HBO’s The Leftovers ended its brilliant three-season run last week, with an achingly tender, but ambiguous ending to the story of what happens when two percent of the world’s population disappears without explanation.
TV Goodness recently got the chance to talk to Jasmin Savoy Brown, who starred as Evie Murphy on seasons two and three, about the surprising ending, her character’s fate, and what’s next for her.
WARNING: Spoilers for The Leftovers series finale
TV Goodness: Ok, so I have to ask. How do you feel about the ending of The Leftovers?
Jasmin Savoy Brown: I loved it. I actually haven’t seen it yet, but when I read it I had a really emotional reaction–in a positive way. I think that they answered and didn’t answer just the right amount of stuff and tied everyone’s stories up to the best of their abilities without being…too cheesy? I don’t know, I just thought it was perfect.”
TV Goodness:Â Do you think Nora was telling the truth?
Brown: I thought that it was [true]. But I also think that I just wanted it to be true. I don’t know yet. I think I’m going to have to watch it and accept that I might not ever know. But when I read [the script], yeah, I believed it was true probably because of all of my attachments to the show.”
TV Goodness: The show was so emotionally demanding just to watch, what did it take emotionally to be a part of it and to become Evie?
Brown: The thing that, interestingly enough because of your article [about the series finale], I always came back to with Evie was the truth. And I haven’t always acted with the truth. Even just with being honest with myself about how I feel or what I think about something, or even something as stupid as someone saying ‘Do you want a hot dog or a hamburger?’ and I’m like, ‘Well what do they want me to want?’, rather than just being what I want. So that was something I thought about. [What] I had to bring with Evie was just that passion and intense devotion and love [that she had] to the truth.
And I think just in terms of being emotional and shooting the show, it’s funny because there are so many emotional scenes, but the atmosphere on set was very fun, or at least it was when I was there. Like, even shooting with Justin [Theroux] all the stuff that we did in the third season in episodes four and seven, it was all pretty emotional stuff but between takes we’re just having a great time. And that makes it pure to go there all the time because when we’re not going there, we’re not going there.”
TV Goodness: How did you feel when you found out your character, Evie, was going to be killed off early in the season?
Brown: Oh my gosh, I felt ripped off! I was so mad, I didn’t know! I was like ‘What the heck? The first episode, you guys killed me off!’ I was not happy. Looking back, I thought it was really cool.
TV Goodness: What was it liking filming in Australia?
Brown: Part of The Leftovers, the cool thing about all the locations that they have, the locations become characters. Jarden was a character in the show and Mapleton was a character in the show, and so Australia became this huge character with many different faces. So just being there informed a lot of people’s acting I think. I stayed in Australia [after filming] and went on a road trip and we put 6,000 miles on our car in 30 days and it was really…I’m just so lucky that I got to not only shoot the show over there, but then have that time off to really explore the countryside. I’ve seen more of Australia than the United States. The show has given me so much.
TV Goodness: What was it like working with these incredible acclaimed actors on your first major tv role? Your mom was Regina King!
Brown: I don’t even know! It was totally an out of body experience getting cast and finding out that Regina King [was on the show], who as you said played my mom. I grew up loving her and admiring her and learning that I was going to work with her kind of freaked me out. But then it’s the same with every single actor on that show. Carrie Coon, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Ann Dowd, Justin, Amy [Brenneman], everyone is just so down-to-earth and chill and loving and you totally forget that they’re renowned actors and celebrities when you’re just hanging out with them, which is really comforting.
TV Goodness: Did you feel like the rest of the cast took you under their wings?
Brown: Yeah, completely. Especially Kevin. They all did, but especially Kevin Carroll. He’s become a father-figure in my life and a mentor. I call him all the time especially if I have an audition…He’ll coach me and he’s offered me plenty of career-advice and life advice and learning advice. He’s definitely taken me under his wing.
TV Goodness: The Leftovers featured female characters who are complex and flawed and feel real. How did you feel about the portrayal of women in the show?
Brown: I love it because it feels raw and honest. I love that the makeup is minimal. I’ve always struggled with acne. And that’s something that I’m finally figuring out and getting under wrap now…that’s just a part of who I am. And I have not gotten roles before because of [my acne], which sucks if at the time I had a really bad breakout or whatever.
And so when I booked The Leftovers and I was talking to the makeup team, we were talking about it we were all on the same page in terms of being natural and not worrying about messing up natural look of my face by trying to cover up all of these pimples. There’s a part of me that hates to watch season two and see when I had really bad breakouts, but on the other hand…I’ve never seen that on TV, especially when I was growing up. Not only would [characters] not be black, [and would I] not seeing black families or black women in a positive light, but I never see anyone who is less than perfect.
And I love that about the whole show. Not just me, but you see women’s wrinkles you see anger and sadness and sexuality and all of these layers that aren’t covered up or trying to be some beautiful, perfect thing. And I very much admire that about the show.
TV Goodness: How do you think Hollywood is doing overall in telling women’s stories?
Brown: I mean, you know, it’s always been bad. But I think it’s getting better. I haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, but I’m going to in next couple of days and hearing how well it did this weekend…I was in Philadelphia this weekend and there were all of these little girls walking around in Wonder Woman outfits and I was thinking ‘This is ridiculous.’ It’s wonderful and amazing, but it shouldn’t have taken this long. I think that the fact that it did so well is going open up a lot of doors and part of me is rolling my eyes at the fact that it’s taken so long, but a bigger part of me obviously is so excited and so ready to see what stories are going to be told.
TV Goodness: Youâ€™re going to be on a new show, Will, can you tell me about the show and your role on it?
Brown: It’s about William Shakespeare’s life in his 20s and how he becomes the William Shakespeare that we all know and love. What’s so cool about it is that, of course, it’s in Shakespearean Old English, but the music that’s over it is cool modern music. So that’s actually interesting and highlights the themes of the show in really fascinating ways and makes it feel more relatable and more present-day.
I play Emilia Bassano, who was the first published female English poet who used her real name instead of a man’s and she was the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s famous poems. Some people believe that she may have actually written some of [Shakespeare’s] plays. Others…think she might have inspired some of them. She’s a very interesting character.
TV Goodness: How was your experiencing filming Will?
Brown: Oh man, it was so much fun. That’s another one where I’m spoiled because I got to travel. I got to be flown to Wales and we shot all over Wales and so I got to spend a lot of time in London and just exploring the Welsh countryside. The Leftovers was a dream in a certain way, Will was a dream in another way. I always wanted to do Shakespeare with a English accent. I just love the UK and Shakespeare so that was a dream. And the cast is so international. We have cast members from Australia, New Zealand. I’m the only American, which is pretty cool. [We have cast members from] Ireland, India, Russia, [it’s a] very international, beautiful, colorful cast.
TV Goodness: How has switching to working on a period piece been?
Brown: It was great. I love to switch it up and just do things that contrast all the time. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to have been able to do that before. I went straight from The Leftovers to Grey’s Anatomy to a period piece—so, so different. And I just finished shooting Judd Apatow’s Netflix show Love which is so different. It keeps me feeling challenged and stretched. I don’t like to feel comfortable so I wouldn’t have it any other way.
TV Goodness: What sort of roles or genres do you want to act in the future?
Brown: All of it! I really want to do a musical, on Broadway, and a musical movie. I love musicals more than anything. And I would like to do a horror film. I actually have the utmost respect for horror actors. That is some hard work to do. Just to spend days in and out screaming and crying…that’s got to be exhausting and hard. So I want to try it.
The Leftovers can be binged in its entirety on HBO Go/HBO Now. And Will debuts July 10 on TNT at 9/8c.
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