The actor discusses what she has in common with her character and Laurie’s competing agendas when it comes to her former G.R. brethren.
What's it like to finally get to talk and wear something other than white?
I am so happy. My regular look this season—just jeans and stuff—feels like the red carpet compared to last year. But I really enjoyed the challenge and differentness of what I did last year. It's also very satisfying to get to explain what I was doing and thinking all of last year when I couldn't speak.
Seeing Laurie as a normal member of society really changes your perspective on her character. Has your perspective on her changed as well?
I said to [series co-creator] Damon [Lindelof] last year that I really felt the onus of playing the villain, or at least being part of a villainous group along with Ann [Dowd, who plays Patti Levin]. But, Laurie was in conflict. She convinced herself she didn't want to see her kids, but did anyway. She was a bad G.R. member because she wasn't able to cut off from the outside world.
It's funny, I remember around episode 7 of last season where Laurie kept doing these violent, menacing things, and there was a moment where I really didn't get what was fueling her. Then Damon let me in on what they discovered about Laurie's moments before the Departure. That fueled me for sure; I had so much sympathy for her. She was already estranged from her husband, so he never knew she was pregnant or that she lost the baby. That must have been so isolating for her, and really, the beginning of her cutting off from her familial role.
Why do you think Laurie and Tom can reconnect, but she and Jill can't?
Damon has said, that in the way families do, the Garveys split up along personality types. He thinks Tom and Laurie have always been seekers, and that makes a lot of sense to me. When Tom went off to be with Holy Wayne that probably allowed Laurie to go, "You know what? I'm going to make a big, bold choice too." Whereas Kevin and Jill just want a nice home life. Tom and I have always been in sync; we've both had that experience of getting our hearts broken by false idols, so I think it makes sense that we team up.
Do you think she holds on to hope that she'll get back together with Kevin, or that they'll all be a family again?
No, I don't think so. Given the events of that flashback episode last season, I think quite honestly that Laurie had outgrown Kevin long before the Departure. [Laughs]. You get the sense that they're just not that connected. I feel like that scene where Laurie served Kevin with divorce papers—though he didn't want to hear it—was as loving a moment as Laurie could muster. It wasn't a fuck you—she just wanted to keep him out of her craziness. But I think the Jill piece is huge. Laurie is feeling a lot of remorse for leading her into harm's way and Jill's younger; she still needs her mom.
I truly loved Laurie's laptop recon scenes. That moment felt like such a big win for her.
It was great, and such a big win. It's like she's an Olympic athlete; she has one goal and she gets it. It was also really fun to shoot. I had a stunt woman standing by, but I insisted on doing it myself. I am a runner—or I was a runner, now that I have weight-bearing arthritis in my knees. I was at my orthopedist last week asking why my left knee was in such bad shape, forgetting that it was because I had to be all tough on set. I'm like Laurie in that sense—I don't think about the consequences. [Laughs].
We also learn in this episode why Laurie's been washing her car so compulsively. How can she be mowing down the G.R. while simultaneously trying to save them?
It's a game of chicken, really. She's giving them a chance to save themselves, but they just won't jump out of the way. She's not a vigilante—it's much more nuanced than that. She's trying to wake these guys up. It's like, "Wake up! You're in Jonestown, dudes. I was there too, I get it, but save yourselves."
For Laurie, the thing that popped her out of the Guilty Remnant was the fire—physical harm to her and her daughter. I think this activity begins with that idea, even if it's ill-advised. Also, she just really hates them.
Yeah—she just turns the radio back on after she does the deed.
Well, there's a little sociopathy in that. [Laughs].
Why does Laurie completely lose it on the book publisher?
I think she had a lot invested in Susan. We've all had those moments where you get the news that your grandma died and then you've got to sit in some meeting at work and you just can't hang on anymore. She's already been hanging on by a thread for a while now. Between trying to convince Tom that what they're doing is working, even as the ship is sinking, and have it all hang on the money this book will bring in—it's just too much.
She's been spending all of her time convincing people not to drop out of the world, and then to have to face this publisher who represents so much of the world that's full of shit? People like him are why Laurie joined the G.R. in the first place. Putting her experience with the cult into words is Laurie's salvation, but having them mirrored back to her by such a slick guy, she feels like she'll never get it right. So the best thing she can do is throttle him.