After 19 years on death row, a man returns to rural Georgia when his conviction is overturned due to DNA evidence. Is he truly innocent?…
Credit: James Minchin III/Sundance Channel

The Sundance Channel’s new show bows Monday night, boasting a very slow and emotional build over its six-episode arc. EW spoke to three of the show’s stars about the characters they play on the gritty, lifelike new scripted fare.

Aden Young, Abigail Spencer and Clayne Crawford opened up about the places they had to go and the emotions they had to portray as they dove headfirst into this depiction of a man who is released from prison into the uncertain world of a small Southern town — and the family who surrounds him.

Aden Young on Daniel Holden, the man who was recently released from death row

“You feel like a man who literally has fallen to earth,” Young said of his character. “There’s a sort of paralyzing nature of that world inside. He’s very much afraid of feeling anything because if he feels it might break.”

He said he explored the concept of moving a person from one extreme — limited space and no freedom — to another by releasing Daniel from prison.

“The subtext is, is this real?” Young said. “Is this world that we live in real? Can you bring a human being out of that terrible sadness and say ‘have a beer?’ It’s a story of how we as a society have legitimized murder and somebody escapes that through a series of legalities and is let loose in this world that has tried to shed him.”

Is there a method to getting into such a still, stoic character’s mind?

“Vodka,” he deadpanned.

Abigal Spencer on Amantha, Daniel’s sister who fought for 18 years to get him out of prison

Spencer was drawn to the character because of her unique name.

“I am from a really small Southern town and I had never heard that name before,” she said. “This is like next level Southern.”

She said there were many accuracies in the depiction of a small southern town — from the marshmallow creme in the pantries to the cultural wasteland of a town dominated by a Wal-Mart culture. The character was certainly a departure from her own nature.

“The first thing I did when I got to Griffin, I was like where are the hipsters,” Spencer joked. “I know they’re here. And we found them. It was kids who were in bands and had toured and lived life and then came back and were like “we’re going to bring the hipster to Griffin.”

Beyond her desire to explore counter-culture, Spencer also cited a big difference between she and Amantha.

“I am not a smoker,” Spencer said. “At the beginning I was smoking but then I was like I can’t do this, give me the fake stuff. Finding the way Amantha smokes and everything … It was so good though, because it changes you chemically and Amantha has a way of smoking. It’s the motion of it and there’s a little bit … Ray said Amantha kind of smokes like Bette Davis, like she had seen a lot of movies growing up.”

Clayne Crawford on Teddy, Daniel’s step-brother who isn’t sure how he feels about Daniel’s release

Clayne Crawford said a lot of his character’s uncertainty comes from the fact that Daniel’s freedom affects his livelihood and creates an uncertain future. Teddy inherited what would probably have been Daniel’s position in the family business and is unhappy about finding a new job.

“Teddy doesn’t like things to change,” Crawford said. “He likes things staying the exact same. I grew up in the south so for me it wasn’t a stretch at all – I knew these guys.”

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