Amy Brenneman Explains the Guilty Remnant: ‘There’s No One United Belief System’



Tanner Stransky


One of the biggest questions viewers of The Leftovers have is: What does the Guilty Remnant stand for? This blog recently rounded up questions about the mysterious group and crowd-sourced speculative answers from fans around the internet. But in an interview recently did with Amy Brenneman – you can read the full Q&A on Sunday after episode five titled “Gladys” – the actress took a moment to help viewers explain the G.R. a little bit more.

Here’s Brenneman’s explanation of the G.R.:

“The one thing that people need to get their head around is that there’s no one, unified belief system. The G.R. is a nascent movement, in the same way that Christianity once was that way. The G.R. does not believe in X, Y, and Z. What [series co-creator] Damon Lindelof said back when we were doing the pilot, which I really liked, was that it’s a little bit like the Occupy movement, where the G.R. believes a lot of different things but what unifies is the G.R. wants to detach from the outside world. The G.R. is sort of modern-day monks and we want to pull ourselves away.

“After an event like the Sudden Departure – and this happened certainly post-9/11 – there are the people who say, “We should go back to normal. That is what would be healthy.” And then there are the people who say, “No, no, no, actually that’s a game changer and we’re going to change the way we live.” Kevin is sort of the person trying to keep everything going the way it always has been, and Laurie stands for the idea of: No, we’re actually going to get off that hamster wheel. What’s coming about with us trying to go forward is a lot of violence, a lot of people acting out, a lot of insanity. A lot of the words that we’re saying now are meaningless because of this new world that they live in. So I think Laurie stands for taking a breath, detaching, and not perpetuating violence. That gets challenged by someone like Patti, but that’s certainly why Laurie got in there.”

Read Brenneman’s full, post-”Gladys” interview – here.

HBO – Interview with Amy Brenneman



Tanner Stransky

HBO Is this role extra challenging because your character Laurie doesn’t use words?

Amy Brenneman It’s totally different. I love language, and in my life, I like to talk and I like to express myself. I’m never afraid of a long monologue. This takes away that tool, obviously. What I found is that it was pretty uncomfortable – but in a good way. I said to [series co-creator] Damon Lindelof that I was uncomfortable every single moment. He was like, “That’s good, that’s really good.” For me, when Laurie wasn’t taking action – when Laurie was listening and responding to people – I liked having the camera on me. But when Laurie started to take more actions that were either mysterious or downright unlikable, I did feel that thing that’s like, ahh, I want the audience to know why I’m doing what I’m doing, and they may never. They may never. It’s all just got to be on my face.

HBO You mentioned Laurie and the unlikable factor. Viewers are dying to know her motivations. How do you reconcile that and play a character who seems unlikable…at least right now?


Amy Brenneman One thing that really helps – and especially now that it’s on the air – is the full experience of the show. Even when it’s painful, it’s very confidently done. You are really going into this really fully inhabited world. Another thing that was super-important to me – and it always is going into a role – was to know every single nook and cranny about Laurie’s past. Every response, every relationship has to be really even more specific because you don’t have the normal tools of language and that kind of plot.

As for being unlikable, it’s very hard for me. I like the audience to like me. If they’re not going to like me, I’d like them to understand me. I had to really look at that. I didn’t really even know how much I really needed that. Yeah, people are going to really dislike this woman and not understand her, and I gotta keep standing up for her. I’m her advocate.


HBO One of the great scenes in “Gladys” is at the diner, where Laurie and Patti are eating, wearing “normal” clothes and talking. Even when Patti gives permission, why do you think Laurie never speaks?

Amy Brenneman I don’t think Laurie trusts Patti…at all. Laurie just doesn’t trust what’s going on. Laurie’s membership in the G.R. is a commitment that Laurie has made to herself, so Laurie will decide when she wants to break it. As that scene progresses, Patti gets more and more passionate and unhinged, and I think that makes Laurie take a step back even more.

HBO That seems like the smart way to go. Back away…right?

Amy Brenneman Laurie doesn’t trust what’s going on. At the end of the episode, Laurie does recommit herself to the G.R., but she’s not recommitting herself to Patti. Laurie is off on her own, she knows why she’s there. Patti is no longer my mentor – Laurie thinks she’s a Loony Tune.

HBO Do you think Meg’s “I’m ready now” declaration helped propel Laurie to go confront Rev. Jamison with the whistle?

Amy Brenneman Laurie goes back to the house with Patti because that seems like the best option at the time. Seeing Meg commit at this time, when Laurie is on the fence, it’s very disturbing. It’s like, “Holy shit, what did I do?” At the same time, Laurie doesn’t want to leave her alone with Patti, who is also a weird presence now. What Rev. Matt is offering – that you can feel sad – really appeals to me as Amy Brenneman, but Laurie doesn’t trust him or organized religion. That moment of blowing that whistle is like her saying: “Everybody needs to shut the eff up! And stop having opinions. Patti you sit over there, and Rev. Matt you sit over there.” One thing that Damon and I talked rather explicitly about is that the tentativeness that Laurie’s had up until this moment – one foot in, what foot out – for that moment, at least, she’s saying that she’s all in. But she’s all in on her own terms. It’s a powerful moment.

