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Animal Kingdom: Oceanside International Film Festival organized an "Animal Kingdom" event on June 22 at the Star Theatre. Photo via Facebook/OIFF
Oceanside International Film Festival organized an "Animal Kingdom" event on June 22 at the Star Theatre. Photo via Facebook/OIFF
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After six years, Oceanside says farewell to ‘Animal Kingdom’

OCEANSIDE — Local fans gave a proper farewell to “Animal Kingdom” on June 22 at the Star Theatre,  celebrating the final season of the television series filmed in Oceanside.

A line of people wrapped around the venue for a premiere of the show’s third episode of Season 6 and tickets quickly sold out online last month.

The event, organized by the Oceanside International Film Festival, featured actor Shawn Hatosy, who played character Andrew “Pope” Cody and directed several episodes since the program debuted on TNT in 2016.

The show stars 17-year-old Joshua “J” Cody, played by actor Finn Cole, who moves in with his estranged relatives after his mother dies from an overdose, joining the Cody family crime business under the direction of the family matriarch, Janine “Smurf” Cody (played by Ellen Barkin for the first four seasons).

Hatosy’s character, Pope, is J’s oldest uncle  — a twin brother to the boy’s late mother. Pope suffers from mental illness and returned to live with his family after spending three years in Folsom State Prison for robbery.

Actor Shawn Hatosy played the popular character "Pope" on the TNT show, "Animal Kingdom." Stock photo
Actor Shawn Hatosy played the popular character “Pope” on the TNT show, “Animal Kingdom.” Stock photo

Animal Kingdom is filmed in Oceanside and parts of San Diego County and Southern California. While much of the show is filmed in Burbank at the show’s Warner Bros studio, there are more than 70 local filming locations, including the Strand, the pier and transit center. Several local surf shops and restaurants were also featured in the script.

“We’re a location heavy show,” Hatosy said.

Visit Oceanside has a map of all of the show’s Oceanside filming locations.

For Hatosy, saying goodbye to the show and his character is not easy.

“You become attached – (the character) becomes this extension of you,” Hatosy said.

The final season also feels like a farewell to Oceanside as well, Hatosy said.

“Coming to Oceanside has been such a part of my life, and not just as Pope,” Hatosy said. “My kid who is 16 now had his 10th birthday here. We enjoy Oceanside and love coming here.”

Ending the show is also bittersweet for actor Jasper Polish, who joined the series for its final season as young Julia Cody, J’s mother and Pope’s twin sister. The series features younger versions of several characters like Julia and Pope during flashback scenes.

Fans of the television show "Animal Kingdom" line up for an episode premiere at the Star Theatre on June 22 in Oceanside. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Fans of the television show “Animal Kingdom” line up for an episode premiere at the Star Theatre on June 22 in Oceanside. Photo by Samantha Nelson

“That last week was a lot of tears for me because I had to say goodbye to everyone and say goodbye to my character,” Polish said at the send-off event. “Everybody knows what happens to Julia, so leaving her like that… I wanted what’s best for her, she was close to my heart.”

Oceanside International Film Festival has held premieres for episodes of the show that Hatosy has directed in the past as well, including both two episodes in seasons three and four.

“I’m super grateful that they did this even though they’re on to other things,” said Lou Niles, executive director of the Oceanside International Film Festival.

Niles said OIFF plans to have more mid-season events between its main film festival events.

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