Netflix seems to be trying out almost everything in terms of their original content, from standup specials to political thrillers to superhero shows. Their latest, from “Damages” creators Glenn and Todd Kessler and Daniel Zelman, is “Bloodline,” which tracks the shifting loyalties in a fragmented family struggling with whether to accept the returning black sheep. It’s less compulsively binge-able than “House of Cards” or “Orange Is the New Black,” but that has something to do with the creators’ decision to tease out reveals between various family members, who are played by such luminaries as Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard and Kyle Chandler.
That’s part of what attracted Linda Cardellini to the project. Known for her roles on “Freaks and Geeks,” “Mad Men” and “ER,” she plays youngest child (and only daughter) Meg, who argues in favor of welcoming back the perpetually shifty Danny (Ben Mendelsohn). “I always say it’s very layered,” says Cardellini of her latest project. “And the thing that the creators do really well is, they plant things in the beginning that will pay off as the entire series moves along. And everything is well-earned. Nothing comes out and hits you over the head.”
Asked to pin down the series’ genre, she gives it some thought, then says, “I would say it’s a family drama that turns into a psychological thriller that explores the dynamics within a family and takes it to a really dark place.”
That playing with expectations about the type of genre the show is was intentional, says Cardellini. "From the beginning, you think, 'Oh, I’m watching this thing that’s about a family and the different dynamics that happen within a family, but at the same time there’s this unease about everything, and there’s a tension here that I don’t totally entirely understand,' and the way that that tension unfolds I think is what’s really interesting about the show."
The Kesslers and Zelman’s résumé was also part of the appeal of the project. “I really loved how they wrote the women in ‘Damages.’ I thought that they were very layered and interesting to watch and had changed from the first episode to the last episode,” explains Cardellini.
But that’s not to say she thinks good roles for women are impossible to find. “Good roles in general are more rare than not. I try to look for characters that have lots of things going on and I’ve been fortunate to find things,” she says.
Of course, in a show about four troubled siblings, we had to ask Cardellini about her own family’s layout. “I’m the baby of four,” confirms Cardellini. “Hopefully they won’t see too many similarities.”
The show takes place in the Florida Keys, and it’s safe to say the locale plays a big part in the tone of the show. This meant the cast had to be in the Keys for some time while they filmed, which Cardellini says was occasionally a bit of a challenge. “We were out there in the summer. It’s a million degrees, and there are lots of mosquitos, but it is beautiful, and when you’re out on the water, there’s no place like it.”
No place like the insect life, either. “We all developed a healthy neurotic fear of mosquitos. I bought a bug suit for the first time in my life,” she says.
A bug suit? “It’s like a full net suit from head to toe that mosquitos can’t get through,” she explains. “You can wear it outside, but you don’t really want to go to any red carpet events in it.”