Scott Speiser and Michael Cerveris on Playing Villains in "The Tick" (Interview)

The Tick co-stars Scott Speiser and Michael Ceveris play super villains on the series, thus keeping them somewhat isolated from meeting all of the cast during filming. But the upside of the impending release of the new episodes and all the promotion that comes with it meant getting to finally gather and get to know everyone.

Speiser: We all didn't really get to work together too much until towards the end. A few weeks ago, we all got together and watched the first four episodes which was really fun. We had all worked together for certain scenes so you might spend a couple weeks working with this one person then you might not see them again for a month. Then this past weekend, San Diego Comic Con was really great. I was excited to learn how much fun everyone else was. Being that it's a comedy and it's a fun show, it was really cool to actually get to learn the people you're working with are very fun.
Ceveris: I think it makes sense because the material is so fun and Ben is so particular about, in an oddly loose way, but still very particular about the tone of the show and the tone of the character. So I guess it's not really that surprising that the people that they've brought into this and the people that have gravitated to it share that kind of spirit of mayhem and fun and oddness. Also I think that's probably true that Tick fans are probably among the cooler kind of people and more fun people in general.

Playing villains has proved to be a fun experience for both actors, despite the delay in being able to bond with their other cast members. Ceveris portrays Ramses and Speiser portrays Overkill.

Ceveris: It is fun to play such evil. Basically I get to just finally do something productive with my natural evilness and get paid for it. I came to it through an audition. I had known The Tick comic book and I'd known the Saturday morning animated cartoon somewhat. I didn't really know the previous live-action incarnation as well. I knew of it but I hadn't really watched it all that much. But I grew up as a comic book kid so I was really excited to get to be a part of this world and that's just become more true. [Comic Con] was a thrill. It's not easy to get to Comic Con, period, and to have someone bring you there is kind of the best way to do it. It's been really exciting and constantly surprising for me. We started it and were working so hard to get the tone right and to figure things out and to make the show that it wasn't until this weekend that I think we started to understand what it is that we've made...
Speiser: ...and what it means to people.
Ceveris: Yeah, has meant for years and in this incarnation is really meaningful. When we got to screen it, we all snuck out. We were supposed to be in some holding room but as has become The Tick team pattern, we eluded our handlers and went out front to watch because we wanted to watch people watch the show cause you don't get to do that on TV. It was so gratifying to feel like people get it the way we hopes that they would.
Speiser: As far as the character, for me, what I thought about him is he's so angry and so fed up and so vengeful and frustrated. He has no patience or tolerance for anyone around him. I myself am a pretty easy-going guy but I have moments. When I'm on the sidewalk and a whole family is taking up the entire sidewalk, when someone's driving real slow in the left lane, or I find in this country, most people think the escalator is a ride when it's wide enough, stand on the right and people can walk up the left! If I've got somewhere to be, I want to be able to walk up the escalator. I'm lucky enough that I'm still in decent enough shape that I can walk up. So it's things like that that infuriates me and I have an internal thing where I just want to scream or something more and I'm not a violent person. But if I was Overkill and I had a history like Overkill had and I had the access to that many weapons and the ability to elude the authorities like he does than I could do the things that he's able to do. His name is Overkill yet for him there's no such thing as overkill. He can kill until he needs to take a break. So it's that ability to, when that whole family is taking up the sidewalk I just want to scream at them and I just want to punch some of them. Maybe the dad of the family, I don't want to punch the kids or the pregnant wife or anything. I don't want to do that but Overkill gets to do that and he goes much further than just punching. So I love that aspect about him. That's what's fun about him, it's a nice release for me.

After making these jokes about visualisation techniques to put him in the mentality to play Overkill, Speiser further elaborates on the character's wardrobe.

Ceveris: Scott doesn't even wear a costume, they just paint him black.
Speiser: Yes. That's all stuff I just brought from my closet that Ben Edlund and the costume-designers were like, 'Perfect!' I'd be lying if I said I had a lot of fight training. I have decent physical training so I was able to do some of it but there is a stunt double and he's fantastic. There are definitely a lot of parts where you're gonna see me look really, really cool and sadly it's him. As far as special effects, most of my fighting stuff is happening. Of course [with] anything there's gonna be special effects. I'm not gonna actually stab someone in the head, there'll be some special effects in there to make it look real. Some of it, I got to do. My eyes, I wear these contacts, those are real. I don't wear contacts in real life so that was a new challenge. They're big and they're thick and I don't see very well out of them. It's one of those [things] where you put those in and it changes everything. You've worked on a scene, worked on the character, you go in that morning being prepared and then you have to put all that stuff on. There's so many layers and there's like four people that have to help put all the gear and the armour and the shotgun shells and everything on. Then the contacts go in and then when it got to July and it's 80-something, 90 degrees out and it's humid and all of a sudden, you can't remember anything about what you've worked on and what you're supposed to do. You don't remember your lines. I've worn costumes in the past but this provided a new challenge. In a way, it probably helped the Overkill vibe, just so pissed off about not being able to breathe and being constricted, and not being able to see. You're like 'I don't remember my line, I'm gonna pull out the script which I have in my pocket. I can't read it because it's blurry because of the contacts and now I want to kill somebody!'

