to life?
It’s interesting: It’s a lot like real life. You never quite know what’s smoke-and-mirrors in real life, what is the correct path to choose. You never know the end result. You wake up in the morning, you know who you are, know your history, but you don’t know how your day is going to turn out. You have a general idea of what you plan on doing, but you can never be fully aware of what’s going on. So you just have to be aware and present and live in that moment. What’s interesting is that TV is the only medium that mimics that. You don’t know the end result when you’re playing the beginning. And we’re in the middle of that right now. So I think it’s up to every actor and every character to make those choices: What is he going to believe? What is he going to put his faith in? And who’s he going to follow? Maybe he won’t follow; maybe he’ll lead. Or leave. So those are the really interesting questions we can ask as actors in the midst of all this.
Next page: Doc Jensen’s interview with Harold Perrineau…