How ‘Time Traveler’s Wife’ became TV’s most intimate time travel show

Ten weeks after giving birth to her son, Rose Leslie started filming Time Traveler’s Wife.

“On the weekends, my husband would have to take some time off, and then I would step into a parenting role, which I obviously love,” says Leslie. inverse. “I felt like I was missing my baby growing up.”

Premiering May 15, the new HBO drama chronicles the heights of the extraordinary marriage between artist Claire (Leslie) and time-traveling husband Henry (Theo James). While Leslie was in a famous marriage with her game of thrones’ Actor Kit Harington participated in the filming experience Time Traveler’s Wife She will always be attached to the birth of her child.

Leslie isn’t the only collaborator who has experienced such a strong connection to this project from creator Stephen Moffat. Everyone, from co-star Theo James to series director David Nutter, found something personal and powerful in the creation process. The wife of a time traveler. The result is arguably the most intimate story about time travel ever. Here’s how it all came together.

Time travel rules he is inverse A special issue that explores the evolution of the most creative subgenre of science fiction. From Marty McFly to Avengers: Endgame.

complicated love story

Rose Leslie and Theo James in Time Traveler’s Wife.HBO

Before the debut of the HBO series (and the 2009 movie), there was the bestselling Audrey Niffenegger novel. The book introduces Claire and her husband Henry, a man with the uncontrollable ability to travel through time to various points in his life – and the life of his wife as well. Claire met Henry for the first time when she was a child. Henry is her “imaginary” friend so she will know the truth about who he is (or who he will end up being) when she grows up.

Like the novel, the series moves from the past to the present following the development of their relationship, punctuating moments from Henry’s history of time travel and Claire’s childhood memories. We see Henry and Claire at mismatched ages throughout their lives. Sometimes Claire is much older, speaking to the audience in a sarcastic manner about the meaning of love. Other times, Henry plays board games with little Claire – or even meets Henry his younger self.

For Theo James, who plays Henry, this has been an acting challenge like no other.

“Henry the Younger, he’s more common, more pectoral, but much lower in his gait, regressing in his seat because he’s not making eye contact,” James says. “He doesn’t have that confidence that an older guy does. An older Henry is straighter. He listens more. He takes longer to answer questions, those kinds of things.”

“For Claire, Henry is the most honest and true character in her life.”

Since Claire grew up knowing the old version of Henry, her initial impression of him was as a mentor rather than as a partner. Obviously this is very complicated indeed, but one of the main criticisms of Nivenger’s book is the relationship between adult Henry and child Claire. Creator Stephen Moffat insists there is no problem with that.

“There is no sexual component to Henry and little Claire,” Moffat says. “I don’t think he totally thinks of her as the same person he married because a child is different from an adult. He just thinks she is someone else.”

Rose Leslie doesn’t play all the younger versions of Claire, but this dynamic is something she had to take into account as she shaped her character.

“Since he has always played such a pivotal role in her life as a figure of hope and love and because he has never abused that confidence, obviously we had to be very sensitive not to venture into grooming,” she says. “For Claire, Henry is the most honest and true character in her life.”

out of sequence

Theo James and Everly McDonnell (who plays young Claire) in Time Traveler’s Wife.HBO

Because of all of these sensitivities, Moffat had to go to great lengths to confirm the time travel “rules” of the show’s world.

Unlike his previous time travel project Doctor fromAnd Time Traveler’s Wife It takes a completely different approach to time travel. Doctor from It uses a random mix of “steady” and “flowing” moments in time. (Some moments can be changed, while others cannot, and the doctor somehow knows the difference between the two.)

In this show, Moffat went straight to the source material.

“There’s a really cool trick that Audrey does,” Moffat says, referring to the original novel. “She explains the whole look of her book, and how time travel will work, in roughly the first three pages. People say Show up, don’t tell. you know what? Sometimes, just say.”

“It requires a leaked A physical and mental burden on him.”

From the beginning, we see the rules of Henry’s time travel.

