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‘Kingdom’: Talia Shire on Why She Returned to the World of Professional Fighters — and Acting

Exclusive: The legendary star of "Rocky" and "The Godfather" joins "Kingdom" in its final season, and she thinks the MMA series will stand the test of time.

"Kingdom" Season 3 Talia Shire

Audience Network/AT&T

If you’re going to make a movie about fighters, you can’t skimp on the details. So says Talia Shire, an actress who knows a thing or two about the genre.

“You notice everything,” Shire said during an interview with IndieWire. “I am terribly aware of [everything]. If you’re going to do a fighting movie, I’m looking at the scars.”

Shire noticed just that when she first came across “Kingdom.” Now, the actress who earned Oscar nominations for her two iconic turns in “Rocky” and “The Godfather: Part II,” has joined the cast of the Audience Network original series — with just three episodes remaining.

“She’s a very interesting woman,” Shire said of her role as Alvey Kulina’s mother, Annette. “She’s very interesting, and I wanted to be able to play her just right. I come to the role [when Annette is] in a crisis.”

To open Episode 8, we’re introduced to Annette as she drives to a parking garage and tries to commit suicide. From there, her son, Alvey (Frank Grillo) and his adult sons, Nate (Nick Jonas) and Jay (Jonathan Tucker), visit her in the hospital to try to help.

Shire said she discovered the show on her own, became a fan, and then got the offer from her agent.

“I just turned it on and became interested in it,” Shire said. “I’m always excited when I find ensemble work that’s very interesting. I happen to know it’s very hard to do these kind of shows because they’re very physical, too. They require huge commitment by a lot of actors.”

And that leads us back to the scars, some of which are real: Caused by past life experiences, intense training sessions, or an on-set mishap, many of the “Kingdom” fighters even throw down in real-life. But the scars Shire is talking about are applied by makeup artists to lend the project added realism.

“You know, Jonathan Tucker takes two hours to do this,” Shire said of her new co-star on “Kingdom.” “His wounds, his tattoos — well, that’s just an amazing thing when you think about it. [These actors] have to sit there and endure that.”

The scars, the sets, the commitment from the cast and crew: All of these things are required if you want to make a series about fighting that will stand the test of time — like a little movie you might remember called “Rocky.”

“This show has great longevity […] because they’re looking for an authentic style,” Shire said. “You see them making those choices in the writing, in the casting, in the look of the piece, in the actors, in the acting: There’s an authenticity of style that lasts. It always lasts.”

Without these details — and writing Shire describes as “immensely creative” — she would not have accepted the offer.

“I was not focused on [acting],” Shire said. “I was looking at other things, like producing. I had drifted off from acting a long, long time ago — many, many years ago.”

Shire said it was performing in her son’s film, Robert Schwartzman’s “Dreamland,” that got her back into the acting game.

“If you can get through your son directing you, you go through,” she said. “I had a ball doing it, [but] that’s the hardest thing to do: to work for a child.”

Shire makes her “Kingdom” debut Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on Audience Network. The series finale is set to air August 2. Watch an exclusive clip of Episode 8, “Old Pueblo,” below.

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