What ‘Lost’ Taught ‘Colony’ Showrunner Carlton Cuse

TCA 2016: “Work with Josh Holloway as often as possible,” executive producer tells TheWrap

Carlton Cuse took more than fond memories from “Lost” after six seasons of a showrunner on one of the most hotly debated sci-fi shows of the modern era.

He also took a leading man — Josh Holloway — and plenty of lessons to apply to his newest show, USA’s alien-invasion drama “Colony.”

“One important lesson is, always work with Josh Holloway whenever possible,” the producer told TheWrap. “I think that one of the things Damon [Lindelof] and I did on ‘Lost’ was, the storytelling was very present. The actors and audience really didn’t know much more than the characters themselves. That was something we really applied to this show. The actors really read the scripts every week and they don’t know where it’s going, and the characters don’t know that much about the world. That part of the storytelling is the same. ‘Lost’ was much more focused on the mystery of why were these people on this island? Why were they the ones to end up here? Here, the mystery of the aliens is really incidental to the story. In that sense, this show is quite a big different. Our show is really about this couple and this family and will they survive this altered world? It’s about their journey.”

“Colony” follows a family, led by Holloway as Will Bowman and Sarah Wayne Callies as his wife, Katie Bowman, living in a Los Angeles occupied by mysterious alien forces. Searching for their missing son, they find themselves on different sides of an ongoing battle: Will is convinced to work for Collaborators, human enforcers of the aliens, while Katie joins the Resistance, those who want to work to overthrow the planet’s occupiers.

Rather than being directly influenced by other sci-fi properties, Cuse and co-creator and fellow showrunner Ryan Condal described the Nazi occupation of France as an influence on the themes of the show, and the film “Children of Men” as a tonal influence.

They also knew exactly who they wanted to play the patriarch of the Bowman family right from the beginning.

“Right at the beginning when Ryan and I began talking about this show, we talked about Josh,” Cuse said of his leading man. “The kind of character we were thinking of for this show, it was really an extension of the Sawyer character. Sawyer was a loner, an outlaw, a kind of a bad boy, anti-hero. Will Bowman has those qualities but he’s much more integrated in society. He’s had important government jobs, he’s married, he has kids. He has obligations that are meaningful to him. It felt like it would be a great next step for Josh, to have some of the same character traits from his ‘Lost’ character, to see him evolve into a guy with responsibilities and to explore that guy. We had no idea if we would get him, but we really imagined him when we were writing and creating the world.”

And while the show may be centrally about a family caught up in extraordinary circumstances, that’s not to say answers about the aliens, called Hosts, won’t be revealed as the show goes on. What is their history, their motivation?

“Ryan and I know the answers to those questions and they will be revealed over time,” said Cuse. “You’ll know a lot more by the end of the first season, but there will still be unanswered questions. It’s important for storytelling, for these characters to not know that much, to struggle to figure out this world for a while, how to navigate in a world they don’t quite understand. Over time they’re going to get a lot of answers and that’s going to change their approach to the world. That’s something we have planned out. We’ve been working on this thing for over two years, and we’ve constructed the iceberg, and all we’re really showing you right now is the top 15 percent above the waterline.”

And “Lost” fans needn’t worry that the show would go on indefinitely without an end goal in sight.

“We’ve talked a good amount about where we want to get to with the show,” said Condal. “I think we have some really cool stuff for the planned end point. Where you want to be as a storyteller is you know where the beginning is and where the end is and then the middle, you know things you want to do, but that kind of accordions as you go along. There are things we want to do, stories we want to tell, but the fun of the creative discovery is the in between of that. In terms of the first season, the central question is not about aliens vs humans or resistance, it’s about this core family that we meet in the first scene of the pilot.”

“Colony” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA.