Supermansion creators Matt Senreich and Zeb Wells sat down with us to discuss the stop-motion animated superhero comedy series, its success, and its latest special, Drag Me To Halloween. They were also joined by frequent collaborator and voice actor Tom Root.
I started by asking the simple question “Why Halloween?”
Matthew Senreich responded by going into great detail about their love for the holiday generating the special.
“Halloween’s one of those holidays. It’s one of the most popular holidays. We really loved the idea that these characters are dressed in costume all year long, so what makes Halloween different for them and what would they do on a day when costumes are just as important as the ones they wear? Nice and fun!”
They were also happy to share their favorite horror movies, many of which shaped the Halloween special.
Tom Root shared “The Exorcist was a movie I was always afraid to watch, and there’s definitely some nods to The Exorcist in this special. I think Poltergeist was a really formative experience for getting my wits scared out of me. Any good spooky ghost story.”
Matthew chimed in “Matthew Seinrech: I vibe to like Friday the 13th or Halloween, itself. It harkens back to those classic horror movies. Horror movies you just kind of lean into for this episode. Again, it’s also the campier stuff too. It’s like the ET scene where they go trick or treating. It’s those types of moments….”
At the beginning of the special. Zeb Wells’ character Robobot tells a scary story that jams several horror movie plotlines into one tale.
Wells said “When we started writing it, we thought about all the horror movies that we might want to parody, and all the ones that didn’t make it into the show were jammed into that 30 second stream of just a terrible scary story.” Wells also confessed that his favorite horror movie, An American Werewolf in London, did not find its way into Drag Me to Halloween. Zeb also declared that he is more Team Jacob than Edward: “Pop that shirt off, we’re good to go!”
Wells then described the process behind creating main characters Robobot and Cooch.
“The robot who is trying to learn about humans. We wanted to find a way to do that just as much as anyone, but we wanted to find some sort of spin on it, and we thought it he would pick a random array of human behaviors and go at them full steam ahead, but not understand what he was doing and maybe be a little offensive when he does it….”
Wells also described how he relates to Robobot. “He gets to be a sarcastic teenager forever. I think I’m still just a 14-year-old who likes to make fun of things. Very embarrassing.”
The character of Cooch was inspired by a bit Wells’ wife used to do in the car and a personality of one of the cats they own, named Tweeky.
“I found the cat in front of a Kansas City Barbecue when I was completely trashed. We already had two cats. I was so drunk that I said ‘Heidi, this cat will never be hungry again, always be loved and have food in its belly!’ And then I woke up the next morning so hung over with this little cat and I found it had a big head wound and fleas. I went to my wife and said ‘we’re not really going to fly this cat home.’ And she was like ‘Oh yes we are!’”
Wells continued to describe Tweaky in great detail.
“It ended up being my favorite cat ever. It’s a very nervous cat. I have never shown this cat anything but love, but at least once a day,we’ll turn a corner, see each other at the end of the hall, and Tweaky will look at me like “This is the day. This is the day he’s going to kill me!’”
When I asked the team about how they write or cast those hilarious celebrity guest starring roles, they also went in detail about how they got Bryan Cranston onboard as an executive producer and star.
Matt Senreich said “For this one, we had written it, and then, Lake Bell had come in for Robot Chicken and we really loved her, so we brought her in because we heard that voice in our head a little bit. A lot of times we’ll write characters and we’ll be like “you know who would be great for this?” and try to go out to someone we’ve never gotten before. Or be like “hey, I hear someone’s voice in our head.”
“I mean, even with Supermansion as a whole, our first original pilot said for our main character, Titanium Rex, a Bryan Cranston-type. And we never really realized we could get Bryan Cranston to be able to do it, and the fact that he said yes, and not only to do the voice but also to produce it with us is unreal, it’s surreal. Like Seth had done that voice originally and temped it in and Seth was the one who was like “Why don’t you just ask him?” Like that’s a good idea, that’s a really good idea.”
They also described how much Cranston’s character Titanium Rex despises the holiday.
Root began by saying “He [Bryan Cranston’s character] does not have a good Halloween. I guess he never does. This is an unusually bad Halloween for him.”
Senreich expanded “He’s kind of like a dad or even granddad in this situation, where he doesn’t want to deal with the bullshit of Halloween. He doesn’t want to go out and trick or treat, he doesn’t want to go out to parties. He doesn’t even want to have to give out candy to someone who comes to his door. Something always happens on Halloween that’s just a pain in the ass. That’s kind of how he views this holiday, where some of our other characters see it more as a lighthearted fun time that they can go out, whether it be trick or treating or going to the kind of 20-year-old Halloween party. They just happen to have suits that look really good.”
Speaking of tricks, Root admitted that Breckin Meyer has a pretty crazy tendency when working in the recording booth with his buddy Seth Green.
“There’s something that happens when Seth and Breckin get in the booth where Breckin can’t keep his clothes on. He thinks it’s hilarious to start stripping, and then see how far he can get before everyone gets really uncomfortable. Also he likes to climb on things. Sometimes if we’re really on a time crunch, we won’t let Seth into the booth because they play off of each other so well, and they’ve been friends forever.”
Supermansion: Drag Me to Halloween launched on October 6th, 2017. You can stream it for free on Crackle.
(interview and article by Otter Lee)