BY DONNA FREYDKIN
Joan Allen played the mother of a kidnapped, imprisoned and ultimately freed woman in "Room," which netted Brie Larson (as her daughter) an Oscar. And now, on ABC's "The Family," premiering Thursday before moving to Sundays, she's a local politico whose son disappears, only to come home ten years later -- leading to the release of the pedophile neighbor (Andrew McCarthy) who was wrongly imprisoned for his murder.
It's a twisty, dark, complex drama, from one of the producers of "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy," and that's exactly why Allen signed on to do it. "I responded to the pilot. Shooting at home in New York is a big wonderful deal. We're always flying off to some far-off place and abandoning our homes and our families. I want to go home and see my dog at night," she says.
As for McCarthy, the appeal of Hank, an insular oddball, was simple: "I thought he was so weird. I didn't see him as evil. I saw him as alone, made bad. I think everyone has sexual secrets and messing around in that pool is interesting."
He directed three episodes of the first season, and likens Allen to the Ferrari of actors. As for his character, "By the end of the season, my guy starts getting overtly contradictory. Getting in more trouble is a good thing. Conflict, it's fun. Hank is just Hank. He can't be anything other."
While her son was missing and presumed dead, Allen's Claire went into politics. She's now considering running for governor, and makes some choices that are at odds with the wellbeing of her family. "My character is fielding a lot of intense information. It's how she takes that in and how she gathers herself and decides to rise to the occasion. She's been without this kid for ten years and risen on the political track herself. It's an interesting juxtaposition to have this kid come back. It would be a different thing if she hadn't gone into politics. There is a public face that exists. I think it's complicated," says Allen.
Both actors live in New York; Allen's daughter is grown, and McCarthy has three young kids. Which is why he never took Hank's darkness home with him. "You come to work, put the clothes on, take a deep breath, and there he is. Also, when I was kid I would take these things so seriously. Now, there's some distance. You can pick it up and put it down," he says.
Allen, too, keeps things simple. "I'm such a homebody, just walk around the block with my dog and make something for dinner," she says.