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Annette Bening on Following Up ‘Nyad’ with ‘Apples Never Fall’: “I Wanted a Land Kind of Acting Job”

Just days after attending the 2024 Oscars as a best actress nominee for her performance in Nyad, Annette Bening is already on to her next project: starring in the Peacock limited series Apples Never Fall.

Based on the bestselling novel from Liane Moriarty — who also wrote Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers — the show follows former tennis coaches Joy (Bening) and Stan (Sam Neill) as they retire from their successful tennis academy and look forward to spending time with their four adult children (Jake Lacy, Alison Brie, Conor Merrigan-Turner and Essie Randles); everything changes, though, when Joy suddenly goes missing.

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Bening, who also served as an executive producer, had never done a limited series before but was drawn to shooting to Australia and working on an ensemble type of project. And filming a year after Nyad, “I wanted to do something different and not in the water and not with swimming. I wanted a land kind of acting job,” she jokingly told The Hollywood Reporter at the Los Angeles premiere on Tuesday.

She stuck to a sport, though, as the actors were thrown into tennis training. Neill admitted that the lessons were “torture, absolute torture. I was kind of relieved when we stopped, but I think we got away with it and I got some great help. One of my coaches was Sam Stosur and she’d beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open in 2011, so there were people who knew what they were doing.”

Bening teased she “had more fun with that than Sam did; I enjoy it,” noting a scene that ended up not being used where “there was going to be a big moment when I served so I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to work on this.’ But I’ve been around enough to know that they can always make you look better than you are at sports and stuff — maybe not the swimming but with this one. I really enjoyed the tennis; it’s a great sport actually.”

Despite the tennis challenges, Neill said he was drawn to the show because of Moriarty’s writing, explaining, “I thought Big Little Lies was one of the best things I’d ever seen on television, and I thought if it’s as involving and intriguing as that then I want to be a part of it, and I read it and it was. And then were was Annette Bening, and who could say no to that?”

Lacy also sang Bening’s praises, adding, “My impression is that Annette keeps working because she loves to do this, and part of that is that she loves to act with other actors. To be the other person in that equation is really fulfilling and special and so fucking fun.”

And speaking of fun — the cast repeatedly pointed to Lacy and Brie (who missed the premiere while back in Australia to shoot her next project) as the set’s source of entertainment. “I think that she and I have a similar dedication to this work and also a similar threshold to being like, ‘Please God, do not let me be self serious,'” Lacy joked. “I love this job. I love telling these stories. I love working with people, and also at a certain point you want to just do something dumb, just be an idiot in front of people.”

Apples Never Fall starts streaming on Peacock Thursday.

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