The Leftovers Cast on Challenging Characters and Life Lessons

The cast of The Leftovers looks back on three seasons of performing their characters, and the lasting impact and revelations that came along with them.

When asked what had been most challenging about playing Patti Levin, Ann Dowd said, “I don’t know if I will ever get over where the show and the writers took us. It’s not as though it was a conscious, linear trip; it’s not. It hit us deeply. … First I was terrified of not talking …Then I got so attached to the silence, because it’s powerful … when I had to talk, I was like, wait a minute... How do I do that?

Looking back over her three-season journey, Amy Brenneman commented that Laurie had, “become more and more relatable to me. In the first season, between not having any dialogue and encompassing this enigmatic figure, it was difficult to play the mystery. To everyone else, she’s mysterious, but I have to understand her.”

About playing unpredictable character Meg, Liv Tyler said, “ 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.” 

When asked what was the most rewarding aspect of playing John Murphy, Kevin Carroll offered, “To be able to play a father who loves his family and is not perfect has been a great challenge ... The character allowed me to be fully loving, fully compassionate, and fully in the anger in the love.”

Speaking of his character’s faith, Christopher Eccleston mentioned, “Matt has made me more defiant in the face of organized religion and confirmed my love for humanity above the search for a definitive answer. There are no answers, there is just life — and we need to seize it and live it as well as we can, bearing in mind the most important thing is other human beings.”

Of episode “Crazy Whitefella Thinking,” Scott Glenn said, “I thought [series co-creator] Damon Lindelof had given me one of the greatest gifts of my life. The part is so unpredictable — it would jump from raw emotion to laugh-out-loud funny. It remains one of the best acting experiences I’ve ever had.”

Carrie Coon felt Nora’s journey on the show offered this lesson: “You actually can’t make a meaningful life in a vacuum. Making meaning requires messy interaction with other human beings. If you want to live with courage and chaos, the only way to do that is with other people.”

Justin Theroux said of playing Kevin Garvey, “Damon [Lindelof] gave me his full assurances that the last thing I’d be was bored. He was completely and 1000 percent accurate. I don’t think any project has stretched me more than this. I was able to play numerous, multi-faceted sides all within one character.”