In 2004, fans around the world sat down to begin the mind-boggling journey of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 on ABC’s cult drama Lost.
With an incredible writing team that included Star Wars director J.J. Abrams, the mythos of the mysterious island and its inhabitants took over our lives for six seasons. The show maintained a strong viewership throughout its airing with both critics and audiences giving it rave reviews. Dedicated fans of the show, known as Lostaways or Losties, devoted hours of time developing theories and hypotheses to connect the show’s various mysteries.
Since its conclusion in 2010, the impact of the show can be felt in various other shows and movies, maintaining its influence on pop culture. To this day, fans still discuss the lingering mysteries of the island and its controversial ending.
Tucked away behind the smoke monsters, four-toed statues, and the Others lie the little-known secrets of the powerful drama. Not just the unknown trivia but the behind-the-scenes secrets of the cast, the crew, and the show’s production. While Lost may have intrigued audiences for over six years, the truth behind the successful show continues its famed legacy.
From little-known casting secrets to legal nightmares, here are the 20 Secrets Behind Lost You Had No Idea About.
20 The Show Was Originally Called "Nowhere"
The idea for Lost sprang to the mind of former head of ABC Lloyd Braun while on vacation in Hawaii. He pitched the show as “as parts ‘Cast Away,’ ‘Survivor’ and ‘Gilligan's Island,’ with a ‘Lord of the Flies’ element."
Intrigued by the idea, ABC gave the go-ahead for a draft to be created for the show in September 2003. Created by writer Jeffrey Lieber, the initial draft not only disappointed Braun but was even given a lousy title.
Though Braun had always envisioned the show as being called Lost, Lieber decided to change it to Nowhere. Braun rejected the script and reached out to Alias creator J.J. Abrams and showrunner Damon Lindelof.
Although Braun had full confidence in their abilities, his only demand was that his chosen show name would be restored.
19 ABC Picked Up The Show Without A Script
By the time he was developing Lost, J.J. Abrams had built quite a name for himself as a creator, director, and producer. Given his success with his previous show on ABC, Alias, executives had full confidence in his ability to create another hit show.
Abrams reached out to Damon Lindelof to hire him as his writing partner for the new show. Together, the two writers developed the skeleton for the series in 2004. Surprisingly, that was all they needed to convince executives to greenlight the show. With just the basics of the show’s premise and developing storylines developed, they managed to get the go-ahead to create the series without having a real script.
Although Abrams' reputation did help with the executives’ confidence in the show, the strength of this shows appeal lies in the details of the outline.
18 The Writers Lied To Get It Greenlit
With the show finally approved to begin development, Abrams and Lindelof began to expand on the outline for the series. And, by expand, we mean chucked it out of the window. Although many of the details of the show did end up on screen eventually, they told the executives what they wanted to hear.
The leaked Lost outline contained 20 pages of false promises. Some of the listed items included: "the show would self-contained and not have a serialized structure, everything in Lost was supposed to have a scientific explanation, and The show will have no 'ultimate mystery.'" Additional false promises also detailed that: “the monster the first few episodes, most of the plane’s passengers were never supposed to show up again, and the characters would live in a 'primitive Melrose Place' that could be built on a soundstage."
Gotta love these bald-faced lies.
17 Michael Keaton Was Originally Cast As Jack
Abrams and crew began the selection process for the perfect characters for Lost in 2003. One of the earliest roles developed was Jack. Batman alum Michael Keaton was selected for the role of the hero of the show. Jack’s planned fate on the show had taken a different turn than the one fans were used to.
In the initial drafts for the show, it was planned for Jack to die early on in the series, during part 1 of the "Pilot". Keaton was pleased to be able to star in a short-term role that freed him for any long-term commitments. However, executives insisted that the hero appear throughout the series. This change turned Keaton off from the part, and he backed out.
16 Josh Holloway's temper tantrum during his audition
So many characters in Lost would have been completely different if it weren't for the actors playing them. For example, the role of Sawyer was one of the favorite characters to audition for, with three of the other casted leads auditioning for the part. However, although they do not suit the character as we know him, actor Josh Holloway managed to change the writers’ minds about the role as a whole.
During his audition for the role, Holloway messed up and threw a mini temper tantrum - swearing and kicking furniture. This appealed to the writers, who then rewrote James "Sawyer" Ford from being a middle-aged classy conman to the Southern-drawling bad boy we know and love instead.
15 Evangeline Lilly Almost Lost Her Role Due to Being Canadian
Actress Evangeline Lilly eventually won the role of Kate but almost didn’t make the final cast. As a Canadian citizen and actress, Lilly did not have the proper paperwork to obtain a work visa for the United States. The filming of the show had to take place without her, with her scenes as Kate being held off until she could get approval.
Lilly tried over 20 times to apply for the visa with no luck. Show producers were convinced she would not get approval and considered re-starting the process of recasting her role. However, Lilly finally got approval for the work visa, to the delight of the creators.
