I recently had the opportunity to speak with Francois Chau, who played the man behind the Dharma Initiative Orientation videos, Dr Pierre Chang. We got to cover his time on Lost plus his more recent appearance in Season 11 of The X Files. Hope you enjoy the interview!
MH: How did you first learn about the role on Lost and what was the casting process like?
FC: Like most actors, I usually get a call from my agent telling me I have an audition for such and such. This was the same for the audition for Lost. My sides (scenes that I would do for the audition) consisted of a 2 page dialogue which was quite unusual. So I memorized it and did it at the audition in one take without stumbling. To this day, I still believe it was the reason they gave me the part.
MH: How was the character initially described to you?
FC: The character description was that of a doctor/scientist giving instructions in a dry, boring orientation video. It was supposed to be a one shot deal for me. Something must have caught the producers eye because a month or so later they called me and said they wanted to film some more orientation video footage. Lucky for me, they kept calling!
MH: In the 5th season your character was featured much more prominently. How far in advance did you know of the writers plans for you?
FC: Ha! Advanced notice was not a big concern for the producers! In fact, by that time the show had exploded and everything was very hush-hush. They didn’t want anything to be leaked out. I was very happy when I got a scene where I actually spoke to another character.
MH: What was it like for you to go from a character mostly isolated in the DHARMA orientation videos to being a part of the larger cast and filming on location?
FC: As I said, I was very happy when I got to interact with a real live character in a scene! Before that, I would fly to Hawaii, do my scenes and fly home. Not that that was bad in any way as Hawaii is not the worst place to be on location.
MH: Any favourite on set memories you would like to share?
FC: It was really great to finally meet and work with some of the main cast members. I would have to say the most fun I had was in my scenes with Jorge Garcia (Hurley) and Ken Leung (my character’s son Miles).
MH: Despite being off the air for years now, Lost fans still thirst for additional knowledge to help fuel their theories and beliefs. Was your character featured in any deleted scenes or perhaps a part of any abandoned concepts that you could share with those reading this interview?
FC: We filmed an extra episode for the DVD extras called “The New Man in Charge”. It gives you more info on what Pierre Chang was actually doing on the island for The Dharma Initiative. I’m pretty sure hard-core fans have already seen it, but for those who haven’t, let’s just say that Dr. Chang was no saint!!
MH: In the series finale, not only were you brought back for the episode but in the credits your name was moved to the main cast. What was that experience like for you being a part of such a historic finale and being credited as a main cast member?
FC: To be lucky enough to be a part of such a historic show is life changing! If you notice, not only was my name in the main credits for the series finale, but it was the first time my name even appeared at all. Early on, my agents and the producers were negotiating n how I should be credited in the show and they were having a really hard time coming to an agreement. I had the idea that to add to the mystery of the character, I would not have my name appear until the finale. I think it was a pretty good decision.
MH: What do you think Lost’s legacy will be?
FC: I think Lost can be added to the list of “game changers” in the history of television. A lot of shows that came after were described as trying to be the new Lost, or having that Lost element. For fans of course, there can be only one!
MH: You were recently in an episode of The X Files. What can you tell us about that experience?
FC: Ah The X Files! Not only have I been a fan of the show from the start, but I’ve also been a HUGE Gillian Anderson fan. How can anybody not have a crush on Scully?! Needless to say, I was on cloud nine when I found out that not only was I going to be in an episode, but my scenes were going to be with Ms. Anderson! On the day, it was all I could do to stay calm and professional and do my job without coming off as some nerdy, gushing fanboy!
MH: Given the context of your scenes, it felt like you could be returning for at least another episode of The X Files? Is that something you can talk about?
FC: When I read the script for that episode, I thought there might be a chance for the character to come back, but the rumour is that this season is it for The X Files. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
MH: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. What projects should we be looking for you in soon? Any parting words for those reading this interview?
FC: Thank you to all of you for being such great fans of the show! All I can say is “Namaste…. and good luck”. I’m currently recurring on a couple of shows that I am very proud to be a part of. One is The Tick streaming on Amazon right now and the other is The Expanse on SyFy and Amazon. Give them a shot if you have the chance, I think you’ll be hooked. Thanks for talking with me.