The actor discusses her approach to playing the leader of the Guilty Remnant, returning for Episode 7, and how working on The Leftovers gave her a thrill.
HBO: What was your first impression of Meg?
Liv Tyler: I had such a head-over-heels thing with Meg. I read the script and absolutely loved everything about it; I thought it was intelligent, emotional and weird — all the things I find interesting in a project — and I felt connected and drawn to Meg. I just wanted to be her.
HBO: How did you approach playing her?
Liv Tyler: Every character is so different and unique; the great thing about television is you get to revisit those characters, so you get to know them even more. Typically, I organize the details and things I want to convey in certain scenes and why, but with Meg I couldn’t do that. She’s so impulsive, complex and all over the place, I really had to not think. I had to act on a very instinctual [level]. It was almost like improvising, whatever would come to me in a scene or moment, no matter how crazy it was, I’d just try it to see what happened.
HBO: Did you have any idea what direction her story would take?
Liv Tyler: I did know a little about what was going to happen in Season 1 since it was based on [Tom Perrotta’s] book, but Damon didn’t really like to tell us what was happening. He liked to surprise us. He likes to create a similar situation for his actors and characters as what happens in life — you never really know what’s going to happen, but you deal with it.
You had to have this complete openness and willingness to go with whatever comes to you. I didn’t really understand this was where the series was going to go, but I had such respect and regard for where they did go that I completely surrendered to it and felt grateful to be a part of it. It became quite thrilling in a way.
HBO: How did not knowing what was going to happen shape your experience on set?
Liv Tyler: It was such a funny experience because we all wanted to put little pieces of the puzzle together. We were like little detectives. We knew the stunt guys always had info before anybody else — even if the episode wasn’t written, they would be briefed about their upcoming stunt — so if you asked them lots of questions, you could get bits of information. It was always fun trying to gather all the bits. There were rumors of Australia when we first got to Austin [where Jarden, Texas was filmed], but it’s so interesting how it all played out.
HBO: Did you know what would happen in the beginning of Season 3?
Liv Tyler: I was so surprised by that. I was like 7 months pregnant when they shot that scene so they had to airbrush my tummy out. Deep down I was quite sad Meg died in that kind of way. But I started reading some of the [Season 3] scripts and they were absolutely brilliant, and then I was super surprised I came back later on.
HBO: Did you approach Meg in a different way for the Episode 7 since it was “another world”?
Liv Tyler: Basically, the Meg I knew wasn’t in any part of the Meg that I was playing in that episode because it was Kevin’s weird dream-land, and it’s his interpretation. I assumed anything happening in that scene was his subconscious, and I was a vessel conveying that information.
HBO: What do you think attracts Meg to “false stunts” like blowing up the bus and the fake bomb in the trailer on the bridge?
Liv Tyler: I think she’s trying to get people’s attention; she’s always been the one asking, “why?” I don’t think she had a master plan, she was just trying to figure it out as she went along. But I always saw those acts as really trying to open people’s eyes and get them to stop sleepwalking and pay attention.
HBO: Now that you can look back at all 3 seasons, what’s been the most rewarding thing about playing this character?
Liv Tyler: I was always trying to understand her and get to know her. I’m quite a free person, but I think things through, and Meg is the opposite of that. If that impulsive, passionate, fiery character was something I had inside of me, it was completely dormant. Letting it out it opened up a whole can of worms in a way. Doing all of those angry scene was terrifying, but so liberating and fun, it expanded me in some kind of way. I liked playing someone who was not always making the right decisions, and living with those consequences.
More from “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)”
- Ann Dowd Talks Playing Patti, Reuniting One Last Time With Kevin and Ending It All
- In the Penultimate Episode, Love May Conquer All — Even the End of the World
- “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” Script Excerpt
Also, See What's Coming Up in the Series Finale "The Book of Nora"
Watch the series finale of The Leftovers June 4 at 9 pm on HBO.