Next, Ceveris and Speiser shared about the inspirations they drew on to create their portrayals.

Ceveris: I would say that I based Ramses, to the extent that I based him on anybody in particular, I would say probably Yul Brynner in The Greatest Story Ever Told when he plays the pharaoh. Certainly my hairstyle, and also I think Ramses thinks he is Yul Brynner in that movie. I think it's apparent to the rest of the world that he's not and it's that disconnect that frustrates him and fuels his anger and his dealings especially with Ms. Lint who actually has a connection to The Terror and worked for The Terror. The fact that Ramses can now boss her around and has her under his thumb and she really just has to put up with it, I think that is endlessly pleasant and pleasurable to Ramses. If I had a super villain power, probably mind control to just make people do what you wanted them to do, like bring your pizza faster and drive better and not screw up the escalators for everybody.
Speiser: Thank you, thank you. I wouldn't say I based Overkill on anything in particular. Originally the character was called The Punishment so upon just reading that I'm like, 'Okay, so I'll learn a little bit more about the Punisher' in some crazy idea that maybe they're connected somehow. I looked into the Punisher a little bit but to be honest, there's no one in particular that I've based him on. As far as a super villain power, most of what drives me all day and night is food. So normally, like if I wasn't a villain, the power would be to make any food appear that I wanted at any time but if I was a villain I would turn that into just being able to take anyone else's. Like right now whatever somebody in Bangkok is eating, some delicious type of hot soup, boom! It's gone and now it's mine right in front of me. That would be the evil version of what [my] superpower would be.
Ceveris: That could totally be on The Tick.

As Overkill is a character that externalises much of his internal thoughts and emotions through violence, this creates its own challenges of how to play the calmer, quieter character moments.

Speiser: Overkill very much likes to be alone. He very much does everything on his own. He doesn't want people around him. The idea that he's thrust into this world with people like Ramses, people like this giant blue buffoon Tick creature that's showing up and there's nothing about that seems to connect. He's forced to deal with all these people that live in the same city that he lives. I found ways personally, [like] if I'm doing a scene with Michael I'd just come up with my own little thing of, everything Michael/Ramses says just scratches and is grating on my nerves. I would do that with every character that I'm in the scene with because that's how Overkill is. He doesn't want to have to talk to anybody. The dialogue too allows me to do that. I'm definitely dropping more f-bombs than I think my mom would [like]. I think when she sees this it's gonna be like, 'Oh. Why are you the one that's saying that word all the time?'

Ramses has his own impressive lair in which he gets to appear in many scenes, and often times can be spotted drinking from bottles of Vitamin Water.

Ceveris: I assumed that it meant that we were being sponsored by Vitamin Water. I think we're going to deli and buying every bottle of the Vitamin Water. Maybe they're hoping to get sponsored by Vitamin Water! The lair is as fabulous as it looks and it's actually the masonic temple on 23rd street which, I didn't know they even let people in there, much less with cameras. The art department on the show is so great and one of the things that's gonna be great for people is to go back once you know the plot of the episode to see all of the visual gags in the background. They do amazing work in general but pretty much, all they had to do was basically point the camera in that room and there was something fantastic and over-the-top and Egyptian everywhere. That's just what it looks like. The refrigerator was definitely a brilliant art-department move as was the stair-master which is not in the masonic temple. Between that and the gold velour track suit that I wear in the third episode with the Gucci tennis shoes, when you're an actor and that's your costume you don't need to even show up. Just put that on and the character is done.
Speiser: That's my favourite costume in the show is his gold track suit. I wasn't there that day when he shot that but when I saw footage of it I thought it was the funniest thing.
Ceveris: I am glad that that's not the go-to costume for him.

The Tick will be available for streaming on Amazon on August 25.

Brendan Hines and Valorie Curry on Playing a Wide Spectrum of Material on "The Tick" (Interview)

Brendan Hines (Superian) and Valorie Curry (Dot Everest) co-star on Amazon's latest series, The Tick, a fresh comedic take to the superhero genre. When we begin our sit-down by finding out what drew them to the project, Curry offers some refreshing truths.

Curry: I think the truth always has to be said before everything else which is, actors like to work on things that pay them so there's always that, 'Yeah, that's a job! I'm drawn to that, I have rent to pay.' But for me, part of why I was excited to do this was, apart from the story and the property that it is, because I wasn't really familiar with The Tick beforehand, I was really excited to work on a comedy. I've spent most of my career doing some really dark, intense stuff, which I love but partly just for my own edification having the opportunity to work with these amazing comedians but also just having a nice normal character that wears jeans and gets a blowout and that's her prep, and is empathetic, and grounded and loving, that was really exciting to me.
Hines: Same, about the comedy. I was very excited to do a comedy and had been trying to do one for a bit. This coincided really nicely because I'm also a fan of this. I was a big fan of the cartoon and I'm also a big fan of getting to say very cleverly constructed linguistically stylised word salads that end in punchlines. I just love that and Ben's brain does that very well. It's so fun to be able to not just be in a comedy, but be in a really smart comedy that also is a pretty kind-hearted comedy. Those are all things that were very exciting for me and also I think I'm approaching the time where I was about to start aging out of being able to play a superhero so I think I made it in just under the wire.

