These past two years have been quite the journey for Timeless fans. The time-traveling drama first premiered in 2016, and since then the series has been canceled, renewed, and then canceled again. Of course, through all the highs and lows these past two seasons, the show has also gained a dedicated following. The show's fans, who call themselves Clockblockers, have not only fallen in love with the characters and the actors who play them, but the important stories the series tells about history, diversity, and fighting for what you believe in.
In fact, the ardent support of the Timeless fandom is a big reason the series is coming back yet again for a two-hour movie in December. After NBC announced that it was canceling the series for a second time in June, fans began to flood Twitter with the hashtag #SaveTimeless. They even paid for a helicopter to fly above Comic-Con in an effort to bring the show back. Due to the overwhelming response, NBC eventually announced it was doing a holiday movie to wrap up the story.
Whether or not the show gets picked up by another network down the road (fans are still pushing to get it renewed), we can at least take comfort in the fact that we have one more adventure to look forward to. As the show gets ready to go on what might be its last ride, I had a chance to talk with one of its stars, Abigail Spencer, about everything from the show's fan-favorite romances to her most emotional day on set, as well as what playing Lucy Preston has meant to her.
POPSUGAR: So, these past two seasons have really been a mix of emotions with the series getting canceled, renewed, and canceled again. What was your reaction when you found out you were getting picked up, yet again, for the Timeless movie?
"You just kind of throw your hands up. You're like, 'All right. I don't know what's good for the world,' and you have to move on."
Abigail Spencer: I was pretty upset after we got canceled the second time. I was like, "I can't take it anymore." I think, after the first time, you're like, "Okay, we did our best." You know what I mean? Shows get canceled all the time. I think after the second time where it felt like the show got better, our fanbase got deeper . . . You just kind of throw your hands up. You're like, "All right. I don't know what's good for the world," and you have to move on. You have to kind of lick your wounds. I think I probably got on a plane and went somewhere. I'm like, "I can't deal with this no more." But it was exciting [when we got picked up for the movie] because, at the same time, this doesn't happen where a show gets to have an elegant goodbye. And that's what I've been calling it, is an elegant goodbye, which we're super grateful for. Most times you just get yanked — especially after that season two cliffhanger finale. It's like, "Really? That's where we leave it?" So [I'm] super grateful [to do the Timeless movie]. It's super fun to do a holiday movie and kind of use the show for that. We were on set, Malcolm [Barrett], Matt [Lanter], Claudia [Doumit], and I, and we were like, "Wait a second. Are we in a Christmas movie?" We're like, "Are people going to watch this every year at Christmas?"
PS: Probably, knowing the fanbase.
AS: Yeah. So that was kind of fun, too, because that's a bucket list kind of thing. And [we] really had a ball. Coming back to it knowing that you cheated death twice, you're just like, "All right. Let's give it one more go."
PS: The season two finale leaves things on quite a bit of a cliffhanger, with future Lucy and Wyatt popping up. How many timelines are there in the movie?
AS: There are two different historical events that we go visit, and they're both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is cool because I didn't know that these events happened at those times. And you still kind of get the lessons. You get two lessons of the week. When you think about the pilot, we went to the Hindenburg crashing, which could not have been a bigger, more explosive, more — literally the Hindenburg is huge. So it's like a huge historical moment. It's a huge spectacle. And then I feel like where we land, where we go, and who we interact with [in the movie], nobody is historically "relevant" in the last moment. We just meet someone who touches us on a personal level. Lucy even says in the finale, she's like, "What's the point of saving history if we don't save the people in it?" That's a big arc for Lucy to go from only wanting to protect and save presidents or historically superimportant people — it's all about the important people and then you realize everybody's important because everybody's history is important. Everybody is important in their own timeline. That's a huge arc and I think we were able to follow that really naturally throughout the two seasons.
PS: I also think that goes with our conversation in March when you talked about how season two focused more on women and people of color. Those are the things that you don't see as much of in the history books. So to go an even deeper level with the movie — of not just historical figures, but just regular people — to save that kind of history as well is really interesting.
AS: Yeah. Absolutely. And we keep with that. In each episode the kind of central communities that we go and visit are Hispanic and Korean, so we definitely keep with that flow that season two was building up quite nicely.
PS: During season two, Lucy and Wyatt were going through a bit of a rough patch.
AS: I feel like they've always been going through a rough patch.
PS: They have, they have. But it was more of a roller coaster in season two with all the highs and the lows. But we also saw Lucy grow closer with Flynn, and it caused fans to become divided about who they want Lucy to end up with. Do you think that there will be something for both "Lyatt" fans and "Garcy" fans in this movie?
AS: A hundred percent. Yeah. A hundred percent. Also, what I would say is that I think that it's so cool that people are divided. That's naturally good storytelling because if it was just so clear one way or the other, then there wouldn't be any conflict. So it's really amazing that as much as people love Lucy and Wyatt because they're our time team, it's kind of like — remember how we met Flynn? Flynn was a terrorist and now people are like, "I kind of want Lucy and Flynn together." [Laughter] I think that's pretty good storytelling and really good casting.
PS: It's also just the characters. They're so multidimensional. They're not just a hero or a villain, they can all be both.