HBO Does Laurie trust anyone?

Amy Brenneman Well, not as an authority. Laurie is certainly extremely connected to her children. The Tom relationship is more off-screen at this point, but that’s the reason she can’t be a better G.R. Laurie’s heart cannot help but feel open to her kids. And to Kevin. Laurie doesn’t want to be his wife anymore, but they were a real family that got blown apart. Laurie trusts that and wishes she didn’t feel that way. That’s really the arc of the first five episodes for Laurie.

HBO What do you imagine as Laurie’s life during the three years after the Sudden Departure that viewers have not seen?

Amy Brenneman Damon and I fleshed out a pretty specific story. Without going too far into it because – who knows? – maybe it’ll be scripted someday, the big interesting thing to remember is that Laurie has only been in the G.R. for two months when the show starts. So there are two and a half years after the Departure where Laurie hung in as wife and a mother and a professional woman.

What I picture is that in the immediate aftermath, Laurie was very much like Kevin and was hanging in. She didn’t lose anyone from her family – the opposite of Nora. But as time went on Laurie is nothing if not very sensitive and porous person, it became really inappropriate to say, “Oh, my family is okay.” It’s like, wait a minute, this entire Earth is now different. If I get my little solo episode, that’s how I imagine it. You will see little reasons about why Laurie made the big choice to be in the G.R., but you still don’t see the moment, which I think the audience is going to want to see. I get asked that every day: Why is Laurie in the G.R.? There’s definitely an accumulation of things, for sure.

HBO In your imagination of the situation, does Laurie have the “Don’t forget me” lighter that Jill gave her? Was she able to grab it?

Amy Brenneman Such a good question. Honestly, here’s what I think: She desperately wanted to grab it, and she couldn’t reach it. She really wants it. In that moment of trying to show-off to Meg by throwing away the lighter – “Here’s what a G.R. does,” she was basically saying – Laurie really lost something that she secretly really wants.

HBO In “Gladys,” Laurie finally gets to wear something other than white clothing. How was that as a change of pace?

Amy Brenneman That was a really interesting situation. I don’t know if every actor went through this, but certainly for the G.R., everything was labored over. Even that outfit from the breakfast with Patti, it’s not really what Laurie would wear – it’s what Patti laid out for her. It was kind of like, “Geez, Patti, this shirt is kind of a little weird, but okay, you bought it for me.” This is the lens Patti applies to Laurie.

HBO Anything you want to add about “Gladys”?

Amy Brenneman No, but I will add that this begins the process that I like to call: ‘Ann Dowd taking over the series.’ Patti just gets better and better and better and hijacks us all along the way.


Laurie’s “Not So Fragile” Anymore


TV Guide

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of The Leftovers. Read at your own risk.]

Leftovers_mStarz_01Amy Brenneman may play a silent character on HBO’s The Leftoversbut the five-time Emmy nominee has plenty to say about her character, Guilty Remnant member Laurie Garvey.

On Sunday’s episode, Laurie and the rest of the G.R. grapples with the fact that someone brutally stoned fellow cult member Gladys (Marceline Hugot) to death. After Laurie has a panic attack, Patti (Ann Dowd) takes Laurie on a road trip, where she tries to quell what she perceives to be Laurie’s wavering commitment to the cause by allowing her to not behave like a G.R. member for one day.

Although Laurie refuses the offer, it remains unclear if Patti has gotten through to Laurie until they return home. When Rev. Matt (Christopher Eccleston) stands in front of the G.R.’s house and encourages the members to grieve Gladys’ loss , Laurie grabs a whistle — provided by Laurie’s police chief husband Kevin (Justin Theroux) to protect the G.R. from future attacks — and blows on it mercilessly until Rev. Matt backs down.

So, has Laurie fully recommitted to the G.R. or is she perhaps playing a longer game with Patti? chatted with Brenneman about that, playing a silent character, and why Laurie joined the cult in the first place. Plus: How did Meg (Liv Tyler) impact Laurie’s decision?

Did you have any reservations about taking a role that didn’t allow you to speak or was that part of the appeal?
Amy Brenneman: Both. We artists are weird people. We like to be scared, so all of the above. It’s funny because I was in the mix of developing a TV thing for myself, and I thought, “Well, of course she’ll be witty and urbane and sort of neurotic.” I laughed with [co-creator Damon Lindelof] because when this job came along, it’s like, “Yeah, we don’t want to see that. We want to see something brand-new.” It’s like he took away my tools in my toolbox, but I was really excited about it. There was no template for it and that’s always really interesting for me. I gathered different references and silent movie stuff. I was a dancer in a former life, so I felt comfortable expressing in that way, but the particular makeup of who Laurie is was, we sort of had to come up with her together.

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Amy visits the “The View!”



Amy visited “The View” July 24th, 2014. Busy lady.


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