‘Apples Never Fall’ Cast Bonded Over Watching Star Annette Bening’s Movies

From pizza nights to tennis lessons to an Annette Bening film festival, the cast of Peacock’s “Apples Never Fall” was determined to bond like a really family. At Tuesday night’s premiere, Bening, Sam Neill, Jake Lacy and more shared their favorite memories from shooting the series in Australia and how they got into their respective characters.

Based on “Big Little Lies” author Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name, “Apples Never Fall” follows former tennis coaches Stan (Neill) and Joy (Bening) Delaney, who sell their tennis academy and hope to spend more time with their adult children (Alison Brie, Lacy, Conor Merrigan-Turner and Essie Randles). But things take a turn when a mysterious young woman knocks on their door and enters their lives. When Joy suddenly disappears, her children must re-examine their parents’ marriage as their family’s darkest secrets begin to surface.

Developing that family dynamic both on-and-off screen was vital to bringing the story to life, according to showrunner Melanie Marnich.

“Episode by episode, week after week of shooting, I would watch them walk onto set knowing each other more and feeling more and more like an actual family. That infused the performances. It made the performances feel true and lived in and authentic,” Marnich told Variety.

One of the ways the cast bonded outside set was through a festival of Bening’s films, which Neill organized in a screening room of their hotel. “I’ve got so many fond memories of her movies. I wanted to see them again. She’s just so watchable,” he said.

Bening told Variety her favorite film to show the group was “The Grifters,” as several of them had not seen it yet since it was “made so long ago.” Coming off her Oscar-nominated performance in “Nyad,” “Apples Never Fall” is Bening’s first major television role: “Having seven hours to tell a story was new to me and tweaking it along the way and having a sense of creativity as we went.”

She also serves as an executive producer on the series. “I don’t know that it was that much different for me because I always feel an investment in things. And also I’ve never felt like I wasn’t listened to when I wanted to be listened to on a job. Maybe when I was younger, it didn’t even occur to me be like, ‘Oh, I should speak up’ and say, ‘This part of the script just doesn’t work.’ I didn’t feel it was my place, but now I do,” Bening said.

When it came to getting into character, most of the cast found the process quite easy. “Stan’s a real son of a bitch, and I’m good at playing sons of bitches,” Neill said.

Lacy, who plays the high-achieving eldest son Troy, said it was easy to get into character because of “all the nice stuff he’s got”: “They got me driving an Aston Martin. I like that stuff, so it was easy to give over to that thing.”

When he got the audition, Merrigan-Turner went to the bookstore to pick up Moriarty’s novel — and was wearing the same exact outfit as his character Connor’s description in the book. “As I was reading, I was like, ‘He looks like me.’ My mom calls me a hobo.” While he said the cast all shares some similarities with their characters, Brie and her character were the most different from each other.

At an advanced screening event in January, Brie, who was not at the premiere, also said playing the free-spirited eldest child Amy was a departure from her previous roles. To get into character, she wore blue streaks in her hair and had fake tattoos drawn on. “I’d just leave them on for days and be like, ‘This is who I am now,’” Brie said during a panel.

Lacy, whose “White Lotus” character Shane bears some resemblance to the status-obsessed Troy, described what the Delaney family would be like as guests at a “White Lotus” hotel, with their dysfunctional family dynamic potentially being a perfect fit for a future season.

“Joy would be very gracious to everybody. Stan would bitch about how much it cost the whole time and how unimpressed he was and comment on the form of the tennis pros that worked there,” he told Variety in January. “The kids would go off on a surf trip and have an alright time.”

“Apples Never Fall” premieres March 14 on Peacock.

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