AS: Yes, and that was intentional. That was part of the design. So I'm glad that that's really been followed through and that people get hip to it as well. They're like, "Oh, I like that."
PS: With the pictures that have been released for the movie, it appears Rufus is alive and well in some of these timelines, but there's also one photo of the time team standing around a table (above) that has fans freaking out because Lucy and Flynn aren't there. This whole time we've been concerned with getting Rufus back, but should we be worried about the fate of other characters in this movie?
AS: Yes. You should. That's all I'll say about that.
PS: How emotional was your last day on set?
AS: Actually, my second to last day on set was the most emotional because that was the day that Malcolm wrapped. When he wrapped, I burst into tears. We also shot a scene that was, I would say, one of the most emotional ones of the entire series. So that really affected [me]. I think it started to feel real. When Malcolm wrapped, it really was like, "Oh. This might be the last time."
PS: Did you take anything from set with you as a memento from your time on the show?
AS: Oh my gosh. If I tell you, NBC and Sony might send out a sniper to kill me. [Laughter]
PS: They'll get Rittenhouse after you?
AS: Yeah. Exactly. I'm trying to think, what did I take as a memento? I have some of Lucy's items. The big thing that I want that I haven't gotten yet, they made three of the Katharine Hepburn dresses from "Hollywoodland." I want one of those dresses. I'm like, give it for posterity and for my collection, it's one of the most incredible costumes I'll ever wear.
PS: Over the past few months, there has been such an outpouring of support from the show's fans. They've gotten helicopters with banners to fly over Comic-Con. They even put up a billboard in Times Square recently. As a cast member on this show, what has that fan support meant to you?
AS: It's helped me reengage with storytelling on such a human level because I also don't want to make what I do too important. It's like that happy medium of I hopefully get to bring joy in people's life and entertain people and make them feel things. That's part of the joy of being an entertainer, but it's really made it very personal and just helped me guard what I do, guard stories, really understand who they're for and up the stakes, too, which is a beautiful thing. And it's very humbling. It's very humbling that people would spend their time and money. I mean that is invaluable and the fact that they would share it with us, spend it on us, in any capacity just really blows me away. That's part of why we got to come make the movie. Everyone wanted to do it for them. It's just so impassioned it couldn't be ignored. It's cool right now, and with what's going on in the world, is that it gave the power to the people.
PS: I know fans are still trying to get the show picked up by another network. Whether or not that happens, will the movie tie things up in a nice little bow or will there still be a few loose ends just in case the show does end up getting another life, another time?
AS: I think, hopefully, it will be enough satisfying and enough unsatisfying as all good storytelling is. Because whether or not we get to make more Timeless, I think the hope of the story is that the story will keep living on in anyone who watches it. That they'll take it with them and it'll inspire them to do something or they'll keep imagining what the characters lives are like beyond when the cameras stop rolling. That's just the cool thing about storytelling is that really, at the end of the day, it lives in our imaginations.
PS: Is there anything you didn't get to do with Lucy that you wish you could have?
AS: Oh my gosh. Yes. So many things. If we'd gotten picked up for season three, we would have lived with Tomb Raider Lucy for a season. That would have been really cool to explore. With the structure of the show, anything could have been possible. There are just so many stories we wanted to tell from the past. There's just so many characters in our history that we wanted to meet. So many people we wanted to put up on the screen, so people could find themselves in our historical protagonists. That would have been great to explore.
PS: So many people have fallen in love with the show over the past two seasons, but they've really fallen in love with the character of Lucy. There are people talking about how much they love Lucy on social media, but there are also moms posting about their little girls who are excited about history because of her. What has that been like playing a character that so many young women look up to?
"Her superpower is her brain and her humor and her intellect, and her cape is her awkwardness and her klutziness."
AS: Well, even just to hear you say that brings tears to my eyes. That's why I chose to play her. I mean, it's very interesting to kind of be almost three years down the road into my own story with Lucy. I had just finished — I actually hadn't even shot the fourth season of Rectify. I just finished the third season of Rectify, and Timeless came my way. I was kind of deciding if I was going to do another television show because it's like, I'm going to be so burned out. And when Lucy came along one, the timing worked out. What I loved about her and what my hope and my intention for her when I first read [the script] was that I want to play a woman who does not lead with her sexuality, but her superpower is her brain and her humor and her intellect, and her cape is her awkwardness and her klutziness, but I also wanted her to grow. So we really intentionally — you meet her in a place where she's more awkward and doesn't know what she's doing and really kind of overwhelmed by all of it, and you really see her grow into a woman who owns her space in the world, through tragedy too. Lucy, by the end of season two, had lost everything and yet she chooses to keep going.
I think what you'll feel in the finale is how Lucy prevails and the sacrifices and the choices that she's had to make. So, that's a really kind of roundabout way of saying it means so much to me. I wanted to play someone that little girls could look up to. Every day we talked about it on set with Shawn [Ryan] and Eric [Kripke]. Every scene, every choice, every costume, every look was thought of with the people who'd be watching it. I was thinking of little me. Who would I want to look up to? It was done with great intention and to see people respond to it is very overwhelming. It just means so much to me and encourages me to keep doing that whether it's Lucy or just any characters that I get to play in the future. I think we're in a really pivotal moment with women in front of the camera and who we put out there in the world, and I am approaching it with great intention.