Creator & Stars of Adult Swim’s “Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter” Speak at NYCC

Written & photographed by Elizabeth Phillips

On Monday, December 7th, Adult Swim will premiere a new live-action mini-series called Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter. The show will air for five consecutive nights, ending Friday, December 11th. The story follows Neon Joe, a mysterious man with a talent for hunting werewolves. Set in the pretend town of Garrity, Vermont, the town finds itself in trouble after a round of werewolf attacks and calls on Neon Joe for help.

At the 2015 New York City Comic Con, Media Mikes was able to sit down with lead actor and creator, Jon Glaser (Girls, Parks and Recreation), as well as several other cast members from the show, including Scott Adsit (30 Rock, Big Hero Six), Stephanie March (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit), Steve Little (Eastbound & Down), and Steve Cirbus (Delocated), to discuss the upcoming series.

Elizabeth Phillips: How did the idea for this show come about?

I was a guest on Jimmy Fallon to talk about my previous show, Delocated. I took some clothes that I owned- I did a neon yellow hoodie, a knit hat from american apparel, and these Coors Light sweatpants, and I paired them arbitrarily and just went on the show, and I said “I’m really sad that Delocated is done, but I’m excited about my next project. It’s called Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter, and I’m dressed as the character right now. That’s really all we have at the moment, but we’re excited to figure it out.” It was one hundred percent a joke. It was not real. I mean, I treated it like it was a real thing, but I thought it was obvious it was a joke. There was no ideas. It wasn’t a passion project- it was just coming from this arbitrary joke, and Adult Swim said, “Why don’t you write a pilot of it?” I love that that’s where this show came from. It’s one of the things that I’m most excited about. There was no attempt to do anything but make a dumb joke on a talk show, and now it’s turned into this, which i think is super cool.”

EP: Is there anything else like this on television?

CIRBUS: I don’t think there’s anything else like it on TV. Neon Joe is a werewolf hunter that wears neon, so that werewolves know where he is. He’s not afraid of the werewolves. He comes into a situation- in this world, nobody believes in werewolves. It’s not like we have werewolves running around. He shows up, and he says, “Hey, guess what, small-town USA? You have a werewolf, and I get rid of them.”

ADSIT: I trusted all the creative minds behind it, and I also love Adult Swim. The people in charge there really see the people who create shows as artists and let them do their art. They think of these creators as auteurs who are allowed to express themselves. That’s unique.

EP: What is the balance between the wackiness and seriousness in the show?

MARCH: I feel our characters take themselves very seriously. I don’t think anybody was winking to camera or goofing off. We were all playing different people, and we were really committed to being those people. I haven’t often had an opportunity to work on something that is so wacky and so fun and so loose- almost never actually, so I couldn’t not do it. It was too good an opportunity. I certainly had a good time doing it!

CIRBUS: I think what makes the humor in John’s work and the collaboration of Glaser with PFFR is that it’s always rooted in some sort of truth. The humor is born out of fairly non-sensical human situations moving to a very terrifying situation, or conversely a very human situation that just goes sour for whatever reason, and that strikes a chord, a funny chord.

LITTLE: I feel like it’s played real, just, you know, there’s werewolves. I mean I’m sure there’s a guy that wears neon somewhere in some bad neighborhood because he’s not scared, and that’s Neon Joe- just not in the world of werewolves or bed and breakfasts.”

Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter will air Monday, December 7th through Friday, December 11th on Adult Swim.

The Cast of “Blindspot” Speaks at NYCC

One of the new tv hits of the season is NBC’s “Blindspot”. The mystery show created by Martin Gero focuses on a Jane Doe (Thor’s Jaimie Alexander) recovered from a duffel bag in Times Square. Jane didn’t know who she was or how she got there, but she was found covered head to toe in new tattoos that seem to offer some clues. The most obvious of all is the name ‘Kurt Weller’ on her back, a specific FBI agent. Kurt (played by Sullivan Stapleton) and his team are now working with Jane–whose knack for fighting skills and foreign languages is intact despite her identity crisis–to crack the codes all over her body. In recent episodes it’s becoming clearer that Jane may be more connected to Weller than originally thought. Fortunately for the creators and audiences, the show was just picked up by the network for a full season so there’s hope for solving Jane’s past after all.
Gero, along with series stars Stapleton, Audrey Esparza, Rob Browne, Mariana Jean-Baptiste and Ashley Johnson joined me in the press room of this year’s New York Comic Con. Though they were mum on spilling any spoilers, they were more than enthusiastic to talk about their characters and the making of the show.

