Damon Lindelof on ‘The Leftovers’ Finale, Feeling Validated and Season Three

Damon Lindelof is finished apologizing.

Or during slightest he’s perplexing to stop a Mea culpas — a suspicion finished some-more possibly by a torrent of critics flattering over his HBO array The Leftovers, that resolved a second deteriorate Sunday night. For Lindelof, who has spent a half-decade given Lost went off a atmosphere explaining, fortifying and, often, apologizing for his work, a latest accepting has been both stirring and validating.  

“For me, a initial deteriorate of The Leftovers was an intense, romantic struggle,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter, nodding to both a Lost issue and a pressures surrounding his follow-up. “In a second deteriorate of The Leftovers, we unequivocally feel like it kind of pennyless by and became a possess thing. I stopped home on a past and authorised myself to be in a present.”

Now the ever-candid writer/producer awaits word on a third season, a preference that’s been difficult by a drama’s ratings, which are roughly as dour as a uncover itself. Viewership for a second-season drama, blending from Tom Perrotta’s novel, has plummeted scarcely 60 percent from deteriorate one, with a array averaging 670k viewers this year.

“If a uncover had been on standard with deteriorate one, we cruise we would unequivocally be proceeding,” says Lindelof, while acknowledging that conversations are holding place with HBO. “There’s a clarity of, ‘Where did everybody from deteriorate one go? Are they going to binge it? Are they entrance back?’ … There’s all sorts of spin that we can charge to it, yet there is this obscure aspect of, ‘Well, if everybody says that a second deteriorate was better, afterwards where did everybody go?’”

Following a finale, THR held adult with the showrunner to plead since he intentionally didn’t finish on a cliffhanger, a stage he many regrets withdrawal on a slicing room building and his skeleton for a third season: “If we get to do more,” he says, “I’m going to try not to f— it up.”

Before we begin, congratulations on a show’s WGA assignment for “International Assassin.” That has to feel flattering good.

Thanks. If we had told me when we were violation that partial in a writers room that we would one day get a Writers Guild assignment for it, we would have laughed and/or fainted. It was unequivocally opposite and there were many times during a routine where we roughly deserted a suspicion [of Justin Theroux’s clarity failing temporarily and journeying to a other side], yet I’m blissful we didn’t. It incited out awesome. And we was unequivocally agreeably astounded [when we listened about a nomination]. As we know, a uncover doesn’t have a lot of people examination it, and there are usually so many extraordinary radio shows on. Now when someone says it’s an respect to be nominated, they’re indeed revelation a law contra what it was 10 years ago, that was bullshit.

Season one was well-received among critics and fans, yet there was still a lot to infer with a second season. Is a fact that it surpassed expectations during all clearance for you?

It usually feels overwhelming and amazing. There’s a partial of me that’s like, “Oh, yet we know it’s going to go divided again.” That’s positively one approach of looking during it. I’m usually unequivocally perplexing to suffer it and be in a moment. The validation is great. It’s not like we were means to govern a devise we put out there and afterwards there was a extensive volume of high-fiving, like, “Wait until everybody gets a bucket of this.” You usually never know. Up until a impulse that a premiere aired, we thought, “There are going to be people who usually hatred a cavern lady method and there are going to be people who hatred a fact that 85 percent of a initial partial doesn’t have any of a characters that we told them to caring about in a initial deteriorate — yet we unequivocally like this. We cruise that this is constrained storytelling and Kevin Carroll’s overwhelming and Jovan’s overwhelming and Regina’s awesome.” The fact that people embraced it was startling — not since we didn’t wish that they would; it’s usually that we usually never know. So, a unequivocally brief answer to your doubt is that it feels good and we don’t wish to get off a rollercoaster.

If HBO orders a third season, how would we try to and pull in some-more viewers somehow? Or is one of a perks of being on reward wire that we don’t have to worry about ratings (season dual averaged 0.67 million weekly viewers)?

Anybody who says to we that they don’t wish some-more viewers is a many some-more assured sold than we am. we do allow to a suspicion that a some-more people examination a show, a improved a uncover is. The some-more vicious acclaim, a improved a uncover is. I’m usually not a chairman who’s like, “Hey, if we like it afterwards f— all of y’all.” Television in sold is a center that is designed to go out to a masses, and we would like a lot of people [to watch my show.] That said, we also know that a theme matter is unequivocally seeking for a large investment from a audience. One of a things that we can all acknowledge is that there’s so many good radio out there. People who will admonish a show, they’ll be like, “Oh my god, you’ve got to watch The Leftovers. we cried like a baby final night.” The chairman they’re observant that to competence think, “I’m not wholly certain we wish to cry like a baby?” The uncover does ask for an heated romantic investment, and we have to acknowledge that. And we wish to keep essay that show. To HBO’s and Warner Bros.’s credit, no one is seeking me how can we make a uncover some-more permitted to people. we don’t know how we would even do that. we theory one approach would be, like, to expel Matthew McConaughey in a show. “McConaughey joins Leftovers deteriorate three!” But afterwards there’s a people who adore The Leftovers and have been examination it for dual seasons who would substantially go, “I don’t know, man. we adore Matthew McConaughey, yet we don’t know. That feels exploitative. It feels like a ratings grab.” So, we wouldn’t know how to start to make a uncover some-more accessible. If we have any ideas, I’m open to good ones. I’m whorish that way.

It’s enchanting that we charge a low ratings during slightest partially to a pithy theme matter of a show. Do we cruise many people usually wish feel-good TV?

The grounds of a uncover is that dual percent of a race of a universe vanishes, and as against to observant we’re meddlesome in elucidate that poser and exploring that alt-history chronicle of where those people went and why, a bread and butter of a uncover is: what is it like to be kind of left behind? How does it feel to be deserted or left out? It’s in a title, even. (And I’m not holding credit for this — it’s in a DNA of Tom’s extraordinary novel.) Most of a people we know all brand with a child who was picked final for a kickball team. It arrange of taps into that idea. How was it that all of us were picked last? Maybe I’m usually articulate to writers who were not athletically endowed, yet we cruise everybody feels like that. Recreating that feeling is usually not something people wish to dwell on. We have adequate feelings of abandonment in a tangible lives, so since would we wish to watch a radio uncover that’s about that when we could watch shows about people elucidate crimes and winning and being drastic and carrying fun and all a things that we like in TV.

Then since make a uncover as emotionally fatiguing as a The Leftovers?

A lot of a shows I’m drawn to ask a lot of me. They ask a lot of me emotionally and intellectually, and infrequently a characters do bad things that make me feel icky. For example, I’m rooting for Walter White. It’s kind of sick. we wish him to distortion to his mother since she’s going to hurt a show. It’s like, “Wait, that is f—ked up.” And afterwards a uncover can fundamentally change itself with other tools that eventually siphon we in, generally for a binge experience. But even with a uncover like The Leftovers, everybody I’ve talked to is like, “I attempted to binge your show. we did dual episodes behind to behind and we wanted to die, so we stopped.” we take that as a compliment. we don’t cruise that a uncover is a uncover that we should watch over a march of a weekend — not since I’m pretended and altered about it; we usually feel like that would be a unequivocally heated and romantic experience.

Do we feel like many shows are best consumed on a week-to-week basis? Are there instances where a binging indication creates some-more sense?

There are some shows that we adore to binge and there are some shows that we adore to watch live since they are partial of a informative conversation. With a uncover like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, we watch them on Sunday — and Fargo on Monday — since with a lot of a media that we devour and a websites that we visit, I’m going to get marred unless we watch. And we unequivocally like enchanting in a recappery of it all, whatever a plead is. we wish to be a partial of and arcane to it, so we like examination a shows in that way. But a Netflix shows don’t give me any other choice yet to binge them. we do like to watch them during my possess pace, that tends to be, “I need a subsequent one now.” My mother and we watched Kimmy Schmidt over a march of a week and a half since it was like, “Let’s usually watch another one, usually one.” I’m examination The Man in a High Castle that approach now. we started it about 5 days ago and I’ll finish it during some indicate before a weekend. And Jessica Jones, same thing. It’s so tantalizing when a subsequent one is right in front of we to not watch it.

Would we ever cruise creation a uncover for a height that releases all episodes during once, like a Netflix or an Amazon?