She immediately flew out to Hawaii just one day after filming for the pilot had begun. Way too close for comfort.
14 The Pilot was so expensive that the head of ABC was fired over it
The final approval for the production of Lost was given based on two main factors: the backing of Lloyd Braun and the initial outline for the show. Unfortunately, with the revelation that the outline was not being followed, the truth of the show’s overall cost came to light.
Though promised to be a show filmed on a film studio lot, the show was instead shot on location in Hawaii. Also, the costs of production skyrocketed with special effects, custom sets, and other location costs. Overall, Lost became the most expensive pilot to shoot in ABC’s history, with final expenses coming in between $10-14 million.
Understandably, executives found fault with Braun for approving such a costly project and subsequently fired him from his position. He lost his job before the show even debuted. Ouch.
13 The Script Error Caused By Boone's Name
During the development of a Lost character, a small change in the role of Boone led to a hilarious incident during scripting. The part of Boone and his sister came from a wealthy family. As such, the writers felt that his name should reflect his background.
According to IMDB, “In one early version of the script, Boone was going to be Boone Carlyle V and would be referred to as "Five". When they decided against this idea they did a "find and replace" function to change all the referenced to "Five" into ones for "Boone".
This accidentally changed the dialogue when Jack and Kate first meet to him counting "One, two, three, four, Boone." The incident was shared in the Season 1 DVD special features. If only that error had made it into the final show...
12 Over 50 differentBabies Portrayed Aaron
The series Lost took its time in exploring the loves of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. Due to its extended timeline, the show explored their first 100 days on the island over the course of the first four seasons. Beyond that, additional time skips into the future expanded the timeline even further. Although these constant skips did not affect most of the characters, baby Aaron had several issues with his role on the show.
Given the need to depict the child as an infant, toddler, and up through his formative years, more than 50 babies were used to portray him on the show. The various child actors began working in the season 1 “Do No Harm” and changed through over 54 episodes of the show. His final portrayal was completed by actor William Blanchette, as 3-year-old Aaron in the series finale “The End”.
11 Walt Was Written Out Because He Was Too Tall
A constant issue for long-term tv shows comes with the use of child actors. Though many shows chose to select young adults as teenagers, some shows must use stars closer to the characters’ depicted ages.
In the show Lost, 11-year-old actor Malcolm David Kelley was chosen to play a 10-year-old. Although their ages did not vary greatly on paper, his real-life physical changes as a pre-teen became a problem. Over the course of the first season, the actor began growing noticeably taller, so much so that his character’s onscreen time and the plot had to be adjusted to work within the show’s slower timeline.
His character was eventually written out earlier than expected with appearances that coincided better with his taller stature (i.e. flash forwards and time skips). Over the course of the show, Kelley ended up growing ten inches taller.
10 Dominic Monaghan Portrayed Charlie As Gollum
Having spent over eight years being connected to and filming The Lord of the Rings trilogy, actor Dominic Monaghan became overwhelmed with offers for fantasy roles. Looking to branch out into a new type of character, he initially auditioned for the role of Jack. However, casting directors were so impressed by him that they offered him the part of Charlie instead, changing the character’s age and background to better suit the actor.
Though he hoped to move on beyond his role in the fantasy series, he needed to tap into his LOTR history for this character, using Andy Serkis' performance of Gollum's obsession with the One Ring as inspiration for Charlie's reaction to the illegal substance he was addicted to.
9 Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan's Secret Romance
Many onscreen couples on TV shows have been known to become real-life lovers after filming together for so many years. Fans of Lost would have loved to see Kate and Jack or Kate and Sawyer become a real couple off-screen. Though Evangeline Lilly did find love onset, it was not with either of her onscreen love interests.
Beginning in 2004, Lilly and Dominic Monaghan started dating while filming for the show. Though they tried to keep their romance under the radar, many gossip magazines reported on their relationship regularly. Sadly, after three years, their relationship eventually ended on some sour terms. Apparently, rumors began that Lilly had actually cheated on Monaghan during the course of their relationship.
Even with their messy ending, the two remained close and continued to work together amicably on the show.
8 Why Mr. Eko Was Written Out
The character of Mr. Eko, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, became one of the most intriguing roles on the show. Shrouded in secrets and a dark past, he quickly became a fan favorite. However, his time on the show concluded after only two seasons on the show.
Although writers were keen to have Mr. Eko play a more significant role in the series, Akinnuoye-Agbaje lost interest on the show for an unusual reason. The fact was that he had grown tired of living in Hawaii and wanted to return to London, his hometown. His character was killed off of the show, and he was released from his contract.
However, writers attempted to have him return for the season finale but he refused. This time, he allegedly wanted five times the amount they were offering for his return appearance.
7 The Writers and Producers Hated Nikki and Paulo Long Before Viewers Did
Though Lost fans have had countless disagreements about the many show theories and conclusions, most fans pretty much agree on one thing: their hate for Nikki and Paulo. Introduced as part of the expanded backstories in season 3, the despicable duo was revealed to be murderers, liars, and thieves capable of even betraying each other.