Lauren Damon: How much research did you do into actual memory loss when creating Jane’s character?
Series Creator, Martin Gero I’ve been obsessed with this drug that this is kind of based on that’s being designed for you know people that have traumatic experiences which will basically gently erase memory. So if you’re–like let’s say you’re in the army and your car gets blown up, and you see your friends die, it’s literally this thing that you would administer immediately and you would–it would make it difficult for that memory [to be retained]. So you wouldn’t be traumatized by it. And then there’s another version where as you–memory is really interesting in how it gets unpacked and packed, and so there’s a lot of people working to erase trauma. Again, to ease kind of like traumatic memories. It’s to like kind of delude them. It’s hard to talk about in like sound bite sort of way…I’ve talked to a lot of neurologists and I mean, like listen that’s the kind of science fiction-y part about the show is the drug, but it is based on some very real research that is going on.

LD: The character of Patterson often has to deal with a ton of techno-jargon, do you ever look at your script and just go ‘Wow…’?
Ashley  Johnson (plays Forensic Scientist “Patterson”): Every time. [laughs] Every time whenever we you know, we get the scripts maybe a week in advance? I don’t know maybe sometimes a little bit more and every time I sort of read through it–it’s just panic sets in. Every time. And the episode that we’re doing now…just everytime I see the new stuff I just, I panic a little. But then, you know, we don’t have a choice. We have to do it. And it’s fun.

LD: Do you go out and research the same as Patterson does?
Johnson: Yeah. A lot of the time…with a character like this you have to do a lot of research, but it’s fun because I’ve learned so much. Just with all of the stuff I’ve had to talk about…I have to do a lot of research [laughs] it’s like I’m in school.

LD: When you have a major mystery at the center of the show and then you’ve wound up being picked up for additional episodes, are you constantly fighting bringing closure to that mystery too soon?
Gero: No, because I was a little arrogant and I designed the show to go a while…So like if we had only done 13, it would have been really not that exciting for fans to be honest, because there would have been no resolution…No but like I know what all the ‘tent pole’ episodes are for the first couple seasons and so like I know what [episode] twenty-two is already…And episode ten which is the last episode of the first half of the season, so it’s the mid season finale, like is a huge twist on the show that propels kind of like a new energy into the back half of the season.

For the actors, are you the type of people that prefers to know the secrets that are going to be revealed on the show to help with how you act or not? Do you ask Martin about it? 
Marianne Jean-Baptiste (plays FBI assistant director, “Mayfair”): In certain instances, there are certain things that will impact a character that I think you need to know. And you need to be alright with. And there are other things that–it’s like you’re picking up the script and you’re just really excited because you want to know what’s going on…Because you’re not going to play it regardless of whether you know about it or not. You’ve then gotta sort of act as if you don’t know it. So it really depends on what it is. For me anyway. It really depends on what the thing is.
Johnson: Right. I would agree. I think that there’s a lot of things that you need to know for the character’s sake–because your character would know–but I think for me, like I’ve had the option to sort of know sort of what the end goal is. Sort of who she really is, I don’t want to know. I want to sort of find out when everybody else finds out or as the show goes along. And I want to discover along with Paterson and it keeps it fun that way, yeah.
Audrey Esparza (Plays FBI Agent “Zapata”): I have a little ‘Martin chat’ before every episode and ask him dumb questions. So I do. But I actually don’t ask too far ahead unless I feel like it’s a question that needs to be answered for me in that episode. I kind of like working from scene to scene, moment to moment. So if it doesn’t affect that particular episode, I try not to grab to much. I think you can only play with the moment.
Rob Brown (Plays FBI Agent “Reade”): Same. We trust Martin. He gives us what we need to know to execute. As a fan of the show that I’m on though, every now and then I’ll kind of tug at him, ‘hey hey hey…’ and he’ll oblige, usually. And you know, sometimes we can snag a little more out of him…

Were there any training courses for you when you got the part?
Esparza: Oh my god we’ve been doing so–we did, we did, after. It was so much fun. First of all we have some incredible FBI and DEA men on the set helping us. And Sullivan Stapleton is an incredible asset. if I’m holding a gun wrong, he’ll definitely let me know. We went to the shooting range, we learned tactical skills. The boys came in knowing a little bit more than me, I’m getting better every day. It’s really important for me, from my dance background, to understand the physical vocabulary of somebody who’s trained that way and yeah, every episode try and get better.
Brown: Everybody in the cast is a really really good athlete, so we just pick shit up as we go along. Anything physical after this, we’ll probably be fine.
Esparza: And we’ll probably absolutely do it ourselves.

