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Animal Kingdom: Creators Discuss New TNT Series

TVSERIESFINALE.COM – TNT‘s new crime drama, Animal Kingdom, is set Oceanside, CA. It is inspired by the 2010 Australian film of the same name, set in 1985 Melbourne.

The cast and crew took part in a panel yesterday, at the TCA winter press tour. Showrunner Jonathan Lisco, Executive Producer, John Wells, and star Ellen Barkin talked about respecting the source material, while making the Animal Kingdom TV series stand on its own.

Excerpted from The Hollywood Reporter:

“There are any number of fantastic films which became very good television series because the initial material was rich,” executive producer John Wells told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. “When you think of MASH, do you think of the film MASH or do you think of the television show M*A*S*H* [sic] — both had their own aesthetic, wonderful performances by a number of actors.”

The movie “only scratched the surface on how far down we can drill down on these characters, and Smurf is a great example,” said showrunner Jonathan Lisco. “You learn that she’s capable of great menace, some emotional cruelty, but also capable of great love … but it never really answers the question whether or not her capacity of cruelty or her capacity for love is the scarier component of her character, and I know that’s something we want to explore in the course of the series. I think that’s a rather bottomless pit when you have an actress like Ellen Barkin.”

Barkin had the biggest challenge, taking over Weaver’s role as Smurf, the loving but also smothering matriarch of the family.

“She’s a very different character but lives in that same space as a mother,” said Wells. Lisco elaborated: “We’re going to make it a more nuanced portrayal of a mother who both loves her sons but also vandalizes them and has emotionally warped them while at the same time coddled them.”

Added Lisco, “We wanted to be very careful that we not try and replicate performances from the film.”

Barkin herself said she had no problem taking over a role made famous by someone else, comparing it to joining a play revival. “I don’t really think I’m stepping into anyone’s shoes,” the actress said. “I don’t think the movie was a beginning, a middle or an end point for us. It was more like source material as much as a book I might read.”

In addition to watching the movie, Barkin said she also did extensive research about the real Australian family that the film was based on and came to learn that the matriarch had a glass eye after having been shot in the face.

“I tried to convince John and Jonathan to let me have a glass eye,” Barkin said with a laugh.

Animal Kingdom stars: Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, Finn Cole, Daniella Alonso, and Molly Gordon. Read more about it, and see a two-show trailer featuring it and TNT’s other new drama, Good Behavior, starring Downton Abbey‘s Michelle Dockery, here.

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