Animal Kingdom: Shawn Hatosy on the Complicated Nature of Pope and the Emotions Surrounding "Julia"

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Pope Cody is an Animal Kingdom favorite. He's complicated and dark and does some pretty bad things, but fans can't help but love him.

He's played to perfection by actor Shawn Hatosy who also played with our emotions when he made his directorial debut with Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 11.

Shawn takes another turn at directing, this time with Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 11, "Julia," which we only can imagine will take our emotions to new heights.

We had a chance to talk with Shawn about his character, what directing this episode means to him, and the future of the Cody family.

Pope Wigs Out - Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 13

TV Fanatic: Congratulations on your Animal Kingdom Season 5 renewal. The fans are happy. I'm sure you guys are, too.

Shawn Hatosy: Yeah, I'm thrilled. Are you kidding?!

This is the second time you've directed an episode of Animal Kingdom, and like the first it's quite intense. What can you tell us about "Julia"? How personal was it for you and your character?

Good question. First of all, the episode is called, "Julia" . And I think it touches on closely what's going on with the Codys in the present day and obviously what's happening with Janine in 1977.

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She's pregnant. We the audience know it's going to be her firstborn so we know that Pope and Julia are probably in there.

So the guy who has played Pope for four seasons, I have an emotional connection to the story and this love story that existed between Colin and Janine.

Pope Knows the Game - Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 4

And then actually jumping forward to present day with Angela and how she has slid so effortlessly into the Cody family and has an emotional hold on Pope.

I think the reason that is because she knows what buttons to press, and she has used her relationship with Julia and Pope to kind of like currency.

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 10 Review: Exit Strategy

I think Pope, not that he has a clear understanding of it, but he used this relationship with Angela as a way to kind of maybe get it right because he screwed up so badly with his sister.

Kind of like he's using Angela as an extension of his feelings for Julia.

Exactly. And people are like, "Why is he doing this? Why is he allowing her in?" 

And that's it. She's there and she's kind of like a ghost of his sister. You know what I mean?

Angela and Pope - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 2

The memories are so strong with Angela of what it was like when they were kids. And, you know, not a lot of people have treated Pope like a normal person.

One of them was Cat at times. One of them was Baz. One of them is Lena. And the last one is Julia.

So, Angela is doing that, too, and it's a good thing.

We all hate her. Just so you know.


Pope is Pissed - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 10

We were all hoping she would drown in the pool, or that you would kill her.on Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 10. But unfortunately that didn't happen.


All you have to do is push her in with that coat, and it would puff up with water. It would get so heavy; she wouldn't be able to get out of the pool.

Does Pope know anything about his father, and do you think if Pope knew how much Smurf loved Colin if that would change his perspective on his relationship with her?

Pope knows absolutely nothing about his father. It's just not been discussed. She's not told him.

He believes that his father --. We had this mythology when we were kids that each member of the family's father was a marine animal. 

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 9 Review: Shtf

Deran's was a dolphin. I can't remember what Pope's was. 

But, yeah, he knows nothing. I'm not sure -- I think any information Pope would get about having a father and that Smurf actually loved him would just devastate him.

Because, again, that would be a symbol of normalcy, and she didn't give it to him. 

Pope and Smurf have a complicated relationship. He loves her, and he hates her. But why is he willing to set aside his animosity because of her cancer even though he knows she's still manipulating him?

Because he's been manipulated so long, he wishes he hated her. On the surface, it's easy to act out and lash out and show hate. 

Pope in Uniform - Animal Kingdom

But he knows deep down, or maybe he doesn't know, that functioning without her is not something he's going to be able to exceed at.

Do you think Pope is Smurf's favorite?

I actually do think that Pope is Smurf's favorite.

How does the fact the boys were raised by a single mom affect their outlook on fathers and even being a father in the future? 

I think the way Smurf parented them probably prepared them for exactly what she needs them for. We see in '77 what she's doing.

She's building a crew and leading it. So, when we look at the Codys, Pope is the one that does the dirty work. 

Smurf Watches - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 1

He has the burden of murder because he was programmed to do the heavy lifting, the stuff nobody else wants to do.

J is the smart one. He understands finance.

Craig is a heavy, too. He uses his sex appeal, which he has. You know, they all have their function, and Smurf identifies what that is and uses it to her advantage.

As far as the parenting goes, I think everything is so damn broken.

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 8 Review: Ambo

I actually enjoy the contrast of what is happening with Smurf in 1977 and how she wants to continue to rob banks and kick ass and be a mom and drop the kids off at preschool and soccer.

I mean, that's her view. This is fine. We can do this.

And Colin is like, yeah, I love this idea. I don't think most people would have that reaction which is why they are soulmates and why it works so well.

Hanging by the Pool - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 3

But then jump to the present day and you see Renn and Craig having a baby, and she sold drugs. And Craig, for the first time, is stepping up in a way we've never seen before.

So, generationally, I'm not saying Smurf's views on how to raise a family is right or wrong, but it's nice to see that just maybe because of the way she parented them that Craig has this idea of, no, we should try something else.

How do you think Pope will react when he finds out Craig has a son?

I think Pope is, his center, his emotional core is about family.

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 6 Review: Into the Black

And the addition of another Cody is only going to make him smile in the way that Pope can smile.

Do you think there will be an opportunity for Pope to meet Jed during the robbery of the bunker? That would be crazy.

Well, they're gearing up and heading off and we know that Smurf has something planned. It's certainly a possibility, but I can't really say.

I don't really know what Smurf has planned or what Pope's understanding of it is.

Taking It To The Mat - Animal Kingdom

She talks about it a little bit. She knew these people.

