Arthur Carlton Cuse (born March 22, 1959) is an American screenwriter and producer, best known for the American television series Lost, for which he made the Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010. Cuse is considered a pioneer in transmedia storytelling.
Cuse was born in Mexico City, Mexico to American parents. His father was working in Mexico for Cuse's grandfather, who had a machine-tool manufacturing business. Cuse's paternal grandparents were Latvians, of Baltic German heritage. After a few years in Mexico City, his parents moved to Boston, Massachusetts. A few years later, his father accepted a job in Tustin, California. Cuse was raised a Roman Catholic. He went to boarding school in the tenth grade to The Putney School in Vermont. The school was on a working dairy farm, and placed a strong emphasis on an education in the arts, music and the outdoors. It was at The Putney School, Cuse said, that he realized he wanted to be a writer.
Cuse attended Harvard University (class of 1981) and was recruited at freshmen registration by Ted Washburn for the rowing team. In his words, he became "a hardcore athlete". Cuse's original plan was to attend medical school but he instead majored in American history. During his junior year at Harvard, Cuse organized a test screening for the makers of the Paramount film Airplane!. The producers wanted to record the audience reaction to time the final cut of the jokes in the film. Cuse said that was when he started thinking about a career in film.
Cuse teamed up with a Harvard classmate, Hans Tobeason, and made a documentary about rowing at Harvard called Power Ten. He convinced actor, writer and fellow Harvard graduate George Plimpton to narrate the film. After graduating, Cuse headed for Hollywood, and worked as an assistant to a studio head, then as a script reader. By working as a reader, he said, he learned screenwriting.
In 1984, Cuse took a job working as an assistant producer for Bernard Schwartz and then spent a year and a half working on Sweet Dreams, directed by Karel Reisz, starring Jessica Lange and Ed Harris. He described the experience as his version of film school. Through a friend, David J. Burke, Cuse was hired as a writer on the Michael Mann series Crime Story. In 1986, Cuse wrote two teleplays for the series.
Cuse formed a partnership with feature writer Jeffrey Boam. Working with Boam, Cuse helped develop the films Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Cuse wrote the screenplay for the 2015 disaster film San Andreas. The film was directed by Brad Peyton, starred Dwayne Johnson, and was released in the United States on May 29, 2015. San Andreas was the top-grossing film for Warner Bros. in 2015 with $473.5 million worldwide.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–1994)
Because of his involvement with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, an executive at Fox, Bob Greenblatt, asked Cuse and Boam if they would be interested in doing a television version of the old movie serials. Cuse said yes and wrote The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., about a Harvard-educated bounty hunter who wants to avenge the death of his father, the most famous lawman in the Old West. Fox gave the go ahead for the series. Brisco also had a science fiction element, in the form of a mysterious orb which appears in several episodes. Boam went back to making features, leaving Cuse to co-create and executive produce the critically acclaimed series. Afterwards, Cuse gave much of the credit for the show's success to actor Bruce Campbell who played Brisco County Jr., the lead character.
Nash Bridges (1996–2001)
After Brisco, Cuse met Don Johnson, who had a commitment from CBS to make a new series. With Johnson's blessing, Cuse went off and wrote the pilot for Nash Bridges. Johnson liked it and CBS did too, ordering 14 episodes off the script without making a pilot. Nash Bridges was the first series that Les Moonves greenlit as the head of CBS. It ran for six seasons and 121 episodes.
Martial Law (1998)
Cuse created and executive produced the CBS series Martial Law, starring Arsenio Hall and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, one of martial arts legend Jackie Chan's closest friends and collaborators. Cuse adapted the world of Hong Kong cinema to American television in a story about a Shanghai cop who comes to the LAPD on an exchange program. A team of eight top Chinese stuntmen and coordinators out of Hong Kong were hired. Stanley Tong, who had directed many of Jackie Chan's biggest Hong Kong features, directed the pilot. Sammo Hung became the first Chinese actor to star as the lead in an American TV series. Cuse was running both Martial Law and Nash Bridges simultaneously. The workload became creatively and physically difficult, which led to him leaving Martial Law, and focus exclusively on Nash Bridges. Another factor, Cuse said, were creative differences with Sammo Hung about the future direction of Martial Law.
Cuse was an executive producer and joint showrunner on Lost with Damon Lindelof. They met in the sixth season of Nash Bridges. Cuse hired Lindelof, giving him his first staff writer job on a television series. A few years later Lindelof and J. J. Abrams wrote the pilot for Lost. Shortly after the Lost pilot was shot, Abrams left the show to do Mission Impossible 3 with Tom Cruise. Lindelof had no experience as a showrunner and called Cuse for showrunning advice on the side. He then asked Cuse to come work on the show.
The Cuse/Lindelof partnership was very productive. They wrote roughly a third of the episodes together as well as showrunning the series in tandem overseeing all the creative work on the series, including all story construction, rewrites, casting, production, editing, music and marketing. Cuse said, "A great partnership can lead to great TV. In the case of Lost it worked out great; I could not have had a better partner than Damon."
- The Future of Lost
Cuse told Digital Spy, "Disney owns the franchise, it made them a lot of money, it's hard to imagine it will just sit there idly forever. Damon (Lindelof) and I told our story in that world and I assume someone will come along, hopefully having been inspired by our story, or our version of the story, and want to tell their own story. It's like the Narnia chronicles. There are seven books, they were all written by C.S. Lewis, but they all visit Narnia at different times and different configurations and different ways. Someone is going to come up with a way to tell another Lost story. I think it's inevitable. I don't know what it is or how it would work, but I can't imagine something else won't be done with the franchise."
