‘Lost’: Q&A with Rebecca Mader -- SPOILERS
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Tragedy struck ‘Lost’ in this episode as one of the cast members met her maker. After weeks of hemmoraging, Charlotte, the anthropologist who grew up on the island, finally had one time jump too many and died on the jungle floor, babbling about an American husband.
Sad, yes. But hardly surprising. After all, her death was probably the easiest death to predict in ‘Lost’s’ entire history. No one gets that bloody and gets off scot-free. In her final moments, she revealed to us that she’d grown up in the Dharma Initiative and that she’d apparently met Daniel Faraday when she was a little girl. This isn’t so surprising, considering that we saw Faraday living and working among the Dharmas circa their late-'70s heyday in the season opener.
I spoke with Charlotte herself, Rebecca Mader, about her time on the island, but before we conduct our final exit interview, a quick summary of ‘This Place Is Death’s’ finer moments.
Just the good parts: This season of ‘Lost’ continues to speed along at quite a fast clip. It seems as if the increasingly frequent time jumps are allowing us to jump to all the good parts of the island’s history. We got to see Rousseau’s arrival on the island, her first encounter with the smoke monster and then bam we’re days down the road, when Rousseau finally offs the final members of her team. (Remember, she told Sayid back in Season 1 that her crew had become sick from being on the island.) It appears her boyfriend went crazy somehow after pursuing the smoke monster down into its underground lair under the temple.
The temple: As for the underground lair, it appears we got our first glimpse of the temple we heard about back in Season 3. If you remember, that’s where Ben sent the Others to wait for him when he went off to meet with Jack and the rest of the plane-crash survivors. But what is this temple? We still don’t know for sure, but it bears some interesting-looking hieroglyphics. I’m no Egyptologist, but I was able to make out the symbols for sun (time of day), farmyard, r and k (ark?), city and learning. What does it mean? Damon Lindelof revealed at a San Diego Comic-Con panel that the hieroglyphics that appeared in the hatch when the infamous button wasn’t pushed translated to mean ‘Underworld.’ Could this new set of hieroglpyhics reveal Smokey’s feeding times? As Rousseau’s boyfriend said, the creature is just a security system.
Ms. Hawking: So after a week or two of speculation, we now have almost certain confirmation that the blond Eloise who pointed a gun at Daniel Faraday in the island’s past is the same Eloise who’s known as Ms. Hawking in the present. And it’s also not a huge shocker to learn that, yes, Ms. Hawking appears to be Faraday’s mother. So who’s his father? I’d bet Widmore’s fortune that Faraday’s research wasn’t being funded by the evil billionaire out of the goodness of the guy’s heart. We know they were on the island together, so it’s not much of a leap to think that Eloise and Charles produced a baby. But if that’s true, then why does Faraday not have the last name Hawking or Widmore? Time will tell.
Christian Shepherd: Jack’s sorta-deceased dad made another appearance, though apparently he’s nothing more than the island’s spokes-ghost at this point. And yes, I do think that Shepherd is just a ghost. Notice how he told Locke he couldn’t help him up. It’s not because he’s following some rules of courtesy. I don’t think he physically could help him up if he wanted to.
And now, a few words from Rebecca Mader...
How did the producers break it to you that Charlotte was going to die?
I’ve known since June of ’08, because that’s when we negotiate contracts between seasons. Originally, when I started on the show in August of 2007, I was only supposed to do eight episodes. I ended up doing 20. I was on the show a lot longer than I thought I was going to be. A lot of it has to do with the writers strike. Less episodes in Season 4 meant backstories were compromised for the new people. I think that’s why my character carried into Season 5.
And how did you take it?
I was disappointed when I found out. When I got to the end of Season 4 and found out Charlotte had been born on the island, that was huge. So when I found out I was leaving, I was disappointed. ... Like all things, it’s for the best. I’ve been on the show for a year and a half. That’s the longest I’ve ever been on a gig.
How was the experience of shooting a series in Hawaii?
It’s like when you shoot a movie, and you go away on location. They’re permanently on location. It’s strange to be that far away for a long time. But it’s Hawaii -- it’s better than a kick in the head. I just go to the beach and drink a pina colada and float around in my inner tube. That’s not normal! It’s a blessing to be paid to be in paradise. The Hawaiian people are so friendly. I felt I was out of the business and the whole L.A. thing the whole time I was there. When not on set, I was around normal people doing normal things. It’s the most relaxing environment I’ve ever been in.
Did you find yourself hanging out with the other actors who came to the island at the same time you did?
I didn’t feel the difference between the new people and the old people. You click with different people. It wasn’t like the newbies hung out at the pub together.
What was the experience of being on the show so far from its writers, who are all based in Los Angeles?
It’s rare to work on a series without a writer. If you have a question about a line, then phone calls have to be made. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you have to wake someone up if an actor isn’t feeling a line. Sometimes it’s too much of an effort. Sometimes my line is written in a certain way, and it needs to be more English. I would go to the script supervisor usually to make changes.
How much did they tell you about Charlotte initially?
When I first got the job, I was told nothing about my character. She’s an anthropologist and she’s tough, she’s a female Indiana Jones. That’s what I went into the show knowing. That’s all I knew all of Season 4, until the very end, when I learned I was originally from the island. I was on a break reading my script, and I said, “Bloody hell!”
It seems like the actors spend a lot of time just walking across the island. True?
[Lots of laughter] Traipsing. It’s a lot of traipsing. You have to do it a lot of times. First you walk up the hill, then you go down the hill, then you go back up the hill. By the end of the day, you don’t want to be on the hill anymore.
They water down the greens. By the end of the day, it’s a death trap. We were shooting a scene with Miles (Ken Leung), and he took a step and slipped out of frame down the hill. I hope it makes the bloopers reel, because there’s nothing funnier than someone falling over.
What are you doing next?
I wrapped in mid-November, then I did a movie in December –- “Men Who Stare at Goats.” I play Ewan McGregor’s ex-wife. Shot that in New Mexico. Now I’m in England and planning for some top-secret charity work. I know it sounds so cliché: an actress that cares. I’m going to New York for talk shows. I don’t know what the next acting job will be. I would love to do a comedy. Before Charlotte, I played a really intense attorney. I’m silly and I never get to show people that.
So many people who “die” on the show keep showing up. What’s your sense of how likely you are to return?
I may end up coming back in Season 6. Some people say, “You’ll be back!” If I’m not, never mind. If they turn around and ask me to come back, I’d be happy to do it. I’m not upset, I have no ill will. It’s been such a blessing.
Fans spend so much time obsessing over the clues on this show. How much time do the actors who make the show spend thinking over the creation of those clues?
[Laughter] I have to be careful how I answer this. I think they’re more concerned by what’s for lunch. If something is placed somewhere in a scene, we’d never be made aware of it. Those sneaky things they do to the fans, we’re completely oblivious.
What’s your best memory of being on the island?
Some of the down time. Sitting around with other cast members. Being together under the stars. It’s like camping -- talking and connecting and laughing.
And your worst memory?
Mosquito bites. They even get me through my jeans.
Did you have any actors you particularly liked working with?
I liked working with Terry O’Quinn. I liked the chemistry our characters had. He’s my favorite character on the show. He’s also fun to hang out with on set. I love working with Josh Holloway, he and I have a very similar sense of humor. He’s just funny. Elizabeth Mitchell, the chemistry between our characters was fun. I loved being in scenes with Juliet. She was like a big sister. She’s full of love. Being around her had this effect, where I’d want to curl up in a ball and have her pet your head. She’s one of the most wonderful women I’ve ever met.
--Patrick Kevin Day