'Timeless' Star Abigail Spencer Reveals Why the Series Finale Took Her by Surprise (Exclusive)

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Timeless
NBC

Warning: Do not proceed if you have not watched the two-hour Timeless series finale. If you have, here's what co-creator Shawn Ryan had to say about the final scene and (maybe) wrapping up the story for good.

Abigail Spencer is reminiscing on her time as Timeless' leading lady.

Now that the two-hour series finale is out for the world to see, the 37-year-old actress was reflective about her experience filming the final two episodes, admitting during a phone interview with ET hours before its Thursday night premiere that the thought of this possibly being the end didn't hit her until she stepped foot on the Santa Clarita, California, set nearly two months ago.

"I wasn't prepared for it. Because we got to the table read and we were like, 'Oh, isn't this fun! Thanks to all the fans! This is so great! How lucky are we?' And then it snuck up on me," Spencer told ET. "Even at the table read, I was like, hahaha, and then tears were rolling down my face when we got to the end, when we go through and see the journey and remind ourselves of the journey. Like, oh my god we've been to 30 different time periods; Malcolm [Barrett], Matt [Lanter] and I have literally been on this journey like Lucy, Rufus and Wyatt have, and it really touched me -- realizing how much a part of my life this has been the past three years."

"It really started to wash over me in a very surprising way. It was unexpected how moved I was and sad thinking about how this could really be the last time. We approached the movie that way. If this is the last time, we want it to feel satisfying," she said.

The Timeless finale saw Lucy and Wyatt finally end up together and by 2023, married and parents to twin girls, Flynn and Amy, callbacks to the team's dearly departed foe-turned-ally and Lucy's sister. But their happy ending didn't come without heartbreaking costs. In an exclusive interview with ET, Spencer breaks down the biggest moments, from Lucy and Wyatt's happy ending to Flynn's sacrifice, and why filming the finale was a unique experience.

ET: Goran Visnjic said this was a "gift for the fans," and it really checked all the boxes. Was it important for you to fulfill certain wishes for fans?

Abigail Spencer: Yes, a hundred percent. Across the board, Arika [Lisanne Mittman] and Lauren [Greer] wrote it with the fans in mind. NBC had requested to release it as a holiday special, so incorporating organically the holiday component of it through the Timeless lens. The fans brought us back, so the show is for the fans.

How happy are you with Lucy and Wyatt's ending?

I really like it. What I love is that I never felt like Lucy and Wyatt got together too soon and then as soon as they got together, they got pulled apart by very real circumstances. When someone’s wife shows up after being dead and you’ve spent years of your life trying to get their back, that is a moment where you go and explore that. Wyatt and Lucy both knew that. And I think it helped the relationship with Flynn grow. What I think is also interesting is everybody is rooting for everybody. There’s not like, “That’s clearly not a match.” People are divided and I think that’s good storytelling too. People should be rooting for everybody. I think that’s good. I’m just glad that we get to explore a little bit of [happiness]. By the way, everybody’s rooting for a couple who has never actually been happier for more than a night!

Did their ending in the finale, being married with kids, align with your personal thoughts on where you envisioned their story wrapping up?

I think it was nice. We fit a lot into the last two hours. The only thing I can say is true, and I think [co-creators] Shawn [Ryan] and Eric [Kripke] have echoed this: Would it have been great to explore for a few more seasons? Absolutely. We had so many more stories to tell. In this version of it, I think this is a great, beautiful, lovely, respectful way to arc Lucy's story. When you meet her and Wyatt, they're at odds with each other and everything is just so crazy. Two of the big themes of the show is we explore fate versus free will. The question is were Lucy and Wyatt fated to be together? Were they brought together for a reason? And there was free will because she had to make a lot of sacrifices to choose Wyatt. She chooses not to try and go back and get her sister. She chooses to end the whole thing because she sees if we keep doing this, it will never stop. To choose to end it and also with the hope that her sister is meant to come back -- that that could happen down the road -- that's a huge, huge arc for her. That's the thing too, she had to make a choice. That's what we have to do as human beings and I love that. Lucy went from a character where everything is happening to her to making things happen.

Speaking of fate versus free will, Lucy and Wyatt's conversation in the church in 1950 North Korea was incredibly poignant, especially the line when Lucy says she feels like they've "wasted all this time." And it turned out to be what they needed to take the plunge and be together. What did you find significant about that scene?

