SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of Season 1 & Season 2 of Bloodline.
Created by Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman, Bloodline‘s second season launched on May 27 on Netflix and left no doubt that the saga of the Rayburn family was about to go darker than ever – which is saying something if you know the show.
Coming off the killing of black sheep eldest brother Danny ( Ben Mendelsohn ) by his cop sibling John (Kyle Chandler), Season 2 was a process of peeling away the layers of deception and introducing new characters like John Leguizamo’s Ozzy, a figure from Danny’s less than upstanding past.
With Chandler’s character now running from his sins and for Sheriff and Mendelsohn, dead but very much alive so to speak, the core cast also includes Linda Cardellini as Meg and Norbert Leo Butz as Kevin. The Rayburn siblings were joined by Sissy Spacek as the matriarch and Sam Shepard as the now deceased patriarch of the Florida Keys hotel-owning family. The series debuted all of its Emmy nominated 13-episode first season on March 20 last year.
Recently, as we headed into the last few days of Emmy voting this year, I spoke with Glenn Kessler, Cardellini, Chandler, Luguizamo and Oscar winner Spacek about Season 2 and where the seemingly spirally Rayburns are going. We also talked about Emmy winner Laguizamo getting on-board and how intense he found shooting in the far reaches of the Sunshine State and Bloodline itself – directly and indirectly.
DEADLINE: So, Glenn, how much were your cast involved in the process of creating this season?
KESSLER: It’s a writer’s dream to be able to have a real collaboration with this level of actors. Our process begins for us that we sit down and have a conversation before we even have a script. We sit down and think about what we’re interested in exploring and we start to hear what’s in other people’s minds as well. We’re asking these people to play characters. It’s a process that really allows for influence. We listen and we watch. We really try to incorporate what we learn from them as people and characters from the actors themselves. And all that comes because they’re so talented. You add all the other cast, and we can go anywhere with these characters.
DEADLINE: Picking up off the death of Danny last season, did you guys have a distinct Point A that you knew you wanted to start with at the beginning of Season 2 and a Point B you were determined to get to by the end of the 10-episodes?
KESSLER: It seems useful to have a general sense of how the whole season is going to work. We write new characters and bring new characters on and we’re still learning who those characters are and are developing them.
DEADLINE: For you, Kyle, you’d been more into features after Friday Night Lights ended in 2011, how did Bloodline bring you back to series work?
CHANDLER: It was the only job in town (laughs) I’ll tell you why, because when these guys came to me, we were meeting and one of them said “Listen we don’t know if this is going to work or not. This is an experiment, it could flop right on its face.” It was a challenge. It was a prize. Lets’ see if we can do this. That made it exciting, everyone was invested in trying to make it work. And that brought along a feeling of collaboration, that we’re all in this together.
DEADLINE: John, what was it like joining this cast in Season 2?
LEGUIZAMO: Well, I had watched the first season…
DEADLINE: Did you binge?
LEGUIZAMO: No, I found it hard to binge Bloodline ‘cause it’s too intense. I could only do two episodes at a time and then I had to watch Silicon Valley or something.
DEADLINE: Can’t mainline Bloodline…
LEGUIZAMO: No, it’s too intense and it starts to build up all this pressure. I mean, I was watching this incredible writing and the acting and I was like “oh, wow, I got to come in and fill some shoes.” They told me that I was going to be very mercurial and unpredictable and I said, “I can do that.” But I need other things to balance it.
That’s the beautiful thing about working on the series. Every episode is like an independent film. They give you the room to just exist as a character and let things be character driven. It’s like jazz and I kind of know where my character’s going and I kind of don’t know. So sometimes that tension is that I kind of don’t know what’s going to happen.
DEADLINE: As the new guy, what was your favorite part of Season 2 that you weren’t in?
LEGUIZAMO: I loved the first episode. I thought was incredible. It blew my mind. So much tension. It looked like real family dynamics, like family problems, but it felt like Making A Murderer, you know?
DEADLINE: That’s a Netflix within Netflix promo…
LEGUIZAMO: I’m a company boy! (laughs)
DEADLINE: Linda, Meg’s character tried to break away this season by building a new life in NYC, but ultimately found herself back in the Florida Keys with her brothers and her mother. As an actor how do you build that kind of flawed character to where you know her?
CARDELLINI: I think that she doesn’t know how to break away. I think that’s so evident to what happens to her in the second season and I think she changes the most from Season 1 to Season 2. The interesting thing about the Rayburns is that they each have their own truth that they’re living, whether or not it’s actually the truth. It’s very questionable what they believe the truth is at any given moment. So I think a lot of people who lie or who do terrible things, there is some form of justification for doing it. In their mind they think that what they’re doing is right for some reason at the time. And I think that’s how they operate. That last standoff for them, I don’t think Meg goes there thinking she’s going to turn her back on her brother
DEADLINE: And then there is your last scene of Season 2 with Sissy where Meg is on the verge of revealing something to her mother, a catalogue of sins, perhaps – without any Season 3 spoilers, what do you think she says?
CARDELLINI: Knowing the Rayburns, she could come out with something that’s a gigantic lie and it would be par for the course. I assume I’m going to tell her the truth but it might be something that is the opposite of that, we have no idea. Which is kind of the exciting thing about it.
DEADLINE: Sissy, you this is your first TV series…
SPACEK: This is the first time I’ve been on a show from the beginning.
DEADLINE: What has that been like for you?
SPACEK: Kind of a new experience for me. It was intermittently great. We work with really talented creators. It’s like what someone described working as an airline pilot is like. Hours of boredom and then seconds of terror.
DEADLINE: Amidst that is the elemental nature of the show with the Florida Keys as the less the backdrop and more a character, Glenn, why did you, Todd and Dan decide to set Bloodline in the southern most point of the continental U.S?
KESSLER: The Florida Keys are a very unique place…
LEGUIZAMO: I find it creepy. I was losing my mind down there. You’re not fishing, you’re not an alcoholic – I couldn’t do it.
CHANDLER: I love it (laugh)
KESSLER: It’s a unique place, there’s a pace of life that’s very different. It’s spread out. It’s beautiful physically but it’s basically a two-lane highway. It’s like 80 or 100 miles of roads with business just along the highway…
SPACEK: Like a giant strip mall.
KESSLER: A picture postcard beautiful paradise. But it has a very creepy underbelly of human trafficking, drug trafficking. It is the most southern point in the United States, it’s the closest point to Cuba, and there’s a lot of weirdness which is great for the show. There’s a lot of texture. People do seem to drop out of their lives there from a lot of places. They’re either running to something or running from something.
DEADLINE: Bloodline’s second season ended, with someone leaving and that potentially revealing conversation between Meg and Sally. Nothing’s official yet but if there is a Season 3, was it always part of the plan to seemingly take it even darker than an alredy pretty dark Season 2?
KESSLER: We always planned on multiple seasons. It’s about the family and the relationships of those family members. Danny was always going to de, like in Crime and Punishment and other stories where it happens early. Bloodline is about watching these relationships evolve.