Actor and Creator discuss making the mini-series, using the objects and Armageddon.
Known for his work as Nate on the highly popular HBO show Six Feet Under, Peter Krause is no stranger to the dead. We recently caught up with him during a conference call for his new show The Lost Room. On this new mini-series, Krause plays Joe Miller, a detective investigating a mysterious motel room that serves as a portal to a different universe. Talking with Peter was The Lost Room co-writer and co-creator Christopher Leone.
Peter, is this the hotel from hell? Or, will it be the hotel for something good?
Peter Krause: I think we worked we really hard at keeping the nature of the world and the room rather ambiguous, so that people can interact with the show with their own imagination. There's something that happens at the very end of night three, which could very well be the hotel from hell. It's very interpretable.
Christopher Leone: I think in a lot of ways it's about who has access to the room. I think it's about the person in charge. I think, in general, the room and all the objects in the show are kind of a Rorschach test. Some of the people see them with good intentions and some people with bad intentions, I think it's more about the person than the room itself.
Do you think this show taps into the general fear that we might be living in Armageddon right now?
Christopher Leone: Yeah, I think that's right actually. I think it taps into that. I think it also taps into the fear that the world isn't the same anymore. The world has changed in a scary way.
Peter Krause: I think what initially attracted me to the project is that it does work on many different levels. If you just want to watch the show and enjoy a very suspenseful page turner-type story, that's available to you. If you want to again look at the piece and look deeply, that was certainly one element that I think Chris and Laura were trying to explore. Our human interaction with the objects around us, is really a fascinating Rorschach test whether it's in the story or in our own lives.
Peter, what inspired you to go with a Sci Fi project?
Peter Krause: When I first started reading it I was fascinated by what Chris and Laura did. I loved the fact there are non-obvious, object power relationships. Who would ever think that a pocket comb could stop time? I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next initially, and of course the separation of parent and child is a classic suspense theme. I liked the chance to play a character who is a classic hero. Basically, he knows right from wrong, he knows what his objective is, because I've spent a lot of time playing conflicted anti-heroes. It's only at the very of end The Lost Room mini-series that Joe Miller confronts a real moral dilemma.
Is there any potential to turn this into an ongoing series?
Christopher Leone: As a mini-series this is definitely a closed story. I think there's a huge world of potential in the show for it to go on. Ultimately, that's a Sci Fi question, but yeah, I think there's a lot of potential.
Peter Krause: We discussed some of these things when we were in New Mexico filming... there's always the opportunity to go back in time and do prequels and things like that. To rocket it into the future and sort of skip around in time in the world of the objects, because it is a really fascinating and fun world these guys created.
Chris, how did you come up with the idea for this show?
Christopher Leone: It actually started as, one of the other creators and I, Paul Workman and I used to work together in college, and he would come into work with these really weird ideas. They were almost thought experiments. One was, what is the best superhero power I could have that was the smallest power with the most effect? He had this idea where he could teleport into this hotel room. He wouldn't have to pay rent he could clean himself every time he left. For him it was just this kind of fun idea, of how he wouldn't have to work. He also had this idea for this bus ticket that would send you someplace.
Years later, Laura Harkcom and I were working as writing partners. We had this idea for a movie about this kid who gets this magic object and there's a whole underground war going on in diners, bowling alleys, but we didn't really know where it was going to go. We started talking with Paul one time and we sort of pulled his motel idea into it. All of the sudden, it just sort of exploded. We had an idea for objects... it just took on this whole big mythology, that was just way bigger than a movie could hold.
What was the working environment like?
Peter Krause: We had a really good time doing this. There were conversations, always about this world, what is this, what is that? It was a very collaborative environment. Everybody's imaginations were sort of stimulated working on the project.
Christopher Leone: Everybody, all the crew in New Mexico, really wanted to talk about the show. When Peter got there, I was a fan of Peter's to begin with... he was so excited about it. We talked about the show quite a lot and I think the show's a lot stronger because of that.
Were there any strange occurrences during the shooting of the series?
Christopher Leone: None that I can think of.
Peter Krause: I would say it came out in the behavior of some people on the set or off the set. That's where the influence found it's place.
How did playing Nate on Six Feet Under effect you?
Peter Krause: It made me want to work on things like this. It's about the classic heroes journey. It's about overcoming obstacles and moving forward, and continuing even though you have to compromise yourself along the way.
How did you decide on what objects to use and what powers to give them?
Christopher Leone: Usually, it was thinking of a power and then finding an object that just felt right. It is important that it's arbitrary. What happened to these objects doesn't make logical sense that we can make sense of, right? What's so interesting about it is that if you take an object like the comb, which stops time for 10 seconds, what are the limitations of it? It only does it for 10 seconds and there's even limitations within that. You can really only use it to run and hide. It becomes about tactics. It becomes about how people see this object, and think of a way to use it, that nobody's thought of before.
A lot of times we had the idea for the power and then worked backward, you know? The power sort of gave us an idea for an episode. Usually they weren't in service of the story. A lot of time it was actually hard to try and figure out, "What does this thing do?"
Peter Krause: I think that's what's wonderful about this piece. It shows us how we look at objects, and we frequently become miserable because of the objects around us. The superpower that Paul Workman dreamt up was basically to have his basic needs met. To have a motel room to retire to at anytime where there would always be clean sheets and clean towels, warm water, and room service. In this story, people are way beyond their basic needs in terms of what their desires are. How they want to use objects and how they can manipulate the world and the people around them. That is all the underbelly of the story. It's pure entertainment, it's a lot of fun, but all of that exists underneath all of this.
The Lost Room premieres at 9/8c on the 11th, 12th and 13th of December on the Sci Fi Channel.