Dot Everest is one of the most 'normal' characters on the series, as her character provides heart and family support to one of the two main leads, Arthur. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Superian borderlines on a caricature of the most old-timey versions of superheroes. His first introduction comes with not only heroic monologuing, but an opportunity for his character to be interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg (who portrays herself).

Hines: Whoopi was really good, so easy to work with her. That was the easiest scene I've probably ever shot. It was a very brief scene but, as written it's a three-page scene, but Whoopi and I just ad-libbed for about an hour and it was so easy and effortless. I love people who are great improvisers and really accepting and agree and heighten. She was a delight.
Curry: My relationship with Griffin is much like Brendan's relationship with Whoopi. It's really a similar dynamic. In terms of Griffin and I, we have just sort of, from day one fallen into a really easy chemistry for whatever reason. Having the intimacy and history established was just sort of there and that's just one of those luck of the draw things you get with actors. But in terms of Dot and Arthur, I think their relationship and sort of the divergent ways in which they dealt with the trauma of losing their father is really the heart and the nexus point of the show and the story. As we know, he sort of broke from it and has been dealing with the subsequent mental illness for his whole adult life. Dot, because he broke, didn't really have the luxury of doing so. Dot had to stop in where her mother couldn't and take on a parental role with him. She had to put aside her grief, her ambitions in life, to always put her brother first and to take care of her brother. So when she's faced with the possibility that maybe he doesn't need her or maybe he's not as sick as we thought or in the way that we thought, she has to then face what she was maybe avoiding or also what lingering resentment might be there and I think that's part of what informs the tension that they have. There's so much love and that's the default between them is this love and protectiveness. But they also both have these un-adressed resentments. On his part, because of her role in his treatment, institutionalising, things like that. On her part, the whole life she didn't get to have because she was busy doing his.

With such a heavy emotional component to the backstory of Arthur and Dot, Curry approached the material with an understanding that mental illness and trauma is not always played well in fictionalised content. We mention the stigmas that can often be perpetuated with misinformed writing and she is quick to jump in and share her perspective.

Curry: I completely agree, it's really not dealt with very well and it's something that I'm really sensitive to because, without going into a lot of detail, it's something that I have a history with in my relationships. It's part of what did draw me to the character and part of what informed the way that I play Dot, is treating that mental illness with the utmost seriousness. That is never the joke on this show. It's never the butt of the joke. It's always treated with compassion, with seriousness, in a way that I've never seen it dealt with, at least on a comedy. Also, one of the things we don't see a lot is, you don't see the effect I think necessarily that that has on the other people in the family. You don't see the person that's the caretaker and how any kind of illness but mental illness as well is sort of a shared experience. That's a really fascinating thing to get to investigate with her. Looking at trauma, looking at what happens with adults that end up as these sort of parentified children, not just with Arthur but also with their mom, and it's something that you see throughout the relationships as the world expands and the characters expand in the series.

Superian presents a unique concept for Hines to play, as the style of his dialogue and mannerisms holds a cheesy style associated with older versions of superheroes, but the approach to such material must be done in a purposeful way so as to fit in a modern series.

Hines: That was the thing that I was most challenged by when we were starting because I wanted to find the right tone. I feel like we've seen a lot of the hyper-stylised, very broad, cheesy versions of this character and I felt that I needed to ground him more and make him a person. He's not from this planet but he has been around people for a hundred years and surely has taken on some of their attributes and learned about their behaviors even if he doesn't necessarily default to them all the time. I approached him as somebody who, me personally, I am not a beloved and revered, God-like individual. For me, I had to start from a place of, I thought about who could be around for hundreds of years and have this love, this reverence that humanity would have for him. I thought of old movie stars, Gary Cooper types, old sports stars, quarterbacks, even old Presidents, back in the day when we revered Presidents. Those are the people that I thought about and even on a less grandiose but still really heroic level, firefighters, astronauts, that kind of thing. I wanted him grounded. I wanted him to be aloof and arrogant but also that come from a real place.

The actors also found that despite not being present for as many scenes as The Tick himself or even Arthur, they still enjoyed following the content, thus avoiding the stereotype of actors only reading through the scripts for the parts in which they are present.

