Playing bad on 'Animal Kingdom' is good for Scott Speedman

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Viewers might be unsure about his character on TNT's "Animal Kingdom," but Scott Speedman says he's OK with that.

The series is about a family of boys living a life of crime and grit. They're led by their mother, played by Ellen Barkin, who goes by the name of Smurf (Tuesdays, 9 p.m. EDT). It's based on an Australian film of the same name.

"You've got these hyper-masculine characters, but really they're mama's boys," said Speedman, who plays the oldest son, Baz. "They're really under the thumb of their mother, and it creates interesting, compelling scenes to play."

Speedman said of his character: "Outwardly he seems like the good brother, or maybe the one who has it together."

"What the writers are doing," he said, "is really playing with people's perception of the characters, so who you think is good is not necessarily so, and who you think is on the outside of good or most evil has definitely the most moral code of all the brothers."

Speedman, 40, said his character does some terrible and morally dubious things.

"I think as a younger actor, you worry, 'Are audiences going to be able to take this or not?' But I think I'm at a certain place and I think audiences are certainly ready for these types of characters on mainstream television."

Speedman said he enjoys being on a series where actors are allowed to push the edges of the envelope.

"It's hard because we get one F word an episode. It gets very tricky who gets to have that one F word. It's never been me. At some point I'll get it. These guys are edgy, dark, blue-collar guys, so they're gonna be swearing and getting into all sorts of things. (On) my first show, if you drank, you had to have something go wrong to connect the dots there, something bad had to happen. There was a moral lesson. It's been fun to test those (boundaries)."

Speedman, who played Keri Russell's long-time crush Ben on "Felicity" and appeared in the "Underworld" films with Kate Beckinsale, said he's amused by his series co-star Barkin.

"She's one of the fellas. She's a Bronx girl, so street-smart. She'll be with all ... (the) boys and she'll be right there giving insults better than anybody else."


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