Family definitely comes first on Animal Kingdom, the new TNT series premiering this month. Based on the award-winning film of the same name, the series stars Ellen Barkin as the matriarch of the Cody clan (including characters played by Scott Speedman and Shawn Hatosy) that has done most of its bonding while committing felonies. When the son of an estranged sister finds himself moving in with his heretofore-unknown relations, things get more than a bit sticky.
It isn’t just the boys of the family finding themselves in hot water, however. Revolution alum Daniella Alonso plays Catherine, the wife of a Cody son, who grew up alongside the brood but finds herself looking for a more lawful lifestyle. Here, the actress talks to DuJour about landing the role and what it’s meant to her.
Animal Kingdom is based on the 2010 movie. How similar is the series to the film?
It’s similar in that the characters are the same, but I feel like it’s different. Yes, the crime story is a part of our show, but really I feel like our show is about the characters, delving into who they are, where they came from, why they are so messed up and how they became this way. You get to see who these characters really are and how they are evolving, how they either stick together or start to fall apart.
How did you land the role of Catherine?
I had auditioned for this role about two months before I actually got it. I hadn’t heard anything, so I didn’t know what was going on, and I went from Los Angeles to New York. Then I got a call, I think it was on a Thursday, and they were like, “Hey! We need you to put yourself on tape so you can test for the show…. And we need it in two hours.” I hadn’t seen the part for two months and it was pages and pages, three or four scenes, but I put myself on tape, sent it in… and I didn’t hear anything. That was a Thursday night, and Saturday I got a phone call saying I had to fly to L.A. because we would start shooting Monday. It was a whirlwind, but it was right. I always felt a connection to this role, and I usually can walk out of a room and forget about it, but this one kind of stuck with me. So it was really cool that this one stuck around.
What made her special?
The writing is incredible—these guys are pros—so when I read this really good writing it just stood out. Also, the family is just really interesting; I just knew there were going to be a lot of layers with this one and it would be really fun to play.
Catherine’s the wife of a guy whose family business is crime. What’s in store for her over the course of the season?
She kind of grew up with the Cody family, she has been living in and out of their house since she was about 12. She’s always been part of the—and now she’s part of the family in a different kind of way because she’s with Baz and they have a kid together, but she knows everything about them. She knows where their skeletons are buried or hidden. So now that she has her own family, now that she has a child, she doesn’t want to be part of the criminal activity, she wants to protect her kid. Catherine is becoming less of a kid and more of a woman and she wants to protect her daughter.
Sounds like it’s going to put her at odds with everyone.
Especially [Ellen Barkin’s] Smurf who likes to be the woman in the family, so that’s another issue.
This show has a huge cast. What was it like filming with so many people, and so many big scenes?
The pilot was just one big party, because all we did was throw parties! It was really fun, there were a lot of pool parties. Now, as the show progresses my character, because she’s at odds with them, doesn’t want to go to those parties. So, they do a lot of things and I’m so jealous, I was like, “I want to do that!”
Off-camera is everyone reading or playing chess? Seems like you’d need a break from the action on screen.
Not with these guys! They’re great, they’re hysterical and they’re crazy.