PEOPLE.COM – Say hello to Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, Ben Robson.
The Newcastle upon Tyne, England native, 32, made a name for himself as one of the stars of History’s Vikings, and his latest role has him going from the rugged life of a sea-rover to that of a sandy SoCal bad boy in Animal Kingdom. Robson, who plays a troublemaking lothario in a twisted crime family in the new TNT drama, is quickly earning his spot as one of Hollywood’s sexiest new breakout stars.
Here are five things to know about the actor.
He didn’t know he wanted to be an actor until after he finished school.
“I got into it very late. I went to university and [finished] out at 25, and told my parents I didn’t feel I was doing the right thing and that I wanted to go to acting school. I didn’t finish until I was 27. Acting was something that kind of came later. I was always interested in it, I love film and the escapism of it all and that was always my interest. It was actually when a friend told me at University that he wanted to go into acting I was like ‘Oh my god I always wanted to do that.’ ”
His first professional acting role was on Dracula: The Dark Prince.
“I was sitting in Romania with the director and producer and tell me Jon Voight was on the way over from America because he is going to be playing opposite of you. I was just like ‘Oh my god that’s an Oscar winner!’ He really was an incredible teacher and a very generous person. It’s very surreal as a first gig to get to work with him and it gave me a lot more confidence to carry on in what I was doing.”
Wielding a sword as a Viking isn’t his only special talent.
“I used to play a lot of soccer and was pretty good at it. I could do a lot of kick-ups and freestyle tricks. But I haven’t seen many soccer scripts coming around recently so it’ll be a while before anyone gets the chance to see any of that. I’ve always really enjoyed sports, it was the one thing I really liked at school. I just loved being able to get outside and run around for a while.”
He doesn’t mind his heartthrob status
“You appreciate anyone who is enjoying anything you’re doing which is obviously a lovely thing to hear. It’s lovely to speak with the fans and people who are supportive in what you’re doing and who are interested in how you’re doing.
He could see himself working behind the camera.
“I’d really love to get into writing and I’d love to direct one day. That might be waiting a little so I can learn more, but I’d love to just keep working with great people and on interesting subject matter that you can really sort of delve into. I’d just like to be in a position where I can continue to do this for the rest of my life.”
EW.COM – In the second part of the premiere, “We Don’t Hurt People,” things continue to be pretty bad for J and the rest of the Cody clan. One minute they’re “goofing around” in the pool — meaning lots of punching and near-drowning — and the next they’re learning that the cop from their robbery job is dead.
The boys find out one by one. After Baz sees the news, it’s Smurf who sends J to find Deran and bring him back to the house. J finds him at the beach, hiding away in a washroom while being “serviced” by another man. When Deran sees J walk in, he begins attacking his companion, coming up with the bald lie that the man tried to take his wallet. There’s just a bit of toxic masculinity running through this family.
Back at home, all the Codys gather for a family meeting. While some of their bases are covered, they determine they need to get rid of the watches and dismantle and bleach the car they used for the job. That means sending Craig, Deran, and J out to the yard to do the grunt work, which Deran doesn’t exactly take in stride.
See, Deran’s pissed about having to do the heavy lifting while Smurf handles the money, especially now that they have to get rid of the watches (meaning a smaller cut for everyone). He’s worried about being broke, even though it’s pretty clear Smurf has always taken care of them.
While taking the car apart, Craig struggles to do just about anything, the wound on his chest getting worse with each passing minute. Deran urges him to go to Mexico, but Craig doesn’t want to; he says he doesn’t need to cause any more problems for the family.
Back at home, J finds that Pope has completely tossed his room. He says he was looking for the watch he gave J, which J says he already gave to Nicky, but I’m not so sure that’s all Pope wants. Pope is clearly a loose cannon, and there’s more to his intrusion into J’s life than meets the eye. He’s got a very bad vibe, as he idly threatens J and seems to have some sort of weird attraction to Nicky, carrying her to bed and staring at her. None of this bodes well for J.
