Star Natalie Zea Takes Us Inside the Chaos of NBC’s ‘La Brea’

Natalie Zea, La Brea, NBC Sarah Enticknap/NBC

“If you go to the La Brea Tar Pits and study the animals that were around during that time, that’s where we’re at,” tells the always delightful and refreshingly candid Natalie Zea on the setting of NBC’s new La Brea (Tuesdays beginning Sept. 28 at 9pm ET/PT).

So expect Ice Age mammoths and mastodons who once roamed the Los Angeles region some 11,000 to 50,000 years ago as just some of the terrorizing elements Zea’s character Eve Harris faces after falling in a massive sink hole.

In the effects-heavy sci-fi thriller, a portion of the city of Los Angeles is destroyed and many of its residents are presumed dead after a catastrophic rupture creates a massive sink hole at the famed La Brea Tar Pits location. Eve is split from her family — her daughter (Zyra Gorecki) and estranged husband (The Night Shift’s Eoin Macken) remain on the “upstairs,” while Eve and her son (Jack Martin) have fallen to the “downstairs.”

“The sinkhole is massive. There’s an entire community of people and things and buildings that get stuck down in [this vortex]. Basically, the remnants of Wilshire Boulevard,” Zea explains.

Transported back to prehistoric times, the survivors are threatened by not only primative beasts and the unexplainable, but each other, as well.

“I think when you’re in a situation like that, everything’s a threat. I mean, we’ve all read Lord of the Rings. We’ve all watched Lost. We’re all familiar with this particular type of the past. There’s a lot of like, ‘What would I do?’ that goes on,” Zea explains. “Everybody goes a different direction. Some people are threatened by everything, including the people. Some people rally around and become one of the more natural leaders of the group. Some people keep secrets, some people pair off. There’s not only the physical threat, but it’s the whole psychology of who to trust, who not to trust. And what part do I play in this dynamic?”

In the end, however, the real star of the show is the spectacle of it, and how visually impressive it truly is.