The Season 2 finale of "The Leftovers" had no shortage of powerful, goose-bump inducing moments, but one of the episode's biggest scenes centered on a character many people, including most of the characters on the show, did not expect to see again -- Evie Murphy (Jasmin Savoy Brown). The missing Murphy daughter was discovered by Tom (Chris Zylka) at the end of episode 9, but returned to Miracle in a big way in the finale, acting as the centerpiece in Meg's (Liv Tyler) Guilty Remnant plot to destroy the perception that the folks in Miracle had truly been "spared."
Actress Jasmin Savoy Brown, who played Evie, spoke to International Business Times to break down the big finale, including that climactic bridge scene, and discuss what led Evie to stage her departure and join the Guilty Remnant.
Read the full interview below:
International Business Times: What were your thoughts on the season overall?
Jasmin Savoy Brown: The first thing I noticed was that it was more hopeful than last season and I think the audience really appreciated that. I love dark, dramatic things, so I loved the first season a lot, but [this season] was definitely more hopeful.
I just thought it was brilliant, especially [in the finale]. I really paid attention to the camera work and the makeup, like in Kevin Garvey’s bullet wound, and the attention to detail in the camp. I got to actually walk around and see all these little details [in the camp] the camera doesn’t pick up like the little dolls with nails in their head or chipped paint. I just thought it was seamless and every single member of the team was excellent.
IBT: How did you come on board and when were you told your role would be such a linchpin for the season?
Brown: I auditioned back in March. I had been actually couch surfing for almost a year and my best friend was moving here to be my roommate and I kept telling her to come down because every time she was in town I booked something! So, she moved here, we got a place together, I was working graveyard and it was just the grind-est grind of my life and then three weeks after she moved here I booked “The Leftovers.” So, my friend is my good luck charm!
I auditioned one scene that made it into the show, one scene that did not, and a monologue that had nothing to do with the show whatsoever that [co-creator] Damon Lindelof just wrote. It was from the perspective of an orphaned girl in Rwanda meeting the Virgin Mary. It had nothing to do with the show, but it was the most beautiful monologue I had ever read. It just struck a chord with me and I loved it so much I was satisfied when [the audition] was over. I thought if I don’t get a call, I got to read this monologue and that was enough. Then, I did get a call back and I had a chemistry read and it took a really long time. Between the last chemistry read and booking it there was like two weeks, which was just the worst!
And I didn't know the twist about Evie until I read episode 9. [The writers] wrote as they went and I know they had a few different ideas of where to go, but they wanted to see how it read. You should have seen my reaction! I loved “The Leftovers” before I got the role and I used to think to myself I would love to play on that show in the Guilty Remnant … like that will ever happen!
IBT: Well, you got your wish! The Guilty Remnant was a very polarizing part of the first season, though. What drew you to it?
Brown: I was awestruck the first time I saw Amy Brenneman [who plays Laurie Garvey] with the cigarette just sitting there and saying so much without saying anything. I thought it would be such a challenge to work with no dialog. I also thought all the characters were just so rich. I looked at Patti Levin (Ann Dowd) and Laurie Garvey and I saw so much history. It was so interesting. Why did they leave their families? Why did they do that? Why, why, why. When I get a script it is just covered in “why” and I just love answering those questions and I loved that you could not answer those questions from what they were saying.
IBT: Did you feel any pressure with those premiere scenes knowing you were going to be absent for so long? Did you feel the need to make an impression?
Brown: You know what? No. That may have been a thought in my mind early on, but I really didn’t see it that way. I was thinking on a smaller scale of being present and having fun. I thought, I’m only going to be here for six weeks and I want to make the most of it for myself.
Then, the first day on set I’m meeting [director] Mimi Leder, Damon, [co-creator] Tom Perotta, and the whole cast and they were just so lovely and welcoming and warm. They had a dinner for us to welcome the Murphys into the family. Just the way they treated us, I never felt like I was only going to be around for a minute. It felt like I was part of the family.
IBT: What was it like filming that big scene on the bridge with Regina King (who plays Erika Murphy)?
