With Season 3 of The Leftovers officially in production, the series was featured in the third annual Vulture Festival, where TV critic Jen Chaney sat down with co-creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta—along with executive producer Mimi Leder, and actors Justin Theroux and Ann Dowd, who play Kevin Garvey and Patti Levin. Here are nine things gleaned from their conversation about the Peabody-winning series.
Warning: spoilers ahead from Seasons 1 and 2.
1. “Miracle” was always part of the plan.
Although the new setting didn’t make its debut until Season 2, “the idea of Miracle popped up in a vague way in Season 1,” Perrotta explained. “Originally, it was maybe a stop for Tom and Christine on their tour cross-country, but every time we thought about writing it into Season 1, we realized it was just too big...So it was in our back pocket and got resurrected as a way to organize Season 2.”
2. Season 2 featured Ann Dowd’s favorite scene...ever.
Though she didn’t take part in the prehistoric sequence, actor Ann Dowd believed the first few minutes of “Axis Mundi”—featuring a cavewoman giving birth—were the perfect way to set up Season 2. “I thought it was the most stunning thing I ever saw,” Dowd exclaimed. “I thought it was a miracle what I was watching, how it ever came to be. You’d think I have a clue having been on a set or two, but it was miraculous.”
3. Dowd was really nervous to talk.
After spending Season 1 as Guilty Remnant member with minimal dialogue, Dowd admitted it was “terrifying” to have Patti Levin speaking throughout the second season. “Good thing our writers know our characters better than we do,” Dowd said, “because then to speak those words, I thought, ‘Of course that’s who Patti is.’”
4. Everybody was excited about karaoke. Except Justin.
“The instant Tom Perrotta pitched that scene, I fell in love with it,” Lindelof said of the karaoke sequence in the Season 2 finale. “I thought, It’s going to be impossible to convince Theroux to do this,” he laughed. “I just emailed him, ‘Can you sing?’ And he emailed back, ‘Why…?’” Director Mimi Leder added: “And Justin did it without a drink.”
5. Hurt people throw stones.
Jen Chaney simply had to know: Why did Nora throw that rock through the Murphys’ window? “It’s the old saying, ‘Hurt people hurt people,’” series co-creator Damon Lindelof mused about the moment from “Lens.” Perrotta agreed: “Nora is really out to say to Erika, ‘I suffered an extraordinary loss. You suffered an ordinary loss.’”
6. Justin Theroux ended up in the ER.
When asked about the physical demands required of him for Season 2, Episode 8, “International Assassin,” Justin Theroux confessed he had to take a trip to the hospital. “I got ten stitches in my lip and I broke my nose in one of the fight scenes.”
7. Kevin and Patti are a love story.
Despite their history, Justin Theroux believes Kevin Garvey and Patti Levin truly cared for one another. “Ann and I had both independently come to this idea that their story was a love story, in a way,” he said. “Obviously, not a romantic one… But they were somehow the most loving to each other.” When asked if their story was over, Lindelof wouldn’t say. “I can’t confirm that you’ve seen the last of Ann,” he said of Dowd. “But I can confirm there is a finality to what you’ve already seen.”
8. Damon Lindelof is into absurdity.
Cavewomen, wishing wells, and karaoke in purgatory are just a few of the sequences that made waves in Season 2. Lindelof attributes the impactfulness to his actors’ talents. “Everybody really commits to the emotional reality underlying some of these absurdities,” he said. “We would never have the guts to write the stuff if the actors didn’t commit.”
9. “There’s a lot of movement” in Season 3
When asked about the third and final batch of episodes, Lindelof didn’t reveal much. “There’s a lot of movement,” he said. The narrative’s focus? “It’s never been the cliffhanger show,” Lindelof explained. “It’s more of, what are these people going to feel next?”