American actress Emily Meade, 25, who plays Aimee in the The Leftovers, a television drama set in a world where 2 per cent of the population have mysteriously vanished, talks about the bright side and why she doesn't seek fame.

The premise of the show sounds depressing. "People are apprehensive about finding The Leftovers funny because it's such a dark circumstance, but I think, really, what the show is about is examining how different people deal with loss. There are elements of humour and levity and irony in that … just like in real life. Even the most tragic moments can have moments of comedy."

What would you like people to learn from Aimee? "Aimee believes that we try to control things as much as possible but exhaust ourselves - ultimately, we don't have control over what happens. We don't have control if we die tomorrow, we don't have control if, one day, people start disappearing. As much as she can be a reckless teenager, Aimee does have this innate sense of acceptance of her circumstances, which helps her not to be as miserable as everybody else. Aimee is willing to let go and that's why she's so able to have fun even in this really terrible circumstance."

Is there someone you'd like to emulate? "I want to do every kind of movie and role you could imagine … Growing up, I always looked up to males or comedians such as Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro. I also love Lucille Ball, from the show I Love Lucy. I looked up to all the women on [live sketch comedy show] Saturday Night Live."

What would your big break look like? "Being recognised for your work. I don't want to be famous, I don't have Twitter, I don't want just a lot of people knowing my name. I want to achieve a big break by people actually being impacted by a story I'm telling or relating to a character I'm playing. The outcome would be that I get to choose the parts I play, and only play parts that are important to me."

 

The Leftovers airs on HBO on Sundays, at 9pm.