“The Last Thing He Told Me,” starring Jennifer Garner, premiered at USC during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday. The Apple TV+ series was adapted from Laura Dave’s best-selling novel. Dave and Garner were featured in a conversation with L.A. Times television critic Lorraine Ali on the show’s creation.
Garner and Dave shared the challenges of adapting the book into a TV series, working and creating together and the process of writing the novel.
Garner and Dave were challenged to describe the plot in two sentences during the conversation. “Woman and her grumpy stepdaughter are faced with the heartbreak of a missing husband/father,” Garner said.
“Who leaves in his wake only a mysterious note, ‘protect her,’ and no other instructions, and he is gone,” Dave finished. Dave was inspired by the Enron scandal and based on the reason for Hannah’s husbands’ disappearance off it.
Garner described her love for the book and when the spot to play the lead role of Hannah opened up, her immediate action of emailing the heads of Apple TV+ to express her admiration for the story and desire for the role.
“I felt like I’ve never had more rich source material in my life,” Garner said. She even recounts how she “went back to the book over and over and over again,” as she filmed scenes and discovered her character.
Being a fan of the book before landing the job, Garner said she felt joy from “getting to play out words that I was so enraptured with.”
When asked about her writing process, Dave described the 10-year journey she embarked on to create ‘The Last Thing He Told Me.’ She explained how she begins every project, book or chapter with a question. “I started this book with the question of, ‘Can we ever know the people we love?’” Dave said.
Dave also shared that she never knows where her books are heading, aside from the next 10 pages. “I’m surprised as I am going,” Dave said. “If I outlined and I sort of knew the secret, I wouldn’t be interested every day to sit down and keep going.”
When asked about the main character of her book, Hannah, Dave described how she wanted to “look at a woman who believes something but was not the victim of that belief, but rather the hero of that belief.”
Garner and Dave discussed the joys of working together and with other female storytellers in the industry to create the series. “Hannah was always going to be the hero of her life and we wanted a female gaze into that,” Dave said.
After a few questions from the audience and advice for aspiring writers and actors, Dave made an exciting announcement. “I’m working slowly on a sequel.”
Both women were exuding pride and passion during the conversation as the project they had worked hard on was coming to fruition. The first three episodes of “The Last Thing He Told Me” are available now on Apple TV+.