LD: Sullivan, do you have more gun experience?
Sullivan Stapleton (Plays FBI Agent “Kurt Weller”): [Laughs] Yeah. You’re in big trouble, Esparza! Yeah it’s just I think I’ve had years of working with weapons. So it is like funny seeing–sometimes they’ll tell people if you’re firing an M4, some people said to portray some of the kick-back of those weapons…they don’t do that. Unless you’re not holding it! [laughs]

LD: Jaimie and Sullivan get into a whole lot of action, do you guys ever get to do stunts?
Baptiste: Yes, stuff is coming up where you know, people who don’t necessarily go out of the office go out of the office and are involved in field stuff.
Johnson: Yeah we may go out into the field a little bit every once and a while. I know for me, I’ve found that I’m very bad at walking and talking and doing other activities [laughs] So you know, I’ll have the dialogue and then they’re like ‘Ok! So you’re gonna walk over here and then you’re gonna type some stuff on the computer and then you’re gonna point up to the screen!’ and I’m like ‘Okay, woah woah woah, I don’t know if I can do all of this at once!’ Which sounds ridiculous but I think with the dialogue that I have it can be a little rough. So those are my stunts. Basically just walking and talking [laughs] is a stunt for me!
Esparza: Yeah.
Brown: We can do more. I’m happy to run around with a gun, we’ve had plenty of that.
Esparza: Lots of running, lots of guns and helicopters.
Brown: There’s action and blowing stuff up, New York.
Esparza: I’ve got a fun fight thing that happens in [episode] 8.
Brown: You’re really showing off
Esparza: I am. I’m just gonna show off all day…
Brown: It’s been very fun. 

LD: When it comes to shooting, do you find you go in with any different mentality on the days you’re shooting the action sequences versus the dramatic days?
Stapleton: No. No, just going in there to do the action and the stunts, I’ve got to wipe the smile off my face and you know, pretend like that’s what we do every day being agents. Yeah, there’s no challenge, it’s just fun.

LD: Jaimie comes from a lot of action roles and how much of that helped like just with her walking onto set and having to function as this amazing fighter?
Gero: Oh yeah…I mean you couldn’t have done it with somebody that had no fighting experience before and Jaimie has an amazing stunt double, Ky Furneaux, who’s just like literally one of the best in the world–recognize game, internationally. So she brings so much to the show and we just take it really seriously. You know what’s exhausting I think for Jaimie and Sullivan is even though they’re done filming some days, they have to go immediately into fight rehearsal. Because these fights are like incredibly complicated and hard to do on television shows. Which is why most television shows don’t have a giant fight sequence every episode. They’re smart, they figured it out, it’s a lot of work. But it’s important to us…So her being able to do action was incredibly important.

Did you know from the beginning that you wanted Jaimie for the role?
Gero: I didn’t know from the beginning, but the second I met her like there could never be any other Jane. It was her or I was just gonna be terribly disappointed. And she kind of felt the same way. So it was like one of those really exciting meetings when we met. We were like ‘Okay this is gonna be great.’.

Being at Comic Con, do you guys have any favorite superheroes? Ashley are you partial to Captain America? [Johnson plays a waitress Cap rescued in the 2012’s Avengers]
Stapleton:Han Solo.
Johnson: [laughs] Um, oh man.
Baptiste: Oh my gosh, that’s a tough one man! I love Batman.
Johnson: Yeah you love Batman
Baptiste: I love Batman.
LD: Which Batman?
Baptiste: I like the Dark Knight stuff. That’s the stuff I love.
Johnson: Daredevil is awesome, I think
Baptiste: What’s his power?
Johnson: Have you never seen it?
Baptiste: I’m not sure. Red. Red outfit?
Johnson: Oh, Marianne…
Baptiste: Is it good? I’m gonna–you’ve got me watching X-Files again, so…
Johnson: I am also such a Deadpool fan. I wanted to see the Jessica Jones stuff because I love–I mean that is exciting. Oh god there’s just so many. I do love Captain America, he’s a little bit too straight laced for me. But he’s great…There’s just so many.
Baptiste: Batman.