Hines: We call that 'Bullshit, bullshit, my line!' I think there is always that temptation to do that, to do that 'Bullshit, bullshit, my line' thing. But one thing I was mentioning earlier is it's just nice to be on a show that you actually really love all of the jokes and really love all the characters and love where the story is going. I read it the way I do a comic book that I'm really enjoying and a story that I'm really loving seeing how it's unfolding so I read all of that. Plus they talk about my character a lot!
Curry: We're invested in scenes we're not necessarily in for other reasons. Of course I read the whole script and a lot of that is because I do just want to know what happens and also because it's just so funny. I want to hear the jokes before I watch the episode. But at the same time, I kind of have to read it and then let it go because Dot exists in a different place in this world and it is kind of compartmentalised. That shifts and that changes to a degree over the season but she's not privy to what's always going on and that does become a bit of a joke at times, that she doesn't know what's going on. Sometimes I have to remind myself, 'Does Dot know that? Have I heard this name?' It's like our little weekly serial strip comic that we get to keep up on every time we watch it or every time we read it. But then I love getting to see it come together as well. I love seeing the episodes.
Hines: That's the thing, it's a completely different thing when you're reading a script, a blueprint essentially, for something that is really novel and really tough to pull off and the tone of this, making it look cool is tough. I was really excited to see the first half of the season and see it finally come together, the stuff that I wasn't there for and the stuff that I was there for but that the effects needed to be added later and all that.
Curry: And to see which improv bits make it in and which don't because there's a lot of comedians on this show. There's a lot of improv that goes on, a bit to our show-runner's chagrin at times, and seeing how the actors' interpretations of a scene does inform how they end up. But at the end of the day, they're always sort of begging us to stay on script. [But] for me, any scene I'm in end ends when I break. That's kind of standard. There's one actor who will go unnamed that always has to have the last word and he'll keep on and keep on until I just lose it.

Hines and Curry were also operating on a fast-paced weekend, having just flown back into New York from a promotional trip to San Diego Comic Con. The experience was a positive one, as many fans of the property turned out to show their appreciation.

Hines: It was great. We did an autograph signing and then we did the panel. I was overwhelmed. I knew there [were] tons of Tick fans but it's just great when you see in person, the actual physical manifestation of how many people are excited about the show and feel passionately about it. I can't wait for them to see it. It was great to sit and watch them watch it for the first time too.
Curry: I love Comic Con. I love it because even though we're running around and we're doing press all day and that's what we're there for, at the same time that's not what Comic Con is at all. This is the space for the fans. It is about unbridled enthusiasm and love and they are the cool people and this is their party and we're the guests, absolutely. Especially with something like this where people do love it so much and they've grown up with it, I don't know about you but I felt very much like I'm just the caretaker for a character that they love. I'm just getting to babysit somebody that they have a very deep investment with. So I love getting to engage with them and see how we live up to those expectations.
Hines: That's a great point. They're the ones giving it the power. It is interesting to see what the response is like.

The Tick will be available for streaming on Amazon on August 25.

Jackie Earle Haley and Yara Martinez on Playing Supervillain Fun on "The Tick" (Interview)

Both Jackie Earle Haley (The Terror) and Yara Martinez (Ms. Lint) have the opportunity to play super villains with an intense energy in the comedy superhero series The Tick. But what drew these actors to this particular project? We asked them such at a press session in New York City.

Haley: I think it started when Ben drew us both on paper. Drew us right into it!
Martinez: Literally!
Haley: Yes, literally, and then we jumped off the page. By the way, she is very electric in this show.
Martinez: I am electric!
Haley: She is an awesome actress. We had a real fun time doing scenes together.
Martinez: Yeah, it was super fun. I didn't know that I was gonna be in it to this extent until I ran into Ben at a party and he was just super excited. He was like, "Oh my god! So I have her backstory! She's electric, she's like an electric eel and she shocks people and her eye pops out and things backfire. Although lint gets back on her and that's why she's Ms. Lint." I was like, "...awesome?" Once I found out that I was gonna be in it like this and I got to read the script I was thrilled. It's one of the [most fun] jobs ever.
Haley: That was what was really cool for The Terror character too. The Terror lives in the past so there's this kind of parallel storytelling going on. But everything that's happened in the past is why the present is the way it is. What happened to Arthur is the thing that has given him this obsession and has taken over his life. That was the fault of what The Terror did to him when he was a kid. Now what's neat is that since Ben came up with Ms. Lint and wanting her to come and be a part of this, there's a strong relationship between The Terror and Ms. Lint. The Terror used to mentor Ms. Lint so their relationship really affects her whole back story and who she is and what makes her who she is in the present time. It's neat storytelling.
Martinez: Your character really affects everybody in the story. It's the reason why everyone's so messed up.

Hale has a particularly heavy wardrobe, not in the literal sense, but it's one that changes his appearance drastically and covers his face significantly. He also brings his strong character background to the portrayal of The Terror.

Hale: When I read it, the pilot was 'Wow! This is funny and it's good!' I could tell, 'This isn't going to just be silly.' I mean, it is, but you could tell it's starting off with an Arthur origin story. So it really suggested to me that there was gonna be some season arcs going on. I think the 2001 [show] wasn't as sophisticated. It was funny, I think it was lower budget, it was just kind of a different vibe. But Ben talked me through the arc and we talked about the character. I kind of really found him on the day, meaning on the first day of being on set. I knew I was gonna do that voice, especially the quiet one. I was trying to do that real loud, all on the edge of my voice. It morphed a little bit from there where when I was loud I would add a little bit more voice but there would still be that thing on the edge of the vocal chords. I remember while doing one scene, the sound guy was going, "Wow man. When you yell, there's two octaves coming out of your voice." He's telling Ben, "Normally you have to get a special effect to do that!" In the pilot, there's a very slow-brewing thing throughout the season but since that scene was so short, it really felt like we found it on the day, together, with Wally, Ben, especially Ben, and me. Then what really helped me then continue forth is when I came back and we started, the first thing I did for the first week or two is before I would work, I would relook at that scene from the pilot to refresh. Since it worked in the pilot, that's what we continued, down that road. As the scenes started to grow, her and I have these great flashback sequences where there's much more dialogue and there's much more going on. There's a really cool scene in the pilot but it's neat when we start doing more.

