The Time Traveler’s Wife explores the intricacies of Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire’S RELATIONSHIP as they deal with their main problem. Henry time-travels at a moment’s notice due to a genetic anomaly.
Based on Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 best-selling novel, the HBO adaptation premieres this Sunday, May 15th, at 9 pm. It stars Theo James and Rose Leslie as the titular couple and was helmed by Steven Moffat and David Moffat.
TV Fanatic attended a virtual press day, and the actors spoke enthusiastically about the series, the couple’s connection, and injecting comedy into the series.
Rose Leslie shared that she thought it was fascinating that she was one-half of the time-traveling couple.
“That was the original, fascinating hook, but I loved that Clare went through something extraordinary in her childhood. She met Henry at a young age, and he became a pivotal role in her life.
“We see her develop into an artist and sculptor and how her complicated life inspires her work. Clare has been committed to this life of uncertainty for many years, and yet she's very patient. I thought that was a remarkable quality in a character and very fun to play.”
Theo James stated one of the novel’s and series themes is appreciating and living in the moment.
“I think it’s in episode 5, and Henry says people are worried about the past and what they could have done or what they didn't do. They're worried about the future, what’s coming, and missed opportunities.” The only time that matters is now.
"Living in the moment is the only time that matters. Given the complicated world we live in, I think it’s a good message for everyone.”
Leslie agreed it was essential to be present versus anxious about the future.
“I think it’s a good message, though certainly a good one to retain. It’s essential to be aware of the present moment and the here and now versus allowing anxiety to rule and getting freaked out by the future.“
James and Leslie teased a big dinner scene, where there are two Henrys of different ages, and it’s almost like a choreographed play.
“One of the first scenes we shot was this big dinner sequence, and there are two Henrys at different ages, and all of the other characters were in the room simultaneously. It was almost like a choreographed dance.
“So one day, I would play the older Henry, and Henry would interact in a certain way, but I didn't want to prescribe what the younger Henry was saying, on the other side of it, the next day, if that makes sense.“
Leslie also loved filming the dinner party sequence.
“It was fascinating to watch Theo do his thing because when he’s playing the older version, there's a different aura about him and a different stance that is mirrored in the younger version but being far more throwaway and careless.“
Leslie spoke about how Clare has built her life around Henry.
“It’s essential to recognize the pushback that Clare has, especially when she’s in her 20s, and recognize that she almost didn't have a choice in whom she would find attractive to her. She met Henry when she was six years old, which shaped her.”
“It’s shaped her libido. It's shaped her attitude toward men because she knows it when she's at school. Nobody comes up to par with how Henry makes her feel in her 20s. So she feels almost robbed of her decision and in being able to determine who she finds attractive.”
It’s a beautiful aspect to know yourself so well that there is only one person for you. You have decided wholeheartedly with unwavering Faith to spend your life with, despite the apparent trials and tribulations.”
“There's a beautiful commitment coming from her, and I think that's balanced in her 20s. By the time she's in her late 20s, and they're married, and even before their marriage, she has accepted that she is in this for the long haul. She loves him, no matter what.“
Both Leslie and James loved that comedy was added to their series.
“We were fortunate with the script and how executive producer Steven Moffat peppered comedy into the dialogue.“
“There’s also always an undercurrent of tragedy between these lovers, which Steven added. I leaned heavily into the words to do them justice and felt fortunate in knowing everything I thought I should portray. “ I second that as well. We know from the book that they’re funny people.
There is lots of humor there, and Steven was a master at that. It’s deeply dramatic, but it’s almost farcical in its comedy.”
“I remember saying after Rose, and I did some comedic scenes back-to-back, are we doing a drama or a comedy? And they said both.
It's so important because, amongst the tragedy, you need that levity. It makes it more powerful in a way.”
Since Henry time travels, he always arrives naked, James worked with an intimacy coordinator about those scenes when he’s running down the streets of New York nude.
“Henry’s nudity is so woven into his DNA that I wanted it to feel dangerous.“
“In some ways, the nudity is a great comic foil and places, but also it's dangerous when he doesn't have a choice when for how long, or where he goes to. So, I wanted to connect with that.”
“Henry’s time-traveling has physical detrimental effects on his body. It's like an epileptic fit. He gets thrown through time. The other side of it. He's covered in sweat. He's depleted and hungry. He's naked and has to steal clothes, so this becomes dangerous.”
James praised the talent of the young actors that played young Henry and young Claire.
“Young Henry (Jason David) and I had a fascinating journey because we naturally developed an older brother and younger brother relationship, which made their scenes easier.
"When it came to the two actresses who played young Clare (Everleigh McDonell) and (Caitlin Shorey) had different but specific takes on Claire at different ages.
That seemed natural since a 6-year-old is different than a preteen since they were changing in terms of confidence and their ability. So they were almost entirely different as people, but it was a joy because they're excellent.“
James and Leslie revealed which relationships they appreciated getting more time in the series versus the movie adaptation.
“I enjoyed the tripod that was Charisse, Gomez, and Clare. I loved seeing it develop and evolve on-screen.”
James was also fascinated by the relationship between Gomez and Henry.
"They detest each other. Gomez is in love with Clare as well. He doesn’t try to hide that. However, over time, the men become best friends. I liked that storyline.“
Leslie and James tease why they think audiences should escape and watch this timeless love story. Leslie discussed the beautiful lighting, especially in the meadow scenes with young Claire when she meets adult Henry.
“There's a beautiful light and golden sheen, and hopefully, that helps some people transport themselves and escape.”
James added that even though there is a tragedy in the DNA of the lovers, this series explores how love is timeless and transcends time and death.
“There's this idea that Henry, even after death, can visit Clare because of time travel. A younger version of him could see an older version of Claire once Henry has died, and that's an analogy for memory and how love transcends death.“
The Time Traveler’s Wife premieres on HBO on Sunday, May 15th at 9/8c. It will also stream on HBO Max.
Check out the trailer below:
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.