“I wasn’t expecting the ending that we got, but it was immensely satisfying to me,” says Carrie Coon, who plays Nora Durst on The Leftovers, the Peabody Award-winning series about the lives of those left on Earth after two percent of the world’s population disappears, which is now airing its third and final season on HBO.
“[It’s] especially gratifying to have Nora be so much a part of the ending,” Coon says of her character, who lost her husband and two kinds during the Departure and struggled with depression in the years since. Her character eventually found some solace with Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and in their retreat to Texas, where the show moved to in season two. Working for the Department of Sudden Departure, Nora finds herself unsettled once again, when her investigation into a fraudulent company promising to reunite people with the Departed takes her to Melbourne, Australia, in season three.
“[It’s] also challenging as an actor just because of the volume of things I had to learn there at the very, very end. And we were exhausted and there’s quite a bit of stunt work that I got do myself,” the actress says of not only grappling with the weight of the story but also the physical demands of performing stunts and working on location in Australia, where Theroux said the elements were a real challenge at times. “It was very uncomfortable, a lot,” he said of filming in the Outback.
“In some ways, it was great to be so mentally and physically exhausted by the last episode,” Coon says. “It just seemed appropriate to leave it all on the table. [It] was the only way to finish the series.”
And for the actress, it’s par for the course. After gaining attention for her Tony-nominated performance in the 2012 Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Coon made her feature film debut in Gone Girl, playing Ben Affleck’s sister. The Leftovers, which arrived the same year, was her first major TV opportunity. “So, I just sort of started my adventure into television,” she said last summer, following the HBO series' acclaimed season two, which earned her Emmy buzz as well as a 2016 Critics’ Choice Television Award.
However, the adventure included a steep learning curve after coming from the stage. On The Leftovers set, Coon had less time to get it right -- “or at least get it adequately,” she said with a newfound appreciation for just how deep one has to reach, especially while mentally or physically exhausted. “You have to find this well inside yourself you didn't know you had.”
When it came to Fargo, Noah Hawley’s FX anthology series now in its third season, the actress not only came to set with some experience but also a deep appreciation for the show’s signature Minnesota accents. Born in Ohio, Coon earned a M.F.A. in acting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, becoming full immersed in the North Central dialect. In fact, the actress can recall being in a store when she first noticed how people talk. “I heard someone go, ‘Oh for cute!’ and I turned around and I thought, Is that an actual exclamation? And of course it is,” she says. “It’s very real. That’s a real wonderful friendly specific thing up there and I love it.”
While she can draw on her college experiences, the show will certainly present a new side of Coon, who plays Gloria Burgle, Eden Valley, Minnesota’s chief of police and single mother, who finds herself wrapped up in the murderous mysteries of season three. “It’s been really fun,” she says, before adding: “And it’s always nice to know that you have a job. I’m trying to get the next job always.”
The Leftovers airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO. Fargo season three premieres Wednesday, April 19 at 10 pm ET/PT on FX.
--Additional reporting by Leanne Aguilera