I never contend never to anything. For me, it’s turn reduction about, “This is an Amazon show, this is a Netflix show, this is a Hulu show.” we adore Transparent, we adore Bloodline, we adore Kimmy Schmidt. It doesn’t matter where it is. But we do cruise a arrange of radio storytelling that we like to do is episodic. we feel like that’s one of a things that allows, say, a stage between Nora (Carrie Coon) and Erika (Regina King) to be executed during such an amazingly high level. Episode 6 was designed to be a story about them — and during a end, Nora has this extraordinary review with Kevin (Justin Theroux). If right when that partial ends we immediately start examination a seventh episode, it doesn’t get a possibility to exhale during all. There is an artsy fartsy altered partial of me that’s would cite that these episodes exhale a little. we usually binged a initial deteriorate of The Knick. There are episodes of that uncover that are unequivocally privately episodes. There was one that radically finished with this good impulse where Clive Owen is training how to float a bike. When it finished, we was fundamentally like, “I don’t wish to watch a subsequent one. we usually wish to be with that for a integrate of days. What a pleasing culmination for an episode.” But that’s usually me. I’m not a doctor; we don’t get to allot what levels of The Leftovers are poisonous for someone. But we like a aged conform way. we like to make episodes, and we cruise a expectancy and fad surrounding them — a “I can’t watch a subsequent one next,” the, “Let me speak to my friends about what we cruise is going to occur next,” and the, “Let’s all throng source what we cruise a Yellow King means” — we can’t do that on a deteriorate of House of Cards or Bloodline. We’re not allowed. Imagine if Bloodline had aired week-to-week what a theories would have been about what happened to Danny. That would have been unequivocally exciting. That uncover lent itself to that arrange of dissection.

Sure, and The Leftovers advantages from that arrange of weekly research as well.

Again, we don’t wish to be a posh and tell anybody how they should devour The Leftovers. I’m usually relaying conversationally what people contend to me who have. we get that it’s not a uncover that has a, “I can’t approach to see what’s going to occur next” engine. Although, with a finale, we theory there’s a small bit of that appetite of like, “How are they going to hang this all up?” But it’s usually not a uncover that ends with [cliffhangers.] Episode 7 culmination with Kevin’s death, that was as tighten to a cliffhanger as we’re going to come.

The season’s final stage was anything yet a cliffhanger. When did we know that was how we wanted to hang adult deteriorate dual and how accurately did we map out a arc of a deteriorate to make certain that you’d finish adult there?

When we initial sat down and started articulate about a second deteriorate — yet plainly observant it as directly as I’m about to — we were like, “Tom, if we were to write another novel that was a supplement to The Leftovers, how would we go about doing that? Because we wish a second deteriorate to feel like another novel as against to a center of a trilogy. What would a culmination be?” We all started articulate about a suspicion of one of a vital themes of a deteriorate being, “Wherever we go, there we are.” And apparently Jill (Margaret Qualley) verbalizes that in a show, yet shouldn’t a culmination be like, we ran divided from Mapleton, yet afterwards a accurate same thing happened, like roughly a accurate same thing? We’ll exaggerate what happened to a Garveys by a story of a Murphys. The whole suspicion that this place where no one over is usually as f—ed adult as everywhere else, and that appetite is fundamentally that wall of Jericho violation down. It’s not like a Garveys brought a Guilty Remnant to Jarden. In fact, we unequivocally clearly illustrate that Meg (Liv Tyler) and that story was in suit before a Garveys motionless to move. But a Garveys get to bear declare to a same accurate energies. We’ll change adult some things — we don’t wish a assembly to feel like it’s surplus — yet we do wish to go out of a approach to contend that there’s a unequivocally eloquent caricature in terms of a approach that we’re conceptualizing this. It’s going to unequivocally feel and demeanour a same — Kevin towering by this city and entrance home — yet this time it’s broader. And we will give credit where credit is due: Tom pitched that scene. [He said,] “If we can pattern a culmination so that Kevin fundamentally comes home and we’re not certain if anybody’s going to be there this time yet they’re all there and a impulse that he has with Nora is exponentially incomparable than it was since final year it was Nora, Jill, and Kevin and a dog and now it’s everybody — if we can pattern things to acquire that, afterwards there will be a feeling of completeness.”

