This image released by Peacock shows Sam Neill, left, and...

This image released by Peacock shows Sam Neill, left, and Annette Bening in a scene from "Apples Never Fall." Credit: AP/Jasin Boland

There's a scene in the new Peacock drama “ Apples Never Fall ” in which Annette Bening 's character weeps after having too much to drink at a family party. “Nobody can break your heart like your own children," she laments.

Bening, a mother of four with husband Warren Beatty, understands something about parent-child relationships. She emphasizes her character's emotions with a line from Shakespeare.

“'Sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child,'" she said in an interview. “We are so vulnerable to our children for sure. Our children also have their own fate. And as a parent, you want to protect your kids."

In the show premiering Thursday, Bening plays Joy Delaney, a wife and mother with four adult children. She and her husband, Stan, played by Sam Neill, are the retired owners of a tennis academy and are now trying to fill their days with purpose. Chaos ensues when Joy goes missing and the Delaney children become suspicious of their father. Long-kept secrets are revealed.

The show is told in two timelines: present day, and the past that led up to Joy's disappearance. Bening said that's when we really see the Delaneys as an authentic family.

“You know how just the look from one person to another can be enough to either signal a problem, piss you off, or make you really want to die of laughter? I mean, I’m one of four, and I still do," she said.

"My mom is 95. I can still make my siblings laugh imitating my mother. We all have these unspoken things that go on in a family. And that’s really what this is about. What's upspoken, what's unearthed and what lies are revealed.”

This image released by Peacock shows, from second left, Jake...

This image released by Peacock shows, from second left, Jake Lacy, Essie Randles, Alison Brie and Conor Merrigan-Turner in a scene from "Apples Never Fall." Credit: AP/Vince Valituttiin

Neill found the complications of his own character compelling. “I've seldom played a character as complex as this,” he said.

“I found him wonderful to play with, although he’s dangerous. He’s capable of anything. He has these rather alarming alpha male tendencies, but he’s also vulnerable and ridiculous. He’s very reactive to what’s going on. I wouldn’t want to be married to him," he joked.

Allison Brie plays Amy, one of Sam and Joy's daughters. Just because the children immediately question their father's behavior after their mother's disappearance, she said, doesn't mean it's an open and shut case.

“I think the audience will find, as I found reading episode to episode and reading the book, that minute to minute, episode to episode, you think it’s one person, then you maybe think it’s another person," Brie said.

This image released by Peacock shows Annette Bening in a...

This image released by Peacock shows Annette Bening in a scene from "Apples Never Fall." Credit: AP/Vince Valituttiin

“Apples Never Fall” is based on a novel of the same name by Australian author Liane Moriarty, who also wrote “ Big Little Lies ” and “ Nine Perfect Strangers.”

If you've read the book, don't assume you know how the story will end, said Essie Randles, who plays daughter Brooke Delaney.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that our series in slightly differently than the book," she said. "When we first received episode six and seven, I went down to the beach where we were staying and read them, and I burst into tears and cried and cried because I was struck by how much hurt there is in this family, without giving anything away. I found it really, really touching."

Despite the Delaneys' dysfunction on screen, the cast — who filmed the series in Queensland, Australia — says they bonded on set to a degree that is rare in showbiz.

“If you’re all stuck in a foreign land together, that’s what you do," explained Neill. "In this case, there were some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with or met. It was a kind of riot. I find actors — for all this ridiculousness — to be the warmest, smartest, funniest people around. They’re my people.”

Brie added: “Sometimes you meet people and you have true, immediate chemistry. We all felt that as a family. I’m sure it really does start with Sam and Annette.”

Neill arranged movie nights for the actors, including an Annette Bening Film Festival where they would screen her films.

“He took it very seriously,” recalled Jake Lacy, who plays oldest child Troy.

“He made it as serious as a wedding invitation,” added Conor Merrigan Turner, who plays Logan, the youngest.

Lacy said Bening attended those movie nights with an ease about her that made everyone in the room comfortable.

“She wasn’t self-conscious about it. It was fun to get together and kind of go like, ‘Hey, you’re amazing at this,’ and then she felt free to go, ‘When we shot that scene, this thing was happening,’ or any other little tidbit that’s so cool to hear about.”

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