Though fan backlash was pretty harsh for the couple, the writers already hating their inclusion on the show. Showrunner Lindelof stated that the show “had the feeling with Nikki and Paulo that it wasn't right about a month before the fans started reacting. We were already starting to think, 'Maybe our instinct here has been wrong.'”
Though plans were in place to make the characters redeemable, the overwhelming complaints about their inclusions far exceeded the discussions of the episodes themselves. Their end came after only seven episodes.
6 Kate Was going to be the main character
The significant changes to Jack’s character had a ripple effect on the rest of the series. Originally, writers had planned for Kate to step into the role of leader after his death. Her leadership ability would stem from her background as a 30-something businesswoman who was traveling with her husband on the flight.
However, with Jack's role expanded into the show’s future, executives decided she would be better suited as a love interest for our hero. Her background was changed to include a criminal past and numerous secrets about her history. She was also placed into the love triangle between her, Sawyer, and Jack.
Instead of altogether eliminating the original profile of her story, the details were moved to Rose instead. She was later reunited with her husband Bernard during the second season of the show.
5 The cast was supposed to be small
Although the original outline for the show specified the cast would be limited, creators decided it best to follow the lives of more of the survivors. With numerous extras floating in the background, the writers slowly developed main characters that the audience would follow over the seasons.
Though initially including just a few main characters in the beginning, ongoing auditions for the show eventually changed the minds of the creators. In fact, several characters were developed based on the results of outstanding auditions. Actor Jorge Garcia originally auditioned for Sawyer, but his warm personality and good guy appeal convinced writers to create the part of Hurley just for him. Though actress Yunjin Kim auditioned for Kate, writers also created the character of her Sun-Hwa Kwon and her husband Jin-Soo Kwon based on her audition.
4 Actress Maggie Grace Was A Prankster
Behind the scenes, actress Maggie Grace, known for playing the bratty Shannon on the show, was known for being the onset prankster.
One of her pranks was shared during a Lost panel at PaleyFest. It was revealed that: “After a full day of filming the emotional and uncomfortable scene where Boone (Ian Somerhalder) kisses his sister Shannon (Maggie Grace), Somerhalder was called back to set to film one more take — only to find that Grace had stuffed her mouth full of garlic, quickly smoked a stinky cigar, and put a hard cup in her pants, grabbing Somerhalder and shoving him onto her ‘manhood.’ She also pulled pranks on her onscreen lover Sayid when she “secretly hid a kielbasa in her pants” during one of their love scenes. Her co-stars eventually got her back and collectively mooned her!
3 A Real-Life Couple Played Son and Mother Onscreen
On many tv shows, an established or lead star may use their influence to get their real-life spouse a role on the show as well. In the case of Lost, however, the husband and wife team did not play the usual characters of lovers. Before her role as Arlene Fowler in the HBO series True Blood, actress Carrie Preston got the chance to work with her real-life husband, Michael Emerson. However, her relationship with the character of Ben Linus was pretty unusual for a husband and wife to portray. Preston was cast as Ben’s mother in the Season 3 episode “The Man Behind the Curtain". Since this was a flashback to his past, the couple did not share a scene together. Viewers, however, did get to witness Preston give birth to and hold her real-life husband’s character. That’s just all kinds of wrong…
2 The Nestor Carbonell Eye Makeup Debate
Dedicated fans of cult shows like Lost have been known to get into long-standing debates about storyline theories and plot holes. In one strange incident of fans discussions, the issue of an actor’s eye makeup was the subject of an argument. Actor Nestor Campbell was introduced in the show as Richard Alpert back in Season 3. Numerous online debates began soon after but had nothing to do with his character. Fans were convinced that Carbonell was wearing very heavy eyeliner for his character portrayal. However, as he revealed later, the dark lines of his lashes and eye line were genuine. In fact, during the fifth season DVD extras, he explained that “also the makeup artists for ‘Lost’ actually use concealer on his lashes and under his eyes to try to tone down the natural darkness of his eye line.” One of the weirdest fan mysteries of Lost is finally solved.
1 Traffic Violations and The Lost DUI Curse
Several stars from Lost found themselves in trouble for various traffic violations while living in Hawaii. Several stars were cited for speeding included Josh Holloway, Dominic Monaghan, Naveen Andrews, Ian Somerhalder, and Christian Bowman. Other lawbreakers included Harold Perrineau Jr. (no insurance) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (no license).
However, the “urban legend” of the Lost DUI Curse became an indicator of when a character would be leaving the show. The legend was that when a cast member got caught for a DUI, their character was subsequently killed off the show. Victims of the alleged curse included Michelle Rodriguez (Ana Lucia) and Cynthia Watros (Libby). However, show producers have since stated that both actresses were killed off simply because their storylines were coming to an end. Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) was also “killed off” in Season 4 after his DUI in 2007. Just a coincidence, huh?
Do you have any other Lost trivia to add? Leave it in the comments!