The Cody family lives a complicated life, to say the least. With matriarch Smurf (Ellen Barkin) at the helm, they spend their days robbing jewelry stores, covering up their mistakes, and planning their next job. But things take a turn when Josh (better known as J), their nephew, arrives to live with them. And that’s where the pilot of Animal Kingdom kicks off.
How will J fit into the family? And what exactly is going on in the Cody household? EW spoke with Scott Speedman, who plays adopted brother Baz, about what fans can expect from the new TNT drama.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it that drew you to this project and this character?
SCOTT SPEEDMAN: I don’t know about a lot of shows like this on television. I thought it was a very interesting mix of this edgy new cable-driven drama but also I did think it had this oddly commercial feel to it. There’s something about it that I really think audiences are going to watch. Selfishly, with my own character I really saw this mysterious, complicated dude that wasn’t all that he seems on the surface and I had the feeling that I could take this guy somewhere.
This was previously a movie, so when it came time to do the show, were you all asked to watch it? Avoid it? Was it at all part of the conversation?
It wasn’t even a conversation. Like most actors I had seen the movie. We were all aware of it but when you’re doing a television show and you’re obviously not doing it in Australia — you’re taking it and putting it in Oceanside, California, which is this blue-collar kind of seedy little beach town, it just changes the whole dynamic. I thought that was a brilliant place to put it. It’s the perfect place to see the town juxtaposed with this beautiful surf culture.
So Baz isn’t legally adopted by the Cody family, right?
He’s not legally adopted. He’s got two of the most terrible parents of all time and as a youngster was good friends with Pope. And sometimes he’d stay over for one night, which became three nights, which became a week, and then he just stayed.
How do you describe Baz’s relationship with Smurf?
I think it’s complicated because family’s the most important thing and I’m not blood. I made a mistake on a robbery a while ago and I got Pope in trouble, so she needs Baz but there’s a deep displeasure with Baz from the top dog. He’s on the ins but he’s on the outs in a lot of ways. It’s a complicated relationship and not being blood makes for interesting storylines down the line.
The pilot kicks off with the introduction of J, the nephew. With Baz sort of being a leader in this family, is he going to become a mentor-type for J?
I think that’s what the perception would be off the pilot but I’ll just say that what’s fun about this show is that we’re going to turn all those things on their heads. What you think it is, it isn’t. All those perceptions you have, hopefully you’ll be thinking very differently by the end of the first season about these men.
Even by the end of the first two hours your character is revealing secrets.
He’s a man of secrets, even from Smurf. He hides many things from her which is a big no-no in the family. She’s supposed to know everything and be in control of everything, but he definitely has stuff on the side. So that’s always fun as a character, anytime you have a storyline that isn’t in a group of six or seven people, that you have your own individual storyline, that’s really what I love to be doing.
Animal Kingdom premieres Tuesday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.