Nature runs amok in CBS’ new thriller Zoo, which is based on the bestseller by James Patterson and is about violent animal attacks against humans that begin sweeping the planet.
Costar Billy Burke, who explains that from his understanding the show is “loosely” based on Patterson’s novel, says his role in Zoo is different from his last regular TV starring role, in another dystopian drama, NBC’s Revolution.
“It’s not nearly as active as Revolution,” Burke tells us, “where I was in a fight to the death pretty much daily. I’m the scientist in this show. [My character] Mitch likes to keep his physical involvement to an absolute minimum, but I can’t see that lasting forever given the circumstances.”
Burke describes Mitch as a “veterinary pathologist who prefers the company of animals to that of people and isn’t afraid to use his wits as weaponry.” But even the fauna-loving doctor may get his fill when the animals in Zoo get too close for comfort.
In depicting the animal attacks in the series, Burke says a mix of special effects and real, trained animals are used.
“We do some of both,” Burke says. “So far I’ve worked with a bear, some wolves, a lion cub and some house cats. We have fake, stuffed versions of all of them. It’s always nice to get the shot with the real thing, but when the cameras roll, sometimes the animals just look at all of us stupid humans and say, ‘Whatta you a-holes want from me?’”
Despite the threat posed by the creatures, however, Burke believes Zoo is actually more about the humans.
“I think [calling the series] ‘horror’ would be going a bit far,” he says. “I’m not even sure ‘action thriller’ is the right fit. To look at the premise you might think it’s all about animals going nuts and attacking people, but it’s really a human drama.”
Viewers may get insight into both animals and humans from the show, of course, as Burke has done, saying that what he has taken away from working on the project is “mostly just a reminder that we all share the same planet, and that human beings are largely selfish in nature.”
Zoo airs on CBS Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT beginning June 30.
Top photo: © 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: Patti Perret
Bottom photo: © 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: Steve Dietl