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Q&A: Animal Kingdom’s Ben Robson Talks Boxing, Burgers, Beer—and Season One Finale

TV’s most badass family is wrapping things up in the season finale tonight—but don’t worry: Smurf and her boys will be back next year for the recently-confirmed Season 2. Speaking of the boys, we got to sit down with Ben Robson who plays perhaps the roughest, toughest criminal/son in the bunch, Craig Cody. Turns out, Robson isn’t quite as fearless as Craig in real life, but he’s learned a few things about confidence from his character—that we’re definitely stealing for ourselves. We also talked fitness, extreme sports, and diet—and how he gets away with eating all those burgers and beer on the show.

Men’s Fitness: On the show, your character is known as a tough, fearless adrenaline junkie. What’s the toughest or most wild thing Craig has done on the show this far?
Ben Robson: God, there’s so many. It’s tough. I think the part where I was playing chicken with a truck … I was pulling a wheelie between Deran’s car and avoided the truck—that was crazy. Or, the fight when he’s skydiving and throwing his brother out before the right jump time is kind of amusing. I would probably still have to say that the wildest thing is the one all the brothers did together, in episode nine, when they head up to the naval base. [Watch here to find out what happens!]

MF: What about you in real life? Would you describe yourself as having a similar tough, fearless attitude?
BR: I’d love to think I was like that but I’m definitely nowhere near Craig’s level. I don’t think he ever feels there’s any consequences to his actions whereas the reality is … I find myself not getting away with it. I’ve always had an interest in pushing myself into positions that are uncomfortable, just because I feel that’s how you grow as a person. If you’re always challenging yourself, you tend to grow and find things out about yourself. It’s been fun to play a character like Craig, because he teaches you it’s okay to push yourself into places that you might not necessarily go—or challenge or dare yourself to a certain extent. Even when we’d been in the airplane, standing on the edge of the plane with a tiny cable as I was looking down 16,000 feet—I mean, that’s stuff I feel I’m learning from him.

MF: So, of all the stuff Craig has taught you, do you have any tips for us—how to be more fearless when we don’t feel super tough?
BR: Yeah, I think it’s like anything that’s scary or sort of difficult—like if you try to get into a relationship with someone, or a test, or just something that you know gets your adrenaline going to a certain extent. It’s always worth pushing yourself to see what’s possible and what you’re capable of. There’s always going to be something that’s instilled into me by my father. The more you try and the more you persevere with things, anything’s sort of possible. It just takes hard work and a certain mindset to achieve it. Craig’s very much loose, wild, and is up for that life to a certain extent. It’s exciting to see what you’re capable of doing. You only find out by challenging yourself.

MF: Craig’s a very strong—physically—character and you have to stay in great shape. What do you in the gym to maintain your physique that is often on full display on screen?
BR: Yeah, full display is the right word! I’ve always kind of stayed quite fit just because I get antsy if I’m not moving and running around. I definitely adapted my training for this. I knew it was very aggressive so I took up boxing and got myself a trainer. Boxing is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but I’ve went into it a lot more and really learned how to do it. That’s obviously an incredible workout, and it’s totally addictive as well because you start getting better and better with the combos, the flow, and the routine. At the same time, I’m in the gym doing different routines. I manage to do some circuit training, then be out in about an hour. After the gym, you feel sort of strong and good about yourself, but it’s not something I enjoy doing for hours on end.

[When you’re in peak physical shape] you do start feeling a lot more confident in your own belief of what you’re capable of doing, which is something that each one of these Codys have. When they walk down the street, they have a certain swag about them. I think when you feel as if you’d be confident in a fight or be able to look after yourself, or strong, or in great shape, it definitely brings sort of a sense of confidence that I feel would be unrivaled.

MF: What about other sports—you used to play soccer competitively. Do you still kind of play at all now?
BR: I’ll play with friends, but I don’t tend to play the very competitive games anymore, because that’s when you get injured. Unfortunately, it’s not really a job where I can get away with breaking a leg or pulling a hamstring or something.

MF: Is motocross something that you were interested in before, or did you just pick it up for the show?
BR: I’ve always really liked motor bikes, but the great thing about this job is that I’ve got to learn a lot of the stuff that most boys grow up dreaming of doing. Whether it’s motocross or surfing, or whatever else—jumping out of an airplane kind of things. The motorcross was something that I was into, I couldn’t wait to get on the bikes. If anything, it’s now become an obsession and I just can’t wait to get back on them. Like anything, you start with learning the basic stuff, then when you start doing the big jumps or catching the high waves, it’s satisfying as you get better and better at it. You start learning more and more about that rush.

MF: Speaking of surfing, is that something that you do in real life as well as on the show?
BR: Yeah, I do. I’ve got a passion, and living in LA you’ve got access to these waves. I just got back from a surf trip with my brother in Mexico last week. There’s something quite special about being in the ocean and when you’re catching a wave, there’s not a much better feeling. It’s also very sociable, when you’re out in the middle of the ocean, you make friends with new people. When you’re out with your old friends, it’s a great chance to catch up with them, and have fun at the same time.

MF: Craig doesn’t seem to have the “healthiest” diet—what’s your diet look like personally?
BR: It’s actually been kind of a blessing playing someone like Craig, because I get a bit of leeway with him just scarfing down burgers and drinking beer and the rest of it, so it’s actually quite nice, me getting to eat what I want.

MF: Anything coming up in the season finale tomorrow night that you can tease? Or in season 2?
BR: It’s the finale of the season, so it obviously brings a lot of drama that can be left open-ended or unfinished. I think what you’re going to see tomorrow is a question of what are people’s real intentions towards the family, what people have been rewarded for. It doesn’t really seem like they should get rewarded for what they’ve actually been doing. That continuous struggle of getting Smurf’s attention, there’s a lot of vying for that alpha male spot. It adds a lot more drama between the dynamics of the family that really seem to be consistently questioned by every one of the boys and Smurf herself.

Catch the season finale of Animal Kingdom on Tuesday, August 9th at 9PM on TNT. And come back for more on TK for the debut of season 2.

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