After all, this is the man who we later learn is also hot for Catherine, Baz’s girlfriend/wife/lover. He heads over to her place and tries to “win her back” in a sense, but it turns out Catherine isn’t into Pope just creepily showing up with presents for her daughter. Pope must have done something pretty bad in the past, because nobody seems to be excited to have him back.
NEXT: Mexico and pills (read more at the source … )
» Television Productions > Animal Kingdom  > Season 01 > Promotional & Episodic Photography > 1.02 – We Don’t Hurt People
» Television Productions > Animal Kingdom  > Season 01 > Episode Screencaptures > 1.02 – We Don’t Hurt People
EW.COM – If gritty crime dramas with hunky men and mommy issues are your thing, there’s a good chance you’re going to go crazy for Animal Kingdom. Loosely adapted from the 2010 Australian film of the same name — though more closely resembling a TV version of Point Break than anything else — TNT’s Animal Kingdom is steeped in California noir goodness. There’s coke, neon lights, sunny beaches, weed, robberies, violence, and Ellen Barkin. What more could you ask for?
The premiere certainly gets right down to business, with paramedics showing up at an apartment and responding to a woman dying from a heroin overdose while her son sits on the couch with a nonchalant look on his face. It’s obvious he’s been here before, though this time is different. The boy is Josh, a.k.a. “J,” and this time his mom, Julia, doesn’t recover. After she dies, J ends up calling his grandmother (Ellen Barkin), known affectionately as Smurf, for a place to stay.
Smurf comes to pick up her grandson, and smuggles away some drugs while she’s at it. As J is about to leave, he’s confronted by his mom’s dealer, who’s asking for money he’s owed. J doesn’t tell him his Mom died, but he doesn’t pay him either. It’s a small moment, but one that leads to a bigger turning point later in the episode.
When J is brought back to his grandmother’s place, we get a glimpse at the life she and her sons are living. There’s a pool, nice cars, plenty of TVs, and money lying around the house. It seems like they’re living the dream, especially compared to the relative squalor J was used to, but it’s clear that everything’s not exactly on the up-and-up. Still, J’s uncles set him up in a room, bring him a TV, and give him some money to buy new shoes.
As it turns out, J’s extended family are a bunch of criminals, mostly running robbery jobs. Smurf’s in charge and her boys do the grunt work. Smurf wants to bring J into the fold for the next operation, which is set to go down in a few days, but her boys aren’t so sure. They don’t know a thing about J and aren’t sure if they can trust him.
Still, the uncles are trying to make J feel at home, in their own twisted, criminally inclined way. They take him surfing, where they intentionally piss off other surfers before getting J to pull a gun and show that he’s manly enough, that he can hold his own with the big boys. J is clearly reluctant, but what choice does he have?
Back at home, J discovers the room he’s staying in isn’t exactly his. It belonged to Pope (Shawn Hatosy), another one of Smurf’s sons, who was sent to prison for three years for robbing a bank. He’s back home now and not entirely excited to see J in his room. The feeling seems mutual. J is wary of the man and so is Smurf, who’s fairly reserved for someone whose boy just got out of prison.
When J isn’t spending time being slightly mystified and terrified of his uncles, he’s hanging out with his girlfriend, Nicky. After some foreplay that J isn’t into (ya know, because of the whole dead-mom thing), they start talking about his mom’s death and where he’s living. As the episode progresses, it’s hinted that Nicky’s about to get roped into this criminal lifestyle alongside J, if she’s not careful.
NEXT: New, stolen…same difference (read more at the source … )
» Television Productions > Animal Kingdom  > Season 01 > Promotional & Episodic Photography > 1.01 – Pilot
» Television Productions > Animal Kingdom  > Season 01 > Episode Screencaptures > 1.01 – Pilot
MAXIM.COM – Not everyone can get away with playing a viking. You need to be rugged, bearded, aggressive, and an all-around BAMF. Luckily enough for Ben Robson, he fit in with all those qualities—and then some.
