Aisha Tyler Interview: The Last Thing He Told Me

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: Aisha Tyler attends the Apple TV+ "The Last Thing He Told Me" premiere at Regency Bruin Theatre on April 13, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 13: Aisha Tyler attends the Apple TV+ "The Last Thing He Told Me" premiere at Regency Bruin Theatre on April 13, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images) /

Aisha Tyler has an array of television shows and movies under her belt. But, one of her most recent projects, Apple TV+’s The Last Thing He Told Me, has been making big waves as the streaming service’s most successful limited series. Based on the novel of the same name, the television series sees the story expand on Aisha Tyler’s character Jules, as her role becomes more integral to the plot as Hannah’s closest friend and someone helping her uncover the mystery behind Owen’s disappearance.

As the series finale concluded with big reveals, Aisha Tyler discusses preparing for her role as Jules and her thoughts toward the show’s female-centric stories.

Culturess: Had you read the book before you started working on the show?

Aisha Tyler: I hadn’t, actually. I think I’m probably one of three people that had not heard of the book, but I mean, it was such a global hit. This is very sad. I just read so much for work. I’m always reading scripts. The opportunity to read recreationally is like really rare for me. So it was nice to be introduced to the book and see that it was such a phenomenon and get to meet Laura Dave, who is just the loveliest person. She was intimately involved with the book and intimately involved with creating the show. I got to discover the world as I was working on the show.

Which, honestly, was great because I didn’t come in with any preconceived notions about who these characters should be and how they should look, and one thing I really loved was that they really did expand the world and expand the characters from the book. I mean, my character is so much more present in the television series than she was in the book. That was really wonderful. So I think the great thing is that the book and the show are complementary to each other. They are different experiences even though they share these characters.

Culturess: This story is very female-centric. What is the importance of placing complex female relationships at the heart of the show?

Aisha Tyler: The importance is just that it is representative of real life. I think a lot of people who have asked about specifically the Hannah and Jules friendship, how Jules is so dedicated to supporting Hannah. I have friends like that. Hopefully, I am that kind of a friend when my friends need me. What I love about Jules is that she is supportive, but she’s also no-bullshit.

She’s ‘Listen, I love you enough to tell you that this really does not look good for you. I could sit here and tell you that everything’s gonna be okay, and it looks different than it really is, but I’m telling you this looks terrible, and based on my years of work as a journalist, this guy’s up to no good.’ And I loved that about that. It really felt real to me. It felt like two women who had known each other a long time and were willing to both be loving towards each other but not lie to each other, and that felt just like people I knew and like a friendship I would wanna emulate.

Culturess: What made you want to be a part of this project?

Aisha Tyler: It was this global phenomenon and then even more than that. To get to work with an incredible group of creators, obviously Laura Dave and Josh Singer, with extraordinary writers, Jennifer Garner, who was as delightful to work with as you might imagine. So passionate so dedicated to the work. Just so immersed in this world and in this character. She was just so easy to play across. We had to play best friends. We met, and we had to play best friends five minutes after we met, and it was just really easy to fall into that dynamic with her. And then to tell a story, and everybody on the show, and there were just so many extraordinary actors on the show that I got to work with.

But also, I got to tell a story about my hometown because I was born and raised in San Francisco. It was really a delight to see San Francisco be a character in this story. That the Bay Area got to be a character in the story. To see places that I used to run around as a teenager appear on screen just felt I felt like I knew Jules because I grew up in that town, and I felt like, oh, I really know this woman, and she’s somebody I can play with some honesty and some business.

Culturess: What was the most important part to you when it came to developing your character?

Aisha Tyler: You know, it’s interesting because as an actor, so much of the character, of who they are, is on the page, and then it’s really up to you to kind of imbue that person with value and fill in the cracks that aren’t in the words, and she was so interesting and so beautifully written already. I really spent a lot of time just thinking about Hannah and Jules and their childhood, both separately and together. Talking about and asking those questions. Who were they before we meet them in the show? What were their home lives like? What do they mean to each other?

I’m really fortunate to have some friends that I’ve had since I was twelve or thirteen years old that are still really present in my life. So bringing some of that into the show and those feelings, they’re really lovely feelings to revisit. I just wanted Jules to be someone that was strong, somebody that wasn’t just someone delivering data to the hero but had her own point of view and her own intentions, and even though a lot of that is hidden, you really feel her life, her dedication to journalism, her relationship, you really feel that stuff move through the series.

Culturess: The Last Thing He Told Me was recently named Apple TV+’s most-watched limited series ever. Why do you think so many people became attached to it?

Aisha Tyler: I think it just had this one-two punch of being beloved novel and then the show being a really beautiful iteration of that novel. Sometimes adaptations are disappointing. But this was an expansion and a rebirth of this world that Laura Dave created. I think people found it incredibly satisfying. I think it asked really big questions. The primary one being do we really know the people that we love. I think everybody asked that question of themselves and not in a sinister way, but can you really ever know the people that you love?

There’s always mystery in other people. So it was twisty. It was sweet. This lovely relationship between Hannah and Bailey, between a mother and her stepdaughter, I think a lot of people can relate to coming into a blended family, and struggling to form bonds with the people there, and really wanting to be a good family member and not knowing how to start. It was really relatable and beautifully shot and just beautifully done, and then it’s twisty. People love a puzzle. People love that cliffhanger ending at the end of the episode of what’s gonna happen next. Theorizing with your friends. Even if you know how it ended, it was still so well done that you were like, wait, what’s gonna happen next? It was all the best parts of great mystery television that we love.

Culturess: What did you think about the detective angle of the show of having everyone work out the truth themselves rather than having it be more police-based?

Aisha Tyler: Right. I loved that. I think that’s another reason why people were so drawn to it because this was a mystery for this family, and they cared about it the most. At least until the end of the show, and I don’t want to give anything away. But, until later in the show, you don’t know if a crime has been committed. You don’t know what’s happened.

Being connected to these characters and to their journey and watching them pick apart their lives and their relationships on their own, I think, is just so relatable, and I think that passion really connected with the audience. Hannah’s passion for figuring out what had happened to the person that she loved was really what drew people to the show.

Culturess: If you could expand on any storyline, what would it be?

Aisha Tyler: Well, the storyline we’d all like to expand on is essentially what happened between when we find out what has gone on and then what happens next. To see the lovers be reunited, I think we all wanna see that, so it’s Apple’s most-watched show ever made, most-watched limited series ever, maybe it won’t be a limited series. It would be great to revisit what happened in the interim.

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