A comb that can stop time. A pen that incinerates anything it touches. These and over 100 other everyday objects are scattered across the globe and all seem to emanate from a mysterious motel room that can be accessed by any door thanks to one simple key. This key falls into the unwitting hands of Detective Joe Miller (Emmy nominee Peter Krause, Six Feet Under) and kicks off the action in SCI FI Channel’s latest December miniseries event, The Lost Room.
As possessor of the key, Miller finds himself the target of various groups (led by costars Julianna Margulies, Kevin Pollak and Roger Bart) competing to find the objects. But the power of these things means nothing to Miller when the most important thing in his own life — his daughter (Elle Fanning) — vanishes into the room.
It’s a fascinating premise that touches on everything from The Twilight Zone to The Matrix to The Fugitive, and the soft-spoken Krause opened a few doors of his own to us during a recent conversation.
There are already theories about what exactly “The Lost Room” represents (alternate universe, heaven, hell, etc.). Can you let us in on the secret?
Peter Krause: It’s a very suggestive and evocative piece. It doesn’t necessarily give you all the exact answers. I’ll just say this: When I first started reading it I was intrigued by the number of the objects and the fact that they said there were roughly a hundred. I think it’s 116 now, the number of the Periodic Table [of Elements], so there’s some of that metaphor going on. There’s also the metaphor of these groups of people and how they respond to the objects. One is behaving like they are religious relics; another group wants to get rid of them. Like a lot of fiction, [The Lost Room] addresses things that are going on in our world, but at the same time is really a great piece of entertainment.
This is your first real sci-fi/action type of role. What drew you into “The Lost Room”?
I’ve spent quite a bit of my time, certainly in the last decade, with either language-driven material or emotional material. I wanted to do something that would be really fun and that I thought would appeal to a very broad audience. While I was reading this [script], this was the thing that I wanted to keep reading. I was very satisfied as a reader with what was laid out. It’s the most fun I’ve had as an actor in a long time. These young writers had [fun] creating the objects, [determining] what their hidden powers are and how they interact with each other.
SCI FI spun off one of their successful December miniseries, “Battlestar Galactica,” into a hit regular series. If “The Lost Room” became a series, would you be interested?
I think they’re hoping to spin off into a series [but] I didn’t commit to a series. After doing two years of Sports Night and five of Six Feet Under, I have to say I’m enjoying working with closed-end projects. However, if it [became a series], I’d be more than happy to come back and do episodes. And certainly, if they chose to do another string of movies, [I’d return] because I think there are more objects to explore.
Where would you go if you had a key like your character does?
Oh, I’d travel from place to place pretty quickly. It’s a pretty nice idea, isn’t it? Just looking in and out of doors, traveling that way.
Did you ever have any “objects” that you believed had lucky or magical powers?
I can remember in 1972 during the Olympics in Munich … Dave Wottle ran the 800 meters and he won the gold medal. He had a baseball cap, and I think he kept it either in his hand or in the waistband of his shorts, and then during the last 200 meters he put it on his head like that was going to supercharge him. He always had a tremendous kick and he’d win. As a kid I remember I had this red baseball cap that I deemed my “fast cap” for when I needed to run really fast. I can remember a kid really trying to talk me out of the hat, like, “You know, that doesn’t really make you any faster.” I don’t think I ever used [the cap] officially in the neighborhood during kickball or softball.
The “lost room” is kind of creepy looking. Have you ever been in a similarly eerie room?
I was in a pretty creepy motel room in northern Wisconsin long ago.
The Lost Room premieres Dec. 11-13, and airs in a marathon Dec. 17, on SCI FI Channel.