Blindspot airs Monday nights at 10pm on NBC.

Nick Robinson talks about “Jurassic World”

Nick Robinson made the leap from the critically acclaimed indie Kings of Summer (2013) to starring in the number one movie of this past summer, Jurassic World. The smash hit features Robinson playing teenager Zach, one of the nephews of park operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Zach, along with his brother Gray (Ty Simpkins), are left to fend for themselves when Jurassic World is overrun by the escaped Indominus Rex. After a quick visit with promotional raptor “Zulu” on the show floor, Zach sat down with me at this year’s New York Comic Con to discuss making the blockbuster.

Lauren Damon: What were your favorite scenes to film?
Nick Robinson: I think my favorite scene to film–one of my favorite scenes to film just on like a practical side was the moment when we open the doors to the old visitors center. Just because that was so cool to see what they were able to think up…Like all the set decoration was like so specific and it was cool to see 22 years later what kind of damage had ensued in this place. And then also the scene where Gray and I are in the back of the veterinary unit and we have to fight off the raptors. That was really fun to shoot just because I felt like an action hero. The whole thing was shaking and we had to like roll a barrel off and stab ’em.

LD: The movie is twenty-two years old and you’re only twenty can you remember the first time you encountered the original? 
Robinson: I don’t know if I remember the exact first time that I encountered it but pretty young. I’d probably say–I remember like at least by like seven or eight having seen it a few times and it’s just a great film. Like all of Spielberg’s stuff, Amblin films, it’s just got real timeless qualities and you know as soon you’re getting into it you’re just going to see something good. You know, John Williams knows how to throw some notes together…it’s just a great movie-going experience.

LD: Did you spend a lot of Ty Simpkins when you guys were cast as these brothers?
Robinson: Yes we did. I think it was by design…From the first day we got to set to when the first day we actually shot it was like about a month and so Ty and I got to just hang out just without any pressures of a camera rolling, and we just got to know each other so that helped a lot.

If you could make a hybrid dinosaur, what kinds of animals would you throw in there?
Robinson: That’s a good question. Maybe a pterodactyl and a raptor with some like falcon and tiger thrown in there for good measure. Just make like the deadliest thing of all time.

When the sequel eventually gets made, how do you see your character fitting in?
Robinson: Maybe Zach goes into train under Owen [Chris Pratt’s character] to be a Navy SEAL and then you know he gets trapped in a love triangle [laughs] between someone and someone so we’ll see what happens. Just an idea…it’s brainstorming.

Working with Chris Pratt was there a lot of jokes being pulled?Robinson: Yes. Yes. That man is like a–he’s a machine, he’s got like an improv brain like nobody I’ve ever met before and he’s…It’s just you never know what is gonna happen. And every day it’s just really fun because he makes it that way. He kind of leads by example and so it was yeah, pretty fun.
Any examples you can share?
Robinson: Um…an appropriate example, I mean, he ate a bug one time. For twenty bucks he ate a bug. Yeah.
Who’s twenty bucks?
Robinson: Who’s twenty bucks? Uh, not mine!

Being we’re at Comic Con, are there any superheroes you’d ever like to play?
Robinson:  Maybe Iron-Man just because he’s got a bad ass suit and that would be fun…
Not Star Lord?
Robinson: Well okay I don’t wanna take that–That’s…that’s Chris. But yeah I’d probably say Iron-Man. This is my first time at Comic Con and I’ve seen a lot of the films killing it right now.

Jurassic World is available to own on blu-ray on October 20th.

NYCC: Doug Jones on Crimson Peak and Hocus Pocus

Doug Jones is one of the busiest performers in Hollywood, but he’s often hard to spot under creature makeup. In the Hellboy series he played Abe Sapien, while in Pan’s Labyrinth he played the alluring Faun and completely terrifying Pale Man (You remember the one…big bloody hands, eyeballs in the middle of them? Yeah. He’s actually a super nice guy!) Both these projects saw Jones collaborating with director Guillermo Del Toro, a successful pairing that will be returning to movie screens this Friday in the gothic horror romance, Crimson Peak. Jones will once again be deep under cover as two of Peak‘s resident haunts. The film is holding its NYC premiere today and I caught up with Doug this past weekend at New York Comic Con to discuss his ongoing collaboration with Del Toro and, seeing as it’s the Halloween season, the enduring appeal of the Disney classic Hocus Pocus in which Jones was the benevolent zombie, Billy Butcherson.