Bates Motel (2013–2017)
Cuse is showrunner, co-developer, writer and executive producer of the A&E series Bates Motel, along with Kerry Ehrin. Bates Motel is "a contemporary prequel to Psycho, exploring the formative years of Norman Bates as well as his relationship with his mother, Norma, and the world they inhabit. The first season received critical praise, with Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates) being nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2013. Season 2 premiered on March 3, 2014, with 4.6 million total viewers and delivered 2.6 million adults 18–49 and 2.2 million adults 25–54 (based on Live+7 viewing). The third season premiered on March 9, 2015. The series continues to be A&E's number one drama series of all time among adults in the 18–49 demographic. Cuse and Ehrin have stated they will end the series after five seasons. In April 2015, Cuse said, "I defy anyone to watch this show and not really be completely connected to Norma and Norman. And now that bond you have with these characters is going to completely inform the rollercoaster ride of the last two seasons."
The Strain (2014–2017)
Cuse is showrunner, executive producer, developer and writer of The Strain, an FX drama series based on the vampire novel trilogy by co-authors Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Del Toro co-wrote, directed and produced the pilot episode. Hogan also helped write the screenplay for the first episode. The Strain premiered on July 13, 2014. In the first book, "The Strain", a Boeing 777 lands in Washington D.C. with all the passengers dead and signs that a strange being had been aboard the plane. Then it is discovered that all this is the work of vampires out to put an end to civilization. FX ordered a 13-episode second season, which premiered on July 12, 2015. On August 7, 2015, FX Network renewed The Strain for a third season. Cuse made his directorial debut with The Strain's third season finale.
The Returned (2015)
Cuse was showrunner, co-developer, writer and executive producer of The Returned, based on the popular and International Emmy Award winning French suspense series Les Revenants, adapted by Fabrice Gobert and inspired by the feature film, They Came Back, directed by Robin Campillo. Raelle Tucker also served as showrunner and executive producer. The 10-episode first season premiered on March 9, 2015. It is filmed in Squamish, British Columbia Canada. The series focused on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people, who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear. The Returned was co-produced by A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America in association with Haut et Court TV SAS, the producer of the French series, for A&E Network. FremantleMedia distributes the series internationally, excluding the U.S. and Canada, distributed by A+E Studios. The show was cancelled after one season in June 2015.
Cuse and Ryan Condal are showrunners, co-creators and executive producers of Colony for the USA Network, a co-production between Legendary Television and Universal Cable Prods. Colony "is a family drama/thriller about life in Los Angeles after a mysterious 'foreign' occupation, and the efforts by the proxy government to crush the growing resistance movement". Argentinian director Juan José Campanella, directed the pilot. Colony stars Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies. The ten episode first season of Colony premiered on January 14, 2016. On February 4, 2016, USA Network renewed Colony for a second season, ordering thirteen episodes.
Jack Ryan (2017)
Cuse and Graham Roland have developed a series based on Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst character, created by novelist Tom Clancy in the 1980s. Amazon Video has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order, based on delivery of three scripts written by Cuse and Roland, who also developed the story for the pilot. Jack Ryan is more of a reinvention than a strict adaptation of Clancy's work. The series will star John Krasinski as Ryan, "an up-and-coming CIA analyst as he uncovers a pattern in terrorist communication that launches him into the center of a dangerous gambit with a new breed of terrorism that threatens destruction on a global scale." Cuse will executive produced the series.
|2013–present||Bates Motel||A&E||Series||Co-creator, showrunner, executive producer, writer||Contemporary story based on characters from the Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho|
|2014–present||The Strain||FX||Based on the vampire horror novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan|
|2015–present||Colony||USA Network||Original story by Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal|
|2017||Jack Ryan||Amazon Video||Co-creator, executive producer, writer||Based on the thriller novels by Tom Clancy|
Awards and nominations
Cuse has been nominated for ten Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on Lost and has won twice: first in 2005 for Outstanding Drama Series, then in 2009 for Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. Cuse, along with Lindelof received three nominations for the Golden Globe Award including a win for Best Television Series – Drama in 2005; five nominations at Producers Guild of America Awards, with a win in 2006 for Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Drama; three nominations and wins from the American Film Institute; twelve nominations at the Television Critics Association, including three wins in for Outstanding Achievement in Drama in 2005, 2006 and 2010, and a win for Outstanding New Program in 2005. Cuse received four nominations from the Writers Guild of America Awards, including a win in 2006 for Best Dramatic Series, and five Saturn Award nominations with four wins in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 for Best Network Television Series. Cuse also received nominations from the NAACP Image Awards, the Hugo Awards and the People’s Choice Awards. In 2007, Cuse shared the British Academy Television Award for Best International Series for Lost. In 2009, he won the Peabody Award, The Jules Verne Festival Award, The Roma Fiction Fest Special Award, and a GQ 2009 Men of the Year Award. In 2010, he was voted one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World". He has also won the TV Guide Award for Martial Law, which was voted the Favorite New Series in 1999. In 2015, Cuse received Variety’s Creative Leadership Award, following past recipients including Judd Apatow and Jerry Weintraub.