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<i>Life</i> Sentence: Damian Lewis Talks About Tonight’s (Series?) Finale

The traditional television season is about to come to an end, so how does a network not know if they want to renew a TV show or not? Either the ratings are good, or they aren't. Either a show has potential, or it doesn't. Shit or get off the pot. Because tonight I'm going to watch the season finale of Life, and neither I nor the show's cast and crew know whether it's going to come back in the fall. Isn't that messed-up? How can anyone be expected to tell a story under those conditions? You're risking the possibility of either an unsatisfying series finale, thereby affecting DVD sales, or a lackluster season finale, thereby affecting next season's numbers. Rrrrraaaagge! ...Anyway, I sat in on a conference call with Life star Damian Lewis and show creator Rand Ravich and listened to them try to explain tonight's finale without spoiling it, and generally try to laugh away their worries. Man, I love Damian Lewis. If this show gets cancelled, someone better snatch him up before he starts doing plays again.

Damian, what can you tell us about the season finale?

Rand Ravich: He ends up on Mars.

Damian Lewis: That's what I can tell you about it, yeah. We all go to Mars. Finally, we've managed to work some time travel into the show, which we've been dying to do. But plot lines that people have followed the whole way through, in terms of Charlie's own story, come to a very satisfying conclusion on the one hand, whilst one or two of them are left unresolved, also in a satisfying and tantalizing way on the other hand. In fact, the last show concentrates almost entirely on that element of the story.

Rand Ravich: We did what we did last year; last year, we didn't know whether we were coming back, as well. And so this episode leaves us at a very satisfying place, I think, emotionally and plot-wise for all our characters, where if this were it, an audience viewer would not feel frustrated. So there's still plenty of room to go on, there's still plenty of doors to open, but we do resolve more than a few things. And really, Crews's journey inward about searching for himself and searching for what happened to him opens him up to relationships with others. So he finds something on the inside and something on the outside in this episode.

Obviously you haven't heard "yay" or "nay" yet from NBC, but have there been any sort of conversations as to how things might work in the new NBC paradigm?

Rand Ravich: I think we're going to play as tiny, 30-second spots in between Leno and Good Morning, America.

I had read, before it was announced Gabrielle Union was coming on to fill in for the pregnant Sarah Shahi, that you guys were thinking about trying a series of guest stars for that spot. Is the plan to keep her on, assuming you guys come back?

Rand Ravich: Well, we loved her character. I mean, we loved her on set and on camera, because of what she was -- every character on TV doesn't have to be messed up. You know, everybody doesn't have to have a dark secret. Everybody does not have to be dealing with tragedy, and there are people who are happy and adjusted. I mean, they can be different and quirky and have their own character, but, you know, there are people on the police force and in your life who are happy. And she brought that breath of fresh air to the bullpen. She's off shooting her own pilot, so just for the consistencies of broadcast television, we don't know whether she will be available to us. We were very lucky to get her for these four episodes when we found out Sarah was pregnant. But that being said, the Sarah/Crews dynamic is the heart of the show, you know, like a marriage. And every time we sit down to write a script, that's what you have to remember. Crews has to deal with prison and coming out of prison and the conspiracy, but in the moment-to-moment dynamic-energy of the show, it's Crews and Reese tumbling over and around each other that gives it the energy. And that's something I would want to go back to as soon as I can.

So you don't expect to bring on other people?

Rand Ravich: We'll have to see about the state of Sarah's pregnancy. It's a very strange thing, you know, because it's not a purely creative choice. It's Gabrielle and her pilot, it's Sarah and her pregnancy. Ask my wife, I don't like change, but I'd like to go back to the way it was. But we'll have to see over the next couple weeks. If we get picked up, we'll have to make that decision, so we're not sure yet.

Damian, are you sad at the thought that you might not be playing this character again next season? And have you given any thought to where you might go from here, or are you still holding out hope that there's going to be a last-minute save?

Damian Lewis: Three of the major studios are currently in a holding pattern waiting to hear about this.

Rand Ravich: We're taking this to Branson. We're going to do a dinner-theatre version of Life.

Damian Lewis: He offered me major contracts. But yeah, you get attached to characters you play. Obviously, the longer you play them the longer you get attached. Completing a season of network TV is a huge accomplishment, whether it's good or crap as far as I'm concerned. It's an enduring test, and you have to fight very hard just to give yourself enough space daily in which you can be creative, because there is a constant clamor around you. If you're the writer/creator like Rand, you're never left alone. Similarly, if you're the star of the show, you're never left alone. There are people in your face all the time. And you have to work very hard just to create that little bubble of space around yourself. And that actually takes as much energy as it does just doing the work. So I feel a huge sense of achievement and accomplishment from doing two seasons. I'm extremely proud of it. And I'm very attached to the character. I'm very attached to all the people I work with. It's been an intimate experience. And at the heart of the commercial machine, you know, the beast. And that's quite difficult to achieve. But it's been hugely enjoyable for that reason.

Moderator: Are there any more questions?

Damian Lewis: Hey, Rand.

Rand Ravich: Hi, Damian.

Damian Lewis: When are you going to come around tomorrow?

Rand Ravich: Do you hear how he talks to me?

Damian Lewis: When are you coming around?

Rand Ravich: I don't know, sometime after elevensies, I suppose.

Damian Lewis: Elevensies. Come around before elevensies, you'll get a pint of milk and a wagon wheel.

Are you sad that Life might be over? Aren't British people adorable? Do your time below.

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