After blindly shipping off to New York from London with a buddy and few bags in tow, Ben found his day-to-day life transitioning from sports at college to studying scripts and performance art.
While he may not have had much recognition before traveling stateside, Robson quickly landed a big time role as Kalf on History Channel’s Vikings. Fortunately, this Aaron-Taylor Johnson lookalike found it easy to embody the greatest travelers and explorers of our time.
“It was obviously a very different time compared to how we live now,” Ben tells Maxim. “We cherish life so much and the Vikings looked forward to a great death on the battlefield so they could be recognized by the gods and be sent to Valhalla—especially Odin. They became great warriors to give themselves the best opportunity to achieve this. That insight gave me a good place to start, and then the beard came later!”
His latest role has him transitioning from life as Norse Viking to the sandy SoCal beach vibes of Oceanside, California in Animal Kingdom. TNT’s latest indie film-inspired crime drama follows 17-year old ‘J’ who finds himself living with the Cody family, a criminal clan led by Ellen Barkin. Ben takes on the character of Craig, the rambunctious middle child and most loyal who usually finds himself acting much more than thinking.
“Craig is an adrenaline junky that’s always looking for that next fix or high,” Ben said of his character. “I trained with motocross bikes in the Mojave desert in California with the stunt coordinators on the show. I would push myself to take on bigger steeper hills and do them faster and faster each time to recreate that rush which Craig lives for. To play such an uninhibited character has been really freeing for me both personally and in my work.”
Find out if Ben’s switch from swords and shields to surf swells and board shorts suits him well when Animal Kingdom premieres June 14th on TNT.
Robson spoke with Maxim about surviving a zombie apocalypse, owning a good watch, and what’s next.
What is one movie that really enjoy but your friends always make fun of you for?
It’s been a while, but I used to have Finding Nemo constantly on repeat in my room during my first year at university. If I didn’t have the movie on, my TV had an aquarium setting with Nemo and all his mates swimming around that was on all day and night.
What would be your weapon of choice in a zombie apocalypse?
Well not very long if we are going by the old Call of Duty standards. I think my friend and I managed to pass six stages. I chose the worst guns that constantly ran out of ammo while I was trying to save my buddy! I’m pretty sure that I tried every weapon in the game to survive and failed horribly. So maybe I’d choose a bomb or explosives. Or maybe I could train with Call of Duty until I felt like I was ready to try something a little smaller!
What is the one item that every guy must have in his wardrobe?
A great watch. I think it says a lot about who is wearing it. I like the history behind watches, there’s just something about holding time on your wrist that says a lot more than checking your smartphone.
You’re on a 10 hour flight—who do you want sitting next to you and why?
Winston Churchill. They don’t really breed men like that anymore. I would be fascinated to hear his outlook on life first hand over a couple of drinks. Not sure he’d appreciate a ten hour flight with no cigars though.
Your about to get into a fight – what song comes on as part of your personal soundtrack?
Probably ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ – Prodigy.
What’s one thing a guy should never do when he’s out with a woman?
Start chatting up another one!
What’re two things that you don’t know how to do that you probably should know how to do?
Skateboarding and working out percentages. Which has been a struggle when sorting the tip at the end of a bill in the states!
What’s next for you?
Hopefully work on more great material and interesting characters, and later down the line, I would like to get behind the camera at some point.
SPOILERTV.COM – “Dead to Me” – Tuesday, June 28, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) – TV-MA-LSV
As the boys gear up for Pope’s birthday, Smurf wants to know if they’re playing by her rules. J learns more about his mother’s estrangement from the family.
Directed by Karen Gaviola
Written by Etan Frankel
SPOILERTV.COM – Episode 103: “Stay Close, Stick Together” – Tuesday, June 21, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) – TV-MA-LS
While Craig recovers from a wound, Baz and Craig deal with some old associates down in Mexico. Meanwhile, strapped for cash, Pope takes charge and ropes Deran and J into a job without Smurf’s knowledge. Threatened by J’s participation, Deran sends him a terrifying message.
