Animal Kingdom: Ben Robson Talks Frankie's Deceit, Renn's Return, and Why Family is Everything

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The Cody crime family has been thrilling us for a little over four seasons with their internal drama and their risky jobs. One of our favorite Codys is Craig, played by English actor, Ben Robson.

Ben's character lives a party-boy life, but it's become much more complicated with Frankie now part of his world, and Renn making a surprise return to it.

He's also trying to deal with Pope and all his problems while maintaining his strong connection with Deran, and then, of course, there's his relationship with Smurf.

We had an opportunity to talk with Ben about the complexities of Craig and all the drama and desires surrounding Smurf's middle son. 

Tall Ben Robson - Animal Kingdom

Our readers have been debating about whether or not Craig is a mama's boy. Is Craig a mama's boy and is Pope just a devoted soldier? What's your take?

Well, I think it's interesting you spoke about this with the others. I feel there are a lot of similarities with Pope and Craig, and with Deran as well.

I think all of them are essentially mama's boys because of the way Smurf has manipulated them in making them so dependent on her. I'd say that Deran is definitely the most independent having gone off and bought his own bar and wanting his own life.

A Proud Man - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 3

When it comes to being a soldier, yeah, I do think Pope has his own way. I also think Craig is someone who will lay his body on the line for his family which we've seen multiple examples of throughout the seasons.

And, yeah, I think that Craig, because obviously Pope is somewhat flawed in terms of the way that he needs his meds and what not.

But I do think that Craig has that, you know, he's the heart of the family, and everything to him is that much more centered around family and obviously the family is based and surrounded by or orbits around Smurf.

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So, yeah, I do think he is a mama's boy for sure, but I think he's just as much that to his brothers and everyone else that's blood.

He really is the whole heartbeat of the family to a certain extent. He really does care that much about each and everyone which is why I think you saw the huge reaction he had when he lost Baz.

He took on a lot of guilt about the fact that he wasn't there to try to help or to be there to sort of save him if he could, and he probably wouldn't have been able to do anyway, but I think he feels a lot of responsibility because family is everything to him.

The Boys are Back - Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 1

Speaking of family, Craig seems to have the best relationship with Deran. What makes their relationship so special?

I spoke at length, actually, trying to get to the bottom of it a couple of seasons ago.

I think what we came to understand is that when Baz was brought into the family and with Pope, it took up most Smurf's time and the difficulties of bringing in a new child into the family and being adopted.

Obviously Pope's difficulties is with his mental illness.

Craig on the Beach - Animal Kingdom

I think with that, it basically left Craig to kind of be the father figure somewhat to Deran.

We said it was very likely, and I think it was actually touched on last season or the season before, when Deran's getting surf trips and the rest of it, and when he's quitting that Craig would have taken Deran to his surf trips and played that father role, not that I'm saying he would be the ideal role model, but actually having taken that responsibility on for him.

They would have spent a lot of time together. In their younger days I think that responsibility and that love and that sort of respect of one another and what they went through together and keeping their own sort of family between the two of them.

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And their being the youngest in comparison to Baz and Pope, I think that bond has always been there. And also I think they've never really been given the same chance by Smurf. I feel like Baz and Pope were always the adults and were always made to sort out the jobs and the rest of it.

Together - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 4

Craig and Deran were always the two to just follow suit and come into something every now and again when they did but always looked upon as the younger ones of the family.

So, I think it kind of created a tight bond for the two of them to maybe have a stronger voice with the two of them together rather than being individuals for coming across with their own point of views individually.

Has Frankie has been a good influence on Craig even if she's manipulating him? On Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 4 when Craig came up with idea on how to get the sculpture for the heist,. I don't think he would have thought of that plan by himself if she wouldn't have pushed him.

That's a good question.

I think it runs upon what I was touching on before that with Craig being pushed to not having a point of view or ideas for the family and just being a foot soldier, and not really being seen for who he is and having a lot of issues with addiction and escapism with all the drugs, the drink, the sex and the rock n roll essentially.

