What can you tell us about your character, Olivia?
"She's the main woman in the show. My husband is an FBI agent, played by Joseph Fiennes, who is put in charge of working out what happened. She's a trauma surgeon in her own right so she's working at the hospital and dealing with many of the casualties of the event and therefore many of the stories. She had her own flash forward which was very troubling - she sees the end of her marriage. She sees herself with another man; a man she's never met before and she confides that in her husband. She thinks it will help by revealing that information to him, but it ends up making them both feel very unsettled. They have a child, little Charlie, who has also had a flash forward even though she's only seven."
Having worked on both Lost and FlashForward now, what do you make of the comparisons between the shows?
"I think they're only valid in that they're both big ensemble shows with one big concept or premise. But after that, they part ways really quite rapidly. FlashForward is definitely not a sci-fi show. It doesn't have the mythology of Lost. We have one major event that happens that you are asked to buy into. After that, you're dealing with very human ripple effects - how people deal with it and how they come to terms with it. There are six-and-a-half billion people that have blacked out, so that's potentially six-and-a-half billion stories to tell! Believe me, we're not telling all of them. But we're about to start [filming] episode eight and I'm so surprised by how far the ripple has been felt."
Are the FlashForward scripts kept equally as secret?
"These scripts are kept very, very secret. Each script has a watermark on it with your name. My script has my name on every single page, so if it was found in a trash can or on a website, it would have my name on it so it would be directly my fault if that script leaked. We have to hand our scripts in when we're finished with them so that they can shred them! There is very tight security - they hand-deliever my scripts to my house as well. The essence of this show is the element of surprise and the gradual discovery of it, so it would be a tremendous shame if the secrets got out before the show had even launched."
Will your involvement in the final season of Lost affect your role on FlashForward?
"I don't know if I'm in the final season of Lost - no-one tells me anything! My hunch is that you'll see Penny again because I can't believe that they would just never refer to her again, but I have no idea. Luckily, they're both ABC shows, so it's in-house. I'm not being traded across party lines!"
When Lost ends, do you think fans of the show will jump on-board FlashForward?
"I hope so. I think Lost is like losing a friend or a relative or someone. You can't replace it with another one. Lost holds a very special place in people's hearts and I wouldn't presume to say that FlashForward will replace Lost. I think it provides a lot of the same adrenaline and fascination and entertainment. It will help ease the pain of losing Lost! I think it will appeal to the very same audience."
Do you think that's why yourself and Dominic Monaghan were brought on board?
"It's hard to say. On the one hand, I hope I was chosen because I was the best person for the part. I don't think it hurt that I was on Lost and people liked my character and people want to see what else Penny is up to. And I think the same is true for Dominic. It doesn't hurt that either of us were on Lost and it doens't help that John Cho was on Star Trek. It doesn't hurt that Joe Fiennes has done many great films! Any time you cast an actor, you don't just cast that actor; you cast all their other performances as well. Nobody assumes that just because I'm in it, the whole of the Lost audience will watch it."
How has it been working with Dominic again? How do your characters come across each other?
"It's funny because I'm actually filming with Dominic for the first time - our paths never crossed. We had one scene together where I was on a small TV screen, so we actually shot that apart - he was in Hawai'i and I was in Broadway doing Frost/Nixon. We never actually met until he came to do FlashForward. This far, we still haven't done a scene together! I met him on the set and we've hung out at some photoshoots but I've yet to do a scene with him. He seems great. I'm sure he's a lovely guy!"
Did Robert J. Sawyer help with the show?
"His book was where the idea for the show came from, so [executive producer] David Goyer approached Sawyer to buy the rights and that happened very smoothly, but no - he didn't help. He came to the set to visit and he loved the pilot, loved the script. He's seen the pilot and he loved it. I gather if all goes well, Goyer has asked him if he'd like to write an episode of the show - assuming we go past our initial pickup of 13..."
Is the show quite similar to the book?
"It's very, very different. It's a good, fun book and it's a great science fiction read but it's not the show at all. They've taken the premise from the book to make the show but in the book, people have flash forwards that are much different - it can be like 60 years, not the six months it is in our show. You could read the book and have a good time but you wouldn't find out much about our show."
April 29 has been mentioned as a key date for the show. Can we expect a big, climactic episode on that date?
"I would imagine so, yes. But I have no idea! You'll be fed stuff throughout the season - I think that's what's interesting about the show. You don't have to wait five seasons to find out what's going on! There will be mysteries solved all the way through. You'll be surprised how quickly you get information about who's doing what. It's a very gratifying show."
FlashForward begins Thursday at 8/7c on ABC. In the UK, the show premieres Monday, September 28 on Five.