This is the third live-action reimagining of the property that originated in comic books. This latest adaptation is not only a fresh take for the property itself but to a backdrop of media content brimming with superhero programming.

Martinez: I think it's just wonderful that Ben has been the essence and the part of all these different type of stories. But I think for this version in particular, like right now we're in such a saturated world of superhero stories and they're all so dark. I think people can connect to, or get inspired by the optimism that The Tick brings. He's like a real classic superhero that he just wants to fight evil. He's like an old school superhero. When we were watching the episodes, the cast got together and we saw the first four, I told Peter, "I just can't help but smile and feel almost like a little kid whenever you're on screen." There's just something that's just very inspiring and optimistic and joyous about it, which I think is nice.
Hale: And Peter is so good. When I was reading the scripts, I was laughing out loud because Peter's so good that when I'm reading it I completely envision Peter doing it. He's wonderfully hysterical. Griffin and Val do a wonderful job of their more grounding characters. When you're grounded, there's still a lot of funny moments but there's this grounding. This whole thing we've had a lot of fun searching for tone. Ben is the one to really credit with helping [to] guide all us not to just go over the top. I think this is his most sophisticated version. It's probably the one with the strongest arcs, the one with the biggest budget, and I think that was important. This now is the first version that is not a comic book parody, it's not a cartoon, it's not a campy live-action hero fun, now it is a comic book movie parody. Amazon gave us this cool budget and creative freedom to make it look like a quality superhero movie and yet just be funny as shit.
Martinez: And have Ben's vision fully realised. I think it's funny, Jackie, you found him on the first day. I think I found her on the fifth day. She wasn't in the comic and we had to figure her out. Ben was on set and he really was helping me figure out the tone. Naturally as an actress, I like to be big and I like to play around, plus I was playing a super villain. We discovered that it was when she was monotone and super dry is what worked best especially opposite of The Tick. It really did take the first episode to find the tone of her.

Martinez also has a striking wardrobe, in particular her eye being popped out before a new one is put in that appears to have some sort of visual effect placed on it and begs the question of what mechanics are put into creating the overall visual.

Martinez: It's actually a contact lens and they tailor these contact lenses. They designed it for my eye so there was actually someone on set, Zack, and his purpose was to take off and put on our contact lenses, Jackie as well.
Hale: His nickname was Hot Poker Fingers.
Martinez: I couldn't see anything. After long days it was really exhausting not to be able to have full vision and I had to be really careful walking around set cause I could not see anything out of my left side so if anybody wanted to come and whack me on the side of my face I wouldn't even protect myself. That was the funny thing too when we were acting across from people, they didn't know which eye to look into.
Hale: When we were doing these scenes, obviously it's really cool and the Ms. Lint thing because that's who you are, we're living a scene together. But then there was a few times where the camera was on your back and you took out your lens?
Martinez: Oh and I screwed you all up?
Hale: No it was actually kind of awesome! It was more natural in a way. It would be a bit like doing a scene without me with all that makeup on.

The Tick will be available for streaming on August 25.

"The Tick" Producers/Creator on Adapting the Property for Amazon

The Tick creator Ben Edlund has been present and actively involved in the development of each new incarnation of the property, including an animated series in 1994 and another live-action series in 2001. He remains positive about this latest live-action adaptation which will air on Amazon.

"I am excited to have another incarnation. The Tick has a very interesting existence. It's been a thirty-year multi-dimensional presence that this thing's had. It's sort of beyond imagining that we're doing another live-action show with as much backing as we're getting from Amazon and as much reception as we've received from the fans, so I'm very excited."

Executive producer Barry Josephson offered some insight into why the series is well suited to a streaming platform such as Amazon. "One great thing is you can stream like a Marvel movie or a really excellent comedy because there's no commercials. I think it's great for streaming. Also, for Ben and David who create the show, it doesn't have the constraints of 'must be exactly this time' so as they have sort of like two movie releases, really, one movie that premieres in August and one movie that premieres later, you don't have to be wedded to exact times like you would if you had commercial breaks."

Despite the abundance of superhero properties being released both on film and television, The Tick is unique in many ways compared to the rest for aspects such as its half-hour episodes and there being a more deliberate and purposeful place in the genre of comedy. "This is a very different version of The Tick in that it's serialised," says producer David Fury. "We're able to tell a much larger story, one that has a greater scope, sometimes goes very cinematic. But more importantly, Amazon wants us to go big and to think big and to think out of the box. Networks generally go, 'Keep inside this box. If you go too outside, people won't watch.' Amazon says, 'Do everything that comes out of Ben's head.' That's what we essentially try to do. I think that again, with all the other superhero shows, we get to play in that universe, we get to have some of the weightier issues skewed a little bit, but more importantly we get to have a lot more fun."

