Amy Brenneman Q&A: ‘The Leftovers’
In our recent webcam chat (watch above), Emmy nominee Amy Brenneman (“NYPD Blue,” “Judging Amy”) reveals that “The Leftovers” co-creator and showrunner Damon Lindelof left her awestruck when he unveiled his vision for the upcoming third and final season. “I’m sitting there with Damon and an hour later I was just saying, “f***, that is so good! It’s just so good!”
Although understandably tight-lipped about particular details so as not to give anything away, Brenneman confirmed that fans will be amazed. “F***, it is so good! That is all I will say,” she laughs, explaining “there’s a freedom that showrunners have when they know it’s the end and when they have control over the end because you don’t always have that in television, often you don’t.”
“The Leftovers” is based on the acclaimed novel by Tom Perotta, who co-created the show along with Lindelof. Its premise revolves around the inexplicable and sudden disappearance of two percent of the world’s population (140 million people) in what is known as the “Sudden Departure.” Brenneman plays Laurie Garvey, the estranged wife of leading man Kevin (Justin Theroux), who joins the nefarious Guilty Remnant cult, which rose to prominence after the Sudden Departure. She takes on the cult’s oppressive vow of silence, and completely shuts down as a way of coping with the harrowing events that Laurie experiences on that fateful day.
While the show’s first season divided critics and fans alike, the second season was a revelation as it became lighter in tone and moved from upstate New York to the fictional “miracle” town of Jarden, Texas, a town that was seemingly spared from the Sudden Departure. The critics responded favorably, and the cast and crew enjoyed the show changing course. “The first season was trying to render Tom’s book, and for Damon, I think, it was excising the demons of ‘Lost.’ In season two, he was just really freed up,” the actress explains. “In the first season, all of the characters are literally paralyzed with grief and trauma. They’re stuck. In the second season, every character gets busy with what they think is going to make things better.” The second season saw Laurie break free from the shackles of the Guilty Remnant. “Laurie goes back to her pre-Departure self; she’s a helper, so she says I want to help; to alleviate suffering.”
For Brenneman, it is a joy to work with Lindelof in bringing this character to life. “It has been such an amazing experience to surrender, utterly, to a true artist, and be an instrument of his work,” Brenneman admits. “I’m a mom to two kids, and I’m used to running the show. And I realized really early on the great gift of this gig was I get to surrender and I get to be an actor and I get to really surrender to what Damon wants to do.”
“One of the absolute pleasures of my artistic life was the day of the first read-through. That afternoon, Damon said left’s go for a walk and so we walked around Central Park for a couple of hours, and we dreamed up Laurie. We just dreamed her right up. And that included her backstory,” she recalls. “We just made her up.”