Setting a scripted television show in the world of mixed martial arts means accurately portraying a very physical subculture of society. So when Byron Balasco created Kingdom, he made sure to craft every detail, from the setting down to the individual tattoos each of the characters would wear with pride. It was a job Balasco took very seriously, because he knew that through Kingdom, he was not only introducing many fans to a new world, but he was also creating an accurate portrayal for those already familiar.
With that in mind, Balasco decided he had to focus just as much on the exterior of the show as he did the interior. First, he chose the setting of Venice, California. “There’s a lot of collision of culture,” Balasco said of Venice. “There’s a lot of glamour and sexiness to it and there’s these Southern California ideals, but there’s a tone of grit and edge to the place that I think is great for our show. There’s still a rawness there if you look in the right places.”
From there, Balasco turned to the look of the characters. Physically, he needed to find actors who couldn’t just get into fighting shape but who could also master the movements and general feel of a fighter. And for that, actors Frank Grillo, Nick Jonas, Jonathan Tucker, and Matt Lauria attended the fight camp of UFC fighter Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, who later served as an MMA tech on the show. For several weeks before filming, the guys drove out to Pomona, California where they underwent two-a-days with real fighters.
“They got their asses kicked,” Balasco said. “All of those guys leaned into it. It’s not about lifting weights, it’s really a way these guys move. You could go into a room of 100 people and pick out the fighter in two seconds. These guys really did a great job of getting all their movement down, even when they’re not fighting, just the way they move through the world is different.” READ FULL STORY