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Sam Neill Trained to ‘Look Like a Killer on the Court’ for ‘Apples Never Fall’ Tennis Scenes

Across Sam Neill’s illustrious career, the actor has worked with animatronic dinosaurs for “Jurassic Park” and led iconic horror films like “Possession” and “In the Mouth of Madness.” But for “Apples Never Fall,” Neill had a career first: working with a tennis pro to well, play a tennis pro.

Neill admitted that he “needed a lot of help” to convincingly portray tennis coach Stan Delaney.

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“I needed a lot of help and I got a lot of help, which is just as well. I’m not the world’s most naturally athletic guy,” Neill told IndieWire. “It’s important for the story that this with an alpha male guy who dominates everyone on the court and requires his children to do the same that he looks like a killer on the court and elsewhere, actually. I needed help and I got it. I hope it’s convincing.”

Neill added, “[I’d played] little bit before, but not nothing at that level.”

The actor was more than game to train for the tennis scenes after reading the script penned by showrunner and executive producer Melanie Marnich.

“It was realizing that I needed to persist with it. I wanted to know what happens next,” Neill said of the series based on Liane Moriarty’s “very engaging” novel of the same name. “I wanted to know what the essential mystery was. I want to know how much of a bad guy I was, all that stuff. It’s a page-turner and I think when it comes to the visual media, when it comes to the series itself, it’s a bingo.”

While “Apples Never Fall” was relocated from the novel’s native Australia (where the series was actually filmed, oddly enough) to Florida, Neill admitted that he has never been to the southern state.

“But I’m told that it has a lot of similarities with the Gold Coast Canals and people who play tennis,” Neill said. “I have to say this is one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve done in my career, and it was very involving job.”

And the series’ twist ending could leave it open for a second installment, something that Neill would be more than excited to join alongside co-star Annette Bening.

We got on from day one. She’s such a sort of warm and sympatico person and funny as hell,” Neill said of Bening. “I warmed to her right away and we maintained that warm relationship as we do with all the kids. It became a kind of a family. I’m very fond of them; it was effectively a nine month project, so we got to know each other extremely well. And I have to say, working with Annette, that was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. And I’ve worked with a lot of great women. She’s a fabulous actor.”

“Apples Never Fall” is streaming now on Peacock.

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