The Leftovers interview: Jasmin Savoy Brown on Evie’s story, TNT’s Will

Jasmin Savoy BrownThis Sunday, The Leftovers season 3 comes to an end on HBO, and with that, you will have a chance to gain a deeper understanding — maybe it’s not an understanding of the Departure, but of the people and places you see along the way.

One of the most important people during this journey, especially for the past couple of years, is Evie Murphy, played by Jasmin Savoy Brown. Her disappearance became a focal point of season, and following her own departure (via death) at the start of season 3, it quickly became apparent that she was still a fixture in Kevin Garvey’s mind. She served as a valuable part of Kevin’s journey in just this past episode. Her conversation with Kevin about her father John may have served as some closure — provided, of course, she doesn’t turn up in the series finale.

In our interview with Brown below, we chart Evie’s journey, discuss what it was like playing a character with so many iterations, and also preview her role on the upcoming TNT drama Will premiering on July 10.

CarterMatt – What has this journey over the past few years been like for you?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – When I first booked the show, I was still in the middle of what I like to call struggle-fest (laughs). I was working a night shift, pinching pennies, and was stressed out praying for a big opportunity to come. It came and it just changed my life in a lot of ways — getting to work with a new cast and making some new friends. I’ve got to travel the world and it’s shifted my life.

When you first landed the part of Evie, what did you think of her?

When I first got the script, I only got the first episode of season 2. I actually didn’t know how she was going to come back or if she was going to come back until I read episode 9.

On the page it seemed like she was this happy, average girl who seemed like she had her life together, but I just sensed that there was something off from the beginning. It was probably a combination of Damon’s writing, the entire creative team, and the tone of the show, and I just thought that there wasn’t something right there – I wanted to bring that to the role. How I felt I could do that in that episode was really in the choir scene. We were singing that song and everyone was so happy, and I just felt ‘I don’t think she believes this.’ I just didn’t know why until I got the ninth episode.

You’ve played so many different dimensions of Evie at this point — the one [you just described], Guilty Remnant Evie, Evie in Melbourne (who wasn’t really Evie at all), and then Evie from this past episode. Is there one touchstone that you go to with this character that unifies all of them?

I think the through-line in all of them is this deep need for truth, and this anger, disgust and hatred for lies. With the original Evie, what I came to was that she hated lies and didn’t like that about Jarden and her family. That’s why she did what she did. Even if she didn’t know what they were, she knew that there were secrets and lies in her family and secrets and lies in the town. She didn’t like how the town reacted to the sudden Departure — she didn’t know if she believed that no one vanished from there.

In the beginning of season 3 when the [Guilty Remnant gets bombed], you see her and she’s just a human and just a kid in that moment. It’s open for interpretation, but I think she may have regretted her decision and realized that she was going to die and was never going to see her family again.

I loved playing ‘her’ in Melbourne a little later in the season. Even then, here was this crazy man who thinks she’s someone else. She tries to tell him that she’s not and it should be clear, but then after talking to Laurie, she thinks that she needs to play the game to get this man what he needs. That was the truth, and if she had to lie in order to get him to see the truth, that’s what she had to do.

All the characters come back to truth and lies. They were so different, and yet the same.

Jasmin Savoy Brown

Was the experience filming those scenes with Justin [Theroux] in ‘G’Day Melbourne’ one of your most memorable ones on the show?

Absolutely, and maybe in my career. First of all, it was doing the accent work and not really knowing why at first. Last summer, Damon decided to tell me ‘I’m going have you learn a Middle Eastern accent, just FYI.’ I was like ‘what the heck could that actually be for’ (laughs), so I started working with an accent coach. I had no idea, but when I read the script I was ecstatic. I knew it would be an emotional challenge shooting that with Justin and being in another country. It was probably the most fun that I’ve had.

I don’t want any headhunters for HBO to come after us for talking about the series finale, but in the event that this past episode was the last one for you, do you think that Evie’s scene with Justin was an appropriate end?

If that is the ending for her, I believe that it ended it on a strong note. Once again, it has to do with truth and lies. To end that with such strength and commitment to who Evie is, I think that would be a worthy send-off.

At what point during this process did the Will project come about?

That all happened FAST. I auditioned at the very end of October, and I had a call back and Skype session not long after that. A few days later, I was on a plane. It didn’t seem like that long ago, but I guess it was eight or nine months at this point. I was on a plane on Thursday, I landed in London on Friday, and that happened to be the cast halfway party — they’d wrapped episode 5. Then I was shooting that Sunday. It was so fast and scary because this character (Emilia Bassano) is so different than me in how she lives and speaks and exists in the time period. There is so much to do there in terms of accent and body movement and behavior. I had a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time. I thrive in those environments.

It was terrifying, but it was really fun. I love the character I play and this show. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

Was it because this character is so different than Evie in so many ways?

100%. It’s something I’m very aware of and grateful for. I was able to go from The Leftovers to Grey’s Anatomy, doing something completely different in a 28-year old lawyer. Then, I went to Will playing Emilia, a mistress in Shakespearean London, to shooting a role on Judd Apatow’s Love on Netflix. I’ve been able to do completely opposite ends of every spectrum. I’m very grateful to have those opportunities, since it allows me to flex every muscle and I love to do that.

Preview The Leftovers finale further

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