Created by Damon Lindelof and acclaimed novelist Tom Perrotta, the HBO series The Leftovers, about what happens after 140 million people vanished from the face of the Earth, is currently in its final season. With the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure approaching, John (Kevin Carroll) and Michael (Jovan Adepo) Murphy are each on their own path to determine whether there may truly be miracles, after all.
After seeing seven of the eight episodes of Season 3 (they were understandably withholding the final episode of the series), Collider sat down with actors Kevin Carroll and Jovan Adepo to talk about what originally attracted them to The Leftovers, whether they ever could have imagined what the journey would become, the challenges of building a family dynamic that they then had to completely tear down, not having all of the questions answered, and being spoiled by the opportunity to work with such great material. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: What was it that originally drew you to The Leftovers and this character, and could you have ever imagined where it all would have ended up?
KEVIN CARROLL: Absolutely not! Initially, it was the chance to play a father in this world, but to also be a complete person and not just a function of something strange. He was actually a person with some flaws, but who loved his family and had a history of working at having a family. It may not have been perfect, but he worked at it. I thought that was really interesting. Initially, in one of the early conversations we had, after I came on board, Damon [Lindelof] said, “So, what do you think about the Murphys?” I said, “I don’t know what to think. Is there something that you want to tell me?” And he said, “No, absolutely not. I just wanted to know what you thought.” I said, “Not knowing where this was going to go, and not that it really matters, I just think that at the center of it all has to be love in this family. He cocked his head to one side, smiled, winked and said, “Right on,” and just walked off. And then, when it all came together, I thought it was perfectly pitched and not preached about. The way it was scripted, you got a sense of love in this family and you knew that there was a history of this family working at being a family, and yet, you could tell that maybe there were some issues there, but it didn’t tip the hand too much. So, for me to come aboard and have the chance to play a father who was engaged but not perfect, even as a starting place, I thought that was great.
JOVAN ADEPO: The thing that really drew me to playing this part was that I was a fan of the show. The first season was incredible. It was such an interesting premise. Just the way that they took the characters through their own journey in the first season, when they started casting the second season, I was really excited and said, “If there’s any way that I could be involved, in a significant manner, I’d be honored to do so.” I was really excited, and I never could have imagined that they would have taken the Murphy family and the Garveys in the direction that they did. It’s just a testament to Damon’s talent and his very complex mind in our storytelling.
Was it challenging to spend Season 2 building a family dynamic, and then have to tear that down and rebuild it in Season 3?
ADEPO: It wasn’t too difficult because we’re really used to being provided with the unusual, or just the unconventional. That’s what I got, from the first day that I came onto the show, and the rest of my castmates. We were prepared to be thrown through different obstacles, and you have to be ready to adjust when you can.
CARROLL: That’s a testament to the writers. The shock and surprise of it all is something that I still have not wrapped my mind completely around. There was a three-year time gap when we started the season, but it was only a six-month period of time off. When we came back, although you see on the page that it’s three years later, the emotional reorganizing of logic, love, understanding and processing of it all was very confusing. I was fortunate to play opposite Amy [Brenneman]. Because we have such a long history of knowing each other, there’s a trust in that, so I was very fortunate, in that way. But I have to be honest, I was a little mournful. Relationships have to move around, based on what the story is, but I did not see that coming, at all. Somewhere deep down, I was ready to keep the level of this man working on, through and with his new sense of life and family. I was ready to see where that took him, but I absolutely did not see this coming. The writers think about the character journey first, so I hope that it’s as shocking and as satisfying for people to watch, as it was to do.
Did you guys, as the actors playing the Murphys, spend any time together to work on that initial family dynamic?
ADEPO: When the Murphys were brought on board, the four of us spent a lot of time together. That wasn’t necessarily a requirement, but it was a testament to the dedication of my castmates. Regina [King], Jasmin [Savoy Brown], Kevin and I wanted to get together to see what it was like to interact off one another and use that to inform our performances on screen. By the time we had to be a family in front of the camera, it was there because we spent a lot of time during pre-production at dinner and going to each other’s houses. It was very much a family. Me and Jasmin played pranks on each other. Me and Kevin really spent a lot of time communicating our miscommunications, as the characters. He’s such a talented actor, who comes from the stage. It was fun to get to explore that with him and learn how to ask questions that you should ask, as an actor.