“The Mosquito Coast” is an unlikely reunion for its two stars, Melissa George and Justin Theroux.
“Justin and I worked together on ‘Mulholland Drive’ 20 years ago, which is unbelievable,” George, 44, told The Post about the new Apple TV+ drama.
“He was the director in the film [within that 2001 David Lynch movie] and I was the actress singing for him…then, two decades later, we’re married and fighting our way through the jungle.”
“The Mosquito Coast,” premiering April 30, follows Allie Fox (Theroux), an idealistic man who uproots his family — wife Margot (George), son Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) and daughter Diana (Logan Polish) — from California to Latin America when he becomes disgusted with the civilized world (and criminal charges from his past that come up, enticing him to flee).
It’s based on the 1981 novel of the same name, which was adapted into the 1986 movie starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix.
“I naively was sent the script not knowing that it was a book or a film at the very beginning,” said George. “Then of course I did my research. I fell in love with the idea of this fugitive family on the run and Margot was such a complex character, kind of like a Bonnie to Clyde. I so wanted the part but I couldn’t bring myself to [read] for it because I was too afraid to lose it and not get it.”
But a talk with Theroux changed her mind.
“We’d kept in touch a little bit [since ‘Mulholland Drive’]. I saw him once or twice over the two decades and for some reason he still had my [phone] number. And when the casting was happening, he called and said, ‘Why are you not reading for this?’ ”
An Australian who’s now based on Paris, George is known for a slew of movies (“Dark City,” “30 Days of Night”) and TV series including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Good Wife” and “Alias.” But it was her 2008 role opposite Gabriel Byrne on HBO’s psychologist show “In Treatment” that really helped her prepare for “The Mosquito Coast” — since she was inspired to pursue an unusual way of going “method” to play Margot.
“I went to see a psychologist as Margot,” she said. “After about three sessions, they realized I wasn’t her — that I was just playing her — so that raised many questions! I went to try and see if I could understand why a woman would stay with a man like that; what keeps her, what she stays on the run for. I got this inspiration from playing Laura from ‘In Treatment,’ a series where I was a patient in therapy. I thought that if I could reverse it and understand more about the character I was playing, I could get so much more information than sitting there and figuring her out on my own.
“I basically sat there as Margot, to talk about, ‘I’m on the run, I’ve been hiding for years, I haven’t seen my family, I call my mother once a year on her birthday.’ So to me that was the most amazing training. Most people go to see [psychologists] to understand themselves — but for me it was an opportunity to understand the person I was playing.
“Seeing a therapist as Margot really gave me the way to play her.”