The background cast (or extras) of Lost are those actors and actresses who portray the roles of minor background characters (i.e. nonspeaking). The beach background extras for Lost are, generally, inexperienced actors or non-actors.
Lost is notable in that the background cast for roles on the island (beach camp, Others' camp and so on) remain relatively constant, as recurring roles. The most commonly known extras are listed in the sections below, separated in groups (middle section, tail section, freighter and the Others).
The background cast for the flashbacks off the island, on the other hand, do not recur across episodes in their same roles, with the exception of the recurring island Flight 815 survivor background who appear at the Sydney Airport or local hotels prior to boarding the flight.
Background characters should not be mistaken for the stock character type known as "redshirts", for which actors are usually hired specifically. For more detailed information on this distinction, see the "Further clarification" section below.
- "Redshirt" is not the same as background actor. "Redshirt" is a fan term for minor characters (not the actors) who are often introduced in an episode or scene for the purpose of being killed by the plot, and may be either a speaking or nonspeaking role. "Background actor" is a term for the actors (not the characters) who portray non-speaking roles, roles which may or may not be redshirt characters. Some guest actors and even part of the main cast on Lost played Flight 815 redshirts; these are by definition not background roles.
- To actors, "background roles" are not considered actual acting roles, and would never appear on an acting resume-- specifically "background" is strictly a non-speaking acting role, the actor is not credited, and the pay scale is different (no residuals). If an actor is filmed with a line (or lines), by definition it is not an extra role.
- In the very rare case (in terms of Lost) that a true background actor is given a line, then they have been "upgraded" that day (in pay scale and acting status) to a credited guest actor, even if their lines are cut in editing. However, in subsequent episodes, they become background again.
- Speaking does not always guarantee credited guest status. For example, general chatter (such as heard in Live Together, Die Alone just before Jack tells everyone to calm down) does not qualify for speaking-part status, nor does a volunteered line that the director did not request.
- The characters of Scott, Steve, Ivan, Jason, and Matthew have been given lines as credited actors in some ABCmedianet press releases, but otherwise again appear as uncredited background in subsequent episodes. (In the case of Ivan, Jason, and Matthew, they were credited even when their lines were cut during editing).
- In Season 4, some of the Flight 815 survivor background characters were killed by Keamy's group ("The Shape of Things to Come"), making them also red shirts.
- As the background pool in Hawaii where Lost is filmed is limited in size, occasionally the off-island flashback background cast will be identified recurring in different roles..
- If non-speaking characters are simply to be considered "background", then technically The DeGroots and the first actress to depict the (unconscious) Carole Littleton are extras.
Middle section survivors
The middle section background was originally cast as 7 survivors in addition to the main cast, but Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams eventually convinced ABC to allow them to expand the background cast to 33, to have a total of 48 survivors . Therefore the recurring middle section background pool was later expanded to encompass several dozen. These background characters recur on the island across episodes, and even appear in flashbacks to the Sydney Airport before boarding Flight 815. Due to availability of the actors (such as moving away from Hawaii, where Lost is filmed), there has been some turnover in the middle section background cast.
See Background cast/middle section survivors for a full table listing the middle section survivor background cast.
Background Cast, The Others.
Like the middle section survivor background cast, those that comprise the background Others are also recurring roles across episodes and seasons.
Two of the Others background was formerly background from the tail section survivors (in addition to the named "Tailie" roles of Emma, Zach, and the guest character Cindy, who also joined the Others); see #8 and #9 below. This list is for background actors only, and does not include guest actors recruited and cast for specific roles, who are always credited for their appearances such as Mikhail, Bea Klugh, Karl, Isabel, Ryan Pryce, Amelia, Adam, etc. Also, the named Others characters of Ivan, Jason, Matthew, and Luke also appear as recurring background cast in episodes where they are not credited; these characters are listed in the next table.
See Background cast/Others for a full table listing the Others background cast.
