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‘Apples Never Fall’ Showrunner Details How She Put ‘Big Little Lies’ To The Back Of Her Mind When Adapting Peacock Thriller & Why Annette Bening’s Performance Gives Her “Goosebumps” – Series Mania

EXCLUSIVE: Melanie Marnich is a huge fan of Big Little Lies scribe Liane Moriarty’s work, but when showrunning an adaptation of Moriarty’s Apples Never Fall, Marnich blocked the HBO hit from her consciousness almost entirely.

Peacock’s Apples Never Fall, which stars 2024 Oscar-nominee Annette Bening, launches tomorrow and is in international competition at next week’s Series Mania, was made with a Big Little Lies-free lens, Marnich explained to Deadline.

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“I admire Big Little Lies and think it’s brilliant but I had to literally put it out my mind,” she said in the days leading up to the Lille market. “I knew I had to quite quickly ignore all [Moriarty’s past work] and ask what this book wants to be and what the best way is to honor it. How do I ignore all that came before to find the best voice and vision for this translation?”

Exec produced by the storied David Heyman along with Moriarty, Apples Never Fall stars Bening as Joy Delaney, a matriarch former tennis coach married to the irritable Stan (Sam Neill), who suddenly goes missing, leaving her four children to piece together everything they thought they knew about their parents. Show also stars Alison Brie, White Lotus’ Jake Lacy, Georgia Flood and Conor Merrigan Turner and is potentially the most high profile in competition at Series Mania, alongside the likes of MGM+’s Hotel Cocaine and Leonard Cohen series So Long, Marianne.

Marnich, who previously had a deal with Amazon Studios that has now run down, said several buyers made an offer for the script but Peacock was “so supportive from the get go.” The showrunner, whose past credits include Amazon series Big Love and The Affair, said she had been trying to take a breather when her agent sent her the Apples Never Fall script, and she “immediately fell in love” and went back to work.

“Trojan horse”

From left: Jake Lacy, Essie Randles, Alison Brie and Conor Merrigan-Turner in ‘Apples Never Fall’
From left: Jake Lacy, Essie Randles, Alison Brie and Conor Merrigan-Turner in ‘Apples Never Fall’

From the off, Marnich was on the same page as Harry Potter exec Heyman over how they wanted to combine a mystery series with “complex characters and moral complexity.”

“We understood that the mystery moved this along but was really a trojan horse to get deeper into stories about the Delaney family and what made them tick, break and hurt each other,” she added. “And then there is this catalyzing event of a mother going missing. Everyone falls apart because the person they have taken for granted disappears and only in her absence do they realize they need her.”

Marnich spotlighted the challenge of adapting a book into a TV series that functions across two different timelines and from multiple character viewpoints.

“I always look at the script and think it won’t be a problem and then suddenly think, ‘Oh my god, what have I got myself into?’,” she joked. “The trick was looking at all these pieces and not just laying them out but laying them out in a way that makes the gestalt work. It’s a painstaking process of analyzing a text, figuring what makes it tick and knowing what has to stay and what has to go.”

Bening “gives me goosebumps”

Melanie Marnich (left) with Annette Bening
Melanie Marnich (left) with Annette Bening

Apples Never Fall’s gestalt was helped along by a stellar cast, Marnich added. This was led by Bening, who was most recently Oscar-nominated for Nyad but has barely acted on the small screen during a decorated, near-40-year career, although she once played herself in a dreamy episode of The Sopranos.

Marnich said her performance in Apples Never Fall “gives me goosebumps.”

“When you talk about what makes something pop in the market I would say actors who can connect on a deep level with the audience through honesty, performance and the caliber of their talent,” she added. “Annette got under Joy’s skin and asked deep, relevant questions. She is such a virtuosic performer.”

Marnich said she is “beyond thrilled” that the European TV biz will be able to watch Apples Never Fall in competition at Series Mania, although she will be unable to attend. “This is a global business right now and storytelling has gone global, so I’m honored to be part of that,” she added.

Georgia Flood, Jeanine Serralles, Dylan Thuraisingham also star in Apples Never Fall, which is produced by Heyday Television with Katrina Lenk, Timm Sharp, Nate Mann, Paula Andrea Placido, Pooja Shah, and Quentin Plair as guest stars. Executive producers include Heyman, Gregory Jacobs, Moriarty, Bening, Joe Hortua, Albert Page and Jillian Share. Chris Sweeney EP’s the first two and last two episodes of the limited series, with Dawn Shadforth taking the other three. Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, is the studio behind the series with distribution by NBCUniversal Global TV Distribution.

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