"That is one of our licenses," adds Edlund. "Superhero genre, part of that has always been about wish fulfillment and there's a joyous quality to it. This new version resonates with the fabric of superheroes as [they stand] today, dark, gritty, taking things very seriously. That's where we come from, all of us, when we think of superheroes I think a little bit now, we're trying to make something pop in terms of its joyousness and even its optimism."

The Tick is also a series that doesn't shy away from a level of self-awareness that is used in developing the content. Episode 2 features a joke about a change in The Tick's costume from Episode 1 - as the pilot was filmed much earlier than the rest of the first six episodes. Josephson addressed this particular joke. "It was one of the great benefits of streaming on Amazon because we had an opportunity to air the pilot and [there was] a lot of fan feedback about the costume. They love the show and there were a lot of fans of The Tick who didn't love the costume and also we, the three of us, were not happy with the costume because we rushed at it, we came last minute. That was for the pilot, and so we thought we could do better and the fans thought we could do better so that's what you see changed in the second episode is he's morphed, which he has the ability to do, into a better costume."

"At this point, yes, there's definitely a production reason why we shifted from one costume to another costume," says Edlund. "But I maintain that that can happen in this story for reasons you won't understand for reasons. He's evolving. At one point, there's the monocle like Mr. Peanut!"

The discussion extends to other aspects of the costume, specifically the moving antennae of The Tick and Lars, the woman responsible for working their mechanic movements. Josephson discusses the diagram of emotions, a language of sorts developed by Lars, that translate what the different poses of The Tick's antennae mean. "Amazon asked her to do this, she did a chart of emotions. There were some t-shirts that were made at our activation in San Diego that had some of the emotions, happy, sad, excited, confused, and so and so. Lars actually has made a chart of those in terms of showing what The Tick is thinking at any given moment."

Bringing the series to San Diego Comic Con was a positive experience for the cast and crew. "It was really great," says Edlund. "We had had a little bit of foreshadowing of fan response by airing the pilot. That's something that a lot of people don't have. We felt fairly confident that the second episode at least kept the ball basically moving across the field. It was really amazing to see what Amazon had done in their marketing and in their support of this thing. It was very confusing to me because there's the giant corporate element there but also, the marketing campaign was based on helpfulness and a real joyful kind of connection with The Tick. The Tick teams were these people who were just handing out sunscreen, phone charging... that's a lot of very heroic service. Or like a bandaid when you have a blister, at this particular place, each one of those things is kind of a little life-saving event. Those ideas being integrated into something that ties itself to The Tick, I'm as happy about that as almost anything, just even as it relates to Comic Con. That gives us good graces there."

A superhero property such as The Tick means a tremendous amount of coordination with the stunt coordinators to ensure that what gets written in the scripts is something that can actually be done, as opposed to an animated series where anything defying human limitations can just be drawn. "We're all sort of technicians to a degree in that regard," says Edlund. "David and I are both directors and Barry is a long-time producer, hands-on, so we are the first tier of that."

"We try to push ourselves," says Fury. "One of the frustrating things for Ben, and I was a fan of the [original live-action] show, it wasn't really a superhero show. It was more of kind of a character comedy. It was very nice, it was great, and funny and everybody was terrific in it. But Ben wanted to do the superhero version of The Tick and that's what this is. But when you want to do the superhero version, there's gonna be superheroes. There's gonna be costumes that are really expensive. There's gonna be costumes that are really expensive. There's gonna be effects that are really expensive. So we try to be very canny about when we use that, when we really need to pull the rib chord and say, 'We need to go all out with this.' We want to deliver something that's great but also something as Ben often says, we always sort of skew it a little bit so it's not quite... we don't want people to think they're watching a Marvel show. We want to take what you would see in a Marvel show and-"

"-watching it from down the block!" Edlund chimes in.

"Those are the kind of things that are challenging but we don't censor ourselves," says Fury. "We try to push it. We let production censor us."

"That's part of it is the tension between what can be done, what should be done, and what can't be done," says Edlund.

"We had really talented people working with us this year from props to set design, CGI, and post," says Josephson. "It's such a good group that would be informed by Ben and David's outlines, and then the scripts. We'd talk back and forth creatively about how we would pull off all the things that the show asks."

The Tick will be available for streaming on Amazon on August 25.

Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman on Acting with Narration and the Language of Antennae ("The Tick" Interview)

Amazon's newest series, "The Tick", is a fresh new take on superhero television programming. It combines Peter Serafinowicz's powerhouse comedic abilities with some truly heartfelt content on the feelings and aftermath of loss and family drama. The series also merges a more classic style of superheroes that toes the line of being cheesy in the best way, with all the necessary adaptations to make the series feel grounded for a modern setting and audience. One such example of the more classic elements is the use of narration by Serafinowicz.

"It is the funny thing though cause Peter's always the one doing the narration but often times it will be narration over a scene that both of us are in," says Griffin Newman. "So sometimes it's Peter and I in a scene doing physical stuff that they need to time out to make sure there's enough physical stuff that the narration has stuff to fit over it. So our first assistant director will be reading Peter's lines while Peter's next to me so you hear someone else going 'Aah! It's me! The Tick!' Then once he's done talking, then the real Tick gets to talk."