  • He cannot control it.
  • Nothing comes with him when he travels through time, so he appears naked everywhere.
  • and schedule in Time Traveler’s Wife closed.”

In the first episode of the show, Henry also made it clear that his travel is a disability rather than a superpower. Theo James doesn’t quite agree with the disability part, but it’s clear to him that Henry isn’t a superhero.

“For Henry, he has to live,” James says. “This is dangerous. It takes a huge physical and mental toll on him.”

We see this in the way James Henry portrays it. Before every time he travels, he coughs. We could see the panic and terror on his face. When he gets to his destination, he doesn’t get dressed and gets sick right away.

This is the physical price only. It’s Henry’s emotional journey that is one of the main points of the series.

a labor of love

Young Henry (Jason David) and Senior Henry (Theo James) in Time Traveler’s Wife.HBO

The pivotal, life-altering moments in Henry and Claire’s lives are like a magnet, pulling the time traveler back in time to relive them again and again. One of the darkest but most formative scenes in Time Traveler’s Wife Henry’s mother, Annette (Kate Siegel) dies.

In the third episode, Henry finds himself returning again and again to the place where his mother died. As Annette is beheaded in a car accident on a snowy winter’s day, the camera moves to reveal several Henrys of all different ages watching the scene in horror.

“The sad part for me is her inevitable agony,” James says. “There’s a bit when character Kate zips up young Henry’s jacket and that’s before she’s about to get in the car and eventually dies. The idea of ​​a little kid knowing his mom is going to die and trying to do everything to stop there but it can’t be too sad.”

This moment was also very personal for the show’s director David Nutter, who lost his father in a car accident at the age of one and a half years.

‘I needed to do something special,’ says Nutter. inverse about his decision to join Time Traveler’s Wife After a short gap in the output. “I’ve had a tumultuous few years of my life.”

“I became better manager because of it.”

Executive Producer Sue Virtu says that when HBO suggested working with Nutter, it seemed impossible given his status as a popular actor. game of thrones boss.

“He was just doing the pilot at first, but gradually we flattered him little by little until the end,” says Virtu. Well, I will do all of them. “

David Nutter received an Emmy Award for his work in game of thrones in 2019.Philip Varoni/WireImage/Getty Images

After I take out several axial game of thrones EpisodesAnd Nutter suffered a back injury that left him unable to function in seasons six and seven, but he made a fantastic comeback for the final season of the fantasy series. Then his life took another turn. He lost his wife to cancer in 2019 and is now coping with his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

“There’s no problem getting me out,” Nutter says. “It doesn’t bother you at all.”

In fact, she gave him a new challenge, for which he was more than prepared. “It was really a chance to go out there and prove to myself that I can do it. I became a better director because of it.”

Nutter directs all six episodes of the series, which Rose Leslie says helped build and maintain a level of continuity needed to juggle all the back and forth time travel.

“We didn’t shoot chronologically,” she says. “Having David Nutter there at the helm has been a real fulcrum for all of us to navigate the shifts that were going on in our heads. Because there were days when I was playing at different ages. And so, David provided continuity, and being the great director, there was a lot of support that comes in from him “.

Theo James and Rose Leslie as Henry and Claire The wife of a time traveler.HBO

Time Traveler’s Wife It could be considered an act of love, but it doesn’t feel like a business at all. Thanks to the groundbreaking duo of Stephen Moffat and Sue Virtu, the cast has come together into a super group of enthusiastic cast and crew members. Together, they created a show that combines Moffat’s signature wit with some truly dark traces of time travel, allowing Nutter and the crew to stretch every muscle they have.

“Working with Stephen had the feeling of coming home, and being welcomed into the storytelling family I’ve been trying to get into for a while,” says Kate Siegel.

Leslie sums it up nicely.

“It was magical,” she says. “This is a very touching and heart-wrenching story, and it’s exciting for HBO to explore a love story in this way. There is so much love in Time Traveler’s Wife. “

Time Traveler’s Wife It premieres May 15 on HBO.

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