Damon Lindelof spoke about why he took on his latest project, the HBO drama The Leftovers.
The Leftovers is based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, which follows those left behind after a Rapture-type event whisks away one-hundred-and-forty-million people.
Lindelof was attracted to the story after reading a review of Perrotta’s book by author Stephen King (located here). “I was reading The New York Times Book Review,” said Lindelof, “which is the way that I pretend to read books. I read the reviews of the books and then I can articulately pretend like I’ve read them — and Stephen King wrote a review of The Leftovers, which he described as the best episode of The Twilight Zone that had never been shot.
“I was a Perrotta fan. I read Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher and just on the premise alone [of The Leftovers] – I was completely and totally engaged by this idea. I ran and got the book immediately and I got maybe fifty pages in before I decided [that] this should be a television show and I need[ed] to collaborate with Tom [Perrotta] on that show. It took a year for things to sort themselves out but there was never any doubt as to like, ‘Should this be my next project?’ It was love at first sight.”
Lindelof explained what the citizens in The Leftovers would be dealing with emotionally. “This is going to be a show about sudden and abrupt loss and more importantly, what will at least in its initial presentation seem to be one that you can’t receive closure from,” he said. “If someone dies, that’s a horrible thing and they must be mourned. But in this instance, you don’t even know if you’re supposed to mourn who’s been departed because they could be walking through your door tomorrow, or you could be zapped up or down or sideways to wherever they are. So this lack of understanding as to what just occurred is the most pervasive feeling, not just in the moment that it happens but certainly three years later when the story starts.”
The Leftovers will be airing later this year.