Awards Daily TV talks to The Leftovers’ Kevin Carroll about the critically acclaimed show’s past, present, and future legacy.
If you’ve never seen HBO’s The Leftovers, start watching immediately. If you do watch the show, then you know the challenge narrowing down what exactly makes this show great viewing. It speaks to each viewer in such a powerful way. The much anticipated new and final season began this weekend on HBO.
Aside from the new setting of Australia, we still have some unanswered questions. Throughout the third season, the narrative jumps into multiple eras. Knowing this show and the incredible writing team, the missing gaps will be filled in by the final episode of this 8-episode season. John Murphy (Kevin Carroll) is now married to Laurie (Amy Brenneman) in one era. In another, Nora (Carrie Coon) appears as an older lady who goes by the name of Sarah and doesn’t know anyone called Kevin (Justin Theroux). Or so she claims…
“Moving from Season 2 to 3 was emotional,” Kevin Carroll says. Not only did the hit HBO drama move from Texas to Australia within weeks of wrapping its second season, the show also featured a time jump. “It was wonderful and yet disorienting. There were all the same faces, but on a different continent, and it took some reorganizing.”
In Season 2, Carroll’s character was married to Erika (Regina King). By the end of the second season, Kevin’s life and family changed dramatically. As Season 3 confirmed, Laurie is now his partner. “The notion of how the relationship ended and took this hard left turn was personally tough but equally rewarding,” Carroll says of the storyline shift, describing it as “stepping onto a plane as it’s taking off.”
He credits the writing team and Damon Lindelof / Tom Perrotta’s storytelling, which offers a huge pay-off for him as an actor.
This show creates deep conversation. It’s great art. It’s great writing. People are still talking about the Mona Lisa and pondering what she’s smiling at. In the same way, the show is like the Mona Lisa of conversation, and the reward is to know you are contributing to the work that is a great catalyst for conversation.
“You come in and the material is new and raw. It requires trust between your co-stars because there is no time to talk about the material with each other,” Carroll explains. “There’s this sense of newness, and Damon doesn’t let the audience get ahead of the story. It’s just so rewarding and that’s a gift of this show.”
Lindelof and his team introduced John Murphy as a man with many layers. However, John made a “commitment to never be taken advantage of again. That was his safe zone and his safety net.” Of what lies ahead for John this season, Carroll says, “They showed a crack in everything he knew to be true in his life, and that emotional crack allows you to reimagine your life.”
“We will or will not see that emotional crack moving forward,” he teases.
Even though this is the last season of The Leftovers and all questions will be tied up, Carroll is certain the show will be something we will be talking about for a long time.
“This show creates deep conversation. It’s great art. It’s great writing. People are still talking about the Mona Lisa and pondering what she’s smiling at,” Carroll explains. “In the same way, the show is like the Mona Lisa of conversation, and the reward is to know you are contributing to the work that is a great catalyst for conversation.” He adds, “That’s the biggest compliment. That the show is part of this great and deep conversation. I think the show will endure. You could do a Leftover University course. You could come up with enough great thinkers to look at the representation and symbolism, and the source material would lead to amazing conversation.”
Aside from the conversation that The Leftovers creates, Carroll also credits the writers for being one of the early shows to allow African-American characters to be whole and well-developed. Not divulging any spoilers about the ending of the season and the series, Carroll feels, “Some viewers are going to be ready for the ride, but we don’t want to overstay our welcome.”
And how does Carroll feel the show should be watched if you haven’t seen an episode? “You can either take a bite at a time. Or, if you have a religious understanding, you can watch two or three episodes.” He says, “It depends on where you are in life.”
Our recommendation is to take it one bite at a time, absorb and breathe in the quality of the writing on this great TV show. Absorb the fine acting and performances given by Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, and Kevin Carroll. There’s so much that is great about this show that to binge it might be a disservice.
The Leftovers airs on Sundays on HBO at 9pm ET.