It roughly felt like it could have been a finish of a series. Fair?

I know a lot of showrunners or writers in my position will fundamentally contend that we had to pattern a deteriorate as if there weren’t going to be anymore. we wish there to be some-more Leftovers, don’t get me wrong — yet we wish any deteriorate to feel like a seasons of The Wire, that felt complete. You told me this story about Amsterdam and it’s complete. You told me this story about a schools and it’s complete. we cruise that that’s a approach seasons of The Leftovers are always going to feel. They’re never going to finish on cliffhangers; they’re always going to finish on some feeling like, “Yeah, I’m extraordinary as to what happens subsequent in Miracle or what happens subsequent to a Garveys, yet it does feel like we finished that story.”

Despite a risks we took in terms of revamping a uncover in deteriorate two, it managed to locate on in an wholly new way. Do we cruise you’d follow a identical indication in deteriorate 3 and rise an wholly new story (albeit with informed threads using through) or would we hang with a universe you’ve combined in Jarden?

Well, we have suspicion about where we would go in a third season, yet usually a unequivocally beginnings of ideas. Some of them we had to plead in method to make a moves that we finished in a culmination in terms of not wanting to put a backs on a wall. We had to cruise about a ramifications of this thing or that thing, or even usually Mary waking up, that is something that we knew we were going to do and we talked to Janel (Moloney) and Chris (Eccleston) about in terms of giving him specificity in terms of like, “I need to know, as Matt Jamison, do we trust that Mary woke up? When we get challenged on this idea, will I…?” Those sorts of things had to have genuine specificity about and once we do them, there’s going to be a durability effect. If we did a third deteriorate of a show, we wouldn’t wish it to feel gimmicky. And now a assembly is like, “Oh, are they going to start a third deteriorate in a antiquated times again or are we going to start with another family that again?” Whatever we do, we don’t wish it to be gimmicky. That said, a sky’s a limit. The approach we built a second deteriorate was Tom and myself went into a room with a garland of impossibly gifted writers and we started to rebound ideas off a wall and we started to get vehement about some of them. we wish to do a same thing again, yet that hasn’t happened nonetheless — it can’t occur until HBO says we wish more.

I’m presumption those conversations have been happening, yes?

HBO has been immensely understanding about a creative, and all we can contend is that we’re all talking. We all have to acknowledge a ratings. If a uncover had been on standard with deteriorate one, we cruise we would unequivocally be proceeding. But we cruise there’s a clarity of, “Where did everybody from deteriorate one go? Are they going to binge it. Are they entrance back?” Because a ratings went down, there’s all sorts of spin that we can charge to it, yet there is this obscure aspect of, “Well, if everybody says that a second deteriorate was better, afterwards where did everybody go?”

Do we have any theories?

It’s like The Leftovers itself, maybe we’ll never know. It’s a small some-more than dual percent unfortunately. [Laughs.] we cruise maybe a potion half-full take is that people are watchful to binge it — they wish to watch it yet they wish to do so all in one chunk. The potion half dull is like, “I desired a initial deteriorate yet we usually can’t take any some-more of that show. we usually can’t take any more.”

Since we assembled many of a episodes this deteriorate from possibly an sold or organisation of characters’ graphic perspective(s). What kind of conversations did we have with any of a actors about that structure and what it’d meant for them? Particularly Liv Tyler, deliberation she was absent for many of a season.

Specific to Liv, all indeed worked out extraordinary since she had a baby this year. Her due date was right around a time we were going to start production. When she told me, she said, “Hey, I’m pregnant,” and we said, “Look, that’s indeed going to make this review a lot easier since we’re not going to see Meg until a third partial of a uncover and she’s unequivocally usually going to be in one large scene. It’s unequivocally going to make utterly an clarity and afterwards we’re not going to see her again until a final integrate episodes of a season.” We had been articulate after a initial season, and she was like, “Are we going to do for Meg what you’ve finished for everybody else? Are we going to get some clarity of what creates her tick?” And we was like, “That’s coming, and it’s going to be in a behind half of a second season, so get prepared for it.” I’m substantially horribly wrong about this since I’m infamously bad during math, yet if we fundamentally did some dimensions of shade time, we cruise Liv radically got as many shade time as Margaret Qualley did this deteriorate yet all fifty-five mins of her shade time was strong in partial nine. And we also cruise we did Margaret a harm — she’s an extraordinary singer and we didn’t get to do a good Jill partial this season. we did contend to a actors on an ongoing basis, “Guys, one of my deepest regrets is that we get benched for a certain series of episodes.” But it’s all by pattern and we unequivocally feel like a reason we get to do episodes like “International Assassin” or “Lens” is since a assembly is so prepared and so inspired for a Justin partial or a Nora episode. Would we rather have 3 scenes of Nora in each partial or would we rather have a Nora episode? we usually feel like a storytelling that works best for this uncover is a latter, and a actors do, too. Plus, they get to have lives. Once they have staid into a fact that that’s a approach that this uncover works, we cruise they’re all on house with it.

