Bleeding Cool recently had the opportunity to sit down with Animal Kingdom star Ben Robson, who plays Craig Cody on TNT's explosive heist drama. With the fifth season underway, we chat a bit about what it means to Craig to be raising a family while still being so tied up in the criminal world, what this season's power-play within the family will mean for the Codys moving forward, Smurf's lasting influence, and more.
Eden Arnold: First off, congratulations on the premiere of "Animal Kingdom" season five. It's exciting!
Ben Robson: Thank you very much.
Eden Arnold: Can you talk a little bit on what Craig's arc looks like this season with fatherhood and figuring things out and still trying to balance all of that and all this Smurf is gone?
Ben Robson: Sure. I think Craig has always struggled to try and find balance in his life, whether it was just his partying, his addiction, or whatever it might be. And so I think through the season, now we have the responsibility of his kid, Nick, and then trying to sort of ensure that he grows up in a better way than he believes he did through Smurf. So I think we just see this constant struggle and conflict within his sort of the demons with himself, plus just trying to create the best platform for his kid to grow up. And I think it's a constant challenge with the environment that he's a part of, day in, day out.
Eden Arnold: Absolutely. Especially with Renn and their partnership.
Ben Robson: For sure. I mean, they are a unique couple in their own way. And I think the way that they see the world is, I wouldn't call it your "Average Joe" kind of way, which makes them quite an exciting couple. But I think they have different ideas as a parent than the rest of it. And, you know, I think the way that they make their money is from being criminals, whether it's Renn selling drugs, or the fact that Craig is part of this sort of underworld empire of the Codys. So it's a difficult thing, I think, to know that you're raising a kid that at some point something could go wrong and one of the parent's kids could be taken away from one another, let alone the child. So I think it just brings a lot of growth into Craig. And I think it's something that's been really fun to play and see how he sort of evolves into the responsibility, which I don't think he ever really has much of before.
Eden Arnold: No, not really. We got a glimpse of that during the previous season of "Animal Kingdom" when he was planning his own heist with Frankie. But even then, that's still not the same level of responsibility that we've seen from his character.
Ben Robson: With every generation of parent to child as well, you always feel as you've been hard done by certain things and you would have done things differently. You try and correct the mistakes or do the things that you believe would have been right for you. And I'm sure with whatever Craig does for Nick, Nick will probably correct the very things that he believes should have been done differently, so it's really interesting. But it's definitely brought a lot of his cynicism down a bit, and I think you start to see a lot more thought behind his actions rather than just having this impulsive desire, just sort of for the moment. Now that he has someone that he has to look after and take care of, it really does change him; he sort of matures a little bit. And I think his tolerance, the stuff that he won't accept with regard to the family and people in general has changed his outlook, which I believe happens for most people when they have a baby.
I think it's going to change them quite profoundly, and you have to find a new way to balance everything. So as they grow into the new dynamic by having a third member of the family between them, that transition period and adjustment feeds into conversations that maybe there's better things that we can be doing to give a child the best start in life that we can. And maybe that's not served as well as it could be by being in Oceanside and doing crime the whole time. So there are definitely conversations about that, like any parents who want the best for their child. And they do their best. But the problem is they struggle to see the light in the best of times, so they do it in their own way.
Eden Arnold: Absolutely. Do you see him falling into some of the same parenting traps Smurf did, especially now that we're seeing her backstory, how she raised her kids and her approach to parenting- or do you see Craig having a completely opposite parenting style?
Ben Robson: I think there are elements of what Smurf taught all the boys, not just Craig, which has sort of been great "Bible of life lessons and big street smarts" that have gotten them to where they need to be today. So I think Craig definitely will take a lot of strengths from that. But I do think there are other elements. I can't remember which season it was – was it season three, where Craig's with Darren and he talks about what it would have been like if we'd grown up not within this family. Do you think it would have been different? I think that's something that I think Craig wants for his son. I think he would like to try and give him a better chance and not be stuck in this criminal sort of underworld that he's a part of and to try and give him a better chance. So it's obviously ironic at the same time, because of the very way he's keeping the roof over their head, by doing constant heists and jobs. And as with Renn selling cocaine the whole time, it's difficult to try and go back to a normal life and have a sort of nine to five desk job when you're accustomed to living this life.
Eden Arnold: Now that Smurf isn't pulling the strings, do you see Craig's family getting a "happily ever after" or going down a similar path to the last little family we saw in "Animal Kingdom", which was Baz's?
Ben Robson: That's kind of the great thing about the show: it's just it's so hard to predict anything that goes on. I think the unpredictability, the nature of everything that's gone on with the show is what's been one of its biggest strengths. The fact that we lost Ellen (Smurf) and we lost Scott (Baz), it's just hard to ever know what's lurking around the corner. Just when you start getting comfortable with any dynamic within the family, there's always something that comes out of nowhere and leads to pretty devastating consequences. It's kind of dangerous to feel comfortable with anything going on within it because anytime something can change because there are so many enemies lurking in the shadows of Oceanside, maybe even further afield. It's a lot more vulnerability now when you have another child within the family, and I think it takes a lot more protection and there's a definite place to hurt the family even more now, as it did with Lena and Baz. I think something very easily could happen with Craig, and Renn, and Nick and it's just another member of the family that could potentially be a target for a willing enemy.
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