Himesh Patel Had Concerns About His Character After Reading Station Eleven

One of the best miniseries of the past year was "Station Eleven," which tells the stories of a handful of people before and after an apocalyptic pandemic, whose storylines cross in constant unexpected ways. It's the sort of low-key, deeply emotional show that fans of "The Leftovers" would probably love, which makes sense considering there's so much overlap between the two shows' writers' rooms. 

The other key similarities between the two shows is that they're both based off a book, and neither of them are afraid to make changes from the source material. "The Leftovers" takes Tom Perrotta's novel of the same name and expands the role of major characters and has more of them cross paths. Nora (Carrie Coon) never gets to hug Holy Wayne (Paterson Joseph) in the book for instance, even though both characters still exist. The show also decides to make Nora related to Matt (Christopher Eccleston), making their relationship far more complex than what the book gives them. 

The writers of "Station Eleven" did the same thing: at nearly every point, they expanded the characters' roles in Emily St. John Mandel's book, throwing in unexpected connections that were never originally there. And it's a good thing they did, because when Jeevan's actor, Himesh Patel, originally read the book before his audition, he was a little concerned about what was in store for his character. 

"He is very much in the beginning of the book, but then he sort of disappears," Patel noted. If the show was setting out to be a strictly faithful adaption, this didn't bode well for him. 

Avoiding a carbon copy of the book

"They had ideas of what they wanted to do with him [Jeevan], and that sort of developed over time and I think ended in a really great place," Patel said. "I really think that the story that we tell with the series sort of complements [the book] really, rather than being a sort of carbon copy." 

Sure enough, the show drastically expands Jeevan's role. They turn him from someone who briefly helps out Kirsten (the closest thing the book has to a main character) to someone who plays a major part in Kirsten's life. The show writers took advantage of how the book is intentionally vague about what that first year or so of the apocalypse was like for most of the characters, using the opportunity to write fresh new material for Jeevan and Kirsten, who, in the show, spend their first year isolated together.

The two get on each other's nerves sometimes, sure, but they form a close bond to each other that sticks with both of them even decades after they're forced apart. Whereas the book is content to have them go their separate ways after their initial chance encounter, the show has them reunite in the finale. And because we've had so much more time to connect to the two of them as a pairing, their reunion is just as emotional as the most powerful moments from the book. In one of the smartest adaptation changes ever, the writers took Jeevan from a relative minor character to arguably the heart of the show. 

As much as everyone says they love a faithful adaptation, Jeevan's wonderful expanded character arc (and Patel's Emmy-nominated performance) proves that sometimes, major changes are for the best.