'Star Trek's' Damon Lindelof on Brad Pitt, Having Power as a Writer and His Agony Over 'Lost'
The scribe for two $200 million productions this summer, "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "World War Z," Lindelof reveals what he and J.J. Abrams talk about -- and why he'll never do "Star Wars": "It would be a lose-lose for me in every way, shape or form."
What isn't on Lindelof's plate is the one thing he'd kill to dig into: Star Wars. "When the news first broke that Disney was going to do it," he says, smiling a smile that doesn't extend to his eyes, "people were already tweeting, 'Just keep Damon Lindelof away from it.' When I saw that, I started realizing that it would be a lose-lose for me in every way, shape or form." (For his part, Abrams says: "I consider both of us part of each other's pitching cabinet; we're both there for each other, officially or otherwise, no matter what. I know for a fact that, moving forward, I will bend his ear on this.")
Instead, he's nose-down on Tomorrowland, the secretive feature he hatched with journalist Jeff Jensen that will be directed by Bird, who met Lindelof when the writer helped out with Mission Impossible 4's ending. Lindelof is reluctant to reveal much about Tomorrowland, other than to say that it springs from the history of The Walt Disney Co., specifically, WED Enterprises, Walt's "black ops" division that invented the theme parks. Lindelof was inspired to do something original. Everything he's done to date has been based on something that wasn't his, a world someone else created.
"Honestly, I think Tomorrowland will be the first really original credit that I've produced in my career," he says. Lindelof prefers finding new partners, as he is a collaborative beast at heart: "My writing powers do not work in a vacuum, they can only be unlocked -- as limited as they may be -- by the presence of someone else. I feel like you need to play me a lick before I can start playing. I would just sit at the piano and stare at it if you asked me to play.
"I could never do what J.J. is able to do," he continues, "which is executive produce and develop several different shows because I just don't have that skill set."
As a member of the elite club of TV writers who also are showrunners, who also have created landmark programs, he gets calls all the time from networks who want to be in the Damon Lindelof business. And his answer, to date, always has been no. "There's this idea that I have a trunk, and in that trunk are 20 great show ideas that I haven't had the chance to develop yet. The truth is, there just aren't. I have cool ideas, things that excite me on a regular basis. They are scenes, moments, frameworks, concepts, characters …but none of them are a concept for a show.
"I'm taking a page from the Quentin Tarantino playbook; he's always said, 'I just don't want to make any bad movies.' I've already got 'Make Bad Movies' crossed off my list. I don't want to make any bad TV shows."