10 Things We Learned From Carlton Cuse’s AMA
Over the past two decades, Carlton Cuse’s name has become synonymous with compelling television as a writer and producer on shows like Lost. Currently, Cuse has got a rather full plate with four series on the air: The Strain, Bates Motel, The Returned, and the upcoming Colony. On Thursday, Cuse took part in a Reddit AMA in which he opened the floor to any and all questions (yes, even those same Lost questions he has been asked—and already answered—dozens of times). Here are 10 things we learned from (and about) Cuse.
1. HE PLAYED A WATER BOY IN DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS.
Cuse had a good laugh when he was reminded of the small role he played in Paul Mazursky’s 1986 film, Down and Out In Beverly Hills. “That's amazing, that you found that,” he replied, and explained that, “I was friends with Ellen Chenoweth, the casting director of that movie, and she brought me in for an audition with Mazursky. I think she thought it would be fun to put me in the movie, and I guess, had an image of me being a good ‘water boy.’ It was incredibly fun. If you look at my IMDb page, you could draw the conclusion that I was an actor who turned writer, but truth was, I did a bunch of little parts at the beginning of my career just for fun. My aspiration was to always be a writer. But I had fun playing these little small parts in various projects.”
2. HE HAS BEEN TOLD HE LOOKS LIKE RON PERLMAN.
When asked, “Has anyone ever told you you look like Ron Perlman,” Cuse told a story about how he “was having dinner with Guillermo del Toro in Toronto one night, in an outdoor restaurant, and a guy walks up to us, stops at the railing, and says ‘Oh my god, I can't believe the two of you are having dinner together! You guys are two of my absolute favorite creative people! Guillermo, you're my favorite director’ and then he looked at me and said, ‘Ron, you're my favorite actor!’ I think he was profoundly disappointed to learn that I was not the actual Ron Perlman.”
3. IT'S CUSE WHO ANNOUNCES WHAT HAPPENED “PREVIOUSLY ON” HIS SHOWS.
When asked whether it was his voice fans of The Strain heard each week recapping the previous episode, Cuse confirmed this fact, saying, “I do the ‘Previously On’ for all my shows.” When pressed further on the topic as to why all of the most ambitious show on television do that same recap, Cuse surmised that, “Serialized storytelling is, in my opinion, a deeper and more fulfilling form for television, but it’s hard for people to watch every episode of every show, or necessarily remember what happened in last week's episode, therefore the networks wants those serialized TV shows to start with a recap that puts the audience back in the mindset of the show, and reminds them of some of the important things that happened that will be relevant for the upcoming episode.”
4. THE KEY TO A GREAT REBOOT IS TAKING OWNERSHIP OF THE MATERIAL.
When asked about his opinion on the reboot trend, and how Bates Motel fits into that, Cuse explained that, “I think, for [co-creator] Kerry Ehrin and I, the key to our reboot was making sure that we were not in the shadow of the original movie [Psycho]. Which is why our version is a contemporary prequel. It feels like the key to any of these reboots is finding a way to really take ownership of the material, while at the same time still acknowledging the source material. I am a huge admirer of Christopher Nolan and how he took ownership of the Batman franchise with The Dark Knight trilogy. I think that's a perfect example of how someone can take a pre-existing franchise and make it their own in the best possible way.”
5. HE LIKES HIS VAMPIRES SCARY.
“When I was approached about turning The Strain trilogy into a TV show, there were two things that attracted me,” Cuse said. “One was collaborating with Guillermo del Toro, and the second was the idea of reclaiming vampires as horrific creatures. I love that core idea in the books by Guillermo and Chuck Hogan. I, too, was very tired of vampires being depicted as brooding, romantic dudes with girl problems. It was time to take back the night!”
6. HIS FAVORITE SHOW IS VEEP.
“Absolutely next-level comedy,” is how Cuse describes the HBO series. “I can't believe how good it is. Everybody who makes that show is absolutely at the top of their game.”
7. BRUCE CAMPBELL IS THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BUSINESS.
In discussing The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Cuse said, “That was the first show I created, and it remains incredibly close to my heart. Bruce Campbell, honestly, is the hardest-working man in show business, and also just so funny, zany, and wonderful. I really suffered a lot of pain when that show was canceled. I think had we been in a different time slot, it would've gone on for a long time; I miss it a lot. I usually see Bruce at Comic-Con, and it's one of the things I most look forward to when I'm down there.”
8. FANS MISINTERPRETED THE LOST FINALE.
When asked whether there were any misinterpretations of his work that he’d like to clear up, Cuse explained that, “At the very end of the finale of Lost, there are a bunch of images of the plane wreckage on the beach. And those were meant to be a quiet, emotional transition from the ending of the show. Unfortunately we didn't have a bunch of footage of each of the locations; when you're making a TV show, you don't shoot extra footage. So we didn't plan that people would interpret what we meant to be a breath of air at the end of the show to be some sort of final twist that all the characters were dead all along, or something like that (which some people did). It was hard, on Lost, to do anything that wouldn't be interpreted as being a part of some larger construct because of the nature of the show. But that's something I think we—in hindsight—would have tried, to find some other footage there, to make our intentions clearer."
9. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET ANY MORE OUT OF HIM ABOUT LOST.
When asked if he could share just one mind-blowing revelation that no one knows about the series, Cuse asserted that, “Damon and I feel pretty strongly that we want to let that show stand on its own, and allow people to speculate about their own solutions, and theorize about the show. I think it's not great to be back-filling information five years after the show's ended.”
10. BEING ABLE TO SHARE YOUR VOICE IS THE ULTIMATE MARK OF SUCCESS.
“I think success is getting to a place in life where you're able to truly express your inner-self,” said Cuse. “I see that as the journey of my career. We all have a special, unique inner voice, and I think if you are able to share that voice with others in your work or your life—that (for me) is one definition of success."