Leftovers stars battle Aust rain, snakes
For Justin Theroux the decision to shoot the final season of his anomalous TV series The Leftovers in Australia instead of Texas or New York was as easy as growing a beard.
The show's co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof took his star out to lunch and floated the idea.
"Damon said, 'Are you cool with going to Australia?' and I said 'Yep' and he said 'Grow a beard' and I said 'Great' and started to grow the beard and then waited for the script to come in," Theroux, during an interview with AAP in Los Angeles, recalled with a laugh.
The Leftovers' first season was shot in upstate New York and the second in Austin, Texas.
It's a show that generates more questions with each episode and leaves viewers to come up with their own answers.
The world is trying to understand why suddenly two per cent of the population - 140 million people - inexplicably vanished in an instant in every country, city and town across the globe except Miracle, Texas.
Theroux, a favourite tabloid target after his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, plays Kevin Garvey, a police chief whose family is ripped apart by the event dubbed the "Sudden Departure".
Hints were dropped in the first and second seasons about Australia, where "magical things are happening", and seven years after the departure Garvey and others seek answers there.
The Australian shoot had a profound impact on the show's cast and crew, including New York-born director and executive producer Mimi Leder who was greatly influenced by Australian movies as a young filmmaker.
"There's something very powerful about the New Wave of the 70s that inspired all of us - Walkabout, The Last Wave, Picnic at Hanging Rock," Leder, 65, said.
Leder was keen to shoot at Hanging Rock, in central Victoria, for scenes involving a ranch but it was not suitable.
"I went there many times trying to make it work because it was such an inspiration to us that it felt very important to be there," Leder said.
"There were so many trees around the real Hanging Rock."
Leder and her crew instead chose the You Yangs, about 55km south-west of Melbourne.
Australia's unpredictable weather played havoc with the production, with Leder quickly learning what "getting bogged" meant.
"It rained every day, practically, and it was cold," she said.
"In the outback it rained, but not as much as Melbourne and the You Yangs.
"Our sets were so rained out you couldn't get big trucks in because the mud was so thick.
"I loved every minute of it, mud and all."
She also loved the Australian crew.
"We crazy Americans shoot for 12, 14 hours a day because we don't appreciate life," the director said.
"But the Australians were going, 'No, we shoot 10 hours a day' because they love life.
"I was going, 'How are we going to shoot our show with 10 hour days?'
Veteran actor Scott Glenn, the 76-year-old star of iconic films Urban Cowboy, The Right Stuff and Silverado, said he had never been so profoundly moved by an experience as much as his time in Australia.
His character ends up in the outback in search of answers.
Glenn said he knew nothing about Australian indigenous culture before he landed, but became close with Aboriginal elders who helped with the production and had a transformative experience shooting a scene with actor David Gulpilil.
"After Mimi said 'take' I couldn't remember anything I'd done," he said.
"She showed me some playbacks and I was like, 'Oh, I did that'."
Another scene involved what he described as a "gorgeous" brown snake.
"I was walking toward it and as I get close the handler says, 'Stop!'," Glenn said.
"He took his hook and scooped it up and put it in a bag and said to Mimi, 'Brown snakes don't react well to movement and it could come after me'.
"They had a helicopter there with anti-venom in case.
"I said to the handler, 'So it's really poisonous?' and he said 'The helicopter is just window dressing. You'd be dead in five minutes'."
The Leftovers season three airs on Foxtel's showcase channel from Thursday (April 20).
© AAP 2017
Image: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP