EXCLUSIVE | 'Animal Kingdom' stars Jasper Polish, Kevin Csolak feel series finale will 'propel viewers' to watch show again

The stars also shared how they prepared for their roles and what kind of relationship they shared off-screen

EXCLUSIVE | 'Animal Kingdom' stars Jasper Polish, Kevin Csolak feel series finale will 'propel viewers' to watch show again
Kevin Csolak (Instagram/@kevincsolak) and Jasper Polish (@jasperpolish)
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We have seen a lot of great shows concluding in recent months. From 'Better Call Saul' to 'Peaky Blinders', 2022 has seen some of the best titles leaving the small screens and making people emotional. Another show that will be remembered for its amazing storytelling is none other than TNT's 'Animal Kingdom'. Over the years, fans have been glued to their screens and seen how Smurf manipulated her own kids to do illegal work. However, Season 6 has been all about telling viewers how these characters turned out to be the way they were in the earlier editions. 

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If you have been following the show since Season 1 or tuned in to watch the last edition, then you know Julia and Pope have been two of the most integral characters in this story. J (Finn Cole) has been doing everything for his mother Julia. Meanwhile, Pope is in prison for killing Catherine and all the other crimes he has committed. During Season 6, we also get to see Pope's younger years as well and we realized why he is so hardened from the inside. As the story comes to an end, we are hoping to see a finale that satisfies everyone and gives a befitting end to all the characters. 

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MEAWW caught up with actors Jasper Polish (Julia) and Kevin Csolak (Pope) for a discussion about the final episode and how they prepared for their respective characters. 

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Kevin Csolak (Pope) and Jasper Polish (Julia) in 'Animal Kingdom' Season 6 (TNT)
Kevin Csolak (Pope) and Jasper Polish (Julia) in 'Animal Kingdom' Season 6 (TNT)

You came in as one of the most integral parts of the show. J (Finn Cole) has been doing everything for whatever atrocities happened with her mother, Julia. So, you had the responsibility to show why he's doing these things. As an actor, what were the two things you wanted to show to the viewers in Julia?

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Jasper:  For me, coming in, I had all these little pieces of her. But what I really wanted to show was, that over the years, we have heard several different accounts of who she is. 'Oh, she's a drug addict. Oh, she's a bad person. She's a good person'. You hear so many different things that you don't know what's true. As an actor, I just really wanted to bring that vulnerability to her because she's just a 16-year-old girl and she's in a very rough situation with her family. So, I just wanted to show that this is a kid and you need to feel for her. You need to know where she came from before giving a complete opinion on someone because she is who she is for a reason and what happened to her, happened to her because of Smurf. But I stuck to Season 1 and a little bit of Season 2

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Pope is one of the most well-written characters in recent history and Shawn Hatosy did a wonderful job oover the years. How difficult it was for you to step into his shoes and come out with a version of Pope that solely belonged to you. 

Kevin: Coming into the character, I just binged the show because we knew that we are going to be the prequel that's gonna lead us onto the horizon of the first season of 'Animal Kingdom'. So, I just binged the whole show that I was able to watch. We got to see Season 5 earlier and honestly, there was an aspect of it that was difficult, but because the show is so good and I watched it so much that it became less difficult for me. With what Shawn Hatosy found, I worked on the outside of it and I started with his physicalities because I am a dancer as well. Then, I worked my way back from there to his mind and why he's this way because I feel that this character has so much heart and love but he's so hardened and manipulated by Smurf.

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Was it easy to come out of your character once you were done with your scenes? or Did it take a toll on you?

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Kevin: As soon as they yelled cut, Jasper, Darren Mann, and Leila George had such a great relationship. So, as soon as they yelled cut, I would just break the character and smile and be happy. There were a few times when I was trying to be serious, but we would break and start laughing because it was so dark (laughs). I remember, there was one scene where Smurf brings Pope to make the bullets in the garage, and in that scene specifically, I remember, I and her (Leila) were so serious, but there were a couple of takes where we broke and started laughing. I think releasing it when we weren’t shooting, helped me to get it out and then be able to bring it back in.

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Jasper: He (Kevin) would always make me laugh during the scenes. 

Jasper, what kind of relationship do you share with Leila George? Everyone hates Leila for doing such atrocities on you, but as an actor, you do such a phenomenal job in making viewers believe that you guys have a troubled relationship. But what is she like in real life?

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Jasper: Let me tell you, SHE IS NOT SMURF (laughs). It’s crazy because we are so closer to each other when it comes to age, we are not that far off. For the show, they had to show that we are of different ages. I think, what made it a little easier is me and she was really friendly. We didn’t get super, super close until closer to the end like when we were having more and more intense scenes with each other. It’s hard to not get close when you are spending such an amazing time together. I just love her and she is such a lovely person, but we keep a distance when we shoot together because it’s hard to turn around and be mean to someone you are friends with. She’s so incredibly talented and getting to work with her was awesome.

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The series finale is just around the corner and it is truly the end of an era. What are your expectations from the finale? and how should fans be ready for the show's ending?

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Kevin: Wow. I think the finale episode is going to be a roller-coaster for the viewers. I mean, the fans who love these characters in different ways are going to go through all the emotions for each character. For people who really love the show and those who just come into this season, I think it’s gonna propel people to watch Season 1. It’s an amazing setup. It answers some questions and leaves room for some new questions, but yeah, I think it’s going to be a thrilling ride. 

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Jasper: I agree with what Kevin just said. It’s definitely very, very full circle. What I always like to tell people about this season is important because it tells you why everybody is the way that they are. When you go into Season 1 without knowing anything and you see Pope, you immediately realize that ‘this man is a sociopath' and when you watch more of it, you realize that this guy has just been so wounded again and again and becomes someone who needs help but just doesn’t get it the entire time. This season is great because the viewers got to see where everyone came from.

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The series finale of 'Animal Kingdom' will premiere exclusively on TNT on Sunday, at 9 pm EST. 

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