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Netflix pumps up new thriller 'Bloodline'

By Sean Fitzgerald, 24 Hrs

For Netflix’s second phase of original content, the streaming giant is putting it all on the line. The Bloodline, that is.

After scoring major hits with original shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix plans to deliver its next batch of originals soon. The big-budget historical epic Marco Polo arrives next month, and the family-drama-meets-psychological-thriller Bloodline will become available in March.

But while we’ve provided some details about Marco Polo in this column already — with more to come, we promise — we’ve barely touched on Bloodline. Heck, for a while the project was just referred to as “KZK” — which stands for the initials of the creators, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Todd A. Kessler.

Since KZK is the team behind the celebrated Glenn Close legal drama Damages, this new project has started to generate some hype. We’re also intrigued by the cast, which includes Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, The Wolf of Wall Street), Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks, E.R.), Sissy Spacek (Carrie, In The Bedroom) and Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff, August: Osage County).

Bloodline also carries a certain set of expectations since it’s the result of a partnership between Netflix and Sony Pictures Television, the first deal struck between the streaming service and a major Hollywood studio.

But there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding this show, likely triggered by the recent release of a haunting teaser for the series, which features images of a burning boat while Chandler’s character, John Rayburn, says two sentences: “We’re not bad people. But we did a bad thing.”

So what do we know about Bloodline so far? We decided to ask co-creator Todd A. Kessler, who recently phoned QMI Agency from New York for an exclusive interview. We’ve also obtained some exclusive images to help piece everything together. Here what Kessler told us:

IT’S ALL ABOUT FAMILY: The story follows the Rayburns, a hard-working family in the Florida Keys community. When the eldest brother — a black-sheep character played by Ben Mendelsohn (The Place Beyond the Pines, The Dark Knight Rises) — returns home to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his parents’ hotel, he threatens to unleash information that could change everything. “After finishing Damages, which was about the professional world, we really wanted to do our take on a family drama,” Kessler says. “We wanted to explore identity within family, and how much family is held up as both an institution, but also as something in which people potentially end up sacrificing their own individuality for.”

THERE WILL PROBABLY BE MORE SEASONS: Bloodline’s first season will feature 13 episodes when it arrives in March. But Kessler says there’s a lot more to come. “When we sold the show, we pitched out six seasons,” he says. “In many ways, this first season of the show, story-wise, just gets us to the starting line of what we’re looking to do.”

THE ENVIRONMENT PLAYS A BIG ROLE: The Florida Keys gave the creators a perfect setting for Bloodline’s plot, with water, heat and the elements playing huge roles in the lives of the Rayburns. Kessler highlights the road that takes cars from mainland Florida down to Key West: “It’s one lane south and one lane north for the majority of it. So, it’s really its own isolated environment, which is why we were really intrigued to use it as a setting for the show.”

FILMING IN THE KEYS PRESENTED CHALLENGES: While Kessler says he’s thankful that they didn’t encounter any hurricanes, his descriptions of life on set in Florida — including enduring non-stop rain for an entire week, vomiting from heat stroke and trying to avoid iguanas from falling onto his head when they dropped from the trees — makes it sound like it wasn’t the easiest process. And his encounter with an aggressive swarm of mosquitoes seems pretty scary. After getting out of a van at a scouting location, his team took a few steps into the woods. “And these mosquitoes swarm, like from ankle-level up,” he says. “We were brushing them off our shoulders, you know, our arms, any exposed skin, and then we all just looked at each other and ran back to the van. When we got in the van, they just started pelting the windows to try to get in. It was like out of horror movie.”

Twitter: @SeanDFitzgerald

sean.ftizgerald@sunmedia.ca


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