LOST's Rebecca Mader AKA Charlotte Lewis Talks about Season 5 and Her Growing Career!
LOST star Rebecca Mader, discusses her role as the fascinating Charlotte Lewis in Season Five of the fantastically popular and cult fave, LOST. . The British actress also talks about her growing film career, her stunning new photo shoot and life away from the cameras.
She does not survive – nevertheless Rebecca Mader’s intriguing Charlotte – an anthropologist – makes a huge impact on the terrifically compulsive fifth season of LOST. The actress, who joined the show in Season Four, discusses her journey, her experience of joining the formidably talented cast, the rigors and delights of filming in Hawaii, the toll that time travel takes on her wellbeing … and her demise.
Complex and compelling as always, LOST – from co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams – has received rapturous reviews from the very first series, praised for its complexity, skilled acting and thrilling storylines, looking at a diverse group of castaways stranded on an island. With adventure, time travel, twists and turns, high drama and intense emotion, every episode is hugely entertaining.
Born and raised in England, Rebecca Mader began her career as a model. Her acting credits include THE RAINBOW TRIBE and roles in the TV shows MR.& MRS. SMITH, JUSTICE and PRIVATE PRACTICE. She had a supporting role in the hit movie, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA with Meryl Streep. Her recent work was in THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS with George Clooney and Ewan McGregor.
With Season Five of the award winning show now released on DVD, the stunning and talented actress sits down for the following interview and talks about the role that changed her life – and her career. Mader, 30, also discusses her new photo shoot with acclaimed photographer Richard McLaren.
Q: How exciting was Season 5 of LOST – what happens to Charlotte, your character?
A: “Charlotte’s journey in Season Five is basically her demise. When the season began in the first episode, her nose started bleeding from all the time travel, it started to affect her physically. As the season progresses, you come to realize that it affects people who have been there longer, and of course at the end of Season Four we had found out that I (my character) had been born there, that’s probably why it affected me more than everybody else. Then as the season went on, all the time travel (going from day to night and to the seventies and the fifties and then back again) was making her incredibly sick, until her brain just blew up (laughs).”
Q: As an actress, what was it like going through that highly traumatic experience?
A: “I like to call Episode 505 my ‘Deathisode’ and it was my favorite day at work in my entire career. Without question, dying on LOST was the best thing I have ever done in my entire career. It was such an amazing day on the set. It was the first time I felt like I had really been given a lot to do and I was so excited because I love my job. When I knew what I was going to do, I said ‘wicked’ (fantastic) because it meant that I could go to work and get my teeth into something and really go for it. When I got up that morning I had no idea how I was going to do it. I said to myself ‘I don’t know how I am going to do it, but I know it’s going to be wicked.’ And it was brilliant. You know I hate watching myself on TV, I know a lot of actors say that, but it’s true for me. It makes me sweat, I have to hide behind a cushion, but I could actually sit and watch that episode, that’s the only work I’m truly proud of.”
Q: Can you explain what you had to do and how challenging it was for you?
A: “It was difficult because my character was incredibly weak and my make up was getting greyer and more and more sallow. I was getting weakened by the island and all the time travel, it was depleting me. I was constantly falling down and getting totally banged up and bruised in real life. But I am such a tomboy I did not care. I will throw myself down onto concrete if I have to and then worry about it afterwards, I didn’t care at all, I love doing stuff like that. At the very, very end, it was my last collapse and I had hit the ground and it was emotionally draining to be that upset and pretend to be that sick. It took a lot out of me.”
Q: Did it make you feel sick?
A: “Yes it did, I felt like I was dying when I was dying on the show. I know that sounds really cheesy but I really felt like I was slipping away, it was so real at the time. I loved it.”
Q: How do you think Charlotte changed from when we first met her in Season Four?
A: “I think she became softer and warmer, I think we saw a more feminine side to her. In the beginning she arrived by jumping out of a helicopter and was an incredibly tough woman, she was an anthropologist, she travelled the world, she was on a mission. But I like the fact that as time progressed they allowed me to show a sweeter and gentler side to her. I think I was allowed to do that by having this love interest/chemistry with Jeremy Davies’s character Daniel Faraday. The danger with playing someone tough is that the character can become two dimensional and mean and nobody likes her.”
Q: She’s not bad is she though?
A: “She’s human and I am glad they humanized the character because I did not want everyone to hate her and think: ‘oh no here comes the ginger haired horror again’.”
Q: How is Daniel going to cope without you?
A: “I don’t know what he is going to. I would say an immense amount of therapy is needed.”
Q: Why, from your point of view is LOST so phenomenally popular?
A: “It is pure genius. I don’t think there has ever been or ever will be another television series like it. You never want it to end. The cinematography is amazing, like a feature film and the intricacies and complexities are wonderful and fascinating. It is thinking man’s (and woman’s) television, which is rare I think. It starts off with a plane crash and you think: ‘oh just another show about a deserted island’ and all of sudden there are polar bears and you think: what is going on? Watching it is so intense. When I got the part I watched three seasons back to back for two and half weeks. I don’t think I ever drew my curtains once. I could not stop, to such an extent that people were worried about me. I would say ‘just one more episode, just one more before I go to bed’. And it was three O clock in the morning. It constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat; it constantly pulls the rug from under your feet. I don’t care how clever you are, you can never guess what is going to happen. There are so many websites and forums set up in which people try to theorize about the plot and I think they are always wrong. I think that is what makes people tune in week after week.”
