Angourie Rice On Keeping Up With Jennifer Garner, and Who Her ‘The Last Thing He Told Me’ Character Would Play In ‘Mean Girls: The Musical’
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for “The Never Dry,” the fifth episode of “The Last Thing He Told Me,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Most people would run in the other direction if they found out their family had credible ties to the mob. Unfortunately, Bailey Michaels didn’t get the memo.
In this week’s fifth episode of Apple TV+’s “The Last Thing He Told Me,” Bailey (Angourie Rice) and her stepmother Hannah (Jennifer Garner) continued their search in Austin for answers about why her father Owen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) disappeared four days earlier.
What first seemed like a tech startup scam gone wrong has quickly unraveled the fake lives Owen and Bailey apparently have been living since she was a child. In the final moments of the episode, Hannah finds out why.
Owen and Bailey –– or rather Ethan and Kristie Young –– fled Texas after Bailey’s mother died, and Ethan turned on his father-in-law Nicholas Bell, who just so happens to be the top lawyer for the largest crime syndicate in North America.
At this point, viewers should start to get a sense of déjà vu, as that revelation is followed in quick succession by the same sequence that opened the series premiere. A disoriented Hannah destroys her phone to avoid being traced, and frantically packs up to go back home to Sausalito — only to find that Bailey has fled in order to connect with her long-lost family, a reunion that suddenly seems more dangerous than ever.
“When the adults in her life are not telling her the truth, Bailey is going to look for it herself,” Rice tells Variety about where the teen is headed.
With Nicholas (David Morse) having been made aware that his granddaughter is back in town at the end of the episode, and Bailey heading right toward him, Hannah loses what fragile handle she has on the situation with just two episodes left in “The Last Thing He Told Me.”
Rice, 22, spoke with Variety about what it was like trying (and failing) to keep pace with “Alias” vet Garner in the Austin chase scene, and how she kept track of all the revelations with author Laura Dave, who adapted her own novel for television with her husband, Oscar-winning screenwriter Josh Singer. Plus, as she continues production on “Mean Girls: The Musical,” Rice theorizes whether or not Bailey would fit in with the Plastics.
We finally learn who Bailey and Owen really are in this episode. What was your reaction to getting some answers about her?
When I read the script, I was very surprised by the route that it took. I think that’s what makes it so intriguing. You don’t see it coming. But the best thing about a good twist is that you might not see it coming, but when you learn it all, it makes sense. I think that’s what Laura Dave was able to do with this story. I was shocked and surprised, but that was good, because that’s also how Bailey and Hannah feel when they learn this. They don’t know what to do with this information, and it’s hard to deal with when it’s your family.
Although Hannah didn’t get to tell Bailey the full extent of her family tree, she did learn her real name is Kristie. Was it tough to get a handle on how this young woman is processing all this information?
What’s tricky about this particular character and this particular circumstance she is in, is it requires a lot of emotional leaps and work to understand how someone might be feeling in that moment. It is so beyond what I have experienced in my life. But what I think was really helpful was to break it down into sections and scenes, and to just call out what we know at each point along the way. Jen and I would go through that together at the top of a scene. We would ask each other, “On this day in the story, what has happened?” And then we would go through it. Bailey and Hannah got on a plane, they landed in Austin, they went to the church, they went to the football stadium.
It becomes a lot easier to track that journey, rather than tackling it all at once. The preparation really came in handy there, especially when you are working with seven scripts and pieces of this puzzle instead of just one. And also knowing we needed to have somewhere to go. In the first two episodes, Bailey is really awful to Hannah because we need to understand why and how their dynamic has changed when we finally get to Episodes 5, 6 and 7.
It’s interesting to watch Bailey soften toward Hannah, considering how terrible she was to her. How is that relationship evolving at this point in the season?
When we are looking at Bailey and Hannah’s emotional journey together, they are very unwilling participants in this sleuthing duo. They both have the same goal, but they have different ideas about how to get there. Bailey believes that what she knows about her dad is absolute fact and true, and no one can tell her otherwise. Hannah believes the same thing, so they have the same goal and they are united in that way. But the way they go about it is different, and they can’t seem to work together until it is absolutely necessary. Charting that journey from adversaries to mother and daughter was really important, and I do believe it was all in the script. There are moments when we see Bailey soften, and I think it comes from a place where Bailey realizes she might not have any other choice. Hannah might be the only person who knows her, who understands her and can be there for her. She’s the only adult in her world who has any responsibility over Bailey. Bailey has to decide whether she wants to reject that completely or lean into it.
And she does both in the span of this episode. She leans into Hannah’s commitment to help her discover who she is, but then she runs away from Hannah after she tries to take out of harm’s way. Did you all talk about why this specific moment at the end of the episode –– when Bailey goes on the run to find more answers –– is where the series opened?
That’s a good question. For me, that moment at the beginning forces us into the action straight away, which is really exciting and it hooks you in. But I also think from a narrative perspective, it is setting up the thesis for this story, which is found family. Family is what you want it to be, and the family you don’t expect is still wonderful and valuable and important. It sets up that no matter where we begin in the story, it tells the audience we will get to a point where Hannah and Bailey are inseparable. And for them to be separated as we see in that opening moment and in this episode is drastic and terrible and distressing. It shows the audience we are going to get there, and it is about this mother and daughter.
Earlier in the episode, Bailey and Hannah are being chased around Austin by her newfound uncle. Jennifer spent years perfecting the art of the chase on “Alias.” What was it like trying to keep up with her in these scenes?
Well the truth is I didn’t keep up with her! After take two, the director came up and asked if I could close the distance between me and Jen. I said, “I’m running as fast as I possibly can in this moment. If you want that distance closed, you’re gonna have to ask Jen to run slower, because I’m doing my best with my little legs.”
She is a super spy! She’s incredible, and I couldn’t keep up. So she had to pull it back a little for me.
That was very kind of her.
So kind of her.
Where can audiences expect to find Bailey now that she’s taken matters into her own hands going into these final episodes?
For Bailey, from the moment her dad disappears, the objective is to find out the truth. When the adults in her life are not telling her the truth, Bailey is going to look for it herself. That’s where you’ll find her.
You’ve been promoting this show while also filming “Mean Girls: The Musical” for Paramount+. What has it been like to oscillate between these two vastly different projects? It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of Bailey in your “Mean Girls” character Cady Heron, who Lindsay Lohan played in the 2004 movie.
There’s definitely not much Cady in Bailey, or Bailey in Cady for that matter. They are very different people. In fact, I don’t think they would get along at all! But I love them equally.
It is very strange to be promoting this show and talking about it again while I’m in the world of “Mean Girls.” I guess they are just so different that they live in different parts of my brain, and I can separate them. The nice thing is, “The Last Thing He Told Me” is done. We’ve done all the work, and there’s nothing we can do to change it. It’s wrapped up with a neat bow. Whereas with “Mean Girls,” we are still in it. We are still changing it, and working on it. They are two separate chapters.
But now we need some kind of short film where Bailey tries to assimilate into the Plastics! Or avoid them altogether.
I feel like Bailey would not even want to be part of the Plastics. Bailey, to me, seems more like a Janis type. But she does love musical theater, so that’s something.
Well, maybe she would be open to the more musically inclined Plastics?
You never know! Maybe.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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