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

Photo: Jenevia Kagawa Darcy

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.


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