I just remember shooting it with director John Showalter, who's been there since the beginning, and for Matt and I, we knew we had to go for it. We were running out of time, we knew it was a big scene and again, it snuck up on me. I wasn't really thinking about it and all of a sudden, we're sitting in the church and I'm like, "Oh my god, this is the climax for them!" What I love about working on television is that you really get to grow together. You really know how other people work and you really learn the other actors as artists and as human beings. By this point, Malcolm, Matt and I have been working together for three years and I really know them. It was our last night of shooting, Matt and I were shooting this scene and off-camera I just looked at him after they yelled "cut" and said, "Matt, that was amazing!" He did this beautiful work. That's been part of the joy. I've gotten to sit and relish watching my fellow actors grow in their work and grow as human beings. He's become a dad since I met him. He was already a very good actor before but I think he's become a great actor. I hope the same for myself. I hope I started the show as a good actor and I hope I've become a gooder actor. That's the duality between yes, there's this scene work and then there's a whole personal component where you've been raising these characters, raising each other, pushing each other to grow and that's what I love about television and series work that you don't get in film.

Timeless
NBC

Five years down the line, we see that Lucy and Wyatt are married with kids, but we never got to see a wedding or a proposal. Has that ever crossed your mind of what that may have looked like?

Oh sure! It could've happened a hundred different ways so it just depends on which timeline we were in. I think that would've been funny. Again, if we had gotten to explore it in series, there probably would've been a few different proposals in a few different timelines, which I think would've been really fun. And I feel like Lucy proposed to him.

When I spoke with co-creator Shawn Ryan, he seemed to allude to the fact that Lucy and Flynn's relationship would have been something that would have been explored more fully. Was that something you regret not being able to dig into?

I might be the biggest romantic comedy nerd on the planet, so yes! (Laughs.) I watched Harry Met Sally on a plane recently and I was hysterically laughing and then tears shooting out of my eyeballs. A hundred percent. I love the story of how two people come together. I want to hear everybody's story. When I meet two people who are a couple, I'm like, "How did you meet? Tell me everything! I want to know everything!" I love the story. I think that's the most fascinating part. It is the result, but the story that two people even get there is even dynamite so that would have been really to explore personally and professionally.

Flynn essentially makes the ultimate sacrifice so that Lucy can live the best version of her life. 

That was a big surprise that Flynn, out of everyone in the group, is the one to do that. He starts out as this terrorist and he's our nemesis at the beginning of the story and then he becomes a sacrificial lamb who brings Rufus back and brings Lucy and Wyatt together. That's shocking

There were multiple opportunities for Lucy to save her sister, Amy, but she ultimately decides not to. How much does that decision weigh on her when she's thinking about what could have been?

You see it. It's bittersweet. That is what we're talking about is that we make choices and some other things get sacrificed. We move towards something, you might miss out on something else. That is part of life. That is part of the human experience. That will always be very painful for her. Now that she knows what she knows, because she's the only person who remembers her sister too. I thought it was very sweet that they named Lucy and Wyatt's kids, Flynn and Amy. That really touched me, that their memory is going to live on in this timeline. That's the thing too; we live on a show that's been created by Shawn and Eric where there might be multiple timelines so you don't know what's coming down the pike, which is the cool undercurrent of sci-fi and a time-travel show. But yeah, again, that scene snuck up on me too where I was like, "Oh my gosh, she's telling Wyatt she's not going to go get Amy back." I feel like she's just making the decision to stop the madness.

One of my favorite callbacks to the pilot was in that scene when Wyatt calls Lucy "ma'am." Did you have any that stuck out to you?

I do love that [moment]. Matt and I always try to bring things back. We always try to be the callback king and queen. (Laughs.) We're all about the callback. 

Shawn shared that had there been another season, he would have dedicated at least an episode to investigating Future Lucy and Wyatt and what they went through. What more did you want to do with them?

I would have loved to have done a whole season with Future Lucy. They're a cautionary tale.

Do you have any lingering questions that you are still wondering about or hope to get answers to?

Maybe we'll get to do it again and I won't have to wonder. 

The final scene left the door open for a chance that the Timeless universe could continue on. Is that sliver of hope something you're actively thinking about and hope comes to fruition?

It's so hard because we got canceled twice, so I have to hold the show very loosely. I have to be so grateful for what we've gotten to do and I don't know. It doesn't seem right to hold out hope, it just seems like the right next move to be grateful for what is and what has. If anything more comes, then that's even more amazing. I feel very present and I feel very grateful, and I want to grateful for what is. The fact that we even got to do this is a miracle; it literally is a Christmas miracle. (Laughs.) 

Timeless is streaming now on Hulu.

Editor's note: The piece also includes quotes from an on-set interview in November.

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