Serafinowicz put in a fair share of preparation to develop the distinct voice of the titular character, which further makes him stand out in addition to his running around in a bright blue suit. "The voice, Ben described it to me as a kind of American radio announced for the 1970's," says Serafinowicz. "That's a voice that I always loved doing since I was a kid watching Sesame Street. That's a thing that me and Griffin share, actually. We love that side of American culture. We're both big fans of Mad Men and a lot of shows from [Hanna Barbera, shows from the 1960s and 1970s]. For different reasons, we've got a lot of very similar frames of reference. Ben had seen some stuff that I'd done in my sketch shows, things like that where he thought, 'You sound kind of like The Tick, you know?'"

The suit worn by The Tick also comes with a unique set of antennae that further enhance the character portrayal and visual narrative. They even move while Serafinowicz is acting in it. "The antennae, the guy who designed them referred to them as antlers. They are attached to my head underneath the already quite bulky helmet piece of the costume. [There's] another hard plastic skullcap which is clamped to my skull, tightened, and contains these metal things that can move in 360 degrees. Her name is Lars, she is a Jim Henson puppeteer, and she also talks like she's a muppet. When she was a kid, she's exactly the same age as me and was in love with Sesame Street and knew that's what she wanted to do and that's what she became. So I've got Sesame Street going on, on my head."

The antennae also play into how Newman portrays Arthur Everest, who is most frequently in scenes opposite The Tick. "I can see what she is doing but Peter can't. The antennas are doing things. The thing I said to Lars a week or two in was, 'It's almost like you're the punctuation on every one of his lines. You get to choose whether it's an exclamation point or a question mark or an ellipses or whatever it is.' But you're entrusting a lot of your performance, it's like you're letting someone control one of your limbs."

The mechanisms and precision of how the antennae move are highly precise. "The way they had it set up, there were like ten levers and each one said 'Sad', 'Happy', 'Angry', 'Confused', whatever it was, and the way they established all of those was they went to Lars and Lars had the vocabulary," shares Newman. "She had figured out over the course of months of working on it, cause I think there was a lot of improv for the first whatever, but she started to decide. Peter might change what he's doing in a scene. They can't rehearse it out, we want to be free to go where the thing follows. But she started to come up with almost like a mood ring of 'This is kind of how Tick leans in when he's trying to figure something out, he moves back when he's alarmed.' I didn't know this either, Barry told me and she had it. She had it all figured out. She said, 'These are the angles and this is the expression,' and they're very specific emotional states, not just good [or] bad."

As The Tick not only originates from a comic book series, but other television adaptations, the material has had plenty of opportunities to gain a passionate fan-following, including Newman himself. "I was a big fan. I got in through the Warburton show. My mother was very overprotective growing up so I wasn't allowed to watch the cartoon show at the time. She also wouldn't let me watch Rugrats cause she thought it was too sarcastic. That's how low the bar was. It's a big reason Peter and I have so many common reference points for pop culture is that I couldn't watch pretty much anything made after 1976. So I was very out of lockstep with my generation growing up. But I always loved superheroes from afar. They were like the forbidden fruit that I wasn't allowed to engage in. It was when I became maybe nine or ten and I could walk to a comic book store by myself or watch TV when my mom wasn't home, I got really really into superhero culture and that's about the time when the Warburton show was on and it was one of the first live-action superhero things of that generation. The first Spiderman movie hadn't even come out yet so it was a big touchstone for me and I always had been drawn to comedy. So to see a superhero mixed with a kind of satirical take was huge for me. When that ended I went back and watched the cartoon. I had never really read the comics but I was a big fan of the two shows and so when I got the audition it was just, 'Well I wanna play this because this is Arthur. Are you kidding me? It's The Tick!' I'd play the delivery guy which is what I thought they would let me do at most. I just immediately had a sense of affinity for the world, the characters, the property. I knew what I wanted to do with it. I just am surprised that my feeling of what Arthur should be kept on syncing up with what everyone who pays for the show wanted Arthur to be."

"Griffin, you know that all that was a total lie," deadpans Serafinowicz. The entire gathering of reporters present for this interview erupts into laughter as Serafinowicz continues his bit. "What a bullshitter! What a load of bullshit!"

The Tick will be aired in a somewhat unconventional airing schedule for online programming, as the first six episodes of the season will be released on August 25, with the rest of the season yet to be locked into an air date, though the general consensus seems to be that it will be some time early next calendar year. Many viewers of today are inclined towards binge-watching, though there are some that still hold onto preferences for the more traditional method of episodic airing found on network-television.

"Most people that I know are [binge-watchers], whether it's the extreme of it [which] is watching Breaking Bad over a weekend, which somebody did, which I can understand as well," says Serafinowicz. "If I had the time, I've often thought, if I ever break my leg or something, I'd like to rewatch them from the beginning. People watch television a lot differently generally these days. You will watch two or three at your leisure, to fit into your busy lives. You know what I would like? I would kind of like that they would come out weekly. By the end, you've got all six. So you're effectively delaying the full thing by six weeks. But you still have that excitement of people talking about, 'Did you see The Tick?'"

