Annette Bening Picks Apples From The Tree

(l-r) Sam Neill and Annette Bening star in APPLES NEVER FALL. ©Peacock.


Front Row Features


PASADENA-Peacock’s new limited drama series “Apples Never Fall,” is based on Liane Moriarty’s New York Times best-selling novel, which tells the story of the Delaney family. Former tennis coaches Stan Delaney (Sam Neill) and his wife Joy (Annette Bening,) sell their tennis academy and are looking forward to their golden years together. But when Joy suddenly disappears, their adult children are forced to examine their parents’ so-called perfect marriage, as the family’s dark secrets are revealed. Melanie Marnich is the series’ writer, showrunner and Executive Producer.

Annette Bening joined the TV Critics Association in Pasadena, California, last month to talk about her new drama. All episodes will premiere on Peacock on Thursday, March 14.

Q: Can you talk about roles for mature women now?

Annette Bening: I think there are more and more opportunities where the stereotypes of women, not only older women, but younger women, are being transformed even since I started in the business. In real life there’s all these interesting women out there doing different things as they’re getting older. And [the change] comes from a project like this. First of all, [from] Liane’s imagination, she writes such juicy stories and juicy parts. I see it in people like Melanie, who are writing interesting characters and so I’m lucky if I get to play them. It’s not just strong characters. That’s kind of a cliché, isn’t it? Oh, it’s a strong female character, but a strong character is a nuanced one who has flaws, who screws up, who does the wrong thing, who is crazy or eccentric in some way. That’s how people are. Strong characters are great, but a strong character that has vulnerability is much more interesting.

It was really fun for me because I had never done something over so many episodes. So as we were working, we were talking and changing, and it was because of Melanie, because she established this atmosphere where we were all in it together, pitching in.

Q: In your last project “Nyad,” you played Diana Nyad, someone who took her career way longer than anybody thought was possible.  Did that change or inspire you in any way to look for new projects?

Annette Bening: Diana is such an extraordinary woman. I have to admit from when I was very young, and I started out in the theater, I imagined that as I played my age, I would continue to play [my age] as I went through my life. Maybe it’s because I admired some of the actresses that were older than I was, and I was watching them age, and I was watching them continue to play and to work. I feel kind of liberated right now, too, because I’ve been so lucky, what I’ve been able to do, in terms of opportunities, has so far surpassed what I ever would have imagined. And I like my life outside of the work as well.  So when I work, it’s because I want to be there

Q: The theme in the show is about secrets. Can you tell us something about yourself that people may not know?

Annette Bening: Basically, my rant to young actors starting out is to maintain your privacy. It’s so important right now, especially with social media. There’s this culture of every event in your life you have to make public. It used to be that everybody was dying to maintain their privacy. Not in the work. In the work, we have to expose ourselves. That’s our job. And to try to do that as truthfully as possible, which is interesting because even when you choose to be an actor and you are putting yourself out there, there’s part of the psyche when you’re working that says protect yourself. And you have to say no. This is about taking the mask off and exposing yourself.  That’s the job.  But in our private lives, we have to have some privacy. Having some privacy – that’s my secret.

Q: Can you talk a little about working with Sam Neill, and what he brings to this series? I know he has been quite ill, and I’m hoping he’s better now.

Annette Bening: I just am crazy about him. I always had a crush on him for years, but I’d never really met him. He is a wonderful human being. He had made his illness public right as we were starting, and was energized by the fact that he was working, quite frankly. And we were all in awe of him; we were in awe of how he carried on. And just like the rest of us, he just wanted to have a good time. He made plans for us all to get together, so we would all go out. He was the one to make sure that happened.

In the show, what he does is so compelling. He’s just that guy that you do a scene with him, and you can see it when you’re watching it happen in front of you, he’s just got that thing. Acting is listening, acting is responding. You just give your partner everything and then you don’t have to do anything. So when you have somebody like this to [act] with, you just don’t worry because you just concentrate on them. He’s a friend, and he’s an amazing person.