Q: The reviews are fantastic, one review calls LOST: ‘the ultimate post modern television show, all about living in the moment’ would you agree with that description?
A: “Yes, I think if these characters spend too much of their time thinking about how long they have been there, whining and crying, it would get incredibly boring. So much gets thrown at these people on the island, that it becomes about survival and living in the ‘now’ in the present, rather than ‘I want to go home’ and I think that is what makes it so interesting.”
Q: What kind of connection did you have with the other cast members?
A: “It was wicked, amazing, lots and lots of fun, lots of laughter. This is a group of people who are all so talented, everyone is so good and when we were not in character it was fantastic, everyone was down to Earth and friendly, really genuinely cool people.”
Q: Spending that much time together must create a bonding experience, does it feel as though in some ways you are actually lost and marooned on an island?”
A: “It does feel like that, partly because it is not shot in Los Angeles and that makes a big difference. And it has a lot to do with the camaraderie and the feeling that this is a family. What I like about the show is that there is no division between crew and cast. Sometimes when you walk onto a set, there are very clear delineations. The crew don’t talk to the actors and I hate all that. Everyone is the same to me and I always treat everyone in the same way. LOST is great, everyone hangs out together.”
Q: Can you discuss the time travel aspect of the show?
A: “It was amazing because I can’t imagine what it would be like to time travel. So I got to use my own feelings of real confusion. When we ended up in the fifties, I really thought ‘what on earth?’ we were looking at people who were dressed differently and they didn’t know who we were and it was completely different and mind blowing and it would be to me anyway if that was to happen. I was bewildered and hope that came across. I have no idea what kind of ‘head exploding’ experience that would be in real life. Can you imagine?”
Q: What were the greatest physical challenges for you?
A: “Season Four was a lot more physically challenging for me than Season Five. But there was a lot of falling in Season Five. I am constantly thrown and hitting the ground. There is one scene in ‘Jughead’ on Season Five that was challenging. I think we were in the fifties and I had a prosthetic built to fit inside my mouth that became a blood release capsule, that I had to then activate with my tongue. It was crazy, totally ‘bananas’. They made a whole plaster cast of my mouth and my face and it took a week for the special effects make up artist on the show to make it. My character starts having a weird fit and I had to use my tongue to slowly push up inside my mouth so the blood exploded out of my face, it was crazy and I hurt myself falling down, but it looked really good and convincing, so that was the most important thing.”
Q: It must have been hard focusing on the special appliance and timing as well as your acting?
A: “It was definitely a lot to think about.”
Q: Did you get injured a lot?
A: I was always banged up on the show, we all are.”
Q: You say you are a tomboy, how fit are you? I am sure you have to be in great shape?
A: “I am now, but I wasn’t growing up in England because lets face it no one goes to the gym (at least no one I know). I never did any sports at school. It wasn’t until I moved to America, to New York when I was about 20 that I actually thought that if I wanted to be an actress I might have to start working out.”
Q: Did you have to work to stay in great shape for LOST?
A: “I had to be careful about diet because I put on weight really easily. Luckily I lived in a hotel while we were filming, so I had no excuse about exercise. Whenever I had a day off I would go down to the gym and force myself to work out.”
Q: Did you enjoy actually playing an English character in the show?
A: “I did, I really wanted Charlotte to be English, but when I auditioned I read it both ways, English and American. I pushed for her to be English. Prior to that I had played an American defense attorney on the TV show, JUSTICE. I don’t mind doing accents but I thought ‘ I would just love to be English for a change,’ because 90 percent of my work is American and it is definitely relaxing to just forget about the accent and be natural.”
Q: What was it actually like being in Hawaii?
A: “It was so lovely, it is the polar opposite of England where I grew up. I love the palm trees and sunshine, it is always lovely and warm, the evenings are warm too, it was great, my skin always feels fantastic when I am in Hawaii, I don’t know what it is about the climate that makes my skin feel good. I would go to the beach and sit in the water on my days off. My mum and dad visited me and bought me a hot pink floatation ring and I would take it down to the beach after work by myself and just sit in it in the ocean and float around watching the sunset. I would be thinking to myself: ‘this is my job, this is not normal, look at my life, it is fantastic.’ It was bizarre. It is so beautiful out there, I could hardly believe it.”
Q: How would you say LOST has changed your life and career?
A: “It has been a massive, massive blessing, it was the role of a lifetime. To be on the number one show around the world is really amazing. Also to implanted into a show that is an existing hit was great. It is not like I was there doing the pilot and worrying about whether we would make it. I was injected into a hit TV show, what actor can ask for something like that? It definitely put me on the map. It has helped my career a lot; I have made two movies since LOST and people know who I am now. It has made it a lot easier to get in front of people now.”
