On September 22, 2004, the first episode of Lost aired on ABC. Little did anyone know what a huge cultural phenomenon it would become over the next six years, especially for the cast, an amazing mix of TV vets, movie character actors and even a few unknowns. The impact it has had on television and what can be done in the medium can still be felt.
In 2010, co-creator J.J. Abrams had already had some success in television and had directed his first two movies, including the hit Star Trek relaunch, but no one could possibly know that the creator of Felicity and Alias would be involved with something that would be discussed and argued around office water coolers for many years to come. As the showrunner, Damon Lindelof would become a household name (at least among geeks) from Lost, helping to pave the way for his future work as a writer and producer both in television and film.
More than anything, Lost became a terrific foundation for its ensemble cast to create characters they’ll forever be associated with, whether it’s Matthew Fox’s Dr. Jack Sheppard, Michael Emerson’s Ben Linus or Jorge Garcia, who might forever be called “Hurley” by anyone he meets.
It’s now been over nine years since Lost wrapped up its six-season run, and all of the cast have gone onto interesting things, some bigger than others.
Matthew Fox (Dr. Jack Sheppard)
Fox had already been the star of the popular Fox drama Party of Five throughout the late ‘90s, so seeing him appear as one of the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 was not too alarming, even though Lost was obviously very different from his previous series. It was expected that Fox would start appearing in more movies since the end of Lost, and he has, but other than the key role as Racer X in the Wachowski’s Speed Racer in 2008 and a role in the thriller Vantage Point that same year, Fox has not been particularly active. (Blink and you’ll miss Fox in 2013’s World War Z opposite Brad Pitt.) In fact, he hasn’t really been in the public eye since 2015 with a role in the Western Bone Tomahawk. I hope he’s okay.
Evangeline Lilly (Kate Austen)
Lilly has probably been one of the more prominent actors post-Lost, at least in the movies, since she booked two major franchises, playing the elf Tauriel in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, and then the even bigger gig playing Hope Van Dyne aka The Wasp to Paul Rudd‘s Scott Lang in Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp. We just saw the Wasp in Avengers: Endgame, but there’s been no word when or whether we’ll see the Wasp next. (Come on, Disney+ and Marvel, announce that Ant-Man series we all want!) Meanwhile, Lilly has booked other gigs like a role in Nicholas Jarecki’s opioid thriller Dreamland and David Stassen’s Happy Life, and at least the first of those we should see sometime in 2020.
Josh Holloway (James “Sawyer” Ford)
The actor whom everyone thought would go onto being a big movie star due to his looks, charm and charisma has indeed been on a number of short-lived TV dramas since 2014, beginning with CBS’ one-season show Intelligence, followed by USA’s Colony and now on the Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, which will have a third season next year. He never really made a concentrated move into movies with his most prominent role being one in Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (produced by J.J. Abrams) in 2011. Holloway also starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sabotage from Suicide Squad director David Ayer.
Terry O’Quinn (John Locke)
The actor who gained great popularity playing the mysterious John Locke has remained in the world of television, although he was a very busy character actor in movies for 24 years before getting that role on Lost. (Click on that link and see what movies O’Quinn starred in, including The Rocketeer, the title role in The Stepfather and classics like All the Right Moves and Without a Trace!) O’Quinn had already transitioned to television and appeared on Abrams’ previous series Alias before achieving new levels of fame, but O’Quinn has not rested on his laurels as he continues to work well into his 60s. Besides reuniting with Daniel Dae Kim for scattered appearances on CBS’ Hawaii Five-O, O’Quinn has been a regular on shows like The Blacklist: Redemption, Patriot, Full Circle and a couple episodes of Castle Rock. Over the summer, he starred in EPIX’s Perpetual Grace, LTD, opposite Sir Ben Kingsley and others, although no word yet if it’s been renewed for another season.
