Warning: SPOILERS for The Last Thing He Told MeIn The Last Thing He Told Me, Angourie Rice plays Bailey, a teenage girl who questions everything she ever knew when her father mysteriously vanishes. Based on the novel by Laura Dave, who developed the hit Apple TV+ miniseries with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine shingle, The Last Thing He Told Me also stars Jennifer Garner, Aisha Tyler, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Bailey and her stepmother Hannah (Garner) are forced to find answers after Owen (Coster-Waldau) suddenly disappears, leaving his daughter with a duffle bag full of cash. Hannah and Bailey travel from Sausalito, California to Austin, Texas to find out the truth, and Bailey discovers everything she ever knew about herself was a lie. Meanwhile, Hannah attempts to forge a new relationship with Bailey after Owen left instructions to “protect her.”
Screen Rant had the pleasure of chatting with Angourie Rice about the complexities of playing Bailey in The Last Thing He Told Me, whether Rice would return to the Spider-Man franchise, and her role in Mean Girls: The Musical.
Angourie Rice Talks The Last Thing He Told Me
Screen Rant: The Last Thing He Told Me is such a riveting show. I was excited that the first two episodes were directed by Olivia Newman, because I got to interview her last year for Where The Crawdads Sing.
Angourie Rice: Yeah, she’s incredible. I really loved working with her. She has such a presence of calm. But also, she really knows what she wants. And she is quite decisive in that. So she’s a really good leader. She’s exactly the type of leader that you want on a set. She’s calm, she knows what she’s doing, she’s open to collaboration, but she’ll also make the final decision. So I just loved working with her. And she really gets into the character work, which I love as well. It’s such a treat for actors. So she really thinks a lot about character and storytelling in the way she directs.
I’d love to know what attracted you to The Last Thing He Told Me and playing Bailey, and Kristin, as we found out?
Angourie Rice: Actually, [Olivia Newman] was a huge part of that because I had a conversation with her before I did my self-tape. Maybe it was before my callback. Either way, we had a conversation, and she pitched the show to me as a mother-daughter love story, which I really loved the idea of, and she talked a lot about how it’s about found family, and it’s about what it means to have to build the family that you didn’t think you would have to build. Bailey has a very strict idea of what her family is and what it means. And then that suddenly has to change, so that that story really intrigued me and the pitch of it being sort of a double act. I just really loved that.
Bailey is such a complex role. How did you find your way to this character who realizes that she doesn’t really know who she is?
Angourie Rice: Yeah, it’s a hard thing to imagine, isn’t it? I think her experience is so specific, and it’s so rare as well. I think what really helped me with Bailey and finding her character was breaking down the episodes into just small moments. So when we’re thinking about Bailey’s whole trajectory, instead of approaching it all in one big block, it was sort of finding those little moments that you can relate to. What does it feel like to not get along with your guardian? What does it feel like to feel completely alone? What does it feel like to be brave and to step out of your comfort zone to find out the truth?
All these little moments are things that we can relate to and things that we can understand. It’s just the wider context of Bailey’s story that seems that is very unique and specific, but yeah, breaking it down like that really helps me find her.
Since we find out that Bailey was actually Kristin before her name changed, and her life changed, do you think of Kristin as a separate person from Bailey?
Angourie Rice: Oh, good question. I think it’s really interesting when you think about memory and how much we retain, as people. When I think about my memories as a kid, my earliest memories are from when I was maybe three. So I do think that Bailey has some memory of who she was beforehand. But I think it’s been pushed out of her head. Because the reason I remember things from when I was two or three years old is because my parents tell stories, or I tell stories, or we have photos, and Bailey doesn’t have any of that. So I think unless your memory is actually cultivated, I think it’s definitely locked away in a separate part of herself. So I think I do see Kristen as a different character. But I think Bailey sees her as that as well.
Bailey is a pretty headstrong rebellious teen, which is understandable considering her unimaginable circumstances. Are you as snarky and defiant as Bailey in real life? Did you pull some of that from yourself? Or was that just acting?
Angourie Rice: I think it’s acting. (laughs) I mean, I was not like Bailey as a teenager, I was very different. But I think that’s what makes it fun. You know, when you are in this job, you can act out things that you never got to act out when you were a kid or a teenager.
