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Zachary Quinto talks about slapping a child

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NBC’s The Slap miniseries is about what happens when a man slaps a neighbor’s out-of-control child at a backyard BBQ. Based on an acclaimed Australian miniseries and 2008 novel, Zachary Quinto (Heroes) plays the slapper, Harry, whose action sends several relationships into a spiral. The first question from critics at the TCA press tour for Quinto: What’s it like to pretend to hit a kid over and over again?

“It was a big scene with a lot of technical elements to it and the thing that was most important to everyone was the safety of the kids,” Quinto said. “Obviously we had to do it repetitively. But we isolated the moment of the slap. There was clear communication with the kids. And then all the explosive anger and emotions was all done without the kids there. It was really well handled. And oddly, for all of us, since we spent so much time shooting that sequence, it was enjoyable time for bonding and getting to know each other, even though it was in the context of this horrific act. There was a lot of thought put into it so that it was both safe and as dynamic as it needed to be.”

“The kid who gets slapped had incredible staying power,” added executive producer Lisa Cholodenko.

The cast predicted that the miniseries would spark arguments and NBC’s trailer for The Slap asks viewers to choose a side. Yet actress Melissa George — who was also in the Australian version — said there was no debate at all for the cast. “Oh, there’s no argument,” she said. “Harry is completely wrong. There was no discussion.”

Added Quinto: “It was difficult to me to understand why anybody could be motivated to do this. Until I got into the idea of what Harry believes he’s defending — protection, honor, teaching his son what it means to be a man, even if that’s a misguided concept. The great thing about the miniseries is there’s very little black and white and a lot of gray.”

Co-star Uma Thurman, making her return to NBC after a stint on Smash three years ago, noted,  “Growing up in the ’70s, we got hit all the time. You saw friends getting hit. One of the things I felt about this piece is it’s a very interesting cultural observation about the changing face about how to be a human being and what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

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