The sky was the limit when it came to voice casting “The Last Kids on Earth.”
Based on Max Brallier’s graphic novel, the animated Netflix series follows Jack (Nick Wolfhard) and his teenage friends, who spent much of the first season playing video games and zombie-fighting in a post-apocalyptic world that wiped out most of humanity.
Although the first season (and the source material) was primarily focused on Jack’s point of view, Season 2 was a time to open up the world, per the executive producers.
The approach was, “If we could have anyone in the world, who would we have?” Brallier says. They wanted “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill but thought, “Why would he ever want to do this?”
In order to entice Hamill to voice Bardle, a wise monster who is the leader of the monsters who have taken over the pizza parlor, Joe’s Pizza, they created a video asking him to do the show rather than attempting more traditional methods such as phone calls or texts. Brailler and Peterson propped up an iPhone and after briefly describing the character, “spent two minutes gushing about his work. It was a lot of pleading. A lot,” Brallier chuckles.
Hamill had not heard of the books when he was first contacted, but Brallier likes to assume the two-minute video was the determining factor in him lending his voice to the show. Showrunner Scott Peterson adds, “He said ‘yes’ straight away.”
Once Hamill had signed on and accepted the part, Brallier sent him a signed set of the series. When Hamill came in to record the voice of Bardle, Brallier was paid the ultimate compliment, “Right off the bat, he said something to the extent of, ‘I wish I had these books when I was a kid. It would have made me a reader,'” he recalls.
“Evil Dead’s” Bruce Campbell also makes an appearance in the new season as a monster who goes by the name Chef, works alongside Bardle at the pizza parlor, is always grouchy and cooks mediocre cuisine at best.
“We created a character just for Bruce because we wanted to bring him into the series and go wild with it,” Peterson says.
Each season of the show is based on one of the books in the series and produced by Jennifer McCarron and Matthew Berkowitz of Atomic Cartoons, but with the idea of “going wild and stepping outside the book” in mind, Brallier says, Catherine O’Hara’s character Skaelka was not only introduced briefly in Season 1 but also returns in Season 2. Skaelka is a vicious and enthusiastic monster with an obsession for decapitation.
Outside of the monsters, the second season also saw a new storytelling opportunity that the books didn’t provide: a chance to flesh out the other characters Quint (Garland Whitt), Jane (Montse Hernandez) and Dirk (Charles Demers).
“That for me was the best part,” says Brallier. “We could sit with the writers and discuss what readers didn’t get to see or read in the books.”
“The Last Kids on Earth” is now streaming on Netflix.