DirecTV is debuting a new drama on Wednesday (Oct. 8) with “Kingdom,” which chronicles the relationships and addictions of the Henderson family against the backdrop of a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym.
Joanna Going plays Christina Kulina, mother to Jay (Jonathan Tucker) and Nate (Nick Jonas). Christina abandoned her family and has been living on the streets, addicted to drugs and working as a prostitute. The role is quite a departure from Going’s most recent TV role, First Lady Tricia Walker on “House of Cards.” But the change in direction was exactly what drew Going to the project.
“I went in on it for an audition thinking, as I often do, ‘Oh, they’re never gonna cast me for this. This is so good, but they’re never gonna cast me,’ so I have been absolutely delighted and over the moon at [creator] Bryan Balasco seeing this part in me,” Going tells Zap2it.
When the show picks up, Christina is in “a pretty fragile mental state,” says Going. “The overriding issue is her addiction to heroin. But there are also shades of other mental illness issues or other emotional issues, for which she’s self-medicating. She was a very young mother and between Jay and the birth of Nate, something happened — things went bad for her, emotionally. She was not in a healthy state. There were also some postpartum issues with the birth of Nate that eventually made her depart the family for a while.”
However, just because Christina is caught up in drugs doesn’t mean that she’s a weak character. Going says that, like everyone, Christina is both strong and weak.
“She’s weak in the face of her addiction, but she’s also very strong in that she knows what she needs and she has survived out there in the world,” says Going. “She’s been out on the street, she’s done what she needs to do to take care of herself. Despite not being present she is passionate about her sons and has very strong feelings about [their father Alvey’s] sway over there and who they’re growing up to be.
Going adds, “And she’s certainly strong in the face of Alvey at this point. She’s been through the mill, she’s got nothing to lose, so when she comes up against Alvey, she has a lot of strength. … I don’t see her as a victim. There are a lot of women out there who are drug addicts and prostitutes. These stories are in the world. I’m not out to be a role model, this is a story. I don’t see her as victimized at all.”
Christina’s journey for the season is definitely in part focusing on getting back into her sons’ lives — which will be much easier with one than the other.
“Jay, she was there for. Jay, she was with as a baby and into pre-teens. They’re very connected,” says Going. “Nate, on the other hand, is the child she lost — the child who slipped through her fingers. She has that gut-level mother love for him and she can’t reach him. She’s trying to make her way inside there and help him, but he’s just much more closed off and needs much more delicate handling. She’s definitely working toward being in her boys’ life. She does things or submits to things in an effort — all her efforts are for that.”
“Kingdom” premieres Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on DirecTV.