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When he finally comes across this intriguing character of Frankie that he's never really seen before or come across, especially in Oceanside.I think she comes into his life with Billy and tells him she sees him for who he really is.

For him, he feels quite misunderstood at times, and when he has someone who says I see you for the real you, you can do something, you can really break off and be successful and have your own jobs and the rest of it, I think she is a really good influence.

Beach Babe - Animal Kingdom

I think she has broadened his horizons and sense of what's possible and also helping and showing him what he's capable of.

Craig has always had the potential to do something quite extraordinary. The problem is he's always let himself down. It's always sort of one step forward and two steps back with him.

Frankie is helping him getting more steps moving forward than back now. She is a great influence.

And in that way, I think with any of the characters, the problem is they have such troubled relationships with females at times or conflicted because of the relationship they have with Smurf which has really changed the way that they see relationships and stuff so it can be quite tricky for them.

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It definitely hurt him when she disappeared on him last season because he was just about to start building some real trust in that relationship.

Frankie and Craig - Animal Kingdom

So, yeah, I do think she's a good influence on him. It's just whether he can keep on the straight and narrow and whether he can trust her and they can still be in a good place together. Yeah, all of the above.

On Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 5, Frankie kind of betrays Craig when she goes to Smurf and involves Smurf in the heist job. How do you think that's going to change the relationship between Craig and Frankie?

It's always a huge problem anyway with the family bringing someone in who isn't with the family because the trust, despite whatever's happening with the internal politics of the family, when they do a job together they know they could have their life on the line and all of them will be there to defend each other.

Craig Does Stuff - Animal Kingdom

When you bring someone else, they don't know who they are or what their motive is.

With Frankie, she hasn't brought the money to the table or the amount it should have been, and I think it's the case with Craig where it could be fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me because if he's going to get burned a second time in a different manner, you're going to see an interesting reaction from Craig.

I definitely feel that by doing this he's grown. He's trying to get out of becoming this man-child and become more of this man. I mean, someone who is still going to have fun, but when he takes this responsibility, he's going to be embarrassed in front of his family because he put his neck on the line for her.

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You're really going to start seeing a side of Craig you haven't seen that much of because it's alright if he's made an idiot of himself and has made some bad choices, but when he's put his neck on the line for someone else for the family and everyone else has now put their neck on the line because of him, you know how big the repercussions of an incident like that not working his way.

It actually complicates things for sure.

The Pose - Animal Kingdom Season 2 Episode 10

I think Craig, although he makes his mistakes, is still a very proud man.

The one thing he wants respect from is his family and when he's going to do a job and wants to be seen in a different light and wants to earn this respect within the dynamic of this family, he's going to try to get his comeuppance or try to make it right or do whatever it takes to make sure the family still sees him in the same light.

And now that Renn's back, how is that going to play into it? Is there going to be a love triangle? I know that she told Craig that she's not pregnant with his baby, but I can't seem to think that maybe she really is and is just lying about it.

It brings a complication to his life that he seems to be addicted to. He doesn't seem to stay far from trouble or drama in any sense of his day-to-day operation, really.

I think with Renn coming back into his life the most hurtful thing is that there's a baby there from someone else and it's a real wake-up call in terms of it should have been his. Those two were always meant to be together, and he's trying this new life with Frankie and is now being let down by her.

Renn and Craig Forever - Animal Kingdom

He thought this was someone who could be his running partner and all of a sudden Renn comes out of nowhere who's always been his running partner and what they've done, and they have such an incredible history both good and bad.

When you see someone else potentially stepping up to the plate whether it was intentional or not and she's now pregnant as a result of that, I think it's a difficult thing.

But Renn brings this familiarity that Craig hasn't really got with anyone else.

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She's really his homie, and regardless of it being someone else's baby, he wants to step up and be there for her and help her and doesn't want to see any harm done to her. They've already done so much to each other they now it's just a case of protecting her.

Now with Frankie coming back and doing an injustice to him, he just wants to be around Renn and look after someone he treasures and adores because, at the moment, he's caught between a rock and a hard place. He really doesn't know what to do.