The Others camp - Background cast.
The background cast that comprise the background Others in scenes of the storyline from the 1970s appear to be drawn from a separate group from the background Others appearing in depictions of scenes from the "present" (approximately circa 2000 and afterwards). These extras were first depicted in Season 5 in "Whatever Happened, Happened". The 1970s Others extras are also used in scenes depicting events in the 1980s and 1990s in Season 5.
See Background cast/Others (1970s) for a full table listing the Others (1970s) background cast.
The Temple Others
The Temple Others
The background cast that comprise the background Others in scenes of the storyline from the Temple scenes appear to be drawn from a separate group from the background Others. These extras were first depicted in Season 6 in "Sundown".
Tail section survivors
Tailies Background cast.
The background actors who play the minor or nonspeaking survivors of the tail section appeared in "The Other 48 Days", although at least one individual appeared as a passenger at the Sydney airport in "?", and two of the tailie background subsequently have become background for the Others (see #8 and #9 in the table for the Others background. Thus although these extras largely have not recurred, they are included in this article as they are significant as passengers of Flight 815.
See Background cast/tailies for a full table listing the tail section background cast.
Background cast - the beach.
Like the middle section survivor background cast, those that comprise the background freighter crew and its military team are also recurring roles across episodes.
See Background cast/freighter for a full table listing the freighter crew background cast.
Ajira Flight 316 survivors
The following background extras portray the survivors of Flight 316. They have appeared at the airport at the gate and on the plane and on Hydra Island where they crashed. They were all murdered by Charles Widmore and his crew.
DHARMA Initiative members
The actors who make up the background cast of Widmore's Team in season 6.
Miscellaneous background with articles
The following are the background actors who otherwise already have articles in Lostpedia that play uncredited, minor or nonspeaking characters in flashbacks and other miscellaneous background.
- Michael Gilday - Gerald DeGroot
- Courtney Lavigne - Karen DeGroot
- Fuzzy Moody - Repairman
- Arlene Newman-Van Asperen - Carole Littleton - (The speaking part for this character in Season 4 was played by Susan Duerden)
- The website AintItCoolNews (AICN) did an interview with Damon Lindelof, where he discusses the decision to have island survivor background cast supplementing the main cast:
AICN: Will more than 10 percent of the 48 Lost survivors perish before the series 13th hour? Is the high fatality rate the reason you didn't name the series "The 48"? ...
LINDELOF: More than 10% before the 13th hour. In other words, will FIVE people perish over the first half of the season. Not gonna answer that one. I will say this -- the herd will be thinned, but that doesn't mean people have to die.
AICN: I think my favorite thing about this concept may be the sheer quantity of survivors. Was 48 your idea or a network mandate?
LINDELOF: J.J. and I decided to have 48 people survive because we wanted to stock the show with as many possible story avenues as possible. As I recall, the network tried to talk us out of it. Greatest thing about the "other" castaways is that they can come forward for an episode, then melt back into the chorus. The popular thinking that their function is purely to be Red Shirts is grossly mistaken. In FACT... We've always loved the idea that one of our series regs goes traipsing off into the jungle with one of the castaways we've never seen before. The audience is thinking the poor yahoo with one line is gonna die a gruesome and horrible death, but then it's the REGULAR who gets wiped out. It will be done. Watch and see. (link)
- Anna Fishburn - Former background casting director
- Julie Carlson - Background casting director
- Lost-TV forum redshirts thread - The most complete resource on the middle section survivor background cast. Follow linked threads for detailed information on background actors such as Faith Fay (SBSSG), Bryan Sato (Asian Cowboy), Dane Justman, Christian Bowman (Steve), and Dustin Watchman (Scott).
- Tail section extras - Tailies are marked with a "T"
- Lost Survivors website about Lost background extras created by middle section background actor Paul Edney. The site contains numerous photographs of the middle section survivor background cast.