Carolina Guerra was only supposed to be in one episode of Animal Kingdom, the TNT series starring Ellen Barkin, Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson and Jake Weary. But she made such an impression on the show’s producers and viewers that she has become one of the central characters in the story about a Southern California family that runs an illicit business from their home. We talked to Carolina about her career and what it’s like to be Lucy Spaziani…Animal Kingdom Star Carolina Guerra on Playing Lucy and Baz’s Mistress
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A Q&A with Carolina
Carolina, your character Lucy was killed off in episode 8 of season 3. What was it like filming that episode? Were you shocked when you found out it would be your last? Carolina: I wasn’t necessarily shocked. The day before we shot my death scene, Shawn [the director] called me over for a one-on-one meeting and told me about my exit. They needed a very take charge kind of woman to pull off murdering someone and then take care of business with Baz in jail. He felt I could do that!
Why being part of ‘Animal Kingdom’ was an easy decision
I was excited. I think they sent me a copy of a script before I auditioned, so when I found out it was about family, I wanted to be part of it, said Carolina Guerra, who plays one of two gang members from Mexico. I knew it would be different because there’s never been anything like that on television. It’s not just something you see in movies. It really is family-oriented and it really does focus on how important your family is.
And at first I thought, ‘Wow, what an interesting idea for a show.’ And then once I read more into it, I thought ‘What an interesting idea for a show.’ It really surprised me how good it was written and how well-developed all of these characters were. So I felt very lucky to have been cast in such an amazing project with such amazing people working behind it as well as in front of the camera. It was easy decision after that point to say yes because everyone around us made us feel welcome right away and we became close friends right away too.
5 Favorite things about working on ‘Animal Kingdom’
Carolina Guerra (Lucy) believes in taking risks, even if it means you fail. She had to do that playing love interest to baz played by Scott Speedman. I was so nervous about how people would react to her because she comes in with such bad intentions said Carolina. But that’s what makes her so interesting is seeing a character who despite doing all these bad things we like her anyways. It was very uncomfortable at first being around him but he ended up being my favorite person to work with. He made me feel very safe and I loved doing scenes with him said Carolina of working alongside Scott Speedman, another animal kingdom star who plays black market dealer baz luhrmann.
Working with Ellen Barkin – She’s amazing
I remember watching her in movies like The Big Easy when I was a kid. Working with Ellen was amazing; she’s such a talent. You know, it is weird to work with people that you admire and that you look up to. But, actually, she was very approachable. She’s really down-to-earth, sweet, funny and just awesome to be around! It’s always surprising for me to see how humble people can be – I guess that comes from being so famous for such a long time – but she didn’t act like anyone else. She wasn’t high and mighty Ellen Barkin at all!
Her thoughts on playing a villain
When I first got to know what I was going to play, it made me a little nervous because I was like, ‘Wow. This is pretty complex. How do I make all of that work?’ But then you realize that’s part of who she is, says South American-born actress Carolina Guerra (Lucy). She’s very tough because it’s in her nature. It comes very easy for her to be direct and honest with people.
How she connected to her character
A very funny thing happened to me when I got [the role of] a drug-dealing, gun-toting Mexican moll. I’m 100 percent Latin American myself but born in Mexico City. But I wasn’t raised in Mexico, so it was difficult for me to find something relatable about her. Eventually, I just had to close my eyes and think back to what it was like before my dad died of cancer when I was 12 years old. Lucy is a lot like that girl who protected herself in order not to get hurt by anyone or anything; she took matters into her own hands because no one else would do them for her. I didn’t have any sort of relationship with my mom.
The importance of authenticity in portraying an intense character like hers
Lucy is a very intense, fiery character. I didn’t want to be afraid of it—I wanted to dive into it and explore everything that comes with playing her. It’s not always easy to give yourself over in that way, but it’s very rewarding as an actor. She makes no apologies for who she is or what she does. That was really important for me—to be brave enough to play someone so different from myself.