Damon Lindelof directing

Over the years, some notable television showrunners have taken to directing. Ryan Murphy, Noah Hawley, and Matthew Weiner have directed episodes of their shows, just to name a few examples. Sometimes these transitions from writing to directing yield great results. Hawley recently directed the thrilling and imaginative Legion pilot, while back in 2012 David Chase (The Sopranos) gifted us with his feature directorial debut, Not Fade Away.

Damon Lindelof is one well-known showrunner who’s yet to direct. In all of his years on Lost and The Leftovers, which begin its third and final season April 16, he didn’t get behind the camera once. We recently asked him why.

Lindelof is happy with the way things are as is. He’d prefer to let others bring his material to life than lose sleep over an episode or movie not turning out exactly as he imagined it, as he explained to us:

You know, I guess it’s something that I’ve considered. I’ve been that asked that question, and when you get asked, it’s like, “Are you sure you want to wear those pants? I should probably consider these pants. I haven’t considered them before.” I will say, I feel like what’s happening is working. The hardest part of this job for me is letting go of what I wanted it to be. If you’re a novelist, it can be exactly what you want it to be, because all there is is you and the page. You have complete and total control over that universe. You hear about Stephen King not liking the idea Jack Nicholson was in The Shining, like that was the wrong casting choice. You’re like, “What?” Stephen King has the right to say that, and he’s one of my favorite authors of all time, but you have to separate yourself from the material and let other people interpret it, and then something incredible could happen.

I feel like it’s healthy for me to write the material, let it go, have someone incredible actors and directors interpret the material, and then it comes back into the editing room. And then the editors interpret it. All of the editors on The Leftovers are incredible artists, in their own right. And then I get to work with the material that’s been handed to me, and I don’t feel the anxiety of it not having turned out the way that I wanted to, because the process is designed for it not to turn out the way that I wanted it to [Laughs]. I feel like if I directed I would return back to that egomaniacal, despotic state of, “It needs to be like this. This is the way that I wanted it to be.” When it doesn’t turn out that way, I would lose a lot of sleep. That’s a very long-winded way of saying: no plans to direct in the immediate future.

Lindelof says what he’s doing now is “working,” but as The Leftovers fans will see this Sunday night, what Lindelof is doing is really working. It’s some of his most ambitious, swing-for-the-fences work to date. And hearing him talk about what directors like Craig Zobel or Mimi Leder brought to the series, and how their work has surprised him, it makes sense why Lindelof would gladly allow others to interpret his writing.

***

Check back next week for our full interview with Damon Lindelof. 

Cool Posts From Around the Web: