Carrie Coon was not certain a Kevin-Nora ‘ship would ever set sail. The Leftovers actress concedes that the fan fervor that greeted the unorthodox duo was one of Season 1’s most pleasant surprises.
“I didn’t expect that kind of investment because they are dark and damaged people,” the actress tells TVLine. “And they came together in these extreme circumstances. I didn’t know if people would embrace them and relate to them. But what a wonderful thing.”
When Season 2 — premiering Sunday on HBO — picks up, Kevin and Nora are in a comparatively more upbeat head space, thanks in large part to a major change of scenery (goodbye Mapleton, NY, hello Miracle, TX!). But if you’ve seen the latest trailer, you know that their newfound feelings of hope and happiness quickly give way to agitation and alarm when a fresh, rapture-esque crisis erupts.
In the following Q&A, Coon weighs in on Leftovers‘ dramatic Season 2 premise reset and reveals what it was like to (briefly) play a contented, carefree Nora.
TVLINE | When we spoke at the end of Season 1, you weren’t sure if you were going to be asked back for Season 2…
We knew that since [Season 1 had exhausted all of novelist and exec producer Tom Perrotta’s source material] that [fellow EP] Damon Lindelof was capable of taking the story anywhere. And you have to give him time to figure out what he wants to do, because he’s very thoughtful and smart and his head is so full of ideas. You can’t pressure him. So I had to wait and see.
TVLINE | Were you on pins and needles? Did you have an inkling you’d be back?
I had a hope. But as an actor you always have to expect that things are probably not going to go your way. We’re rejected so much more than we are accepted. We’re so accustomed to having to let things go, so mentally I was preparing to let go of the show. Which I’m preparing to do again at the end of Season 2. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Is there any part of you that would’ve been OK if you didn’t return? It’s a really dark show…
I would’ve been sad. I wasn’t done with Nora. Sometimes you’re done with a character. After I was in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for two years, I was ready to put Honey down. But I would’ve been sad to walk away from Nora that soon. And as far as living in this dark world, I think there is sometimes a cost. But, for me personally, it’s very satisfying to live those emotions on the screen. It’s very cathartic. At the end of the day you feel like you’ve had a good cry, and it’s very fulfilling.
TVLINE | Nora and Kevin are considerably happier when we pick up in the premiere. What was it like to actually smile?
[Laughs] It was a lot of fun because we see a very different energy from both of them. It was lovely to explore a lighter side of her. She’s dressing lighter, she’s moving lighter, she’s really embracing this new opportunity. But, of course, if you haven’t dealt with the things that are inside of you they’re going to go with you wherever you are. So, of course they bring all their baggage to Miracle, even though there’s this guise of them escaping. They start from a very honest place, but very quickly that unravels… They were forced into this relationship so quickly, so of course there are issues. Just the day-to-day issues of living with someone. Then add on top of that their mental illness… There’s a lot they have to take with them to Texas.
TVLINE | Luckily Texas is a big state…
Everything is bigger in Texas — including your problems. [Laughs]
TVLINE | In many ways, it feels like a whole new show.
I think it’s such a bold, artistic move to uproot us from the Northeast and take us to Texas in this dry, cracked, dark place. And I’m so glad that Damon did it. And HBO is one of the only places that would let him.
TVLINE | How important is it for Nora that this Miracle risk pays off?
The stakes are life and death. If Nora lets go of her grief, who is she? That’s not an easy struggle. It’s not an easy question. So inevitably it’s not going to go very smoothly.
TVLINE | Do we need to be worried about Kevin and Nora?
Isn’t it more fun to be worried? [Remember] Ross and Rachel?