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James Wolk looks to notable political family to assist in creating his role on “Political Animals”

Actor James Wolk discusses his role on the USA Network miniseries “Political Animals” and the appeal of the show to audiences
BY MELISSA HAYER Published: August 4, 2012

When portraying the son of a former president, why not use a member of one of the most prominent political families in American history as your reference?

That's exactly what James Wolk did as he researched his role for the six-episode limited series event “Political Animals,” which airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on USA Network.

The Michigan native plays Douglas Hammond, son of former first lady and current Secretary of State Elaine Barrish (Sigourney Weaver), who serves as her chief of staff, while also working to assist his twin brother, T.J. (Sebastian Stan), in avoiding trouble and keeping his engagement to interior designer Anne Ogami (Brittany Ishibashi) on track.

“When I took the role ... right away, I went out and I bought Bobby Kennedy's biography. And I read his biography because Bobby Kennedy was his brother's chief of staff, and he was a very, kind of, dark character,” Wolk said.

Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds and Ellen Burstyn also star in the miniseries.

Wolk, 27, shared details about researching his character and the appeal of the show during a recent media conference call.

“We see pictures of Bobby, and he's this very all-American, kind of, you know, affable fellow. But, what you find out about him is that he was the family bulldog. He really was the runt of the family, so it kind of turned him into this just ambitious, kind of ruthless guy,” Wolk said.

Such a personality intrigued the actor and inspired him to mold his character with this in mind.

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