by Walter Scott
PARADE MAGAZINE 2017

Girl on the Train star Justin Theroux, 45 — and husband to actress Jennifer Aniston — returns Sunday night for the third and final season of HBO’s The Leftovers. Theroux plays Kevin Garvey, a man literally back from the dead after being murdered, who travels to Australia in search of answers.

Where are we headed with Kevin in season three, in a world where much of the population has simply suddenly disappeared and those left behind have to cope?

I think creator Damon Lindelof felt like he had a couple of itches he wanted to scratch, other meaning-of-life-type questions he wanted to ask.

You’re an East Coaster from Washington, D.C. What do you find absurd about Hollywood?

Everything. Any place where there are large egos at play, large paychecks and living large, you’re going to find absurdity.

You played one of movies’ all-time bad husbands in The Girl on the Train.

I joke that I played a really great guy who was wronged by three women. Villains are fun as long as you can tap into a psychology behind them. Obviously, I’m not a murderer in real life. The way those stories like Train are told, where you begin at the end and arrive at the beginning, is really fun.

How terrified were you to perform the karaoke song in the season two finale?

Aside from being plunged into water, aside from being shot in the chest, aside from all the other ways that I was made uncomfortable, that was probably the most exquisite kind of discomfort I felt in that entire season. I don’t know if you can tell from the song, but singing isn’t really one of my talents. It was painful to have to sing.

This is going to be the final season. Is it going to be wrapped up in a way that fans will appreciate, or are we going to have another big controversy like Lost?

I don’t think the two are comparable. One of them was decidedly more sci-fi. I guess you could argue ours is sci-fi, too. To me, Damon’s in a way acting by just throwing down a gauntlet and saying, “I’m not answering where these people went.” He’s not in a mischievous way trying to get out of that conundrum. He’s just saying, “This is not what we set out to do. We’re not setting out to put some Scotch tape and ribbon on the end of something.” Otherwise, this show could truly never end.

I think his objective is to show people in circumstances that really tee up the questions of life, love, meaning, belief and hope. I think that’s what we continue to do, but again, just through a different prism. To my mind, and again, I haven’t seen it, but at least in script form, I think there was a beautiful plié that he did at the end, which I found extraordinarily rewarding.

If something’s blue, people want it red. If something’s red, people want it blue. Of course, there are people that are dissatisfied. I think largely, though, people are going to feel like there’s a little jewel box of three seasons that they can always go back to and look at. I think he really spiked it.

You’ve written a lot of comedy — Tropic ThunderZoolander 2. Where did you get your sense of humor?

I wasn’t the class clown or anything. When you’re dyslexic in school, you develop other talents. One of the things that I discovered quickly was a gift for gab, a way to talk myself out of why I didn’t do my homework.

Currently, you’ve been doing a lot of acting. Are you going back to do more writing?

I consider myself very lucky to be able to do both. I have been scribbling in between seasons. I was able to do Zoolander 2 between seasons two and three. I largely write comedy so I’m definitely going to be getting back behind the desk and sitting down and writing jokes and things that make me laugh. Hopefully, also doing some acting as well.

Does your dyslexia make writing hard for you?

I can read my own terrible spelling. Fortunately, we live in a land where computers can correct things that I don’t catch, as do the people who re-read the materials. I’m not John Updike or Tolstoy, so I don’t have to write in that way. All I’m trying to do is transcribe dialog and conversation for the musicality of conversation. As long as my fingers can peck at the keys quick enough, I can turn out a couple pages a day.