Another hit book series is being adapted for television — but this time, there are no vampires in sight.
Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter Family novels — which chronicle the dramatic goings on (infidelity, murder and more!) of an Indiana family rooted in faith — is finding new life as a streaming series on Roma Downey’s LightWorkers Media platform. Downey (Touched by an Angel) is also part of the show’s cast, which includes Ted McGinley (Hope & Faith).
The Baxters is “kind of like [This Is Us], but with a faith-based foundation,” Trevor Donovan, who plays Ryan Taylor, tells TVLine. “It’s a story about people going through pretty extreme and high-stakes circumstances, but at the center of it all is this family that’s rooted in faith. The storytelling is very dramatic — it doesn’t tiptoe around anything, so it was a lot of fun.”
Below, Donovan speaks with TVLine about his experience filming the show’s first batch of episodes:
TVLINE | I’m not going to lie, I had no idea how huge these books are.
The books have a huge fanbase. A couple of the girls on the show grew up reading the books, so it’s a dream come true for them. It definitely has a built-in audience, that’s for sure.
TVLINE | Have you heard from any of those fans on social media?
A little bit, yeah. We’ve been limited in terms of what we can announce or release, but we’ll be rolling some stuff out soon.
TVLINE | There are so many books in this series. How much homework did you do before you filmed?
[Laughs] To be honest, not much at all. Within four days of me finding out about it, I was filming. We just did six episodes, which only cover the first half of the first book. So there’s a lot of story left to be told, and my character doesn’t even get introduced until the fourth episode. I only know where he’s coming from, not where he’s going, so I kind of left myself in the dark there. Since we started shooting, I found out a little bit more, but I’m going to get myself more familiar with it this summer before it airs.
TVLINE | How involved was Kingsbury in the process? Did you meet her?
She was on set for my last day of shooting, and she was at the initial table read. She was in tears on set. She was so happy with the casting and the direction and how it’s been adapted from her story. For her, which I understand, the casting was the biggest thing. Millions of readers have this visual in their minds of who these characters are, so while you can’t please everybody, from what I gather, she’s been getting amazing responses. She seems to be very happy with the product so far.
TVLINE | That’s pretty cool, getting the original author’s approval.
I mean, there’s no better seal of approval. It’s her world, so to know that we’re doing it justice in her mind is awesome.
TVLINE | I couldn’t help but notice that your character’s last name isn’t Baxter. How does Ryan fit into all of this?
Ryan grew up in the small town as the Baxters and he was the high school football star. He goes off to play in the NFL, but he gets injured after a few years, so he comes back to coach the high school football team. He gets mixed up with the family’s drama, and really it just asks the question: How do you get through seemingly impossible situations? It’s with an unyielding faith in something greater than yourself. It’s about sticking together as a family, as a friend unit.
TVLINE | You’ve got a few TV legends in that cast. How was it working with Roma Downey and Ted McGinley?
I didn’t get to work with them yet, but as the story goes on, I very much become part of their family. I got to speak with them at the table read, and then we were all on set together for the last day. They’re very cool people. The set is so positive, stress-free and efficient. It’s been a great experience.
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