Deran and Craig Fight - Animal Kingdom Season 2 Episode 11

Do you think there's going to be some conflict between Renn and Frankie that Craig will have to smooth over?

Yeah, it's not an easy one when you have the current girlfriend finding out the ex-girlfriend is back, sleeping at his house, and is pregnant. It's never an easy situation. I think everyone can attest to that. So, yeah, of course there's going to be some conflict there. Absolutely.

Renn as well has a good eye for seeing what's right and wrong. She reads people pretty good.

At Smurf's House - Animal Kingdom

There's still enough mystery surrounding Frankie that nobody really knows who she is or where's she from or what her motives are. It's something that maybe Renn will be looking into and probably having some fun doing it at the same time, I would imagine.

Yeah, for sure, it's a complicated dynamic which his life always seems to be that way.

What does Craig think about Smurf? Does he love her? Does he hate her? Is he in the middle ground? If he finds out she has cancer, will that bring everyone together? I can't imagine Pope won't open his mouth at some point.

Obviously, Craig is still in the dark about her health and problems. I think it's an incredibly complicated relationship with Smurf.

At the heart of it is that family is everything. It's still his mother irregardless of how manipulative she is and how devious she's been towards them her whole life and playing them all off of each other. It's still his mother, and you only get one. I think he does love her.

Two Dapper Dudes - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 3

Throughout all the craziness she's been there to help him out of sticky situations. Granted, she's used it to her benefit and use it to her advantage to get him to do the things she needs him to do, but I think ultimately he loves her.

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I also think there's something when people do get sick, you really begin to question what everything's about. Is it worth always being annoyed with each other or whatever it is because, at the end of it, life and family and relationships are the most important thing.

If you're constantly butting heads and locking horns with each other and the rest of it, it's not worth it when you feel you've got such a few moments. Cancer is a tricky health issue to deal with. I think it can really bring people together. Any sickness can.

Spiffying Up - Animal Kingdom

It's a really confusing thing. I think Smurf having that invincibility kind of thing, I think that's when you start to see that parents can become human through age or sickness and the rest of it.

All of a sudden, all the trouble you caused for them has seemed to dissipate because all that you see is the person you love after that. I think that's pretty much how Craig will go with that. It'll be a hard thing for him to digest for sure.

What is the best thing you like about Craig, and what is the thing you dislike most about your character?

What I like about Craig? He's got such a big heart. He's very playful and lives very much in the moment which is definitely something I tried to learn for myself. It's great. He never seems to get stuck on things that he's done or beat himself up too much on other things.

Celebrating a Win - Animal Kingdom

He just lives in the moment, cracks on, and tomorrow's another day. It's a really great quality to have. I think he's very protective of and looks after his family.

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At the same time, the strengths of the character, the things I like about him, can also be his weakness. I think because he does live in the moment and doesn't seem to plan too much in the future, he doesn't learn from his mistakes too much.

I think his responsibilities which he seems to run away from a lot, even though they're the exact things that he wants to grow as a person.

So, ultimately he's quite a conflicted character which is why you get so many great colors and interplay, and that's why I enjoy playing him. He's a fun guy and very complicated, which is always what you're looking for when you're an actor.

If you give any type of advice to Craig, what advice would you give him?

I think if I could tell him if he could step up, there would be a whole new world for him to operate out of. He'd probably get himself in a bit less trouble if he'd just had that reason to find that responsibility.

I think it's a thing he craves. If he could find that thing to help, him step up to become the man he's desperate to become if he didn't keep letting himself down. I think he's so close to it. Don't give up on it. It's just around the corner, to a certain extent.

What do you for fun?

I don't quite live the life Craig Cody lives. I couldn't keep up with that life. I go surfing here and there. Motorbikes, if can get on them when I've got time available to me.

I've been on a few hikes recently because the weather has been nice out here. Nice and cool. Hanging out with friends. I'm pretty active. I go to the gym.

