Note: The following contains spoilers for “Firefly Lane” Season 2 Part 2.
Filming the end of “Firefly Lane” Season 2 Part 2, specifically the scene in which Kate dies, was difficult enough for Sarah Chalke, but an irritated neighbor interrupting with his leaf blower made ending the series even more challenging.
The final episodes of “Firefly Lane” bring the adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s book to a close. Tully (Katherine Heigl) and Chalke’s Kate reconcile after falling out over a car accident involving Marah once Kate tells Tully she has breast cancer. After trying everything, Kate dies peacefully in the backyard of her house on the Seattle Sound (shot in British Columbia), and Tully goes inside briefly before it happens.
“I was sitting there looking at all the small things that Kate sees right before she dies, when Tully goes inside for a minute. It was just like a gift from nature,” Chalke told TheWrap. “The wind blew and the wind chimes were making these beautiful sounds, and then I’m looking out at the horizon, and there’s this sailboat crossing. It was this sunny, spectacular day that was glinting off the water. It was so bright. All of the things that as an actor you imagine in your mind to see, they were actually just happening right before me, and then the neighbor didn’t like us shooting there, so every time they would say ‘Rolling,’ he had intercepted the walkie talkie so he’d start his leafblower. I was like, ‘Really? On this one? Can I be the one to go over and talk to him and explain what’s happening right now?’ Because obviously there was a bit of anticipation before you film a scene like that.”
Chalke lost her aunt to cancer at the age of 24, which informed her portrayal of Kate’s case of rare and aggressive cancer.
“Once I read Kristen’s book and I knew over these seasons that this was coming, I had some trepidation about playing it because you want to do it justice,” Chalke said. “Also I was nervous about it just because it’s every mother’s greatest fear to not get to see your journey of motherhood through and raise your kids all the way through.”
The falling out and reconciliation felt real to both actresses, as did the arguments and outbursts that happened in the midst of Kate’s battle with cancer.
“I found all of it so deeply relatable, the good and the bad. The pain and the joy. I found it so human. I think every one of us has a relationship in our life or maybe several that have that depth of emotion where it’s not just all positive, but you would throw yourself in front of a bus for this person,” Heigl told TheWrap. “I think that showing that side of Kate and Tully was really important because they’re not some fairytale friendship. Their friendship is really rooted in reality. And they were really codependent for years and years and years.”
Heigl and Chalke agreed that the bridal shower tiff needed to happen because there was so much left unsaid, and the conflicting emotions needed to be let out for the fate of the friendship. Even the final moment of the show comes down to the two of them. Tully can’t go inside for Kate’s funeral, but Kate prepared for that.
“The best part of the funeral scene to me is that it is exactly as written in the book. Even the dialogue, even what Kate writes to Tully in that note, it’s straight from the book, and I would just sit in my trailer and reread that part of the book over and over between takes,” Heigl said. “This was an odd experience for me in that it was almost too on the surface for me. There were times we had to stop filming to just pull it together and stop crying. It felt so real. We knew it was the last bit of episodes, we knew that we would not be coming back is these characters. So in a way, it felt as final as a death.”
Just as Kate wasn’t present in the final funeral scene, Chalke wasn’t on set for the filming of Tully’s moment.
“I love that you feel like the juxtaposition of the pain of this funeral, which I love that we didn’t go inside, you stay outside with [Tully], and she’s dancing, and you have this beautiful song that meant so much to both of them and to their relationship,” Chalke said.
All episodes of “Firefly Lane” are streaming on Netflix.