Kingdom Premiere Preview [VIDEO and PHOTOS + Exclusive Joanna Going Interview]
Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead
I cannot tell you how much I’ve been anticipating the premiere of this series. I don’t know that much about Mixed Martial Arts, but I’m such a big fan of family dramas and this series has it in spades. Kingdom the story of a struggling business owner trying to keep his family together. It’s also the story of a group of former and up-and-coming MMA champions trying to make something of their lives. It’s also a story of adult children trying to come to terms with and make sense of the decisions and mistakes of their parents.
Series synopsis, from DirecTV:
Kingdom is a visceral family saga that takes place in Venice, California and is set against the backdrop of the renegade subculture of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It is a world rife with complex characters and relationships that unfurl in surprising and deeply human ways.
Frank Grillo isÂ Alvey Kulina, a Mixed Martial Arts legend and owner of Navy St. MMA gym based in Venice, CA.
Kiele Sanchez isÂ Lisa Prince, Alveyâ€™s girlfriend.
Matt Lauria isÂ Ryan Wheeler, the world-class athlete who had it all, including Lisa Prince, until his spiraling drug addiction landed him in prison.
Jonathan TuckerÂ is Jay Kulina, Alveyâ€™s eldest son.
Nick Jonas is Nate Kulina, Alveyâ€™s youngest son and the prized fighter at the gym.
Joanna GoingÂ is Christina Kulina, Alveyâ€™s estranged wife and mother to Jay and Nate.
All photos courtesy of DirecTV.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak exclusively with Joanna Going. She told me more about her character as well as the Kulina family dynamic, what it was like working with this talented cast of actors andÂ how this show is like nothing she’s ever done before.
We don’t know too much about Christina Kulina and we don’t meet her until the very end of the first episode. Christina “is the estranged wife of Alvey Kulina, who is a Mixed Martial Arts star,” Joanna tells me. They got “together very young” and she was “with him as he rose to stardom.” They have two sons, Jonathan Tucker’s Jay and Nick Jonas’ Nate. Alvey “owns the gym” where “the two boys are fighters.” But “Christina has gone in a bad direction. She’s a heroin addict, as you see when we meet her. She’s on the street, she’s” turned to “prostitution to support her habit,” she explains. Joanna thinks Christina “left the family to protect her sons.” She describes the family dynamic as “fractured” and “even the ones who are living with each other have their battles.”
When I asked Joanna what drew her to this role, she tells me even though there wasn’t much of Christina in the first episode, as she was reading the script she was “getting drawn into the writing and, in particular, to the Jay character.” When she “got to the page where, finally, we see Christina and it was this payoff with the Jay character, I was just like, ‘Yes. I want to be attached to that character.'” That moment made her “want to go on the audition.” And as is standard practice for most auditions, Joanna tells me she had “a dummy scene with Alvey,” so she “knew a little bit of the nature of their dynamic” just from thatÂ scene.
Most of Christina’s screen time is with Jonathan, but Joanna also has scenes withÂ Nick and Frank and she has nothing but praise for all three of them. Joanna tells me Jonathan “lives up to everything and beyond” of “what that character was on the page. He is so thrilling and constantly surprising you in the scene.” She continues, “it was very exciting and very challenging to me to work with him because it made me want to step it up.”
Joanna calls Nate her “lost child. Jay remembers me as a mom,” but Nate “does not. He’s a much more difficult nut to crack.” She reveals that “Nick has this soulful, smoldering thing were you know he’s got issues, but there’s a sweetness there. It was really amazing.”
As far as Frank goes, Joanna tells me “there could not be another person more perfectly suited for this part. First of all, he’s been a fighter all his life. It’s in his bones.” Joanna tells me Christina and Alvey are “still drawn to each other. There’s a lot of tension in our relationship,” which should prove interesting. When I asked Joanna if she had any scenes with Kiele, she tells me they hadÂ “a little bit. We mostly crossed paths in the makeup trailer” but it was fun to have another female on set.
Understandably hesitant to give away any spoilers, Joanna tells me it’s hard to choose her favorite scene or moment from the first season, which they’ve already wrapped filming. She loved all her scenes with Nick and Jonathan. In addition, creator/showrunner/EP Byron Balasco was “so inclusive to the actors, which is a very new experience for me.” Joanna was able to be part of the “development of” her character, which she really enjoyed. In fact, she already misses playing Christina. Even though she was “a mess, it’s a very different character that I played before.” She adds that it was “fun and raw. I really liked it.”
Kingdom premieres Wednesday, October 8th at 9/8c on DirecTV.
All images courtesy of DirecTV.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Dennis Heaton Talks The Imperfects
Longtime readers at TV Goodness will know that Motive is one of my ride-or-die series, and as such, I am fiercely loyal to its creator, Dennis Heaton. He followed up that fantastic reverse procedural with Netflix’s The Order and is back on our streaming screens with The Imperfects, which dropped…
Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.] Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season. Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for…
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From on EPIX Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks EPIX’s From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People [streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
Pegah Ghafoori Talks From “All Good Things…”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode] Tonight on From, Fatima’s anniversary celebration turned into a Colony House of horrors when a misguided Kevin let his monster bae in and she promptly killed him and left the window open for her crew. While the party devolved into terror and sent everyone running,…
Shaun Majumder Talks From “Book 74”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in…
Avery Konrad Talks About Sara’s Struggle in From “Silhouettes”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Over the course of the season so far on From, we’ve witnessed Sara’s battle against the voices telling her to to do terrible things, and tonight we saw her unravel further, threatening the Matthews and lashing out in a moment of terror with horrifying results….
Hannah Cheramy Talks From “Choosing Day”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight, on EPIX’s From, the Matthews participate in the show’s version of the sorting hat, choosing where to call home–the town or Colony House. At the end of the episode, Julie makes the decision to split from her family and instead settle in with Fatima…
Ricky He Talks From “The Way Things Are Now”
[Warning: Spoilers for episode 102 of EPIX’s From.] Epix’s new series From is two episodes in and it’s already laying the groundwork for a seriously spooky season. Tonight’s episode demonstrated the careful balance of relief and horror that the show hits, with our characters’ worst fears realized, just not when…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…