YEAR:  2015

ROLE:  Robert Rayburn

DIRECTOR: Various directors


Plot Summary

"Bloodline" is a dramatic thriller that explores the demons lurking beneath the surface of a contemporary American family. The Rayburns are hard-working pillars of their Florida Keys community. However, when the black sheep son comes home for the 45th anniversary of his parents' hotel, he threatens to expose the Rayburns' dark secrets and shameful past, pushing his siblings to the limits of family loyalty.

Kyle Chandler.......................John Rayburn
Ben Mendelsohn.................Danny Rayburn
Norbert Leo Butz................Kevin Rayburn
Linda Cardinelli....................Meg Rayburn
Sissy Spacek.......................Sally Rayburn

Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine:
"Bloodline suggests Cat on a Hot Tin Roof if it were stretched out and updated for broadcast as a prestige cable TV series. As in the play, the series is obsessively concerned with the murky side effects of the sins wrought by a prosperous patriarch, in this case Robert Rayburn (Sam Shepard), a hotel owner in the Florida Keys... There are references to abuse and (in passages reminiscent of Shepard's own play, Buried Child) hints of the existence of someone who may have died prematurely years ago, and there are also pointed allusions to Robert's unethical influence over an environmental compliance board. Robert's presence haunts the series in a rueful, masculine fashion that exists effortlessly within Shepard's wheelhouse as resident, guest-starring legend."

Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly:
"Netflix’s new drama Bloodline has such a great cast and such impressive production values, it’s easy to give it a pass for being so dramatically inert...  From a plot standpoint, Bloodline is completely flat, using its shifting timelines as a trick to make mundane developments seem more ominous than they really are."

Film critic Bill Hanna:
"The acting is consistently superb from this ensemble cast, and you won’t find a weak link in it. Spacek and Shepard bring grace, charm, and dignity to their respective roles as the matriarch and patriarch of the Rayburn clan. Their chemistry is so good that when you see them together, you will really believe that they have been married for almost 50 years."

Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe:
"The show is beautifully filmed, by cinematographer Jaime Reynoso  with lots of mangroves and coral reefs. You can feel the heat, and you can smell the salt. You’re acutely aware that the show is set in a place where the gators are wont to snatch up a domestic cat, which adds to the show’s always-growing sense of tension."

"It’s tough to tell if Danny Rayburn, an increasingly desperate man trying to reconnect with a family that continues to reject him – is the product of his upbringing or a genuine bad seed. Explaining to his scornful father why he has come home, Danny calmly asserts, “I thought we could work things out before you die.” It’s the stuff of a stage play by Sam Shepard, which makes the acclaimed playwright’s portrayal of Danny’s distant dad and Mendelsohn’s enthralling work opposite him all the more resonant."

Robert Bianco, USA Today:
"There's excellent work here, particularly from Spacek, Shepard and Chandler — who brings his usual quiet strength to the project despite being saddled with the intrusive narrative device. But despite some fine individual performances, the actors never collectively project a sense of family — the shared history, gestures and mannerisms that identify siblings even when they don't look alike. And if you don't believe the family, or care what happens to them, why would you invest in their story?"

Margaret Lyons, Vulture:
is a real orgy of prestige: Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard and Kyle Chandler! From the people who brought you Damages! It's on Netflix, ooooh. And it's a dark, broody family drama with disorienting flashbacks and flash-forwards and fancy rich-people parties and the constant ominous gurgles of a secret-keeping ocean. This, of course, includes the naked, dead body of a young woman as well as the bare breasts of anonymous characters, which I guess is required by law. In other words, Bloodline really seems like another one of our high-end, big-deal shows. But we all have secrets, as the show reminds us over and over. And Bloodline's secret is that it's just not that good."

David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle:
"The voice-over narration is probably necessary, but sometimes feels like a bit of a crutch, especially since the performances are more than sufficient to convey the complexity of the drama. It’s a testament to how good Chandler, Cardellini, Butz and Mendelsohn are that we almost immediately suspend disbelief that these four people could ever be related. I mean, seriously: Look at them. Unless all four were adopted, you will not initially believe they are siblings. It’s especially gratifying to watch old pros (and onetime Charlottesville, Va., neighbors) Shepard and Spacek play off each other."

Pilot Viruet, Flavorwire:
Bloodline is slow. It’s purposely and purposefully slow, excruciatingly sluggish as it teases viewers throughout the first few episodes but never reveals enough. An early voiceover explains, 'We’re not bad people, but we’ve done a bad thing,' which should be enough to hold our interest, but the Netflix original constantly tests our commitment to slog through the swamps of Florida, waiting impatiently for something — anything — of note to be revealed. There are surely reasons to stick around, most notably the cast (Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Chloe Sevigny) and the setting, which makes ample use of the sticky, humid, and rainy Florida Keys. But it’s hard to find the energy to hit 'next episode' or the urgency to binge-watch, which is surely what Netflix would prefer viewers do. Bloodline is good, but not everyone who starts the first episode will stay with it for long enough to realize it."

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, A.V. Club:
"Sam Shepard is a silent but powerful force throughout the episode (Part 4)... The final scene between Robert and Danny drips with tension and a quiet intensity and makes a very compelling early case for awards attention for both Shepard and Ben Mendelsohn."

David Sims, The Atlantic:
"The show's simplest appeal is its actors, even if they're not all instantly familiar, they comprise a murderer's row of TV prestige... Parents Robert and Sally, are played by Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek, both unfortunately limited to fairly doddering parts despite their seismic talent."

Kate Kompas, St. Cloud Times:
"All the performances are great, but Mendelsohn is the standout... There's something about the way his eyes shift; he's like a feral cat. He can make you nervous just looking at him."