'Leftovers' Producer Says Final Season Is 'About The Stories We Tell Ourselves' The HBO series is set a few years after 2 percent of the world's population suddenly vanishes. Executive producer Mimi Leder says the show revolves around some of life's biggest questions.

'Leftovers' Producer Says Final Season Is 'About The Stories We Tell Ourselves'

'Leftovers' Producer Says Final Season Is 'About The Stories We Tell Ourselves'

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Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux star in season three of The Leftovers. Van Redin/HBO hide caption

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Van Redin/HBO

Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux star in season three of The Leftovers.

Van Redin/HBO

The HBO series The Leftovers explores grief, loss, religion and even the meaning of life. It's set a few years after an event sort of like the rapture, in which 2 percent of the world's population suddenly vanishes. The Leftovers doesn't try to explain why people disappeared; instead, it focuses on those who got left behind and how they try to make sense of the world.

Executive producer Mimi Leder says the show revolves around some big questions. "Why are we here? What is the meaning? What am I supposed to do? How do we carry on in the face of madness every day around the world? ... Some people live in denial and some people ask the questions. I think this show asks those questions."

The Leftovers begins its third and final season on Sunday.


Interview Highlights

On whether the show has helped her find answers to life's big questions

It's given me a little peace and great happiness, actually. It's been an extraordinary journey the last three years on this show exploring the deepness that we all feel about life. It's given me actually a lot of hope. ... It makes me come out the other side going, "Oh, yes. I know what to do." And that's just one day, and the next day I don't know what to do.

On her own faith background

I actually am Jewish but was raised an atheist. My father was an atheist, and my mother is a survivor of Auschwitz and three other concentration camps and [a] death march. When you speak to her today, she's alive at 94 years old and swingin' hard. She has been an agnostic most of her life because she always would say to me, you know, "How could that have happened to my family? How could that have happened to me? How could that have happened to millions of people? How could there be a God?"

Executive producer Mimi Leder directs Justin Theroux while shooting the season three premier of The Leftovers. Van Redin/HBO hide caption

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Van Redin/HBO

Executive producer Mimi Leder directs Justin Theroux while shooting the season three premier of The Leftovers.

Van Redin/HBO

And, you know, as I have grown and evolved, I feel there is some sort of spiritual God that speaks to me. Very interesting coming from a family of non-believers, but I feel there's got to be some answer to this world, to why things happen.

On directing a scene in the first season in which a woman is stoned to death

It was a stoning, a ritual that still exists in the world today. It was a difficult sequence to shoot. You know, we had rocks made very air-like, and throwing them at an actor was very jarring to the actor. So I finally gave way to calling sounds to the actor — you know, "Bam! Bam!" — as if the actor was getting hit, and I put a lot of the stones in CGI. That was the practical part of it, but in watching it, it's one of the painful, most horrific things I've ever shot and seen.

On the third season's overarching theme

I think the third season is about the stories we tell ourselves. That encompasses a lot of the end-of-the-world narratives that are floating around. Everyone's looking for a story that gives meaning to their lives and I think allows them to exist in this world in some degree of peace and even joy. That's what I think this third season is about.

Producer Matt Ozug, editor Ed McNulty and digital producer Nicole Cohen contributed to this story.