There are some cast members of “The Leftovers” who will never share their opinions on the ambiguous series finale (Carrie Coon, for starters), and then there’s Justin Theroux. In a February 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor shared his concrete explanation of the series finale. Cut to over two years later, and Theroux now tells The Hollywood Reporter (via Uproxx) that he regrets ever putting his opinions down on paper for the world to see. Theroux is now choosing to discuss “The Leftovers” finale by invoking a message from one of the characters, Matt (Christopher Eccleston).
“One time, I came down on one side or the other about the story, and then I regretted it,” Theroux said. “So I don’t want anyone to Google what my answer would be. But in the same vein as Matt being, ‘Let people have their stories,’ I very much enjoy hearing both sides…I feel like a bit of a jerk for ever giving my opinion on it because I don’t want to deprive anyone else of their story and I don’t want to sway anyone either way.”
The acclaimed final episode of “The Leftovers,” titled “The Book of Nora,” was written by Lindelof and Tom Perrotta and intentionally kept a major narrative question ambiguous: Was Nora (Coon) lying about the machine that transported her to an alternative dimension where the departed went? Nora is seen entering a machine chamber to be transported to see her departed family, but the scene progresses in a way where it becomes unclear whether or not Nora went through with the transportation or asked to be removed from the chamber. The show uses a jump cut to leap decades in the future, where Nora lives in isolation in Australia. Theroux’s character, Kevin, shows up on her doorstep and plays into a history where Nora got transported to the other dimension. The series’ final moments find Nora recalling what happened during her trip, and Kevin tearfully saying he believes her.
“My theory is that she’s lying to me,” Theroux told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. “And she didn’t go to this other place, and she’s using that to try and get me to leave or to not be with her. It’s sort of implied, because our show, a lot of times when people would have monologues or say things, we’d flash back to those events. And in that monologue, there’s no flashback to the event.”
“I think it’s a defense mechanism,” Theroux explained about the lie both Nora and Kevin tell each other they believe. “She’s like, I’m going to tell him this story and he’s gonna go, ‘You’re bats— crazy’ and he’s gonna leave. And he ends up saying, ‘I don’t care, you’re here, you’re the love of my life, and so I’m going to stay with you.’”
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