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Annette Bening Reveals Her Family Life Inspired This Aspect of Apples Never Fall

Oscar nominee Annette Bening plays the missing matriarch of the Delaney family in the new Peacock series Apples Never Fall.

By Stephanie Gomulka

Annette Bening (American Beauty, Nyad) drew inspiration from her family life for her role in the Peacock limited drama series Apples Never Fall.

The show is based on the novel of the same name by bestselling author Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies, Nine Perfect Strangers). The riveting mystery follows siblings trying to figure out what happened to their missing mother, Joy Delaney (Bening), while their father, Stan (Sam Neill), acts suspiciously and they share concerns about a strange woman (Georgia Flood) who recently took refuge in their parents’ home.

Annette Bening’s Family Influenced Her Take on Apples Never Fall

Bening shares four children with husband Warren Beatty, mirroring her character, Joy, on the show as a mom of four.

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“I come from four as well,” Bening told NBC Insider. “I’m the youngest of four kids as well, and we’re all very close, but you know there’s always the family dynamic.”

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The Delaney children are played by Jake Lacy, Alison Brie, Conor Merrigan-Turner, and Essie Randles.

Moments from Bening's childhood flooded back to her while filming the Peacock show.

“I felt like, especially when we all sat down to dinner, I felt like so many memories from when I was a kid, things that happened at the dinner table,” Bening said. “I can still remember moments, or just the look on someone’s face, or somebody gives you a certain look and there’s so much history behind it, and everything is so loaded within the family.”

Families have their own language, Bening explained, expanding on developing the family's complicated ties on the show.

“Things that you laugh at that like nobody else would understand,” Bening said as an example of the familial closeness she wanted to depict with the Delaneys. “I think we really wanted to get that in this series.”

Another way to sell the Delaney family as real and textured was nicknames, according to Bening.

“I know in my family we all have nicknames, my kids have nicknames, so we very quickly thought it was important that each of our kids have nicknames and you notice that in the show that everybody’s calling each other like Logi Bear or Brookie or Aim, you know all of these names that we made up," Bening said.

Some of the nicknames are from the book, but some are new additions, Bening said.

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“We also wanted to capitalize on that, but there was this familiarity amongst all of us that was kind of delicious fun,” Bening said about the cast.

Annette Bening and Sam Neill on Training for Apples Never Fall Tennis Scenes

The couple at the center of the splintered family, though recently retired, were once at the top of their game teaching tennis to talented athletes. Both Neill and Bening trained to make their finesse on the court appear effortless.

“I had played as a kid so I kind of knew the basics of it, in terms of how it works, and what the rules are,” Bening said. “I had a great tennis coach here and then when we went to Australia I immediately had tennis lessons with one of the best tennis players in the world, which was kind of crazy and sort of hysterical.”

For Neill, he knew he had a lot of work to do to prepare for his time on the court.

“I’ve played a little tennis, never very convincingly,” Neill joked to NBC Insider.

Neill even had one accident on the court, scraping off most of the skin on his knee, he said.

“It wasn’t without its challenges,” Neill said, adding he’s been able to watch the show to check out his tennis in action. “I surprise myself. I thought wow, you look like you know what you’re doing ... it did take a lot of work.”

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Bening found the tennis training “a little intimidating,” but enjoyed the experience. She previously trained with an Olympian for her role in Nyad where she played Diana Nyad, a woman in her 60s who swam from Cuba to Florida, according to TODAY.

Bening was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2024 for this role.

Annette Bening as joy on Apples Never Fall

For Bening, signing on to do the new Peacock drama seemed like “the right thing” to tackle after Nyad, adding it was a “different kind of an experience, such a different kind of challenge.”

“The whole thing just seemed like really good fun, good entertainment,” Bening said about the family-centered mystery. “All of the different characters and the plot and just the whole atmosphere of it too, taking place in the world of like competitive tennis.”

Apples Never Fall arrives March 14 only on Peacock.