What about a slicing room floor: were there vital scenes we shot this deteriorate that never finished it to air?

Other than usually pleat some things down for time, a usually thing that we unequivocally bewail losing is a stage in partial seven, that was a partial where Kevin drinks a poison. There was substantially tighten to 10 mins of footage that we shot of Jill. After she leaves a church where she has a quarrel with Michael (Jovan Adepo), she goes on a small tour by Miracle. Margaret did extraordinary work, yet a partial finished adult being 74 mins long. Also, each time we cut to Jill, it finished Kevin’s psychological tour reduction diligent since we were means to take a exhale from it. So when he eventually drank a poison, it was like, “I’m not wholly certain I’m feeling a stress that we wish to be feeling since we felt service each time we cut divided from him.” It was again a show’s approach of staying with one person, yet we also unequivocally felt like we’d been neglecting Jill as a clarity and Margaret as an actress, so it was unequivocally agonizing to cut that, yet we did. That’s a usually thing that went away.

You’ve now had dual opposite songs for a opening pretension music, with a Max Richter measure in deteriorate one and Iris DeMent’s “Let a Mystery Be” in deteriorate two. Would we cruise changing a opener again in deteriorate three?

Everything is on a table. But then, is that a thing that we do now? The usually reason we altered it this year was it felt like a opening pretension wasn’t accomplishing all that we wanted it to. we kind of feel like a new opening does. I’m unequivocally in adore with a pretension method and Iris’s music, yet we also feel like a answer to your doubt is, initial of all, can we means it? Every time we change a opening pretension sequence, it’s costly. The other thing is don’t usually do it to do it. If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it. we favourite a pretension method a initial year, yet a notation that we pronounced we consternation if we should change a pretension sequence, everybody said, “You should, we should.”

I adore that Weeds fundamentally did opposite cover versions of a same “Little Boxes” each year, and The Wire did a same thing where it was a same strain yet kind of like a opposite display of a strain or a opposite artist. But any time that we feel like there’s an expectation, my default position is that we contingency mishandle it. If now there’s an expectancy that there’s going to be a new pretension method in deteriorate three, afterwards I’m like, “No, we’re adhering with what we’ve got.” [Laughs.] But afterwards ultimately, who knows? That would be like a biggest problem to have: what should we do about a pretension method in deteriorate three? Should there even be a pretension sequence? My dual favorite pretension method are Fargo’s and Mr. Robot’s, and they don’t even have pretension sequences. Mr. Robot is like, “Where is a ideal chain for a Mr. Robot card?” You know, for a USA presents. And Fargo each week does that typewriter thing — “This is a loyal story, blah blah blah,” — and afterwards yet we don’t see any of a actor’s names or even who destined a episode. It’s many some-more cinematic. we cruise that that suspicion of what we cruise a pretension method is interesting. There’s a lot of investigation function now and that’s unequivocally sparkling to me.

Since you’re so in change with what people are essay about a show, have there been any specific criticisms of this deteriorate that have unequivocally irritated you?

Truth be told, a critique has unequivocally been curated for me. There’s a rabbit hole. we know that if we do a Google hunt on The Leftovers that that is not going to produce a certain outcome for me. That’s a reason we got off Twitter; we had a unequivocally mortal robe of seeking out what people were observant to change a extraordinary life that I’m heading and it was usually toxic. So now if someone says something good about a show, one of a writers from a uncover will send me a link, or [my assistant] Kyle will say, “Do we know that this usually happened?” I’ve been kept totally and totally safe.

