RESURRECTION poster | ©2014 ABC

RESURRECTION poster | ©2014 ABC

In ABC’s new Sunday night series RESURRECTION, adapted by show runner Aaron Zelman from Jason Mott’s novel THE RETURNED (not to be confused with the French series THE RETURNED that runs in the U.S. on Sundance), eight-year-old American Jacob Langston (Landon Gimenez) wakes up in a field in rural China. When U.S. agent J. Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps) brings Jacob back to the small Southern town the boy calls home, two startling facts emerge. One is that Jacob died thirty-two years ago and the other is that the child here now is identical in appearance, memory and DNA to the one who drowned in the town creek. Then other previously deceased people turn up, with no idea how they came back – or even that they were ever gone.

Matt Craven plays town sheriff Fred Langston, who is also Jacob’s uncle. Like pretty much everyone else in town, Fred has his world upended by the unexpected turn of events. Craven, a native of Ontario, Canada who began his film career in MEATBALLS and has worked steadily as an actor ever since (recent gigs have included the feature WHITE HOUSE DOWN and in the series NCIS and JUSTIFIED) says RESURRECTION is something new for him. “I’ve never been a part of a show where the crew would get the scripts and read them immediately before us [the actors], because they would get production drafts, and talk about it every single week. I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’m talking about every crew member. So that’s an indication that you’re doing something right.”

Craven is at ABC’s event for RESURRECTION at the Television Critics Association press tour. After the panel, he stays for some follow-up discussion of the new series.

ASSIGNMENT X: What drew you to this project? Were you primarily interested in the subject matter, or in your character, or the people who are making it?

MATT CRAVEN: The script. It was such a great pilot script, because it was this high-concept idea, but the core of it was a character drama, the core of it was real people, and Aaron’s writing is so spare, and there’s a lot of air in it, and it never pushes. I just got lost in reading the script, and at the end of it, was like, it’s emotional, it has heart, it’s about this really crazy idea, but you sort of accept that right away and just follow these people. You care about these people.

AX: Is there something different in playing someone who lives in a small town, as opposed to in a big city?

CRAVEN: Yeah, it’s really great, because Dan Attias, who directed three of our shows and is one of our producing directors, one of the notes that he gave Devin [Kelley] and I is, “You know, you’re father and daughter. You have a very deep and loving relationship, but it’s impossible for you both to share that with each other.” As actors, you always want to go to the emotion of something and embrace it because that’s your instinct. But we were always fighting against that – having that, but then not being able to show it. That’s one of the things that we were always dealing with.

AX: As far as your character being the sheriff in a small town, is this a situation where you’re playing somebody whose life suddenly takes a big twist that he wasn’t anticipating, at least in his professional life, are you able to drawn on things in your own career where you go, “Boy, I wasn’t expecting my job to turn into that”?

CRAVEN: Well, yes and no. The show takes place in eight days. So one of the things I was always thinking about and always concerned with was, [if you were] waking up each day and this event would actually happen in your life, how would you deal with it? I mean, what happens to this man in eight days I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I can say that.

AX: Did you think at all about, if this happened in your life, how you would deal with it?

CRAVEN: In terms of imagination in playing the character, you have to go there. You have to do that. But me, Matt Craven, no, because I know that’s impossible, but that doesn’t mean that as an actor, you [don’t] go there. And we’ve all had people that have died in our lives and we do wonder sometimes what it would be like – my dad died when I was very young, so I think about sometimes how I wish I could see him again or talk to him.

AX: Have you ever had an inexplicable experience?

CRAVEN: Stuff happens to all of us. When I was younger, in my teens, I had this recurring dream over and over and over again for years, and I would tell my mom, “What’s going on? I keep having this dream.” And then forgot about it. And about four or five years later, I was [in reality] in the dream.

AX: Did you have to learn how to do anything to play Fred, like handle a gun, anything to do with law enforcement?

CRAVEN: No, because I’ve played police officers a few times, and also FBI people, so I know guns backwards. [laughs] Unfortunately.

AX: Is there anything you get to do in RESURRECTION that you haven’t gotten to do before?

CRAVEN: Yes. And I can’t tell you what that is. It’s definitely the best part that I’ve had in television. It’s a very complex world that this character is in and it just gets better and better. I’ll say this – the way that it develops blew my mind.

Related: Exclusive Interview with creator Aaron Zelman on the new ABC series RESURRECTION

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Article: Interview with actor Matt Craven on the new ABC series RESURRECTION

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