‘Apples Never Fall’ Showrunner Talks Big Twists and Changes from the Book

The Liane Moriarty cinematic universe has now come to Peacock, but how does one adapt the author behind “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers” work for the screen?

“Apples Never Fall” showrunner Melanie Marnich told IndieWire that maintaining beloved novelist Moriarty’s “page-turner energy” was key for adapting the twisted family drama starring Annette Bening and Sam Neill.

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“The pacing of those kinds of moments was to make the TV show have the same page-turner energy of the book,” Marnich said. “It was something I had to really be aware of. In the writer’s room, we worked really hard to craft the sort of constant turn of the story. It was so juicy. I’m a huge fan of Liane. I really, really worked to capture that same page turner energy in the show to keep things moving, but also never at the sacrifice of character development.”

Working with source material and pre-existing IP made for Marnich’s first time as a showrunner to be a smooth transition, given the “absolute wealth of material” from Moriarty to drawn upon.

“It’s like when you’re sitting there staring at the blank page, there’s that moment where your stomach always sinks,” Marnich said. “And for this, it was so wonderful for myself and for the writer’s room to have this absolute wealth of material from this brilliant book, this brilliant story by such a great author and to use it a lot. You basically have the family, the characters, the sense of the relationships, the emotional reality for everybody like that was there. We got to evolve it, dramatize it for the screen, but it’s sort of like playing in a toy chest with things to choose from. There’s a comfort in it. You don’t feel alone. You’re definitely standing on the shoulders of something.”

APPLES NEVER FALL -- "Logan" Episode 102 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jake Lacy as Troy, Essie Randles as Brooke, Alison Brie as Amy, Conor Merrigan-Turner as Logan -- (Photo by: Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK)
‘Apples Never Fall’Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK

Yet that toy chest proved to come with a few tweaks to the core storyline, including its setting.

Marnich, who previously worked on series like “The O.A.” and “The Affair,” opted to first relocate the adaptation from Sydney, Australia (Moriarty’s home country) to South Florida. However, the series itself was actually filmed in the Gold Coast of Australia.

“I relocated it to South Florida because of the tennis. It’s a hub of much professional tennis training in the U.S. I thought it’d be great location for our story. I love the tennis in the book. I didn’t know what it would be like to raise a family and be Australian. So I was like, what do I know?” Marnich said. “That was the first big change.”

She added of the show’s texture, “I wanted it to look humid. The overall storytelling had to do with some horrible things can happen in very beautiful places. And that juxtaposition of something terrifying has happened with this family while we look around us and it’s saturated this beauty, I think there’s a nice tension there. So we really wanted it to be beautiful, to feel humid, to feel very Floridian. And for that to sort of enrich the overall aesthetic.”

That heightened atmospheric pressure led to another challenge of translating Moriarty’s novel for the screen: maintaining the tension between the Delaney family members, played by Bening, Neill, Jake Lacy, Alison Brie, Conor Merrigan-Turner, and Essie Randles.

“It was really fun to figure out how to translate the big themes: love in a long-term relationship, love in a family, what to do in a marriage when you fall in and out of love, what it’s like to be a woman who feels no longer seen or appreciated by her family,” Marnich said. “Liane took really big swings in her book on all those themes and figuring out how to traumatize those things. It was challenging, but so rewarding. I think it makes it a very grown-up show.”

The actors who comprise the Delaney family actually have a text chain in real-life after “bonding” on set in Australia, according to Marnich.

As for the showrunner’s next chapter in her career post-“Apples,” Marnich teased another “juicy adaptation” in the works, in addition to an “original idea.”

“I have two projects waiting in the wings. I can’t say what they are yet, but I’m really excited about them,” Marnich said.

Onto the next page-turner, it seems.

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