When Lost burst onto screens in 2004, it delivered compelling mysteries that delighted audiences.
According to a new book that delves into the behind-the-scenes drama, the set was anything but delightful.
Vanity Fair shared an excerpt of Maureen Ryan’s upcoming book, Burn It Down.
While conducting interviews, Ryan said that “cruel, brutal, destructive, racist, sexist, bullying, angry, abusive and hostile” were some of the words she heard.
“When you have to go home and cry for an hour before you can see your kids because you have to excise all the stress you’ve been holding in, you’re not going to write anything good after that,” Monica Owusu-Breen, who worked on Lost Season 3, said.
She described the series as “the most ‘nakedly hostile’ work environment she’d ever experienced.”
Harold Perrineau, who played Michael on the series, recalls realizing as Lost Season 1 played out:
“It became pretty clear that I was the Black guy,” he said, adding:
“Daniel [Dae Kim, who played Jin] was the Asian guy. And then you had Jack and Kate and Sawyer,” played by Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lily, and Josh Holloway.
The actor said he was shocked at how the writers had written Walt being kidnapped by the Others on Lost Season 2.
He recalled being surprised about how little Michael mentioned his son.
“I don’t think I can do that,” he recalls of his reaction to the aftermath in an early script.
“This is just furthering the narrative that nobody cares about Black boys, even Black fathers.”
Perrinau took his concerns to showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof at the time.
“If you’re going to use me, let’s work. I’m here to work. I’m good at my job and I’ll do anything you want,” he said.
“Except be ‘the Black guy’ on your show.”
The From star revealed that he learned months later from Cuse that he was being written out of the show.
“[Cuse] said, ‘Well, you said to us, if we don’t have anything good for you, you want to go,'” Perrineau alleged.
“‘[Y]ou said you don’t have enough work here, so we’re letting you go.'”
Lindelof, meanwhile, was quoted from multiple sources as saying, “[He] called me racist, so I fired his ass.”
“My level of fundamental inexperience as a manager and a boss, my role as someone who was supposed to model a climate of creative danger and risk-taking but provide safety and comfort inside of the creative process — I failed in that endeavor,” Lindelof said in an interview with Ryan for the book.
“[T]alking about the human effect of being the only woman or the only person of color and how you are treated and othered — I was a part of that, a thousand percent,” he added.
Lindelof also specifically spoke about Perrineau’s complaints about the show, alleging that Michael’s story was brought to a premature conclusion because Malcolm David Kelley had a growth spurt.
“Harold was completely and totally right to point that out.”
“It’s one of the things that I’ve had deep and profound regrets about in the two decades since.”
Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call For Change in Hollywood releases June 6, 2023.
Remember, you can watch Lost online right here via TV Fanatic.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.