Sci Fi Unlocks Secrets of 'Lost Room'
Beware of objects imbued with powerLOS ANGELES --
In the Sci Fi Channel's "The Lost Room" miniseries, homicide cop Joe Miller (Peter Krause) stumbles upon a key that turns any door into a gateway to this unassuming motel room that's been frozen in time. Aside from being able to access the room from anywhere, there's something else odd about it: no matter what you do inside it -- sleep in the bed, set fire to the carpet or add an assortment of Ikea table lamps -- it always "resets" itself to its original orderly configuration the next time you enter.
"One of the other creators and I, Paul Workman, used to work together in college. He used to come into work, and he'd have these really weird ideas, sort of like thought experiments," says "Lost Room" co-writer and co-creator Chris Leone. "And one of them was, 'What's the best superpower I could have, that was the smallest power with the most effect?' And so we had this idea for if you could just teleport into this hotel room where he wouldn't have to pay rent, and it would clean itself every time he left. For him it was just a fun idea of how he wouldn't have to work."
Joe is devasted when his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning) vanishes inside the room when it resets. In trying to get her back, he discovers that the room has a mysterious history and that each of the seemingly mundane items that were once in the room has its own unique power, with the key being the most powerful. Now Miller finds himself hunted by the police, who believes he kidnapped his own daughter, and by underground organizations bent on collecting each of the Objects.
"When I first started reading [the script] ... I just wanted to find out what happened next initially, and of course the separation between parent and child is a classic suspense theme," says Krause. "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. I spent a lot of time playing conflicted anti-heroes. And it's only at the end of 'The Lost Room' miniseries that Joe Miller confronts a real moral dilemma."
Joe discovers that in the real world, Room 10 doesn't exist, although it did 45 years ago, when an unknown event caused it to disappear and the Objects to gain powers, which don't always make sense. For example, the black pocket comb doesn't do anything for the wielder's hair, but instead freezes time.
"Usually [the writing process] was thinking of a power and then finding an Object that just felt right," says Leone. "I think it is important that it is arbitrary. I think what's so interesting about it is -- if you take an Object like the comb that stops time for 10 seconds, what are the limitations of it? Because it only freezes time for 10 seconds, and there's even limitations within that. You can only really use it to run and hide. So I think it becomes about tactics, about how people see this Object and think of a way that no one's really thought of before."
Joe also discovers that with just a thought, as the key-wielder he can end up anywhere in the world when he exits the motel room door. While he mainly uses this to evade the law and help his investigation, he knows others would probably abuse the power to rob banks or enter other people's homes uninvited.
"Our human interaction with the objects around us is really a fascinating Rorschach test, whether it's in this story or in our own lives," observes Krause. "I had a conversation with somebody recently about telecommunications and how now with the Blackberry or the Treo you have this sort of superphone. These objects become so important to people. And so many times, the obsessions we have with the objects in our lives can destroy or hamper relationships with other people -- either on a large scale between nations or in between two people ... If you think about oil as an object in the earth or how we treat them and how human relations are thrown out of balance over these objects, it's important to remember that our existence depends upon the objects around us."
Joe doesn't have to navigate this strange new world alone. He befriends Jennifer Bloom (Julianna Marguilies), who warns him about the inherent danger of Room 10, and Wally Jabrowski (Peter Jacobson), whose Object is a bus ticket that exhibits a suprising power when he taps it on the head of another person. The two have their own agendas, but they reluctantly tell Joe background information about the Objects, such as that sometimes, when two Objects are coupled together, a strange new power emerges.
"The number of the Objects is pretty close to the number of elements in the periodic table," says Krause. "You know, like hydrogen and oxygen, put them together then you've got H20, water, and then you've got sodium chloride, NaCl. Then you take a little hydrogen and a little chloride and you've got hydrochloric acid [HCl]. The way that the Objects combine and what they make and what their powers are ... reveals the intelligence and the responsibility of the user of the Object."
Although Krause's favorite Object from "The Lost Room" is the comb, he admits that having the key would be handy.
"Wow. I'd certainly like to travel around the world like that so I don't have to unpack my computer and take off my shoes and give up all my liquids and gels when I go to the airport. It would be nice to have a key and zip in one door and out another."
"The Lost Room," co-starring Kevin Pollak, Roger Bart, Dennis Christopher, Margaret Cho and Ewen Bremner, airs consecutive nights Dec. 11-13 on the Sci Fi Channel.