EMMYS

EXCLUSIVE: Two-Time Emmy Nominee Ann Dowd Will Proudly Hold the Torch for ‘The Leftovers’

by Stacy Lambe 12:40 PM PDT, July 14, 2017
Photo: Getty Images

There’s no doubting the talent of Ann Dowd, a formidable character actress who has built a career of playing supporting roles in Philadelphia, Garden State, The Manchurian Candidate and Showtime’s Masters of Sex.

She’s most recently appeared on Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale as the prickly Aunt Lydia and as Patti on HBO’s The Leftovers, which came to an end after three seasons in June. Both roles earned Dowd dual Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, respectively.

“I'm beside myself, I truly am,” she tells ET of the recognition.

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While The Handmaid’s Tale went on to earn 13 nominations, which Dowd credits to everyone bringing their A-game (“Everybody wanted the best for that story”), it’s largely believed that The Leftovers was snubbed in its final season. In its three seasons, Dowd represents the only nomination the show received -- and this despite critical acclaim and co-creator Damon Lindelof’s promise to get star Justin Theroux pantsless if the show was recognized

“First of all, the show means the world to me and always will,” Dowd says. “I’m proud of the show. I’m proud to be nominated and I will gladly hold the torch for that show because it deserves it.” 

If the actress could have it her way, she would have nominated everyone, including Lindelof and author Tom Perrotta, whose book the show is based on, and “my Justin Theroux.” 

When it comes to the actor, whom Dowd shared many pivotal scenes (see: “International Assassin” and “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)”), she has nothing but praise: “He’s the best there is. They really don’t come better than Justin on every level.”

While Theroux and Carrie Coon were at the center of The Leftovers’ central love story, playing the grief-filled Kevin Garvey Jr. and Nora Durst, the chemistry between Theroux and Dowd was undeniable.

Even though the two actors were not friends prior to joining the series, Dowd remembers the moment that she found a trusted screen partner. It was three in the morning and Theroux was shooting a pivotal scene in the pilot. It didn’t involve Dowd; she was just watching. “He must have done eight takes of this most emotional plea to his wife and I remember saying to [director] Pete Berg, ‘Wow. That actor is unbelievable.’ It was the middle of the night and everyone was wiped and he just knocked me out.”

Justin Theroux and Ann Dowd in a scene from The Leftovers episode, "International Assassin." Photo: HBO

Over the course of three seasons, the two grew close as their onscreen characters became “an unlikely coupling.” “He’s a dear, dear, dear friend for the rest of my life,” she says, revealing that she felt especially lucky that Patti, who commits suicide in season one and later is relieved of her burdens in a purgatory setting in season two, was part of season three.

“I got an email when the pickup letter came and I thought it was a mistake that I got included in it,” Dowd recalls. “Then I thought, Damon doesn't make mistakes. I emailed him, ‘I'm just kind of hoping against hope that it's real.’ He said, ‘Yup. It'll be one of the last episodes and it'll probably be in Australia.’ And I never once needed to ask, ‘What's it going to be like?’ I never wanted to go there with Damon. I always loved getting it when he was ready to release it to us.” 

Later, Theroux and Dowd watched the final two episodes at the actor’s New York home. And Dowd recalls the two just constantly looking at each other and saying, “Who writes this? Who comes up with these extraordinary ideas?”

“Can you imagine a relationship between two characters in which they start out as [adversaries] and then come to a place of real truth and intimacy? Not only that, in the next season, Kevin helps Patti drop the regret and the burden and then move on. And she later does the same for him,” Dowd waxes. “You beg for something like that, you know?”

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