‘Swimming With Sharks’: Kiernan Shipka & Diane Kruger on Show’s Twisted Love Story (VIDEO)
In this TV spinoff of the 1994 movie of the same name, Shipka’s Lou Simms claws her way up the ladder of Fountain Pictures — a behemoth film studio run by Kruger’s Joyce Holt. It’s basically what The Devil Wears Prada would look like as a thriller. When Lou starts her internship at Joyce’s Fountain Pictures, she seems like a naïve Hollywood newcomer, awestruck by the studio’s notorious CEO. In reality, landing this internship was no happy accident. As Lou’s obsession with Joyce grows, she will do anything to get close to her idol.
Whereas the original Swimming With Sharks shows the intern violently seeking revenge against his abusive boss, this new take on the story is a twisted love story between the two stars. Viewers will see that Joyce performed her fair share of bad deeds on her way to the top while also falling victim to the horrific treatment of others — namely Donald Sutherland’s Redmond, founder of Fountain Pictures and Joyce’s former boss.
Creator, writer, and executive producer Kathleen Robertson (who also plays Lou’s mother in the six-episode series) said in a statement that “nobody will ever see Kiernan Shipka as ‘Don Draper’s daughter’ ever again” after watching the series. Indeed, Swimming With Sharks is dark, sexual, and violent, and largely because of Shipka’s Lou. The Mad Men alum tells TV Insider she was hoping this series would help change the child star perception around her.
“I did want to do something that was different than what I’d previously done. And doing something more gritty and sexual felt like a right step,” she says. “I was filming [Chilling Adventures of Sabrina] when I read this, and it made me really excited.”
“The spectrum between someone like Sabrina and someone like Lou is broad, and it made me excited that I get to do this job,” she continues, adding, “I was looking, but I think I will always be looking for things that are just different than the last.”
Through the dark, immoral twists and turns of the series, Joyce and Lou form a tight bond. And in one key moment, Joyce tells Lou she “sees” her for who she truly is. Kruger says this declaration was said in truth and self-preservation.
“She sees herself, in fact, in [Lou], to a certain extent,” Kruger shares. “Kathleen always says that she saw this as a love story between these two women, and I think in that moment there is that, where two women see each other, in a way, in what they needed to do to come up and do what it takes, whether that’s pretty or ugly.”
Sutherland plays the Hollywood executive of everyone’s nightmares. The character is meant to represent everything wrong with the industry — racism, sexism, homophobia, you name it. He actively blocks stories about people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and more from being made by Fountain Pictures and clearly has for decades. Robertson says she hopes producers like Redmond are a “dying breed.”
“What Kiernan does to that character, it’s like the younger generation saying to the older generation, ‘You don’t have to put up with this anymore. That s**t doesn’t fly. And if you do that, there are consequences,'” she says. Abusive men in Hollywood, Robertson continues, “know they can’t do that stuff anymore and not, essentially, pay the consequences, which is great. They shouldn’t be able to.”
Swimming With Sharks, Series Premiere, Friday, April 15, The Roku Channel