As the story was unraveling for you, and you were learning things as Bailey was learning things, I was wondering what you were rooting for in terms of what Bailey would find out. Would she have been happy to find out Owen was a secret agent, or something like that, who left her a bag full of money?
Angourie Rice: This is something I thought a lot about filming episode 6, which is when Bailey finally uncovers the truth about her dad. And what Bailey is searching for the whole time is the truth. And I think what she realizes in episode 6, when she finally gets it, is that nothing anyone said could have made it better. Because the sting of him leaving, that just complete hurt of him leaving her, outweighs anything, outweighs any reason. Because it’s still simply the fact that he said he would never leave.
I think even if they said to her he’s been abducted by aliens [or] he’s been kidnapped, I think the truth would still feel a little bitter. And when she finds out the truth in episode 6, it’s a relief, but it’s also just so heartbreaking. And it’s one of those things where you wonder if you wanted to know it in the first place. Once you know it, there’s no going back.
You have so many amazing scenes with Jennifer Garner, who plays Hannah. And can you talk a little bit about Bailey and Hannah’s relationship, and your perspective on it over a very intense few days? I think only three days pass so far in the whole miniseries.
Angourie Rice: Yeah, it’s a really intense show. That’s one of the things I really like about it is that we see these characters experiencing everything kind of in real-time. They don’t get space to breathe, and we as the viewer don’t really get space to breathe with them. So that’s sort of really intriguing and what makes the show so suspenseful, With Jen, I really loved building trust with her and sort of building a comfort together as actors so that we could explore those kinds of tricky scenes.
One of my favorite things was that, we would run through, because the show happens in such a short amount of time, before every scene, we would kind of run through everything that had happened that day and the story. We would say to each other, “Okay, this morning, we got up, we went to the football stadium, then we went to different churches, and then we…” So we kind of had this ritual of reminding ourselves [of] the story of the show. And that was something I really loved doing because it just really solidified it.
I’ve seen a lot of your work, you do a great job in your career in terms of alternating between these light and darker roles. You play these really intense characters like Siobhan in Mare of Easttown, you play Bailey in The Last Thing He Said To Me, but then you do Spider-Man, then you do Honor Society. How important is that balance to you as an actor?
Angourie Rice: It’s really important to me, yes, as an actor, but also just as a person, I think. Because I mean, for Mare of Easttown, we were living in this sort of really sad and dark world for about five months. And after that, I said, “Yeah, I want to do something fun.” I’m ready to move on to something fun because just in terms of sustainability, for me and my mental health, I can’t live in that dark world over and over again for the entire year. So after Mare of Easttown, I did Senior Year, which was a really fun Netflix comedy.
I think, it is about what I like to do as an actor and the range of things that I like to do, and that I find interesting, but it also just balances out with my mood, inevitably. After, The Last Thing He Told Me, I was like, “Yeah, I want to do something fun now.” By the time we were filming episode 7, at the very end, I was like it, it was so heavy. So I was ready for something light.
Just to ask about Spider-Man, if Marvel called would you come back for another one?
Angourie Rice: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s so strange. It just encapsulates such a specific time in my life. You know, it’s from when I was 15 to when I was 20. So that’s five years of my adolescence. I feel like I don’t want to go back to that sort of precious time that’s just been preserved in amber.
Totally. I get that. Now speaking of fun things, you’re playing Cady, the Lindsay Lohan role, in Mean Girls: The Musical. That is so awesome. I am a huge Mean Girls fan. Can you tell me anything about it?
Angourie Rice: I wish I could. But no, not really. I can say that it was really fun. And I had a really great time, and I can’t wait for people to see it. I think it’s going to be spectacular.
Back to The Last Thing He Told Me, what was your favorite scene to shoot? Or do you have a favorite moment?
Angourie Rice: Yes. One of my favorite scenes to shoot was one of the last scenes of the show on the airplane. Going back home to Sausalito after their entire adventure in Austin. Hannah and Bailey have a little scene on the airplane. And that, to me, is one of my favorites. We didn’t shoot it at the end. We kind of shot it in the middle because we only had one day filming in the fake airplane. So it wasn’t the end of the show. But that is a really special scene to me. And I think when audiences see it, they’ll like it too.
About The Last Thing He Told Me
Hannah must forge a relationship with her 16-year-old stepdaughter, Bailey, to find the truth behind why her husband has mysteriously disappeared.
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The Last Thing He Told Me is streaming on Apple TV+.