Michael Emerson (Ben Linus)
Like O’Quinn, Emerson has ably moved from Lost onto a number of other series, first starring on five years of CBS’ series Person of Interest and now in their brand-new series Evil. In between, he played a role in the CW’s Arrow and appeared on Sundance TV’s series The Name of the Rose over the summer. In other words, Emerson is keeping busy and not venturing too far away from the fanbase he created for himself with Lost.
Daniel Dae Kim (Jin-Soo Kwon)
Of course, if you watch television regularly, then you’ll already know that Kim played Chin Ho Kelly on CBS’ Hawaii Five-O reboot, and that show is currently in its tenth season, although Kim left a few years back. He’s now on the ABC show The Good Doctor playing Dr. Jackson Han opposite Freddie Highmore, and that show’s doing pretty well. Kim’s brief foray into movies this year with a role in the awful Hellboy reboot was rather unfortunate.
Yunjin Kim (Sun-Hwa Kwon)
As Jin’s better half Sun, Yunjin Kim also found herself a growing fanbase, and she took a role on ABC’s Mistresses for the four seasons that it was on. She seemingly has returned to Korea and continues to work there most recently on a show called “Ms. Ma, Nemesis,” a Korean adaptation of various Agatha Christie mysteries.
Maggie Grace (Shannon Rutherford)
Although Shannon’s time on the island was relatively short-lived compared to the rest of the cast – the producers did bring her back for the final episode of the series – you can currently see Grace looking very different as part of the cast of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, playing Althea, who even got her own YouTube miniseries! Grace did quite a bit of movie work in between, most notably playing Liam Neeson’s kidnapped daughter in the “Taken” movies, but she’s had quite a few other movie roles including one in “The Twilight Saga” and others. Basically, she recovered quite nicely from being written off Lost, despite appearing in last year’s dog The Hurricane Heist.
Ian Somerhalder (Boone Carlyle)
Shannon’s brother Boone famously transitioned over to the CW’s hugely-popular The Vampire Diaries, playing Damon Salvatore, also returning briefly for the Lost finale in 2010. Although The Vampire Diaries ended in 2017, Somerhalder has been brought over to the unrelated Netflix vampire series V-Wars, based on the comics of the same name, which should debut its first season sometime soon. So yeah, Somerhalder’s mostly-female fans won’t have to look too far to get more than their share of Somerhalder-ing.
Naveen Andrews (Sayid Jarrah)
Andrews is another hard-working actor who had already been in a number of movies (including the Oscar-winning The English Patient!) before being cast on Lost. His most significant role and series since Lost was starring as “Jonas Milki” on Lana Wachowski’s Netflix sci-fi series Sense8 but then he scored a recurring role on CBS’ Instinct with Alan Cumming, so he joins the long list of Lost actors who switched over to CBS.
Harold Perrineau (Michael Dawson)
If you’re as big an Oz fan as I am, then you already knew Perrineau from his run on the show as August Hill or maybe you remember him as Link in “The Matrix” sequels in 2003 or from other movies like 28 Weeks Later. In fact, Perrineau was on the original ‘80s television series Fame, so yeah, he was a very established actor before agreeing to play a plane crash survivor. Since Lost, Perrineau has made a few brief film appearances in the likes of Oscar-nominee Zero Dark Thirty and a few others, but he hasn’t been able to create another TV character as sustainable as Michael Dawson, although he did appear both in the Blade TV series and the Constantine series, probably the closest we might ever get to a crossover between those characters. Other series include Criminal Minds, Goliath, the Fox series Star and most recently, on the popular TNT series Claws.
Malcolm David Kelley (Walt Lloyd)
You kind of have to feel a little bad for the only child actor working on this show since he was basically thrust into an environment full of grown-ups. Poor Malcolm was the only kid on the show, at least on the island, but at least he was given a happier ending than most. Although he already had a couple small roles under his belt before the show, Kelley effectively transitioned over to the TNT series Saving Grace and after that, he appeared on Marti Noxon’s short-lived Nickelodeon series Gigantic. In fact, it was doing that show that Kelley met co-star Tony Oller and the two of them formed the pop group MKTO in 2014. Now 27, Kelley doesn’t seem to be acting nearly as much but he still shows up in the odd TV show from time to time.
Dominic Monaghan (Charlie Pace)
The actor who played rocker Charlie Pace and one of Peter Jackson’s hobbits in the Lord of the Rings movie might have the best addition to his resumé this year by appearing in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as an unnamed character. In the last ten years, Monaghan has bounced between movies like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Duncan Jones’ Mute with scattered TV work like the David Goyer show Fastforward, but he most recently appeared on an Australian TV show called “Bite Club” about a group of “shark attack survivors being targeted by a serial killer.”
Jorge Garcia (Hugo “Hurley” Reyes)
Garcia’s Hurley was such a fan favorite from the show that he even ended up gracing the cover of Weezer’s eighth album, called (what else?) “Hurley.” Garcia went onto appear on a number of television shows including one season of Alcatraz, but eventually, he reunited with Daniel Dae Kim on CBS’s Hawaii 5-0, playing recurring character Jerry Ortega. Garcia’s movie work has been a little more sporadic with roles not quite as memorable as some of his colleagues, but he continues to work regardless.
Emilie de Ravin (Claire Littleton)
The Australian actor became quite popular during her run on the show after appearing on BeastMaster and Roswell. Since then, she had a pretty successful run playing Belle on ABC’s popular Once Upon a Time and made a few unsuccessful attempts at appearing in films like the remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, the drama Remember Me with Robert Pattinson and her last movie appearance in 2015 in something called “The Submarine Kid.” Her most recent appearance anywhere was on a Lifetime TV movie called A Lover Scorned, but that was directed by an Oscar-nominated director in Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields).
Michelle Rodriguez (Ana Lucio Cortez)
This is a little bit of a gimme since the actress brought on for the second season of the series in 2005 had already appeared as “Letty” in the 2001 hit The Fast and the Furious, and she was brought back again for the 2009 Fast & Furious and for all the movies in that franchise since then. It’s true that her character actually died in the first movie, but she continues to be a popular part of that franchise and will probably play a larger part in next year’s Fast and Furious 9. Rodriguez hasn’t actually done a ton of TV since leaving Lost, but she’s been in a wide variety of movies, both good (Avatar, Widows) and bad (Alita: Battle Angel, Machete) and VERY bad (Resident Evil: Retribution, Battle Los Angeles).
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko)
Like Harold Perrineau above, triple-A was a popular regular on HBO’s Oz for almost the entire series playing “Adebisi” before being brought onto Lost as the equally mysterious Mr. Eko. Eko didn’t last long — basically 28 episodes (okay, four less than Oz) — but the actor has booked many movies since, whether it’s the unfortunate 2011 prequel to The Thing or playing Kurse in Thor: The Dark World or most recently, being almost unrecognizable as Killer Croc in the first Suicide Squad movie. Adebisi, I mean, Adewale’s most recent gigs have been on the short-lived ABC series The Fix and providing his voice for Disney Channel’s Tangled: The Series. The actor also made his directorial debut on a movie called Farming, co-starring Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. That movie is actually based on the actor’s real-life story, and it opens in the UK TODAY (and in the U.S. on October 25).
Ken Leung (Miles Straume)
As one of the later additions to the show, Leung had already been making his name as an actor on TV (in HBO shows Oz and The Sopranos) and all different types of movies, including the original Saw in 2004. Since Lost, Leung could be seen on episodes of Deception, Person of Interest, Zero Hour, The Blacklist, and he even had a starring role as Karnak in the short-lived Marvel Television show, Inhumans. (He also played Kid Omega in Brett Ratner’s X-Men: the Last Stand, and I literally have no idea what his powers were supposed to be or what mutant he was supposed to be based on.)
Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert)
Like so many of the cast of Lost, Carbonell was a working actor for quite a few years before being cast for the last couple seasons. He’s been busier than ever since doing Lost with regular gigs on series like Ringer, State of Affairs and Bates Motel and small appearances on other shows. As far as movie stuff, Carbonell was able to play the mayor of Gotham City in two of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” movies and had a small role in the indie Crown Heights, but Carbonell will next be seen on the launch of Apple TV+ with a role on The Morning Show opposite Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
Elizabeth Mitchell (Dr. Juliet Burke)
Introduced to the show as one of “the Others,” Burke was actually a “mole” implanted in with the survivors after being brought to the island as a fertility specialist by Richard Alpert. Mitchell is another one of those super-experienced actors cast on the show, having been acting since 1983 and appearing on shows like E.R. After Lost, Mitchell appeared on the new V TV series, Revolution, Once Upon a Time and the very popular The Expanse. Mitchell had a key role in the 2016 thriller The Purge: Election Year, and she seems to be doing scattered movie projects since then.
Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond Hume)
Like the other Lost actors, Cusick hasn’t had too many problems booking other gigs after his run as the hugely popular Desmond Hume, including a few appearances on other J.J. Abrams shows, but he reteamed with Ken Leung (see above) on Marvel Television’s short-lived Inhumans, playing “Dr. Evan Declan,” and has since been on other shows like The 100 and The Passage. Apparently, he will appear in the first episode of the next season of CBS’s MacGyver, but that may be another one-off.
Let’s get to some of the Lost creators and what they’ve been up to…
Damon Lindelof (Co-creator, writer and showrunner)
After his success with Lost, Lindelof was elevated from a simple TV writer to a veritable Golden God of genre writing and producing, following Lost with HBO’s The Leftovers in 2014 and with his anticipated new series based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen beginning on HBO this very month. Lindelof also became quite in demand in Hollywood as a screenwriter, not only reuniting with Abrams to write 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness but also coming on as writer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Paramount’s World War Z. You will not find two people on the planet who agree whether Lindelof’s role in any of those movies saved or ruined them. Lindelof’s adaptation of the comic Cowboys vs. Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau, failed to click with moviegoers, as did his high-concept Tomorrowland movie for Disney, despite starring George Clooney and being directed by Brad Bird (off the success of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). Lindelof’s most recent screenplay, for the Blumhouse thriller The Hunt, caused so much concern with recent mass shootings that it was delayed indefinitely by Universal. Well, at least he still has Watchmen coming up…
Jeffrey Lieber (Original co-creator with a “Story by” credit)
The screenwriter who probably doesn’t get nearly as much credit for Lost as she should, Lieber came to Abrams and Lindelof with his original script and pitch for what was then called “Nowhere,” that they helped turn into Lost. Although Lieber has continued to write for television since the birth of Lost, he most recently helped Doug Liman develop the YouTube series Impulse, which will air its second season starting next week. You can watch the first season for free right now.
J.J. Abrams (Co-creator, executive producer, pilot director)
Obviously, the success of Lost was just another feather in the cap of Abrams, who successfully relaunched the “Star Trek” franchise for Paramount and then after Walt Disney Pictures bought Lucasfilm, was given the reins to direct Star Wars: the Force Awakens (aka “Episode VII”) continuing what George Lucas began in his first six movies. That movie is still currently the highest-grossing movie of all time in North America, and Abrams went onto to direct a tiny little indie movie called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which comes out this December. That will wrap-up the third but by no means final trilogy of that never-ending franchise. Abrams has remained firmly entrenched in television, creating such shows as Undercovers and Fringe, as well as acting as executive producer on Almost Human, Revolution, Person of Interest, Westworld, Castle Rock and many more. In other words, J.J. Abrams might be the richest person on the face of the planet.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve been following the careers of any of your favorite Lost actors, and let’s be thankful that all of them are still alive and not living in Purgatory.