WILD NEW HORI­ZONS

Work­ing with an­i­mals in a show about at­tacks on hu­mans has its mo­ments, says Zoo’s James Wolk. But the star is tak­ing it in his stride as he dives in to the first sea­son of the new ad­ven­ture se­ries

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV - COLIN VICK­ERY

Will James Wolk fi­nally be a ma­jor star? That’s the ques­tion Hol­ly­wood is ask­ing as the 30year-old gets set to front big bud­get ad­ven­ture se­ries Zoo.

Back in 2010, Wolk looked the ac­tor-most-likely when Fox gave him the lead as Texan con man Bob Allen in 2010’s Lone Star se­ries.

De­spite win­ning crit­i­cal praise, the show was axed af­ter two episodes af­ter fail­ing to con­nect with au­di­ences.

A bit­terly dis­ap­pointed Wolk had to set­tle for smaller TV roles af­ter that. But with Zoo he has another shot at glory.

Zoo is based on the James Pat­ter­son best­seller and taps into the para­noia that fu­els The Planet of the Apes fran­chise – an­i­mals ris­ing up and at­tack­ing hu­mans.

Wolk plays rene­gade Amer­i­can zo­ol­o­gist Jack­son Oz, who runs sa­faris in the wilds of Africa with best friend Abra­ham (Nonso Anozie).

The pair stum­bles on a camp site and, later, a sa­fari group that have been rav­aged by deadly an­i­mal at­tacks. In Los An­ge­les, other on­slaughts are tak­ing place and jour­nal­ist Jamie Camp­bell (Kris­ten Con­nolly) reck­ons she knows why.

Camp­bell starts in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether a multi­na­tional com­pany’s new an­i­mal feed could have set off a chain re­ac­tion.

It quickly be­comes ap­par­ent these are not iso­lated in­ci­dents. Vi­cious an­i­mal at­tacks are hap­pen­ing world­wide.

“It is a fresh, kind of strange, in­ter­est­ing idea that I hadn’t seen on TV be­fore,” Wolk says.

“Jack­son is a great char­ac­ter to play be­cause he is kind of flawed. Jack­son comes from a very dark past. His fa­ther was a zool­ogy pro­fes­sor who had the­o­ries about an­i­mals turn­ing on hu­mans (but) his fa­ther had a lot of men­tal ill­ness and that split the fam­ily. Jack­son and his mum left the USA for Africa while Jack­son was still in his early teens to get away from all that.

“Af­ter the sa­fari at­tack, Jack­son re­alises his fa­ther is un­de­ni­ably right about what an­i­mals will do if cer­tain things hap­pen to them. Jack­son be­comes the cen­tre of this global event.

“I did a lot of read­ing and had con­ver­sa­tions with as many peo­ple as I could who had been to Africa and on sa­fari. I also pre­pared phys­i­cally. I am a run­ner and I love to stay in shape but I tweaked that up a bit be­cause in my mind Jack­son would be some­one who is very fit.”

Zoo has nu­mer­ous scenes of Jack­son be­ing stalked by large packs of lions. Very few CGI spe­cial ef­fects are used.

Wolk ad­mits that made him ner­vous.

“There are so many dif­fer­ent kinds of an­i­mals on this show, from lions and leop­ards to bears and wolves,” Wolk says.

“I have a dog at home and I’m a dog lover so when we had the big­ger cats com­ing on the show I get quite ap­pre­hen­sive.”

James Wolk stars in

Zoo,

a new drama based on the best­selling novel by James Pat­ter­son.

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