Lauren Damon: How many films have you done with Guillermo Del Toro?

Doug Jones: This is my fifth feature film with Guillermo Del Toro, Crimson Peak is, but I also am a recurring ancient vampire on his TV show, “The Strain”. Then there’s more in the works for other projects coming down next year too.

LD: What was your first project together?

DJ: Mimic. I worked a couple days doing reshoots as their long john bug creatures that took over the New York subway system. You know, as they do! [laughs] A big cockroach will do that. And then that was five years before–that was 1997–and then in 2002ish is when I got a call about Hellboy one. And that’s when our relationship was really cinched in. From working on that. And then he came back around to get me for Pan’s Labyrinth and then after that Hellboy 2, and then after that we had plans for me to be in The Hobbit when he was directing that but then he had to pull out. So I was gone too. Had plans for me in…that HP Lovecraft story, At The Mountain’s of Madness, then that ended up not happening either. So we had a couple near-misses, and then Crimson Peak came along and he threw me in there as couple of his ghost ladies. I’ll be the first ghost–I’m the mother ghost and the bathtub ghost. It’ll all make sense if you’ve seen it.

LD: Now when you see the part are called “Mother ghost” and “Bathtub ghost”, are you just like “What??”

DJ: It’ll make sense, I promise! [laughs] 

LD: Do either of these ghost have particular quirks that you can talk about?

DJ: Well first of all playing ladies was interesting. And the other lady ghosts are played by Javier Botet–another tall skinny guy from Spain. He was the mother–or Mama ghost– in Mama. And so between he and I, Guillermo likes tall skinny guys playing women, apparently! So we’re gonna do that.

LD: Now are these characters actually on set or added in post-production?

DJ: No I was on set, filmed it on set. They probably had CG people –like the visual effects people were on set to supervise a couple of moments because, as you saw in the trailers, the ghosts are kind of see-throughish. So we’re kind of like made out of vapor yet we were filmed practically on set.

LD: Speaking of tall skinny guys in the film, how was working with Tom Hiddleston?

DJ: Taller than I expected! Yeah when I met him, I was like “Oh my gosh!” But oh yeah, delightful. Now we only brushed by each other briefly in one scene, had a near-miss. But Mia Wasikowska was my main focus. Both my characters interacted with her almost exclusively. But someone asked me recently–because Tom Hiddleston has quite a following as you know…so you might appreciate this question–Someone asked me recently in an interview ‘What does Tom Hiddleston smell like?’ Isn’t that precious? And you wanna know! Cause when I met him, I hugged him hello, he’s a very sweet guy, he’s very very accommodating and very sweet. Now mind you, when I met him I was dressed and made up in a five hour makeup job as the Bathtub ghost, my face is covered with latex foam rubber so unfortunately he smelled like latex foam rubber…because everybody did that day to me.

LD: Now, have you seen the completed film?

DJ: I have not yet. I am gonna see it when you do. I was going to be coming back here to New York for the premiere [today] but…I’m filming Quiji part 2 out in LA so I have to be back for filming. So I’m like, ‘ahh! curses!’ Yeah.

LD: Now moving on, last month I was in Walt Disney World where their Halloween party is Hocus Pocus themed…

DJ: Isn’t that wonderful? I know, I saw a clip of that! Yes!

LD: Why do you think that film has caught on and has such life now?

DJ: I don’t know the whys, I’m just very happy that it does. That it has any life. I think…it’s family-friendly, that always sells, it’s Disney, that always sells, it’s Bette Midler, she always sells, right? And it’s—the witches are not glorified, it’s a good winning over evil story told with lots of humor, lots of visuals and it’s timeless. The styling of the film even, it still holds up today…so it can go on and on. I think it’s only grown in popularity over the years instead of fading like most movies do. So I’m very tickled pink about the home video market. I’m tickled pink about the ABC Family Channel running it multiple times every October and its become like the Wizard of Oz. It’s a sit down event film that the family gathers for so now our original fans are all grown up and have kids of their own. so the audience is only getting broader and broader every year. So I’m very happy. I did not expect that.

Crimson Peak opens this Friday, October 16thYou can read my review here.
Thanks to Doug for taking the time at NYCC to speak with me!