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10 Things We Learned From Carlton Cuse’s AMA

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Over the past two decades, Carlton Cuse’s name has become synonymous with compelling television as a writer and producer on shows like Lost. Currently, Cuse has got a rather full plate with four series on the air: The Strain, Bates Motel, The Returned, and the upcoming Colony. On Thursday, Cuse took part in a Reddit AMA in which he opened the floor to any and all questions (yes, even those same Lost questions he has been asked—and already answered—dozens of times). Here are 10 things we learned from (and about) Cuse.

1. HE PLAYED A WATER BOY IN DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS.

Cuse had a good laugh when he was reminded of the small role he played in Paul Mazursky’s 1986 film, Down and Out In Beverly Hills. “That's amazing, that you found that,” he replied, and explained that, “I was friends with Ellen Chenoweth, the casting director of that movie, and she brought me in for an audition with Mazursky. I think she thought it would be fun to put me in the movie, and I guess, had an image of me being a good ‘water boy.’ It was incredibly fun. If you look at my IMDb page, you could draw the conclusion that I was an actor who turned writer, but truth was, I did a bunch of little parts at the beginning of my career just for fun. My aspiration was to always be a writer. But I had fun playing these little small parts in various projects.”

2. HE HAS BEEN TOLD HE LOOKS LIKE RON PERLMAN.

When asked, “Has anyone ever told you you look like Ron Perlman,” Cuse told a story about how he “was having dinner with Guillermo del Toro in Toronto one night, in an outdoor restaurant, and a guy walks up to us, stops at the railing, and says ‘Oh my god, I can't believe the two of you are having dinner together! You guys are two of my absolute favorite creative people! Guillermo, you're my favorite director’ and then he looked at me and said, ‘Ron, you're my favorite actor!’ I think he was profoundly disappointed to learn that I was not the actual Ron Perlman.”

3. IT'S CUSE WHO ANNOUNCES WHAT HAPPENED “PREVIOUSLY ON” HIS SHOWS.

When asked whether it was his voice fans of The Strain heard each week recapping the previous episode, Cuse confirmed this fact, saying, “I do the ‘Previously On’ for all my shows.” When pressed further on the topic as to why all of the most ambitious show on television do that same recap, Cuse surmised that, “Serialized storytelling is, in my opinion, a deeper and more fulfilling form for television, but it’s hard for people to watch every episode of every show, or necessarily remember what happened in last week's episode, therefore the networks wants those serialized TV shows to start with a recap that puts the audience back in the mindset of the show, and reminds them of some of the important things that happened that will be relevant for the upcoming episode.”

4. THE KEY TO A GREAT REBOOT IS TAKING OWNERSHIP OF THE MATERIAL.

When asked about his opinion on the reboot trend, and how Bates Motel fits into that, Cuse explained that, “I think, for [co-creator] Kerry Ehrin and I, the key to our reboot was making sure that we were not in the shadow of the original movie [Psycho]. Which is why our version is a contemporary prequel. It feels like the key to any of these reboots is finding a way to really take ownership of the material, while at the same time still acknowledging the source material. I am a huge admirer of Christopher Nolan and how he took ownership of the Batman franchise with The Dark Knight trilogy. I think that's a perfect example of how someone can take a pre-existing franchise and make it their own in the best possible way.”

5. HE LIKES HIS VAMPIRES SCARY.

“When I was approached about turning The Strain trilogy into a TV show, there were two things that attracted me,” Cuse said. “One was collaborating with Guillermo del Toro, and the second was the idea of reclaiming vampires as horrific creatures. I love that core idea in the books by Guillermo and Chuck Hogan. I, too, was very tired of vampires being depicted as brooding, romantic dudes with girl problems. It was time to take back the night!”

6. HIS FAVORITE SHOW IS VEEP.

“Absolutely next-level comedy,” is how Cuse describes the HBO series. “I can't believe how good it is. Everybody who makes that show is absolutely at the top of their game.”

7. BRUCE CAMPBELL IS THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BUSINESS.

In discussing The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Cuse said, “That was the first show I created, and it remains incredibly close to my heart. Bruce Campbell, honestly, is the hardest-working man in show business, and also just so funny, zany, and wonderful. I really suffered a lot of pain when that show was canceled. I think had we been in a different time slot, it would've gone on for a long time; I miss it a lot. I usually see Bruce at Comic-Con, and it's one of the things I most look forward to when I'm down there.”

8. FANS MISINTERPRETED THE LOST FINALE.

When asked whether there were any misinterpretations of his work that he’d like to clear up, Cuse explained that, “At the very end of the finale of Lost, there are a bunch of images of the plane wreckage on the beach. And those were meant to be a quiet, emotional transition from the ending of the show. Unfortunately we didn't have a bunch of footage of each of the locations; when you're making a TV show, you don't shoot extra footage. So we didn't plan that people would interpret what we meant to be a breath of air at the end of the show to be some sort of final twist that all the characters were dead all along, or something like that (which some people did). It was hard, on Lost, to do anything that wouldn't be interpreted as being a part of some larger construct because of the nature of the show. But that's something I think we—in hindsight—would have tried, to find some other footage there, to make our intentions clearer."

9. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET ANY MORE OUT OF HIM ABOUT LOST.

When asked if he could share just one mind-blowing revelation that no one knows about the series, Cuse asserted that, “Damon and I feel pretty strongly that we want to let that show stand on its own, and allow people to speculate about their own solutions, and theorize about the show. I think it's not great to be back-filling information five years after the show's ended.”

10. BEING ABLE TO SHARE YOUR VOICE IS THE ULTIMATE MARK OF SUCCESS.

“I think success is getting to a place in life where you're able to truly express your inner-self,” said Cuse. “I see that as the journey of my career. We all have a special, unique inner voice, and I think if you are able to share that voice with others in your work or your life—that (for me) is one definition of success."

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Game of Thrones Theory Predicts Samwell Tarly is 'The Prince That Was Promised'
Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Spoiler alert: If you’re not caught up on HBO's Game of Thrones, we’re about to unleash a handful of spoilers. So you’ll want to stop reading now and come back when you’re all caught up.

In the seven years since Game of Thrones first made its small-screen debut on HBO, viewers and observers alike have been treated to a seemingly never-ending stream of fan theories that attempt to figure out where the show’s narrative is heading. While some of these predictions have been a bit of a stretch, we’ve watched as some others have come true. One question that continues to be asked, and the answer guessed at, is: Who is The Prince That Was Promised, a.k.a. Azor Ahai, a.k.a. the prophesized savior of the Game of Thrones universe? While this Prince (or Princess—the translation leaves open the option for both) has been guessed as being everyone from Jon Snow to Daenerys Targaryen, Redditor MrSilenceT—whose clever theories we have covered before—has another contender for the role: sweet, lovable Samwell Tarly.

In a series of meticulously detailed Reddit posts, MrSilenceT laid out the reasoning behind his belief that Samwell could ultimately be the one to save the day in Westeros. And it rests on one assumption: that Sam is not the son of that awful Randyll Tarly, whom we met briefly in season seven. No, MrSilenceT posits that Sam is actually the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and his first wife, Elia Martell. If true, this would make Sam the nephew of Daenerys, the half-brother of Jon Snow, and therefore a member of House Targaryen—and the possible third head of that oft-discussed three-headed dragon, which will ride into war and purportedly put a period on who is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

According to MrSilenceT’s theory:

"The third head is no one else than Aegon Targaryen, first son of Rhaegar & Elia Martell, that had truly been smuggled by Varys. After Robert's Rebellion, Varys could not afford to lose the little Prince. To protect him, Varys sent baby Aegon to be fostered by one of the strongest and most faithful supporters of the Targaryen reign, to the man that had inflicted Robert his only defeat at the Battle of Ashford, Lord Randyll Tarly."

He goes on to use A Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin’s own words to support this idea, even if it might be a bit of a stretch. During a Q&A for the Emmy Awards in 2013, the author was asked which character he would play on the show; he answered that he actually already does play all the characters when he writes them. “But if they actually had to film me, I guess the only one that I could play would be Samwell Tarly,” Martin said. (Though Hot Pie got an honorable mention.)

Though most people listening to Martin probably dismissed his words as little more than a lighthearted response to a lighthearted question, MrSilenceT believes this was a subtle allusion to a conversation Rhaegar and Elia had about their son, with Rhaegar stating that, “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” In other words, according to the Redditor:

"Therefore ladies and gentlemen, George is the true prince that was promised and his book is the song of Ice and Fire! Sam, a.k.a. George R.R. Martin, is destined to lead mankind in its war against darkness (ignorance) by wielding a sword known as Lightbringer (the book of A Song Of Ice And Fire) …

"Samwell had inherited his mother's Dornish looks and most of her character: kind and clever, with a gentle heart and a sweet wit, though with a delicate health; exactly like Ser Barristan Selmy had described Elia. From his father, Sam had inherited Rhaegar's love for books and songs instead of his ability for battle. Lord Randyll, being the Tarly that he is, tried his best to raise the young Prince as a fighter. But even after giving it his all, poor Sam could not do it. His training was proving a failure. And to cope with the stress and the pain, Sam hid behind food ..."

Could Samwell Tarly be the hero we’ve been waiting for all along? You can read the full theory here. And since you’ve got a good year to ponder that question until the series returns for its final season, maybe now’s the time to re-watch the entire thing and see if you can find any other hints that point to Sam’s possibly princely identity.

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9 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next season of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. Since it was officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix in December 2017, new details have been trickling out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Speaking with Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

9. CARY ELWES AND JAKE BUSEY HAVE JOINED THE CAST.

The cast of Stranger Things is growing for season three, and two of the most high-profile additions announced so far are Cary Elwes and Jake Busey. Elwes—of The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Men in Tights fame—will be playing Mayor Kline, who is described as "Your classic ’80s politician—more concerned with his own image than with the people of the small town he governs." All we know about Busey’s character is that he’ll be named Bruce and is described as "a journalist for the The Hawkins Post, with questionable morals and a sick sense of humor."

In March, it was also announced that Maya Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, landed a role in the upcoming season. According to Variety, she’ll play an "'alternative girl' bored with her mundane day job. She seeks excitement in her life and gets more than she bargained for when she uncovers a dark secret in Hawkins, Ind."

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