Author Tom Perrotta and Damon Lindelof Talk Adapting The Leftovers into a TV Show

Posted on June 29, 2014

The Leftovers premieres tonight on HBO. The show is based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta. Suddenly, without any warning, 2% of the world's population just vanishes. It appears that the Rapture has taken place, but it also appears that there was no rhyme or reason as to who was taken.

Random celebrities, good people, terrible people, children and elderly people -- no one can figure out why those people were chosen. The book never explains where they went, instead it explores grief and loss of those in the aftermath of a major, bewildering tragedy. At the premiere, author Tom Perotta and writer Damon Lindelof explained what changes were made from the book to the TV show in tone and in character.

MTV News noted that the tone of the show is different from the book. Perrotta explains, "TV is a dramatic medium. The book had a kind of meditative, contemplative tone that really worked in the kind of solitude of a reader interacting with words on a page, but a show demands more adrenaline, and we've tried to deliver on that."

Another big change is that the show's lead, played by Justin Theroux, is a police chief now, instead of the mayor. Lindelof said that a police chief works better for the more action oriented show where people need answers. He also joked that they really didn't want to make him a police chief at first because there are so many cops on TV. But now that there are lots of ad men and meth dealers, a cop is refreshing.

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