DETROITNEWS.COM – Opening scene: A high school boy sits on a couch, watching a game show. Slumped next to him is the body of his mother, dead of a heroin overdose.
OK, start the party.
“Animal Kingdom,” a reworking of the brilliantly grim 2010 Australian film, is the kind of series you expect to find on AMC, FX or even HBO. How it ended up on TNT is anybody’s guess, but it’s the sort of show that can transform a network.
That boy is Josh (Finn Cole). After the ambulance takes his mother’s body away, he calls the grandmother he hasn’t seen in years, Smurf (Ellen Barkin, owning the screen). She comes to pick him up and install him at her Southern California beach community compound. There he meets his mother’s brothers (Scott Speedman, Ben Robson, Jake Weary), a group of criminal man-boys who steal at will, party hard and resort to violence as a first resort.
Pretty quickly Josh figures out why his damaged mother kept him away from this clan. That realization becomes even more clear when a fourth uncle, Andrew (Shawn Hatosy), arrives fresh from prison, resentful and full of crazy. But Josh has nowhere else to go. So he tries to adapt.
The series retains the film’s essentials — the powerful matriarch, the casual criminality — but adds elements of the original “Point Break” and “Sons of Anarchy.” These are not bad elements to add. It also stresses the tension between Barkin’s mad queen and each of her offspring, who parade around naked before her, threaten her, snort coke in front of her and yet bow to her. Barkin has been waiting for and deserving a role this good for decades, and she sinks her teeth squarely into it.
As gritty, dysfunctional family, crime-fueled dramas go, “Animal Kingdom” roars with dark promise.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.
9 p.m. Tuesday
POST-GAZETTE.COM – TNT’s “Southland” offered a deep dive into the working lives of Southern California patrol cops. In the dark and moody “Animal Kingdom” (9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday), TNT turns its attention to a Southern California family of surfers who are also criminals.
Both series hail from executive producer John Wells, a Carnegie Mellon University grad, and writer Jonathan Lisco, and both put an emphasis on character over plot. But it was easier to get into “Southland” where the lead characters, though flawed, usually were trying to do the right thing.
In “Animal Kingdom,” not to be confused with Disney’s theme park in Florida that uses the same name, the lead characters are all, to varying degrees, jerks. There is one exception: Young Joshua (Finn Cole), the first character viewers meet on the day his mother overdoses and dies.
Joshua is the grandson of Janine “Smurf” Cody (Ellen Barkin, fierce as ever), the manipulative, unpredictable matriarch of the Cody crime family. Joshua’s mother tried to get him away from the Cody clan, but her death sends him back into Smurf’s arms, which also leads him to get reacquainted with his four uncles, including his mother’s dangerous twin brother, Pope (Shawn Hatosy, playing a hothead again just like he did on “Southland”).
Smurf’s other sons include Baz (Scott Speedman, “Felicity”), seemingly the most sane of the bunch and Smurf’s chief lieutenant in their criminal enterprise, druggie Craig (Ben Robson) and the youngest, Deran (Jake Weary), who’s hiding a secret from his family until Joshua stumbles upon it.
The first hour of “Animal Kingdom” plays heavily on character and also introduces a running plot about a jewelry heist that goes bad. The consequences of that robbery hang over future episodes.
The show’s robbery angle and the testosterone-driven action sequences bring to mind Mr. Wells’ short-lived 2006 CBS heist drama, “Smith,” which shot its pilot episode in Pittsburgh. But with the emphasis on one family, “Animal Kingdom” is more grounded in characters. They’re an unsavory bunch and after the first hour it seemed likely I wouldn’t willingly stick with the series but after hour two, the show made me curious to see what would come next.
“Animal Kingdom,” based on a 2010 Australian film of the same title, won’t be to everyone’s taste, but fans of dark, family criminal enterprise shows (think: “Sons of Anarchy,” “Outsiders”) might be intrigued.