Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum and senior TV reporter Daniel Holloway talk with Seth Rogen about creating “Future Man” for Hulu. Then, Josh Hutcherson chats with Birnbaum about why he signed on for the show.
Rogen says the comedy series actually started out as a movie that his longtime collaborators Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir were working on before they transitioned it into a TV show, along with executive producer Matt Tolmach. “The movie script had this funny thing where right when it ended, is when you wanted to start really watching it,” he laughs. “We thought, it’s not good for a movie, but it’s kind of good for the pilot of a television show.”
Rogen also explains the simple premise he and his producing partner Evan Goldberg abide by when taking notes from studios. “We just listen to the ones we like and make them think we’re listening to the ones we don’t like, even though we’re not,” he jokes. “Never argue. That’s a big part of it.”
Among the influences on “Future Man” are “Back to the Future” and James Cameron movies, Rogen shares.
“It’s heavily and very knowingly inspired by a lot of things,” he says. “It’s not like we’re spoofing them. We’re more existing in a world where some of those tropes have come true and we’re able to acknowledge that.”
Rogen says the ability to binge watch the series adds to its appeal.
“When it’s a show that has cliffhanger endings and is really about the piece as a whole and the story as a whole, and how those episodes weave together and surprise you and take twists and turns, those are the kind of shows I would watch in a big chunk basically, and this is one of those shows,” he says. “That to us was important.”
In the second half of the podcast, Hutcherson talks about his character (also named Josh), who is janitor at a sexual disease curing center by day and a hardcore video gamer by night.
Hutcherson says he met Rogen and crew on the set of “The Disaster Artist,” which is produced by Rogen and Goldberg, and also sees Hutcherson and Rogen in supporting roles.
“They pitched me the rough idea, and it sounded absolutely insane, super original time-traveling comedy with the Seth Rogen ‘Sausage Party’/’This Is the End’ brand of comedy,” he recalls. “It sounded really great.”
Hutcherson refers to joining the project as “oddly an easy decision,” adding, “It’s so different than anything I’ve done before.”
The long hours were “brutal,” Hutcherson says. “Each episode has a massive action set piece for a half hour comedy, which is nuts.”
Hutcherson also touched on the show’s self-referential allusions to ’80s film.
“There are so many references and Easter eggs of obscure science fiction that went right over my head,” he admits. “People that are really hardcore fans of the genre will really be able to latch onto those things as well.”
And because it’s a Rogen project, there will inevitably be raunchy scenes, which Hutcherson says he’s hesitant for a very particular audience to see.
“My grandma, she’s my No. 1 fan, and I don’t know what to do,” Hutcherson laughs. “I’m very nervous. I think about this every time I talk about the show or I think about my grandma.”
Hutcherson also talked about working on the “Hunger Games” trilogy and what his character on “Future Man” has in common with Peeta Mellark.
“One of his strongest driving forces is empathy and pacifism,” Hutcherson explains. “I think Peeta understood that and that was a big part of who he was, and Josh Futterman is trying to save the world without having to conform to these people that are extremely violent and brutal. There’s definitely some overlap.”
You can listen to this week’s podcast here: