‘The Slap’ Cast Tackles Corporal Punishment (Video)

TCA 2015: “It’s not really about the slap,” actor Zachary Quinto says of the NBC series.

Last Updated: January 16, 2015 @ 10:37 PM

The cast of NBC’s “The Slap” answered questions Friday about the upcoming series’ defining moment — for one, “Exactly how many times did Harry (Zachary Quinto) slap misbehaving young child Hugo (Dylan Schombing)?” During the Television Critics Association panel in Pasadena, California, reporters also wanted to know how showrunners explained the abusive moment to young actors on set.

“When we got on the set, they had read the scenes.  They had their parents there, so they were kind of gamed. They pretty much slid right in,” executive producer Lisa Cholodenko said to both questions. Quinto added the scene was rehearsed “repeatedly.”

He also reminded all there’s more to the show.

“It’s not really about the slap,” Quinto said, reminding attendees about show’s message. “All of these characters come to the table with a tremendous amount of internal conflict and struggle about different aspects of their lives. The great thing about it is it’s a launching point for very little black and white and a lot of gray.”

Based on Christos Tsiolkas novel and the Australian TV series, “The Slap” explores the ramifications of Harry’s actions, including revelations of troubling family secrets. The series also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Thandie Newton, Uma Thurman, Thomas Sadoski and Brian Cox. Melissa George reprises her role as Rosie, Hugo’s mother, from the Australian series.

George said she hopes the series will spark a dialogue off-screen.

“There will be arguments at dinners,” George said about future viewers. “People will be saying did the kid deserve it? Why is she still breastfeeding a 5-year-old child?”

Newton said her experience on “The Slap” reminded her of starring in the 2004 film “Crash.”

“‘Crash’ gave people an opportunity to talk about race, about prejudice, and it wasn’t a real-life awful event that had caused that conversation. And normally it’s real-life events that cause us to wake up and talk about how we’re going to change this,” Newton said. “The arts — it’s so much better to do that and not have a loss of life and people injured.”

The show’s premise reminded Thurman of growing up in the 1970s, when physically disciplining a child was more common. Echoing Newton’s comments, Thurman said the series may prompt viewers to question themselves.

“There are reactors and repeaters. Which one are you going to be as a person or a parent? I think it’s very beautifully explored,” she said.

“The Slap” is also executive produced by Jon Robbin Baitz and Walter F. Parkes.

“The Slap” premieres Thursday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.