Q: Can you talk about THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS with George Clooney and Ewan McGregor?
A: “That was a wicked experience. I did it right after I finished LOST and we filmed in New Mexico. I play Ewan McGregor’s ex wife; I leave him for a guy who works for him. I was down there for a few weeks and then after that I landed a lead role in a (television) movie called RING OF DECEIPT. In that film I play an American with dead straight hair so totally different from Charlotte.”
Q: Is there any possibility that Charlotte could re surface in Season Six?
A: “I think anything is possible with LOST. I can’t think of anything that is impossible, you never know.”
Q: Any thoughts about Season Six?
A: “I don’t know anything about it I promise. I am hearing rumors on the street that everybody who has ever died on the show, will come back at the end. Perhaps anybody that died on the island didn’t really die? I think that would be very cool. I hope that everybody does not end up getting killed off. It would be great to have a happy ending, everyone likes that. But then with LOST it could be a depressing ‘slit your wrists’ ending, with LOST you never know do you?”
Q: What do you think the island is in fact, who owns it? Do you have any thoughts?
A: “I don’t know, I can’t decide who owns it. I still think maybe Charles Widmore really does but maybe it is not even real. I hope everyone does not just wake up to discover it is all a dream.”
Q: Do you have any funny or special memories of your time on LOST?
A: “Every Tuesday was called ‘Tiara Tuesday’ because the hair and makeup department decided that every Tuesday we would all wear tiaras. So I would be walking through the jungle, covered in mud and blood with a ridiculous tiara on my head (laughs) for absolutely no reason. That’s what it is like on the show; everyone has a really stupid sense of humor. All the women would be wearing tiaras and sometimes the boys too. We would be rehearsing really serious, tense scenes wearing tiaras.”
Q: What is your opinion of the creation of this extraordinary series by J.J. Abrams?
A: “I have not met him but the man’s a genius, everything he touches turns to gold, I love that guy and I would love to work for him again.”
Q: How do you think you would actually survive on a desert island?
A: ‘I would be absolutely in trouble if that happened to me, because I wouldn’t have sun screen. When I was working, I had to smother myself in sunscreen every twenty minutes, because I have such fair skin. I have to use factor one hundred and if that really happened to me, after two months on the island I would look sixty or seventy years old, I don’t know what I would do.”
Q: Can you discuss the fabulous Richard McLaren photo shoot, what was it like working with him?
A: “Richard McLaren is English and he is wicked, he is like a real London boy and we had a great time doing the shoot, it was such a fun day. I felt like I was actually doing a shoot in London. I took my dog, my publicist was there and we played wicked music. I loved working with such a great English photographer.”
Q: Do you have a favorite shot?
A: “I liked doing everything on this particular photo shoot. I did not love being a model when I was doing that regularly, because I was treated so badly and learned that my opinion as a model counted for nothing, it did not matter what I thought, I don’t think models are treated well at all. Then I became an actress and I realized how great it is that my opinion actually matters now. I got really depressed when I was modeling, they would say ‘we don’t pay you for your opinion sweetheart’. When I was a model I always wanted to be an actress. I used to think: ‘one day you will be an actress. As an actress it is an entirely different, because the model in me gets to come out and be creative and have fun in front of the camera, but I am treated as a human being at the same time. So this shoot was great, really exhilarating. They are taking pictures for who I am, not just what I look like.”
Q: What was the best part of the day?
A: “Well I took my dog Bella to the shoot and Richard loved her. She’s a Shih Tzu and she is really, really pretty and well behaved and she is in some of the pictures. Richard totally fell head over heels with her and there is a wicked picture us together with our heads next to each other.”
Q: You look beautiful in the shoot, do you enjoy dressing up? How would you describe your style?
A: “I’m a pajama kid, I always dress for comfort. When I’m not working I don’t wear any makeup, I put my hair up and I wear comfy sweats and t-shirts, if I put on jeans I feel like I’m making an effort.”
Q: Do you miss LOST?
A: “Yeah I do, it’s nice to be back at home in LA and it is nice to be back with my dog and my friends. I’ve got my life back and I’ve got a new boyfriend, but a part of me wishes I was back at LOST.”
Q: Did you grow up dreaming of acting?
A: “I remember when I was little, watching TV adverts and seeing kids jumping up and down and thinking I could do that, but I didn’t really understand what it meant until much later. But I’ve always had an outgoing personality, I was always trying to entertain everybody as a child and make everybody laugh.”
Q: Finally what are your dreams?
A: “I really want to do a comedy. I don’t think anybody knows I’m funny because I always play really intense, serious people, but I’m not like that, I’m such an idiot but I’ve never got to actually show that to anybody in my work and roles. So my big dream is to do a really cool comedy, like a Judd Apatow film, really dark and funny. Also, I love Charlize Theron and thought she was wonderful in MONSTER, I would like to do a film like that. I know I can access my dark side emotionally, whether it’s on TV or in film, I don’t care as long as the script’s good – I just really love acting, love it, love it, love it.”
Buy the LOST DVDSeason 5 series now– and become part of LOST University (if there’s still room left)
Stevie Wilson, LA-Story.com
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