"I love that," cosigns Newman. "I'm a very episodic-based guy. Even when streaming shows come out, I'm not very good at binging. Weirdly, [Unbreakable] Kimmy Schmidt is the one show whenever a season comes out I'll do that in one or two sittings. I find that show very watchable. But I like the process of digesting episodes. I guess the idea with streaming is you give people the choice. They can do it however they want. But I think back to when Lost was on. I had a group of like twenty people I watched Lost with. We would be there for an hour prepping for what we thought was gonna happen. In the end, we spent an hour coming down from what happened, and breaking down what was gonna happen next. Hopefully this model gives you a little of the best of both worlds. I think the first six episodes really set up the world and it leaves you at a really interesting place with a lot of questions about what's gonna happen next and hopefully for months, people only talk about that, exclusively talk about their predictions of what's gonna happen on The Tick!"

"It's got so many things that are set-ups for things later on that you think are just little, maybe gags or background gags," alludes Serafinowicz. "Pretty much everything pays off."

"Nothing's incidental," adds Newman.

The first six episode of The Tick will be available for streaming on Amazon on August 25.

Kim Dickens & Colman Domingo on "Fear The Walking Dead" Themes and Character Journeys (Interview)

With "Fear The Walking Dead" on mid-season hiatus, the cast and crew descended on San Diego Comic Con to discuss how the series has progressed in it's journey and evolved over the seasons.

"Thematically, one of the things season three is about is resources and appropriation of resources and land, and specifically re-appropriation. That's something about the apocalypse, it's wiped away existing borders, many of which were put in place through violence and another theme of this season which is the building and rebuilding of civilization," says the show's producer.

"For Madison, she's definitely become more of a merciless character," says Kim Dickens. "In the beginning, she's probably a merciless high school counselor. She was really beholden to her morality and her compassion and her heart. By season three, I think she realises the currency is more brutality when required. Her main goal throughout has been to survive and to protect her family and now, it's at a higher cost. I think Madison has been quick to realise that."

The characters have struggled to find a place to call home since the apocalypse began, as each place they've stopped has had something go wrong, thus forcing them to move on to somewhere else, something Colman Domingo spoke on. "I think that's always the hope. I think that's exactly the nature of all of these characters, that you're constantly going to this new place and you're like, 'We're gonna rebuild and build here,' and then as you see, it will fall apart. Great civilisations always come tumbling down in some way. I think that's the nature of humanity and that's what we're exploring in the show is we're always hopeful and seeking this place that we can build on. Madison said it so clearly in this season, 'We can thrive here. We can make something of this.' Just like we tried to do in the hotel, we see how well that went, we definitely tried to do that on the boat, we see how well that went. We're constantly going to be searching cause I think that's just the nature of who we are as humans."

Colman Domingo's Victor Strand has experienced a compelling journey with highs and lows surrounding love, loss, and the will to survive. "When I first was engaging with Victor Strand in season one, I loved the fact that he was this mysterious man of means, a self-made man, the things that they would tell me about him. Then season two was all about his deconstruction and I feel like it was also a deconstruction of Western civilisation in many ways, what he represented and the things he was all about. He had to take stock and maybe as the world has taken stock in who they are and getting back to basics. I think that season three has been a journey for him to go off on his own to figure that out and hopefully merge the two in some way, to take the skills that he knew, that he could build and rebuild on. He just didn't know how. It's funny, there were times every so often, I was confused with what I was doing and I would call Dave up [on] how I'm playing this character, someone who I thought was this. But I thought, 'Oh that's a great journey for this man, to become a bit more human, and in touch with his feelings in many ways. Then to see how he can rebuild and use a little bit more of that con man, to survive, because he is a survivalist in many ways. He just has to figure it out and that's been an exciting journey."

Fear The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, September 10, at 10PM on AMC.

Iron Sky: The Roleplaying Game Now on Kickstarter

Kickstarter for Roleplaying Game Based on Award-Winning Film now Live

Pulp SF Pastiche Featuring Nazis on the Moon, Hollow Earth, Dinosaurs and Reptilian Shapechangers

Brand-New Universal Rules System Specifically Written for the Iron Sky Franchise, but Adaptable to All Genres & Settings

Game Uses Unique Accessories, such as the Synthesis Action Dial, silhouettes, the SynthesisCrosshairs, the Synthesis Tick Track and the Synthesis Character Creation Board Game

Many Backer Rewards, Including More Roleplaying Game Stuff, Custom Dice, Streaming Links to the First Film, Wallpapers, Previously Unreleased Film Artwork, etc.

Written by Some of the Best in the Business

Early Bird Discounts at Certain Pledge Levels Until August 20

Kickstarter Live

It’s on! The Kickstarter for one of the most successful pulp SF films ever, Iron Sky, has gone live and already includes some imagery from the upcoming sequel, Iron Sky the Coming Race, which will be released on February 14, 2018, on the same day as the actual RPG will be out! Now, player's won't just be able to fight Nazis, but also reptilian shapechangers and much more! 
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