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