Alan Tudyk previews the return of NEWSREADERS
NEWSREADERS returns to [adult swim] tonight with all new episodes, and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited! The show, now airing Friday nights (Saturday mornings), follows all of the news that’s worth covering (and completely made up), reported by the (not really) very best. In the first episode back, Ryan Hansen guest stars while lead News Reader Reagan Biscayne interviews TV’s favorite family about their sitcom lifestyle. To celebrate the return of the show, I spent some time swapping stories and laughing with Reagan himself, Alan Tudyk, about all new episodes, crafting this insane character, and all things headless football player related.
Read on for more teases about what else is coming this season (violence!), why people should tune into the show (it’s amazing, duh), and what else Alan has coming up (hint hint a one Mr Fillion is involved).
Such a fan of the show, and I enjoy the introduction of Reagan Biscayne. I love that Reagan is such a departure from Louis – was it a conscious effort to take this guy in a different way from how Mather (Zickel) played him?
I’m on the same page of you that I was a fan of the first season. So, I don’t know – you’re different people, so a lot of it’s taken care of just by the fact that I’m not him – that there’s only one Mather Zickel [laughs]. I just watched different news magazine and tried to see different people’s styles. What worked. It’s a spoof off of those shows; you want to honor them and tip your hat to them from time to time. See what works – see what some of the tropes are. See what the real investigative journalists, the real news magazine people, are doing. Some of them are really casual. I sort of, throughout the series, like anything, you get closer and closer to your character as you go, and I think that sort of friendly person – the friend you can trust, but who is ALSO an authority on things. It’s somewhere between those two things. A friendly authority.
I like that he’s an authority, but he’s not exactly the smartest, at the risk of insulting Reagan’s intelligence?
I think he’s stupid! He does his best. He’s trying very hard. He’s not…no, I would say, I have said, he’s really an idiot! Then other times…see, no he’s an idiot [laughs]. Even when he starts to be smart. When he starts to do things like, hey – the game show one. He called them out, saying “look, this is wish fulfillment, this is why people watch these game shows. Don’t you think that that’s wrong?” He was right on the money. This is what makes game shows work, he understood that, but then he was really too stupid to see that he was being had, and he didn’t know the answers to any of the questions. The question about aspirin, the answer was aspirin, and just came up with “medicine” [laughs] and was pretty proud that he came up with the answer of medicine, so yeah, you’re right, he’s not very smart!
Was it a collaborative process to put him together – is there a play back and forth with the creative team?
Like you do with any role, where you let the script dictate a lot of who you are. What people say about you, what you say and what you do, it tells you who they are. That’s kind of it – and sort of if there’s an issue, and it’s like “there’s a contradiction” and you bring it up. But this stuff is just so much fun! It’s nothing to be taken too seriously. There’s a looseness that goes with it – if you’re not having fun, then you’re kind of missing the point [laughs], which is what I liked about watching it when it was Mather – it was fun and ridiculous. Good writing. Just really absurd good writing. The episode that comes out this Friday I think is one of the really clever ones – have you seen it?
Haven’t seen it, but read that Reagan is interviewing the country’s favorite sitcom family!
Yeah, but they’re the real people! It wasn’t a sitcom, it was a reality show, but all of the people in the reality show were so campy that no one was buying it as a reality show. [laughs as he continues] They got themselves into situations that played out like a sitcom, so the creator of the reality show just added a laugh track and put it on like it was a sitcom because they spoke in sitcom cadence. It’s so ridiculous! They would naturally pause for laughs even though there were no laughs there. In the end, he re-edits it, he cuts it, changes the music and the lighting, and sells it as a one hour drama called “Finding Always.” Just the title, “Finding Always,” that’s just really good writing is what it is. So I’m glad to be there!
In talking with people, when the question of “why this show” comes up – what are you saying about why people should check it out?
There’s a lot of news, spoofing the news, it’s somewhat been around for a while. I’m a watcher of THE DAILY SHOW, I was a nightly watcher of THE COLBERT REPORT when it was out before it just left, and they’re taking actual current events and finding humor within them. This is just fun! This is just making things up. Ridiculous, absurd humor [laughs]. Jim Margolis, who produces it, came from THE DAILY SHOW, came from that world. The cleverness is there, but it’s just turned on a sitcom family that is really an actual family who speaks in sitcom cadence. It’s entertainment and it’s just fun!
I feel like I reference a headless football player all the time! “Well if a headless football player can do it” kind of thing!
[laughs] You’ve heard that story, you’ve seen that news magazine story about that athlete that overcomes this disability and becomes an inspiration to everyone, and they take it to an absurd place of having a headless football player. There was a scene that was cut where we go back to talk to him, a year later, after he’s recovered from his injuries, and ask him, and it’s he and I sitting across from each other. Ask him, “So what did you learn from all of this? Do you take it as a defeat personally as you inspire a lot of people? How do you feel?” And he just sits there in silence! [laughs out loud as he continues], and I’m yelling “who the hell put a microphone on him, that’s what I want to know?” It’s such an absurd situation and to react to an absurd situation with some reality. Oh it’s just so much fun! It’s a lot of fun to do.
What else can you tease as the season continues?
Steven Little is, it’s the story you’ve heard before – he’s the lottery winner that won the big Powerball lottery and his life, he thinks everything is going to come up roses, but then there are a whole lot more problems. I visit him, and there are no problems! His life is fantastic [laughs]! His life is great, but Reagan won’t let it go – right, okay, agreed, this is good, but BUT, how do you feel inside, hollowed out? It’s like, oh no, I feel fantastic! Steve Little, he’s Stevie Janowski, where I first saw him on EASTBOUND & DOWN. He’s such a sweet guy; he’s such a sweet guy, going “oh no, everything is fantastic,” and Reagan is there sort of digging for a story that is not there. It goes horribly wrong. It goes really bad for Steven. Reagan will extract the story he wants, and he’ll go to any lengths to get it. We see a violent side of Reagan Biscayne, so there is that, which is one of my favorite episodes.
What else besides NEWSREADERS do you have coming up?
I did a movie, I did a couple of movies this past year, but I think the biggest one that I’m really looking forward to seeing is called TRUMBO with Bryan Cranston and Louis CK, and John Goodman. Dame Helen Mirren is in it! It’s about Trumbo, Dalton Trumbo, who was a writer back in the 40s. He was a movie writer and he was blacklisted during a time when the government was looking for Communists everywhere, and they had a blacklist in Hollywood, and Dalton got blacklisted. And he won 2 Oscars while he was blacklist – this guy was brilliant. That’s who Bryan Cranston is playing; I play his close friend, who is also a writer, who fronted for him – for one of the Oscars. He accepted the Oscar for Roman Holiday on his behalf; he pretended to write it.
Other than that, I think I’m supposed to start promoting [this] – we’re just beginning our promotion, so I think this will be one of the first times I’ve said it. I’m going to be crowd-funding something very soon. A project with Nathan Fillion, the two of us. Together. And it is something that we want to do together. I don’t know how much I can say. All I want to do is talk about it!! It will be soon – in the beginning of February, so it’s right around the corner! And it has to do with the Sci-Fi world, so it will be fun!
NEWSREADERS airs Saturday mornings / Friday nights at 12AM/11PM as a part of [adult swim] on Cartoon Network!