Mimi Leder Q&A: ‘The Leftovers’ producer/director
“The finale will satisfy fans,” teases Emmy-winning director Mimi Leder during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) about HBO’s “The Leftovers.” Leder, who also serves as an executive producer of the critically acclaimed series, adds, “It certainly satisfied me and it was very satisfying to all of us.” Although she remains tight-lipped about specific details about the series finale, which is due to air on June 4, she believes it will be embraced by fans of the show: “I can’t tell you anything, except that I think you’re in for a very special hour of ‘The Leftovers.’ I would just be open to watching it and experiencing it.”
In “The Leftovers,” two percent of the world’s population (140 million people) suddenly and inexplicably disappeared off the face of the Earth, in what is known as the “Sudden Departure.” As the world nears the ominous seventh anniversary of that global cataclysmic event, the show shifts location to Australia, as each of the main characters embark on their own personal journeys of grief, healing and redemption.
For Leder, working on this show for the past three years “has been a life changing experience… It has been one of those times where everything just works… The extraordinary group of actors, the mind-blowing writing. It was one of those moments when everything in the universe just hit. It was an experience where I felt very free to expand my wings and direct the hell out of the show as I saw it and felt it. It was like shooting a movie every 12 days… It was one of the greatest experiences of my career I must say. And I am very proud of it.”
When asked what she felt she most contributed in her role as producer and director, Leder admits that she “brought a bigger palate to the show.” However, the helmer is quick to praise the writing, which provided her “with a beautiful map to tell a story,” and gave particular credit to the ensemble of actors. “You’re only as good as your actor. Yes you can cover up stuff,” she reveals, adding that “you can trick your audience into a great performance.”
She adds, “Each and every one of our actors are so incredibly brilliant. They’re so incredibly deep, and they’ll go for anything. Justin Theroux is fearless and he’ll go to the deep end and he’ll stay there to find the character and the honesty of the character, and Carrie Coon is also just a super mega-star. She’s a pot of every flavor you could have and she is an extraordinary actor. Scott Glenn, well that face just draws you in, every crevice and every line in his face tells a story of a warrior and he truly is one, on set and off set.”
Leder won an Emmy Award for Best Drama Directing in 1995 for “E.R.” She has also received four nominations for producing and directing “China Beach,” an additional three bids for “E.R.,” and one for directing “The West Wing.”