Rose Leslie, Theo James on Lessons Learned From ‘Time Traveler’s Wife’ – The Hollywood Reporter

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HBO Max rolled out the hot pink carpet in New York City on Wednesday for the premiere of its newest show, The Time Traveler’s Wife. 

The series, based on the novel and 2009 movie of the same name, stars Rose Leslie and Theo James as Clare Abshire and Henry de Tamble and follows their spellbinding and intricately out-of-order love story — from the day they met to their present-day marriage.

For Leslie, the message of the series is how important it is to focus on the present moment and try not to worry about the past or future.

“Certainly what I took away from it is for one to try their best to acknowledge the here and now and to not worry about the future and the past,” Leslie told The Hollywood Reporter on the carpet at the Morgan Library, “to very much stay anchored and rooted to what is happening to you right now.”

James, who read the book when he was in college and immediately fell in love with it, echoed Leslie’s sentiment.

“There’s one thing Henry says,” James remembered, “he says, ‘Everyone worries about the past — what they could’ve done, what they didn’t do. Nobody worries about the future — things that they won’t do or might not be able to do — but the one thing that matters is now,’” admitting he struggles with that himself. “I’m bad at that. I always worry about the past.”

One thing the cast members agreed on was that screenwriter Steven Moffat and director David Nutter were a big part of why they wanted to star in the six-episode series.

“There was a gentleman named Steven Moffat and a gentleman named David Nutter,” said Desmin Borges, who plays Gomez, one of Clare’s best friends. “You put both of those together, and my answer is ‘Yes.’”

Borges also sang Leslie and James’ praises, saying they were absolute “dreamboats” onset. “They’re so good at making you surprise yourself that it just feels like you’re growing as a person, as an actor, when you’re in scenes with them, which is a joy,” Borges said.

The fact that Time Traveler’s Wife is a romantic love story is what drew Moffat to the project in the first place, but it was important to him the time-traveling elements weren’t too sci-fi for the premise of the story.

“This is not Quantum Leap. It’s not Doctor Who. It’s not Star Trek,” Moffat explained about the story. “It had to look like something that might happen to a real person and that was a challenge.”

Audrey Niffenegger’s novel had previously been adapted as a film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana as Clare and Henry, but Moffat put his own spin on it, calling it “a story that deserves to be told in more than one medium.”

Nutter, who reunited with Leslie on the series years after working with her on Game of Thrones, said it had everything he wanted in a project — from smart dialogue to great acting to funny moments. Several years before the HBO series came across his desk, Nutter had seen James on a set and kept him in mind if a project were to come along that the director thought the Divergent star would be perfect for. Then, he read the script for Time Traveler’s Wife. 

“I said, ‘This is the part this actor needs to show how good he is,’” Nutter told THR. “So, we worked together, and he was just phenomenal. He’s gonna be a big star.”

Nutter was also drawn to the story for its romance, which shows all the ups, downs, trials and tribulations that real-life relationships go through and how meaningful relationships can show people how good they could be. But the story was personal to him, too.

His wife died of pancreatic cancer three years ago, and he always wanted her to be involved in the story. In some ways, he said she was. “This is really my love letter to her,” Nutter said. “And it really changed me as a human being.”

The Time Traveler’s Wife hits HBO Max on May 15.


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