Fellow Hollywood newcomers must envy actress Jasmin Savoy Brown for her chance to work alongside big names like Justin Theroux, Regina King, and Liv Tyler. In its second season, HBO’s gripping drama The Leftovers welcomed Brown into its cast. In the show, which explores the disappearance of two percent of the world’s population—an event known as the Sudden Departure—and the aftermath of dealing with their unexplained absence, Brown plays Evie Murphy, a neighbor to main character Kevin Garvey (played by Theroux). Here, Brown discusses her character’s development and her involvement in the Guilty Remnant, a silent organization formed to remind others of the Sudden Departure.
Cliché: At the start of season 2 of The Leftovers, your character Evie goes missing, only for it to be revealed at the end that she staged the disappearance. Did you have any idea that this was planned?
Jasmin Savoy Brown: I had no idea! But I could not have been more excited. The first time I watched The Leftovers, I was sold as soon as Amy Brenneman came on the screen. I was so captivated that I literally said to myse“lf, “I would love to play on that show, as one of the Guilty Remnant. HA! That’ll never happen.” So later when I read the script for episode nine and it was revealed that Evie was joining the Guilty Remnant, I literally gasped, cursed, screamed, and then threw my script. In joy!
How do you feel about your character’s development this season?
I have loved Evie’s development. I honestly did not think that I could have gotten a better, juicier role at this point. In my first big job, I was able to reveal multiple sides of myself and play in a different territory, so I do not feel confined to one specific box, and that is such a gift. I think that Evie’s progression occurred through the viewer’s experience. Evie’s anger was always there. I knew it was there; I felt it. The audience just did not know yet because Damon [Lindelof] and the creators are very smart. But they left seemingly obvious clues that are fun to discover in a second viewing. I loved the honesty in her progression. The way that Evie was written, nothing was false or forced or seemed like an idea. The portrayal was an honest reflection of this girl’s experience—relatable, and true.
Do you have any theories as to why Evie joined the Guilty Remnant?
I have many theories as to why Evie joined the Guilty Remnant—the crux of it being her pain and anger. I think that Evie is someone who feels deeper than most. She can see things that other people can not. She sees the truth. She loves harder and feels pain more deeply, so the effects of the departure on her town and [on] her family took a more intense toll on her than most. She hid that pain for so long that most people thought that “something happened.” Well, the departure happened.
As an actress, what did you like most about playing Evie?
I loved exploring her anger and manipulation. Evie is deeply, deeply angry, and exceptional at hiding it. She was so cunning and loving in her deception that the entire town of Jarden, her family included, were completely blindsided by her decision to disappear. As heartbreaking as the content is, it is interesting and fun to explore as an actor. I have never played someone as angry as Evie. I feel like I have only brushed the surface of her anger, and I would love to continue to explore this.
What drew you to this role?
To be completely honest, having an audition drew me. When I booked this role, nothing had clicked yet. I had gone on about 650 auditions, and of those auditions, I had only booked a few small co-star roles, or one-liners in movies that even my family cannot remember. I was taking every audition that I could, even though I did not always want to, and starting to wonder if it was possible that I was doing something wrong in the callback room. Then I got the call that I had booked the role of Evie. I am extremely lucky to truly start my career with The Leftovers.
Many shows are straightforward in their reveals, but this show thrives on ambiguity. Was this a pull for you as an actress to take part in a show grounded in such mystery?
Yes, absolutely. Especially after I did some research on Damon [Lindelof] and started to understand the way that he works. To not know what was happening next, I knew that I would be forced to rely completely on instinct, which sounded exciting and challenging. With such ambiguous themes and answers rarely being revealed, I knew that I could openly explore every possibility and there would be no “wrong” answer. There really is no right or wrong on The Leftovers.
How does it feel working with such a talented cast?
I felt like I was being paid to attend a master class. It was an incredible experience. I learned so much from the entire cast. I am especially thankful to Kevin Carroll, who was and will forever be one my biggest teachers. He was the person I went to on set (or when I was taping auditions in my hotel room) whenever I faced a challenge or had a question, and he would always take the time to stop and give me his full attention. He would take the opportunity to teach me something and then I would watch him act that out or put it into practice myself. It was an absolute dream.
What can we can expect in the third season?
I wish I could tell you, but I honestly have no idea! Whatever happens, I know that it will beautiful, engaging, and honest.
Now you’re also going to have a guest role in the upcoming second season of ABC Family’s/Freeform’s Stitchers. Could you tell us a little about your character and what to expect?
On Stitchers, I play Nina, a 20-something comic book (and all-around) nerd who falls for one of the members of the Stitchers team. You can expect Doctor Who jokes, a cute pair of glasses, and a lot of flirty, nerdy banter.
Any other projects coming up?
I just wrapped photography on two independent features. I shot Newly Single starring Adam Christian Clark, Jennifer Prediger, and Jennifer Kim, as well as LANE 1974, starring Katherine Moennig and directed by S.J. Chiro. Both projects are expected to release in 2017. I am working on a few other things, but as of right now, my lips are sealed!
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Jasmin Savoy Brown Gives Us the Scoop on Season 2 of ‘The Leftovers’: Photo courtesy of Quavondo