And we cite being insulated that way?

I feel like we, as writers, are feeling terror in terms of a risks that a uncover is taking. For example, an partial like “International Assassin” or even a one after that usually being Meg-focused. We know that there have to be people out there that are like, “I wish we hadn’t finished that.” If we are holding risks repeatedly, infrequently those risks are going to work and infrequently they aren’t — and we have to be ok with that. we cruise each “criticism” that I’ve review of a uncover is like, “I’m not certain we rubbed Meg and Tom’s passionate charge as good as we wish we had.” That’s fair, yet a existence is that I’m blissful we attempted since when we initial started articulate about it, we was like, “You know, let’s not even get into this. This is usually dangerous domain right now. Our uncover shouldn’t be traffic with that during all.” But afterwards it’s like, “Let’s try it anyway. We know that we’re not going to get it right for everyone, yet there’s something enchanting function here. Let’s do it.” And we don’t ever wish to bashful divided from removing out on a tightrope. There’s zero that anyone could contend to me about my work during this indicate that hasn’t been said. Once we call me a penetrate and contend that I’ve busted 6 years of your life and that we should have all essay implements taken divided from me and that I’m as dangerous as a hacker and that hackers shouldn’t be authorised to have computers and we shouldn’t be authorised to use them, it’s all been said. It’s like, I’m a writer; we tell stories. I’m not a man who’s ever committed mass genocide or has a repute as being a misogynist or abuses animals — I’m usually a writer. The vitriol though. I’m fundamentally like, “What some-more can we contend about my writing?” I’m not going anywhere.

You’ve also apologized publicly substantially some-more than any other author ever has. Vulture even wrote an whole article comparing we to Toby from The Office for that unequivocally reason. Do we determine with that characterization of yourself?

What’s excitable about that square is A) we usually adore a tinge of it. But some-more importantly — and we can ask my mother about this — when we would watch The Office, we would be like, “God, bad Toby. F—ing, this bad guy.” we usually totally felt for him and we unequivocally brand with him. we unequivocally feel like if we were to say, “Who are we on The Office?” we would be like, “I’m unequivocally Toby.” The fact that my print is subsequent to Paul Lieberstein in any context is usually a biggest thing that’s ever happened to me. And a essay itself was kind of unequivocally sweetly fortifying me. At a unequivocally least, it had consolation for my position. we was immensely flattered and overwhelmed by it. we can usually suppose what a representation to a editors was on that one.

With a overwhelmingly certain response from critics and fans this season, we take it we don’t have anything you’d like to apologize for during a moment, right?

Let’s give them time. We live in a stick-the-landing culture. And now there’s expectations. We came into a second deteriorate with roughly no expectations. So a suspicion that a uncover surpassed people’s expectations for what it could be was great, and now we’re commencement to get that thing that we have where it’s like, “Alright Mr. Robot, we altered a f—ing approach we watched radio in deteriorate one, so we improved continue to change it.” We’re on that rollercoaster again. Over 6 years of Lost, there were many, many, many peaks and valleys, yet a hollow that is a deepest is a one that’s between a culmination and a premiere since that’s a time people are like, “There’s no new uncover to speak about so let’s ceaselessly collect on what we have.” So there’s no partial of me that’s feeling vindicated. It’s usually an ongoing process. I’m unequivocally unapproachable of a work. Again, we charge a success of a second deteriorate to a people who worked on it. we know that we am a divisive figure and that a media wants to charge some grade of authorship to me yet this is so cave and Perotta’s show. He wrote a strange content and he continues to work on it. The writers on a uncover and writer-producers are so actively intent in what this thing became — Mimi Leder and Eugene Kelly in Texas. The actors — Carrie Coon protects Nora Durst like it’s her possess child. we know that as an exec writer and showrunner we have to say, “Oh my god, this expel is so amazing.” But a association we have with them is personal. If we could uncover we a emails that have left onward between Ann Dowd and myself — a turn during that she approaches and unpacks Patti Levin — it would blow your mind. The fact that we get to work with someone like that, I’m usually blessed. And, we know, if we get to do more, I’m going to try not to f— it up. 

Damon Lindelof
The Leftovers