Joan Allen's The Family Is Full of Suspense, Twists and Yes, Answers

Zach Gilford, Alison Pill, Rupert Graves, Liam James and Andrew McCarthy also star in the family mystery drama

By Chris Harnick Mar 03, 2016 1:45 PMTags
The Family, Joan AllenABC

Prepare for the unexpected: a TV mystery that will provide answers. ABC's The Family has something for everyone, according to star Joan Allen. The three-time Oscar nominee headlines the show as Claire Warren, a political animal who suffers a loss after her young son is kidnapped and later deemed murdered. Or was he?

"Well, I think they just need to know it's a show that will keep surprising them," Allen said in a recent interview in New York City. "I think the characters are complex and relatable…We're all members of families and most families have issues and struggles. Things that work and things that don't work. This family has been in an extreme circumstance with this horrible trauma happening to them, but the everyday thing of keeping things from other family members is common…I think there's this layer of a family dynamic and I think that will be something people can really connect to."

In the show, Claire and her family (which includes Alison Pill, Zach Gilford, Rupert Graves) have suffered the loss of son Adam (Liam James). But 10 years after his supposed murder, he returns. Neighbor Hank (Andrew McCarthy) is now off the hook and free from prison. But it's not cut and dry. The Family is a mixture of suspense thriller and family drama with a touch of politics. When tragedy struck, Claire was setting out into local politics. She's since ascended to mayor with eyes on an even bigger prize. Adam's disappearance turned her into the ultimate mama bear.

"I think she has taken this event and I think she is very—by nature—a very driven, organized go-getter type of personality and that coupled with trying to make sense of this horrible thing that happened and trying to protect other people, it sort of propels her into a larger arena of trying to make a difference and trying to help people," Allen teased.


Allen jumped into the role right after filming Room with Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. She had done research for that movie, where she played mom to Larson's kidnapped character, and mixed in some political research by watching clips of local mayors and the likes of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

"I guess my favorite part about her is she doesn't really wallow too much," Allen said. "I think she is a forward—yes she has moments where her heart's broken and she cares deeply, she loves her family deeply—but I like playing somebody who's pulling herself back up again, rising to the next challenge, the next occasion, the next thing that gets slammed her way and that she has resilience.

At the heart of The Family is just that: a family. A family with secrets that are basically like an onion. But in today's TV climate where shows launch with ambitious twists and turns that go unanswered, take note: The Family will give you what you're looking for. You will know whether Adam is really back and what happened 10 years ago.

Watch: ABC's "The Family" Cast Dish on Edgy New Series

"You'll get gratification and then you'll go, ‘Oh! But now?' That's what I think [creator Jenna Bans] has done that's really masterful. You will get answers," she said. "It's not going to string you along to the point where you're frustrated. You will get answers to things and then other questions will present themselves."

Click play on the video above for more on the show from Graves and Pill and below from McCarthy.

The Family has a special premiere Thursday, March 3 at 9 p.m. on ABC. It moves to its regular timeslot on Sunday, March 6 at 9 p.m.

Watch: Andrew McCarthy Takes on Sinister Role in "The Family"