James Wolk and Sebastian Stan may play twin brothers on USA Network’s new series Political Animals, but they’re definitely not identical. Stan’s character TJ is the black sheep of the family, drug-addicted and openly gay, while Wolk’s Douglas is the all-American, boy-next-door, put together face of the family. However, both actors stressed that both twins have their complexities and both actors took inspiration from tumultuous figures in the public eye.
Wolk, who viewers will remember as Max’s boyfriend on ’Happy Endings,’ turned to America’s first political family, in particular Bobby Kennedy, as a touchstone.
“When I read the script, Douglas came across as very perfect,” said Wolk. “I said, ’Someone who’s supposed to be perfect, there has to be a dark side to them.’ I started to research Bobby and he was very tumultuous, dark individual, very cerebral. He became the family protector, so ruthlessly ambitious, and it took him down many interesting roads.”
In addition to drawing from previous roles as young heirs to power, such as his masterful turn as Prince Jack on the short-lived Kings, Stan explained that while researching drug and alcohol addiction for the role of TJ he stumbled on many figures faced with trials and tribulations, one of whom was the son of Paul Newman, whose life, Stan said, was “so similar to my character.” But despite his troubles, Stan sees the positive side of TJ as a character.
“There’s great potential in TJ,” Stan explained. “I really like that about him. He won’t stop at anything until he gets what he wants. The problem is that he hasn’t applied that in the right way. But he’s capable. He’s operating from a place where he wants love. But half the time, he doesn’t realize he’s doing that.”
Political Animals premieres Sunday at 10/9c on USA Networks.