James Wolk talks about Zoo, playing Jackson Oz and his experience with horses
Last seen on television with Robbie Williams in the comedy series The Crazy Ones, James Wolk turns over a new leaf as an American zoologist in the action oriented TV show Zoo. Based on author James Patterson’s bestselling novel, the 30-year-old will be seen running safaris in Africa where he goes on a quest to unlock the mystery of attacking animals. More from him:
How would you describe the show?
It’s about the idea that animals are no longer afraid of humans, and instead of humans being at the top of the food chain, animals start to look at them as prey. It happens in a very mysterious, slow build kind of a way. And what makes the show compelling is that it has live animals turning on humans.
Sum up the character of Jackson Oz.
I think it’s different from so much that’s on television right now. Luckily the producers, creators and writers liked me enough to give me a shot at it and they hired me for the role. He has a lot of baggage and darkness, but he is also a hero in a way, because he is trying to solve this apocalyptic problem.
How are we introduced to your character, Jackson Oz?
He is kind of hungover in a hammock, which says a lot about where he is at in his life at that point. He has a checkered past with his father, Robert Oz, who was a famous scientist with a theory that animals were eventually going to turn on humans and as it would be in real life. He was shunned by the Harvard community that he worked for and by the medical community, after which he committed suicide. Jackson tries to forget about his past and opens up a safari camp. And in the opening episode of the show, slowly but surely everything his father said starts to come true around him and he is thrown into the mix of trying to figure out this problem.
What is it like working with the live animals?
On a just a small simple scale for me, one of the more exciting moments in the show was working with the horses. I had never spent that much time around horses. And when we shot these scenes where in episode three, the horse would come up and I had to stop the horse and look it in the eye. I had to get very close to the horse and get comfortable with the push and pull. And just to learn what they respond to, you stop them by holding their shoulders and kind of putting your hand over their neck. Just being around this massive animal and feeling like I could communicate with it, was actually very bizarre and kind of wonderful.
What animals can audiences expect to see on the show?
We have had huge Kodiak brown bears on set, lions, rats, wolves and of course dogs and bats. So it’s kind of a grab bag, but I think it’s going to be fun for audiences.
Sunday, 11 pm, on AXN