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Deceit, Deception and Pie

Linda Cardellini talks about her new Netflix series, Bloodline

Gators aren’t the only things to be afraid of in the Florida Keys, and Netflix’s Bloodline, premiering March 20, is here to prove it. The series focuses on the seemingly upstanding Rayburn clan, pillars of the community, business owners who, when we meet them, are celebrating 45 years of running a bustling local hotel. But, of course, nothing is quite as it seems, and when a bad-seed son comes back to town, things get quickly complicated for the sprawling family.

Linda Cardellini plays Meg Rayburn, the seemingly put-together daughter of Robert (Sam Shepard) and Sally (Sissy Spacek), and a sister to John (Kyle Chandler), Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) and Danny (Ben Mendelsohn). Here, she discusses taking the role from Damages creators Glenn and Todd Kessler, filming in the Keys and how lime pie consumed her free time.

What about the role of Meg was appealing to you?

I was asked to come and meet with the creators, so I sat in a room with Glenn Kessler and his brother Daniel was on the phone, and we all sat and spoke about the character for almost two hours.

I liked the idea of a family falling from grace, and this idea that the siblings have these childhood roles that they cant quite break out of even though they’re adults. It’s about what family means, and exploring the darkest version of that. 

Inside Bloodline

Inside Bloodline

You’re playing part of a large, messy family, a scenario that requires a big cast. Do on-screen roles bleed into off hours?

Sometimes they do. Interesting alliances come about. For instance, Kyle and my characters are the most responsible, so there would be scenes in which Kyle and I would just exchange a quick look with each other, and know what makes the most sense.

Do you like working with such a big ensemble?

Yes, there are a lot of characters and a lot of things happening. And what I like about the writing is that there are so many layers to everything that’s going on; things you’re seeing in the present are connected with things in the past and will also take place in the future. So, it’s sort of like discovering a number of things all at once. For example, my character seems to have it all together on the outside, but on the inside it’s kind of messy.

The location plays a vital role as well. It’s definitely a story about the Florida Keys. Did you feel close to the place off camera? 

We’ve been living there for almost eight months, which is a long time to be on location anywhere. The setting is a very important character in the story, and I think the Keys are perfect for it. On one hand, they’re very beautiful, but on the other, there’s something that could be unsettling—a lot of things can go unseen there, a lot of mysterious deeds.

Does it start to feel like home after a while?

For most of us, it’s our first time in the Keys, so we’re learning about it at the same time. We’re figuring out where to live and the geography and how to get around. The heat is something to contend with, but there’s also the beauty of the place.

And the pie.

I tried it everywhere. My family and me were sure to try it everywhere just to figure out where the best one was.

You were living the life. 

You have no other choice when you live somewhere for eight months. The best thing I did was feed a tarpon at this place called Robbie’s. You hold a fish in your hand and the tarpon, which is about three feet long, comes up and grabs the finish out of your hand. Their mouths are so big, but they don’t have teeth to bite you. Still, their mouths go right up to your hand for the fish. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and so much fun.

So, there’s this thing about a series on Netflix—people are almost competitive about how quickly they watch something once its released. Is filming something different when it can be binge-watched?

The interesting thing for me about filming this show is that there was no pilot, so there’s no one concise episode that could explain the entire series. It plays out from beginning to end and in a full arc for 13 hours on purpose, whereas other shows have to build a pilot and then get the go ahead after.

What’s the last thing you watched in one great swoop? 

Damages! I had to see what [Bloodline creators Glenn and Todd Kessler] had done previously, and I completely fell in love with it.