Last night (June 29) HBO premiered its highly anticipated pilot for “The Leftovers.” And like most HBO pilots, it spent a good deal of time thrusting the viewer into a world without context, introducing characters we don’t quite know or understand.
But you know, really well shot, acted and intriguing enough to guarantee we’re coming back for episode two.
With that first 75 minutes out of the way, though, comes questions; and some of them, we were able to get the cast of the show to answer while on the red carpet of the premiere here in New York:
Spoilers for “The Leftovers” premiere past this point.
The Disappearance Of Eleanor’s Baby
Natalie Gold plays the mom at the opening of the show whose busy morning ends in her screaming baby disappearing, signaling the beginning of the Sudden Departure. So how do you play something like that, anyway?
“I have a 20-month-old daughter now, at the time she was a year old,” Gold told MTV News. “It was tough to play, but not hard to get into a place of, if the unimaginable happened, how one would feel, and freak out.”
And then, surprisingly, Gold shows up again at a bar frequented by Justin Theroux’s Kevin Garvey. This isn’t the last time we’ll see Gold’s character, though.
“I come back, sprinkled a little bit, here and there,” Gold said.
How Do You Film An Underwater Scream?
“It’s been in every single trailer!” Chris Zylka, who plays Tom Garvey said laughing, when asked about his underwater scream in the pilot.
“You have to hyperventilate, breathe hard and heavy and deep,” Zylka continued. “And then you sink, and whatever you can get out, get out. And then get out of the water so you don’t f**king swallow a bunch of water.”
How Do You Film A Gummy Worm Spit-take?
Maybe even more memorable than the underwater scream is Annie Q’s candy inspired spit-take when Zylka’s character tells her a joke mid-bite.
Asked about how many gummy worms it took to film the scene, laughing, the actress told us, “So many that I never want to see them again. Never. I used to love gummy worms, I’m just done with them now.”
More to the point, since we don’t find a lot out about her character Christine in the pilot, the actress told us, “Christine is Holy Wayne’s number one groupie, his most devoted disciple, and his favorite spiritual wife, and I think you have a lot to look forward to in terms of her relationship with Holy Wayne, and also with Tom Garvey.”
The Deer Is A Lie
Asking only the hard questions, we confronted Justin Theroux about whether he bonded off-set with the deer he keeps meeting up with in the pilot.
“Me and the deer – it’s really a prosthesis, essentially – did not do much bonding, it had a vacant look in its eyes,” Theroux said. “The real deer was done somewhere else.”
Camera-trickery aside, things are going to get very bad for Chief of Police Kevin Garvey.
“Anyone who is tasked with putting the lid back on the pot, as it were, and especially in our show, is gonna have a much more difficult time doing that,” Theroux said. “If it’s a tilt-a-whirl, it starts tilting more and more and more.”
The App Is Also A Lie
Any frightened parents who immediately threw out their kids’ phones after seeing the disturbing party-game app played during the show will be relieved to know that it’s not real.
“I hope not!” Margaret Qualley, who plays Jill said when asked if the app existed IRL. “I haven’t seen it, not where I’m from. Not in Asheville, North Carolina.”
As for Jill, though she spends a lot of the running time fighting with her Dad, being bad and causing trouble, that’s not who she is at heart.
“She’s good inside, she definitely has a good heart, but she’s definitely flirting with being very rebellious and doing bad things,” Qualley continued. “She gets more extreme in her way of rebelling.”
There’s More To The Mayor Than Meets The Eye
No, Mayor Lucy Warburton (played by Amanda Warren) is not a Transformer — sorry, Wahlberg — but she does have more going on under the surface. We posited that Warburton was the most even, unaffected person on the show, which elicited a long, hearty laugh from Warren.
“Sure. Sure. For now, for episode one,” Warren said after she was done laughing at us. “When Kevin and Lucy work together, it works. And when they disagree, not so much. Something different happens, and it’s not so good for them, but it’s delicious for the viewers.”
How Do You Give The Silent Treatment?
The Guilty Remnants may just have to dress in white, smoke, and hang out, but being silent isn’t actually easy for the actors involved.
“I just have to listen really well,” Amy Brenneman, who plays Laurie told us. “Laurie is not a very — she’s choosing not to express a lot of what she feels. I said to Damon [Lindelof], ‘Not only do I not get language, I don’t really get facial expressions!’ [Laughs] To be fully present is her power.”
Are We Headed For A Jailbait Hook-up?
Where Jill is playing around with being bad, Aimee (Emily Meade) has settled into it. And nowhere is that more apparent than the dinner scene, where Aimee — who is the same age as Jill — plays Mom to Justin Theroux’s Dad.
So are we headed towards an underage hook-up?
“I can’t answer that either way,” Meade said. “But yeah, Justin Theroux is hot, so she thinks he’s hot. I can say that.”
“The Leftovers” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.