And that's a rule you don't usually break because if there's a personal connection, then it could lead to other things which could bring problems.

We'll have to see.

Pope seems to have a lot of guilt about not being there to save Julia. Will this bring him closer to J, or does he see J as a threat?

I don't think Pope views J as a threat. I think he views J as a liability because of his inability to be truthful. 

Pope doesn't give people a lot of second chances.

Coming Up with a Plan - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 4

And then he gives J one, and then J lied to him about Angela. And that's not going to be something they can recover from easily.

Speaking of second chances, Pope obviously loves his brothers, but do you think to protect the family that he'd kill Deran if push came to shove?

He'd kill Deran or Adrian?

Both of them.

I don't think Pope would kill Deran.

I think Pope wouldn't hesitate to kill Adrian. The rules are very clear in the family. You don't talk to Feds.

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 7 Review: Know Thy Enemy

And I think if Pope has to, he will. I really do.

I don't know what's going to happen, I really don't.  But that's the way it's set up.

He killed Cat, right?


He loved her, but once he found out she was lying, she had to go..(Laughs)

You once described Pope as a complicated psycho with a heart of gold. Do you still believe that to be true?

Yes. I don't know, maybe he's not. It's very compartmentalized.

Within the family and the way things are set up with the hierarchy and what he's tasked with, I think he wouldn't hesitate to protect the family.

Making An Offer - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 3

So, I don't know if that means he's a psycho. Maybe it does. But there is no limit to what he will do to save them, to protect them, and ensure they survive Animal Kingdom. 

So, I mean look, it's that psychotic, I guess, that golden psycho. That's what he does. He takes out the trash.

So, who's going to lead the family when Smurf's gone?

I don't know. Pope has never been motivated by power. He's was comfortable doing what he did when Baz was running things when Baz was Smurf's lieutenant.

And he's very comfortable in his role now with J as lieutenant.

Pope Loses Control - Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 10

He's not even motivated by the scores. He does it, but Pope is not the guy that needs drugs or motorcycles.

These kinds of things are not what motivates Pope. He likes the camaraderie with his brothers.

So, in terms of who's going to reign kind, and I don't really know.

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 1 Review: Janine

And, I'm talking in Pope's voice, I don't really care. I just want things to continue and for us to survive.

Do you think Pope will ever try to bring Lena back into the family?

I think it's a possibility. It just depends on what happens.

We're in a situation with how thing stand at the beginning of Animal Kingdom Season 4 with Pope having made this deal with Smurf that basically makes Pope her prisoner so Lena can go and function as a normal kid.

Meeting of the Minds - Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 9

This is something that Pope desperately wanted. And, so, he's gifted that to Lena.

And he's done it at a cost to his soul.

Related: Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 2: Angela

So, I don't know. It all depends on what happens in the future. Is Smurf going to be there?

And if she isn't there, Pope can make this decision for himself.

The Look - Animal Kingdom Season 3 Episode 3

But, look, if I look at Lena and how she is now in this foster family that's adopted her, I think deep down Pope knows he is limited in his ability to parent.

So, the best thing for her is to be with this family that loves her.

Do you think Pope will tell his brothers about what Pope did to Baz?

I don't know. Probably not.

Is there anything else you want to add about this episode or something we didn't cover?

No, I think you did great. You were very thorough, and we answered a lot of questions.

So, now I have two questions for you about directing. What made you get into directing the first time, and why did you decide to do it again?

It's something that, when I look at the artists I admire the most, people like Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, Ron Howard, Robert Redford, Sean Penn, and Jodie Foster.

On the Job - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 4

I mean, they're all people that were actors at a young age and then went on to become not just good filmmakers, but the best filmmakers.

So, I'm following in their footsteps.

Look, there's a reason actors are very talented behind the camera. It's just being around sets and understanding how to take a scene and make those emotional beats work and change on the snap of a finger.

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This is what lead me to be a director. It was just kind of looking around and seeing what the other guys were doing and saying, hey, look, I would like to have that career.

Can I do it? Thankfully (director) John (Wells) has given me the opportunity.

Is directing more of a challenge than acting? How are you able to change hats between the two, especially if your character is part of the episode?

The hat changing thing is not too hard. I don't find that part to be too much of a challenge.

Yeah, it is very difficult, but it's not because of the acting.

It's because there's a limited amount of time, and there's never enough money. All the reasons you would guess.

A Different Pope - Animal Kingdom Season 4 Episode 1

The scheduling. It's an eight-day show. There's not a lot of time to shoot 50 pages or whatever it ends up being.

So, making the hard decisions, being prepared, and having a crew and cast that lifts you up and understands what your vision is, is what makes it work.

What's the best part of being on a show like Animal Kingdom?

There are a lot of great things about being on Animal Kingdom.

One is it shoots in LA. (Laughs).

I think there's a couple of things. With John Wells, he is somebody that-- the load of scenes that I'll have per episode is always manageable. I never feel too overwhelmed with that. So that's nice.

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And character is king with John.

So, Pope the kind of character he is, it just never gets boring from episode to episode.

He can one day be an emotional mess to he's fighting in a cage to he's parenting Lena to he's using a blow torch to a safe.

There are so many different things that I get to do; it never becomes boring.

Animal Kingdom airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on TNT.

Be sure to check back here for our reviews to join in the conversation about everything happening with Pope and the rest of the Cody family.

If you want to catch up, you can watch Animal Kingdom online right here via TV Fanatic.

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Animal Kingdom Quotes

Craig: I guess we're Lutheran. Who knew?
Daren: It must have been the cheapest.

Your mom just died, man. It's a free pass.