Actress Bellamy Young says her series, “Prodigal Son,” is the “right show for the right time.”
“What this show does so well is it laughs through the horror and laughs through the pain,” she explains. “It reminds you that, at the end of the day, family is what you have no matter how screwed up or messed up they are.”
The drama’s family – a serial killer, his profiler son and his oh-so-rich wife – has plenty of issues and more than enough baggage to unpack with Vivian Capshaw, a doctor at the Claremont Psychiatric Hospital.
Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays Capshaw, says the family dynamic was a big reason she wanted in.
“I’ve always been fascinated with mob families,” she says during a Zoom conference. “Great family dramas are very powerful because we can relate.”
When “Prodigal Son” returns for the spring season Capshaw’s inclusion upsets more than a few dynamics and lets her dig deeper into Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen), his wife, Jessica (Young) and son Malcolm (Tom Payne).
“When I read the draft of the script, it drew me in,” Zeta-Jones says. “I didn’t know where I was going to go with it…but I knew there was fundamental interest and intrigue.”
Sequestered in the bowels of the hospital, Capshaw gets to know Whitly better than she imagined.
Zeta-Jones bonded with Sheen, too. Both born in Wales, the two discovered they have mutual friends and a history with the Dylan Thomas Theater. “My mom and dad know his parents. They’ve gone out,” Zeta-Jones says. “It’s, like, bizarre.”
On set, they shared plenty of inside jokes and impressions. “There’s a familiarity to working with Michael that is just inherent.”
Co-star Lou Diamond Phillips directed the episode that introduces Zeta-Jones. It was, he says, “like a frog getting boiled in water. The heat just kept getting turned up. It just became this overwhelming wealth of riches for me.”
Zeta-Jones, he says, came onto the set like a longtime cast member. “She came to play. It was seamless.”
Now, “Prodigal Son” producers are looking to have conversations about a multitude of issues that have faced viewers during the last year.
Following the death of George Floyd last summer, cast member Frank Harts wondered how “Prodigal Son” might approach a Black cop on television. “I remember talking with (the producers) shortly after that happened and we had such a great conversation,” he says. “They assured me we weren’t going to solve racism in one season of television, but they were truly interested in having the conversation on screen in front of the audience. It’s an honor to be part of a show that can do the funny, do the big but can also keep it real and grounded.”
In Zeta-Jones’ view, “Prodigal Son” is more than just another television show. “There’s a lot of skins on this onion,” she says.
And its dark tone? “It speaks to the age we live in,” says Executive Producer Chris Fedak. “We live in dark and seemingly scary times.”
"Prodigal Son" returns for the second half of its season later this month.