The Cody family has taken over our TV screens by storm for the past six years, and soon the final chapter of ‘Animal Kingdom’ will unfold. The show has seen the family, led by the now deceased “Smurf” (Ellen Barkin), through a series of heists and elaborate plans to rip people and corporations off. And along the way the brothers Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary) and nephew “J” or Joshua (Finn Cole) have made waves both inside and outside of their family.
Part of the fun of the show has always been seeing what each path the characters were on, and how their own personal motivations would intertwine with the family business. And through many tragedies (including the death of Baz early on played by Scott Speedman,) we see even at their most vulnerable moments, they try to band together to come out on top.
To chat more about the final season, Ben Robson and Jake Weary sat down to give insight and walk a bit down memory lane into the explosive series that is ‘Animal Kingdom.’
What does this final season hold for each of your characters?
Robson: Craig is really trying to make his own way and start making the big change that he thinks is necessary to create a better life for his son. So, we see him in a very different way of life than [what] he’s been living. And then watching just how the rest of the family struggles to see that change, and how he seems to want to turn his back on everything that he’s known his whole life. Watching that dynamic shift of him really trying to be more lucid…[it’s] sort of a direct conflict on how he’s been brought up. It creates a whole new dynamic for the season, which has been very cool to play.
Weary: I would say that fans should expect a camaraderie between the brothers that we just haven’t seen yet. Seeing them come together and being faced with just a massive turning point in all of their lives, and seeing how they help each other and just how they have each other’s backs. Just to see their relationships over time and the tumultuous relationships that they’ve had with each other, to see them all boil down to who they at their core…they’re fully devoted to each other. They’re blood. And I think you see that a lot this season.
A large part of the show focuses on the Cody family’s different “jobs.” Every season almost feels like a heist movie. What’s the best part about getting to play criminals?
Robson: Not going to jail if it goes wrong…But yeah, it’s been amazing to get into the headset of how you start looking at things differently. Whether it was ripping ATVs down the LA river, or how to break into banks, or going to ports or wherever we might be—it’s very fun to get an insight of that way of looking at things in day to day life and thinking, I wonder if they Codys would take this down? It’s fun, and then to live it out is even better.
Weary: To jump into the mind of a criminal who is going to such ridiculous lengths and with so much tact to come into a job—not just guns blazing running into a bank—but, you know, the manner in which we would go about ripping people off. It was always really exciting to see what they were going to write next and just the different kind of unique opportunities we would have and to make them as fun as possible for the viewer.
Another driving force of ‘Animal Kingdom’ is definitely the relationships that ebb and flow over time. Have any of those connections been interesting to explore over the years?
Weary: I think it has been so interesting to see the arc of Deran and Craig and to see where their relationship has gone. But I think also equally amongst all the brothers [there has been] dynamic shifts. I really enjoyed seeing where Deran’s relationship with J (Finn Cole) went over the course of five seasons, and kind of how they’ve been leaning into each other a little more and work as a team a little bit more. And also Deran with Pope (Shawn Hatosy) too…that’s changed a lot. I feel like Pope didn’t have much of a connection with Deran until closer to the end of season 4 and season 5, Pope really starts to open up to Deran and lean on him emotionally. It’s just really nice to see all of those relationships and how they change over time. It’s the strength of the show for sure.
Robson: One of the great parts of the family dynamic is that when one of the characters would be struggling, you’d see the rest of the family get together and think, how are we going to fix it? Whether it was Pope going through his madness, or Deran with heartbreak, or Craig’s endless issues, or even with J with other things—just trying to figure out what was happening. So it was a really nice thing, despite the world they operated in, they all had each other’s backs.
What will you miss the most about getting to play Craig and Deran on ‘Animal Kingdom?’
Robson: Craig just acted on impulse, and I think that’s something very rare that we do. In life, I think there’s always such a consequence, but he would do whatever felt right in the moment. That’s something I learned a bit from, [I’m] definitely not trying to have the [same] freedom that he’s had, but it’s a very interesting way that he lived his life. It was sort of do what feels right and figure it out afterwards. I don’t think there’s many people that can get by day to day and live like that. That’s going to be something I miss playing with him for sure.
Weary: Being able to play these characters who are such raw people—they have such an innate, reactive, natural sense. Being able to play a character like that, there’s just so many different ways to play them and portray them and it’s just been very fun. I’m going to miss playing Deran for that reason—the reactionary and acting on impulse…you don’t get that too often.
The final season of ‘Animal Kingdom‘ premieres June 19 on TNT.