Brown: It was beautiful and challenging. When I first read that scene I would just start bawling my eyes out. That was me -- Jasmin’s -- reaction and I knew I couldn’t do that with what was happening with Evie. That was the hardest part because I’m there and Regina is giving me everything. She is completely broken and I have to just meet her with stone. So, that was the hardest part, but it helped me grow. We were completely holding each other in that and had each other’s backs. There is no one I’d have rather gone there with than Regina. We shot the meaty part of that scene over two days and I have never been pushed to have to have the endurance to do something for several hours over multiple days. So, it grew my strength for sure.
IBT: That scene was left muted for big chunks and just played silently over the music, which was very powerful, but what was Regina saying to you in those moments?
Brown: It was a lot of, “What are you doing?” and “Why,” “What is in there?” Then there was the one point where she just says, “What are you going to do just blow yourself up? Then, you are going to have to blow me up to,” which was interesting because Evie cracks a little bit in that moment.
IBT: Viewers were left fairly in the dark about Evie’s motivations. Obviously, for most of the season fans thought she was departed. What was her unseen arc in your mind?
Brown: I think that Evie just feels more deeply than a lot of people and more deeply than a lot of people realize. It is actually beautifully expressed by Michael Murphy (Jovan Adepo) in the church when he tells the story about the memory Erika shared when the water trickled down the stairs and she goes up and finds Evie and Michael and Evie seemed happy, but Michael revealed he turned the water on because she had actually been crying so hard. She knew she had to fake it.
So, when the Sudden Departure happened and Jarden reacted the way it did, it supplied her with that anger and pain because she understands that it’s a construct and it is bull s--- and they are profiting off of other people’s pain and pretending not to feel pain. That hurt her, on top of her Dad going away and having to pretend everything is fine. Fuel that with teenage angst and you get someone who is really, really hurting. So when she’s sees Meg on the bench [in episode 9’s flashback] there is a kindred spirit there. I think they reconnected later on.
IBT: So that is definitely the moment when Evie and Meg hooked up?
Brown: Well, I don’t think that Meg said anything about the Guilty Remnant then, because she gets on the bus and leaves. So, she had to come back at a later time and I don’t want to speculate when that is, but I had to decide that for myself, you know? They definitely connected later on.
Watch Meg put her plan into action in the clip from the finale below:
IBT: Evie’s frustrations with the town is understandable, but -- and I know this is always the question when you are talking Guilty Remnant -- why is she content to put her family through all of this grief? Her father was not thrilled with the town’s changes since the Sudden Departure either, so it is not like she was all alone in that mindset.
Brown: I think in her mind she thinks she is going to change the world and change the town. By her making this sacrifice it is going to allow all these people to come in. So, it is pain for a few people to help the masses. I’m sure part of it is teenage ego and wanting something bigger than herself and to give her life meaning.
And also, it is that “I’m going to teach you a lesson” kind of mindset we all feel when we are younger and our scope is not as broad. I don’t think it was an easy decision. I think it took a long time. The time jump from when Meg and Evie met on the bench to the finale is about three years.
IBT: So, what role would the Murphys play in a possible Season 3? Can we expect to see more of the background of Evie’s partnership with Meg down the road?
Brown: I have no idea. I have so many theories and there are so many ways they could go and something I love about Damon is that I trust him as a storyteller. So, I know that if he decided to go into the relationship between Meg and Evie and the Guilty Remnant it would be the right thing to do and it would be beautiful and interesting. I also trust that if, forever reason, they decided to end the Murphys’ story and just continue with the Garveys than that would be interesting too. Obviously, I have my hopes for the season and I would love to explore that more.
IBT: Is it just chance that Meg’s master plan involved the daughter of the family living next door to the Mapleton Guilty Remnant chapter’s biggest nemesis from Season 1?
Brown: I don’t know! The first thing I think of when you say that is that scene where Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) runs into Meg in the encampment. They both seemed genuinely surprised to see each other. Everyone is just pulled to this town somehow and their lives just keep being intertwined. I think it was just chance! I don’t think Meg knew, but maybe she did. That is the thing about this show. I feel I could watch it 10 times and find something new every time.