2 weeks ago
One is a movie about a dude who wins a video game and is then recruited by mysterious visitors to save the world, while the other is a TV show about … a dude who wins a video game and must prevent the extinction of humanity.
Uh, these two projects sound a bit similar, right?
The first is the logline for the feature film The Last Starfighter while the latter is the description of the new series Future Man.
The creatives behind Future Man have no trouble owning up to this issue. Executive producer Seth Rogen admits that the team realized that the series was extremely analogous to the movie. He laughed as he said, “Probably around when we were failing to get the rights to The Last Starfighter.
He quickly added, “As [the series] goes on, you’ll see that it very quickly is not about The Last Starfighter as much as it is about Terminator 2, and other things.”
Those other ‘things’ being Back to the Future, Children of Men with some Quantum Leap thrown in, says Rogen, who spoke at a recent press event along with fellow executive producers Evan Goldberg and Ben Karlin.
Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir who also produced Sausage Party, This is the End and The Interview, created the series.
Future Man stars Josh Hutcherson as Josh Futterman, a janitor by day and a gamer by night who finds himself traveling through time to save the Earth from extraterrestrial visitors. Josh is an unlikely, uneasy and unskilled fighter who is thrown into the role of humanity’s guardian.
“Really [this is] inspired by pretty much any science fiction movie from the last, like, 35 years,” said Rogen. “But more than anything, it’s [the] journey of a guy going from a janitor to potentially the savior of mankind. That’s the emotional core of the show. it was important for us to have a lot of plot because a half-hour comedy that was incredibly plot driven was a unique opportunity in what can only be described as a crowded marketplace.”
Hutcherson has no problem admitting that he’s not very similar to his on-screen character. “No, I’m not a great video game player. I don’t do it a whole lot. I’ll get on every now and then and play some weird ass random game. But no, I don’t really subscribe a whole lot to the gamer world. I did buy a game when I got the show. And as far as beating people up goes, I stay away from it. Only when necessary.”
Talking more about his character, Hutcherson said, “I think that we are very much used to seeing the story of the chosen ones where they get selected and poured into this other world, à la The Matrix or Lord of the Rings or whatever, and you see them have to make this change from being, feeble and wimpy into becoming an action hero. There are elements of that in the show, but the journey for Josh is very much maintaining that truth about who he is and not abandoning that and how that actually becomes very useful on the mission.”
Rogen quickly added, “He never becomes proficient at violence,” to which Hutcherson responded, “So I think we avoided a lot of those tropes. We played into some of them that are funny and that works for the show, but at the same time, like, it was a very honest character.”
This isn’t the first time that Hutcherson and Rogen have collaborated on something, explained Hutcherson. “Yeah, I worked with Seth a little bit on James Franco’s [film] The Disaster Artist. After that [Seth’s team] came to me and said they have a show they were going to do and wanted to talk to me about it. It was crazy and original, and I really liked the character a lot.”
He laughed as he added, “[My character] had the same name as me, which I thought would be cool, but it ended up being very distracting. I found myself talking in third person on set; ‘I don’t think Josh would actually [do that],’ and stuff like that. It was a little weird at times.”
Hutcherson is also a producer on the series, explaining, “As far as that goes, I got to be involved in more of the creative conversations and ideas they were formulating as the show went on, being able to, every now and then, lend a hand on set when we had a problem trying to figure something out.”
Rogen said that in casting Hutcherson he liked the idea of giving the audience a chance to see the actor in a new light, saying, “it’s always fun to expose something that you see in someone that maybe hasn’t been seen by a lot of people yet. I personally like that as a viewer when I’m watching something and I’m seeing someone that I’ve seen before do something that I haven’t really seen them do.”
He pointed to past successes in this area, such as, “When we made Pineapple Express, the idea of James Franco being in a comedy was f-cking crazy. No one wanted to let us to do it. Everyone was, like, ‘He’s not funny,’ and we were, like, ‘I think he IS funny.’ It’s an exciting thing when you’re able to, again, give someone the opportunity to show all the levels that they have.”
Having all 13 episodes available right away for streaming is desirable said Rogen, reasoning, “When something is plot driven, I personally like to watch it in big chunks. [When] ingesting TV series that have cliffhanger episodes, it’s nice to have the next one available to you immediately so you don’t have to wait, because who wants to wait for things?”
Karlin added, “Also, if too much time elapses, you’re just not going to be able to follow it really.”
Commenting on the number of dark, apocalyptic series currently populating television, Rogen chuckled a little as he said, “It’s probably because people feel like the world might end soon.”
Then he added, “I, myself, have made a few things about the world ending and I think it usually spawns different versions of [that theme]. But, I think it’s not a new thing. I think from the moment that humanity developed the ability to wipe all of itself out in essentially seconds, it’s been an idea that is fascinating and draws people to it creatively. I think tackling it comedically poses a challenge.”
Hutcherson said that the conceit works well here, explaining, “I think you also get a glimpse of different types of humanity and how people act in those moments. You kind of see what you’re made of and see how you react. It’s a very rich, fertile environment for great characters.”
Karlin jumped in to say, “The big theme on this show really is this idea that you have this [thinking], ‘What happens if I was dropped into an action movie? How would I behave?’ A lot of [this show] is like playing with that. We tried to [ask], ‘How else can we define heroism without that traditional journey of Luke becoming a Jedi?’ What other ways can someone become a hero?”
Hutcherson summed up the series by simply saying, “it’s not all black and white.”
All 13 episodes of ‘Future Man’ are available for streaming on Hulu.