On a Motorcycle - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 4

I guess the thing I enjoy the most is traveling, but that's always dependent on filming and work schedules. I love to travel and go to different parts of the world and learn about different cultures and see how other people live their life on this planet.

Do you do your own stunts on the show?

I do as much as the production will let me do. There are certain stunts that you just can't do. There's just too much danger. I would love to do it, if I could, but unfortunately there are just some things I can't do.

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It's just as fun as watching my main stunt double, Dave Castillo, go and do some outrageous stunt. I get as much joy watching him do it than watching me fall on my ass doing it.

When you have downtime, what do you watch on TV?

I've just been watching Flea Bag, which I really enjoy. The end of Game of Thrones with the rest of the world.

My next thing I want to watch is Gomorroh, Season 3 and Season 4. I haven't been able to catch up with that since Season 1 and Season 2 came out because I couldn't find it in America.

At a Bar - Animal Kingdom

I just started watching The Wire because I haven't actually seen it yet, so I just finished the first season of it. I know it happened a long time ago, so I'm years behind everyone else on that. And obviously Animal Kingdom on Tuesday nights.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? Anything you'd like to say to the fans?

I think they're the best fans. We wouldn't be where we are without them. I just love how everyone gets behind the characters and are so engaged and so involved. I really enjoy having that special relationship on social media when we get the opportunity to talk with everyone.

Before I let you go, is there anything you want to say about your relationship with your other brothers besides Deran or even your relationship with J?

I think each of them, we do have our own dynamic with everyone. Craig and Deran are incredibly close. They've been through a lot together, and they're very, very tight.

Pope and Craig are always trying to find where they are with each other.

Scoping it Out - Animal Kingdom

The funny thing to me is that they're very similar in terms of their loyalty and their dedication to the family except Pope has mental health problems, and Craig has substance abuse problems and the rest of it, so they're never quite as sharp as they should be.

I actually see a lot of parallels between the two of them. I think they both do care about the family in huge amounts. They just find it difficult to communicate that with each other. You got to see a lot of that this year.

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You've seen Craig really try to help Pope this season. It's really cool to see that and watch that relationship grow further. I think there's a certain understanding and respect between the two of them.

With J, I think that's a much more complicated relationship for Craig. He's a newcomer to family, and he's still someone Craig needs to get to know. I think he's aware of J being smart, but also trying to run things. I think he's slightly wary of J.

Sitting on the Beach - Animal Kingdom

The rest of the brothers have been waiting so long for their turn to potentially run the family, especially when we lost Baz, that when you suddenly see J coming in and starting to run operations, it's difficult to take it seriously even if Craig knows he's a very smart kid. 

It's an interesting relationship to watch to see how it grows and develop as if it goes on.

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I think Craig still has a loyalty towards him, though. So, it's complicated and really fun and interesting, but at the heart of it, they're very much together and pulling in the same direction, which is the main thing.

One more quick question. What do you think will happen when Craig finds out Adrian has been talking to the cops. Do you think Craig is going to kill him?

I think anyone who threatens the position of the Codys and the family should be very scared. I think that's one thing you don't mess with.

You don't talk to the cops. You don't jeopardize the family, and you don't put anyone in a position where they can be hurt, killed, or put away.

Beach Babe - Animal Kingdom

So, yeah, I think if Craig does find out who it is, it won't matter if it's Adrian or anyone or whoever it might be because the bottom line is something's going to go because otherwise, it'll be us or them. It's definitely a serious situation to deal with.

And Deran will be crushed when he finds out because he loves Adrian so much.

Definitely. And I think Craig would be too. He understands that relationship, and throughout their whole relationship, Craig has been the most supportive of it.

I think he'd feel Deran's pain just as much. No one likes seeing someone so close go through such heartbreak at any level. So the extent of what that would be, it would be pretty much as heartbreaking for Craig as it would be for Deran in it's own way.

You can watch Animal Kingdom online right here via TV Fanatic to catch up on all the latest episodes.

After you're done, check back here to read our reviews about the latest episodes!

Lisa Babick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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