If MMA fans watch the sport for the kicks and punches, they should tune in to new DirecTV drama “Kingdom” to discover the personal battles fighters go through before they even step in the cage.
Stars Nick Jonas, Frank Grillo, Jonathan Tucker and Matt Lauria explained the drama that lies beneath the violence during TheWrap‘s latest episode of “Drinking with the Stars,” presented by Freixenet.
“I think that the MMA backdrop of this show is incredibly important,” Jonas said. “It’s not so much the violence, but this is really an art form the way these guys train, and the way we had to train for the show. For us it was just about telling these stories and finding a way to have a real representation of this world.”
“Kingdom,” which premieres Wednesday on DirecTV’s Audience Network, revolves around a family-owned mixed martial arts gym in Venice, Calif. Jonas plays Grillo’s son, a talented fighter they hope will carry the family back to the spotlight, while Lauria plays a recently paroled convict who begins training at the gym.
“The struggle and the conflict pervades every aspect of these people’s lives,” Lauria said. “There’s conflict at home and at work. I don’t think we’re showing a glamorous depiction of the sport. I think throughout there are people that are not living very glamorous lifestyles, who are doing everything they can to survive, and I think that makes for good drama.”
Grillo — a former high school and college wrestler — stressed the series was true to life, because of its exploration of that conflict.
“Controlling the brutality outside of the ring is also a chore,” Grillo said. “All these guys, they struggle with that. We all have confrontations outside of the ring.”
Watch the latest episode of TheWrap’s “Drinking With the Stars” above.