Justin Theroux wasn’t sure what would happen to his character, small-town detective Kevin Garvey, when he signed on for HBO’s mysterious drama “The Leftovers,” which considers the world after two-percent of the global population vanishes without a trace. “I loved the mystery,” said the actor during our recent video chat (watch it below). “A lot of times if it’s a film you obviously know where it’s going to end up in a three-act-structure way, but this was kind of interesting in that you kind of didn’t know.”
Theroux is used to mysterious projects. In 2001, he starred in David Lynch‘s “Mulholland Drive,” a film that neither its cast nor its viewers could be entirely sure they understood. Theroux thinks Lynch and “Leftovers” executive producer Damon Lindelof have similar approaches and feels it’s “liberating” to be kept in the dark sometimes: “Don’t worry about it,” he said of deciphering these unique story puzzles. “Just stay in the moment, stay present, and every new piece of information you get is new anyway, so don’t bother trying.”
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“It’s nice to have a light set,” said Theroux about how he often likes to work, but “The Leftovers” is an emotionally demanding drama, so “you can’t really be cracking jokes in the middle of it,” but despite his on-screen intensity, he doesn’t take his work home with him: “On the weekends I would totally unplug and turn my head off and play ‘Call of Duty’ or something.”
“It was a very quiet working set a lot of the times,” he added, and that might especially have been true when playing scenes opposite the “Guilty Remnant,” a cult whose members, including Theroux’s on-screen wife (Amy Brenneman), have taken a vow of silence. “They’re all such great actresses that there’s not a moment that something’s not registering on their faces,” he said of his silent co-stars, who also include Liv Tyler and Ann Dowd. “It’s kind of a beautiful thing to watch the way they work.”
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