‘Apples Never Fall’ Creator Wanted to ‘Offer Alternate Suspects’ Nonstop in Thriller Series
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‘Apples Never Fall’ Creator Wanted to ‘Offer Alternate Suspects’ Nonstop in Thriller Series

‘Apples Never Fall’ Creator Wanted to ‘Offer Alternate Suspects’ Nonstop in Thriller Series

What really happened to Joy Delaney?

Peacock mystery series “Apples Never Fall” centers on the disappearance of Joy Delaney (Annette Bening) as all signs seem to point to her husband Stan (Sam Neill) being behind the presumably sinister crime. Or perhaps it was one of the four adult Delaney children (Jake Lacy, Alison Brie, Conor Merrigan-Turner, Essie Randles) who know more than they’re letting on…

The adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestseller is showrun by writer/executive producer Melanie Marnich, who told IndieWire that she set out to keep the “lens of suspicion moving” throughout each episode.

“You didn’t want to just go, ‘Oh, it’s Stan,’ or ‘Oh, it’s Savannah,’” Marnich said. “We needed to always offer alternate theories, alternate suspects, alternate reasons, in the writing of the show. There was a really fun narrative sleight of hand that had to keep working at all times to keep that lens of suspicion moving to have a sense of progress.”

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Marnich added that these “progressive revelations” kept “Apples Never Fall” audiences (hopefully) on the edge of their seats.

“Just when you think you knew what was going on, there is a surprise,” Marnich said. “Just when you think you know a person, there’s a revelation. When you think you know the truth, you find out a secret. The pacing of those kinds of moments was to make the TV show have the same page-turner energy of the book. It was something I had to really be aware of. In the writer’s room, we worked really hard to craft the sort of constant turn of the story.”

In fact, even the actors didn’t know if their characters were innocent or guilty.

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‘Apples Never Fall’

Actor Sam Neill, who plays Joy’s husband Stan, had to balance seeming suspicious while also portraying a grieving husband.

“There is an essential mystery that runs through this: Has something awful happened to Joy? And if so, is Stan responsible? That’s key,” Neill told IndieWire. “There are a lot of other mysteries in the show as well, but that’s, that’s probably the most essential of them. There was a lot of dark to explore.”

Neill added that while Stan may or may not be guilty of killing Joy, he is complicit in the Delaney family’s overall demise.

“The thing about Stan is he means well,” Neill said. “He’s not all together volatile and he can be really stupid. But he can also be quite funny, actually. The problem with people like Stan, the sort of alpha males, is that anything can happen. All of his children are damaged in one way or another by Stan, but Stan would say that he’s done the best he can, which is sort of true.”

‘Apples Never Fall’Jasin Boland/PEACOCK

As showrunner Marnich pointed out, despite the cast having all of the scripts in advance of filming, the ensemble cast was “so brilliant to never telegraph anything” and treat each scene as its own mini mystery.

“Particularly a show that jumps back and forth between the ‘now’ and the ‘then,’ it’s always important for an actor to never play the end of a scene or the end of the story at the beginning,” Marnich said. “Because they are brilliant, they were able to play innocent and then when appropriate suspicion arose, the cast did it wholeheartedly and with such a beautiful intention.”

“Apples Never Fall” was shot “out of order,” a production process that Marnich called a “testament” to the cast rising to the “challenge” of keeping track of the multiple mysteries weaving throughout the central storyline.

“Sometimes the direction is like, ‘Protect that you don’t know this.’ But obviously with the time jump, it’s isolated kind of already,” Marnich said. “It was sometimes on set in terms of continuity, us going to each other and saying, ‘Wait a minute. Was this in the next scene?’ We literally had a few times where we needed to stop and say, ‘Where are we in the story? Where’s the scene in the script? What do we know?What don’t we know?’”

Marnich specifically pointed to how “incredible” the onscreen dynamic was between Neill and Bening to heighten the tension in the flashback sequences.

“You’re just aware of the wattage of these two people and these two virtuosic talents,” Marnich said. “Any scene with all the kids with the parents was a blast because they actually did have a family dynamic among them and it was always fun to watch the scene absolutely blossom when they got into it.”

As for what really happened to Bening’s Joy, “Apples Never Fall” viewers will just have to keep watching – and keep piecing together the crumbs Marnich lays out to solve the case.

“Apples Never Fall” is streaming on Peacock March 14.

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