TV Ties: Supernatural Alum Rob Benedict Talks The Sidekick [Exclusive]
These days, superheroes are a big deal. They’ve always been, of course, but it seems like, right now, we’ve entered a Golden Age where the need to see stories about these powerful fictional individuals is at an all-time high. They step up in times of danger and we respond. We accept all their flaws, we savor every victory and agonize over their defeats.
But there’s more to this world than heroes like Superman and Batman. There’s the support team. The ones who tirelessly work alongside the heroes to ensure the bad guys get their due. They’re not the ones that get all the glory. But they’re often essential to the action.
Synopsis for The Sidekick:
The Sidekick is a fresh comedic take on the superhero genre, as well as an allegory about the struggle to find oneâ€™s purpose in life even as one is beingâ€¦ repurposed.
In a world populated by fairly unremarkable superheroes and supervillains — portrayed by an ensemble of comedic actors including Ron Livingston (Boardwalk Empire), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley), Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Sam McMurray (Cristela), Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project), Josh Meyers (The Awesomes), Laura Silverman (The Comeback) and Fred Stoller (WordGirl) — Max McCabe (Benedict) has thrived for years as right hand man to legendary superhero Captain Wonder (Livingston) – carrying his bossâ€™ golden lasso and yelling catchphrases like, â€œLook out!â€ and â€œHere, catch!â€
When Max, now pushing 40, grows lazy and indifferent, he is fired and quickly discovers that society has little use for an aging ex-professional buddy. But a cute and quirky school teacher Bailey (Caplan) helps him discover that there may be a place for him in the real world after all.
We recently corresponded with Benedict and asked the Supernatural alum all about writing and starring in the movie that premiered at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2013. The Sidekick seems to be a project that has legs. With this digital release comes a whole new audience that loves everything that has to do with this genre.
TV GOODNESS: How did you come up with the idea for The Sidekick?
Rob Benedict: It was a sort of mid-life crisis I was going through! I’d just turned 40 and I thought, you know, if I ever quit acting, there’s really nothing else I’m qualified to do– I majored in theater, this is the only thing I’m skilled in. Â It’s too late for me to be a doctor, lawyer or any kind of skilled technician. And I thought the superhero sidekick was a good allegory for that. What happens to Robin when he’s in his 40s and not quite keeping up like he used to?
TV GOODNESS: Why did you decide to highlight the sidekick? What is it about being a sidekick that appealed to you?
Rob: I’ve always kind of been the sidekick – both personally and professionally. I’ve always related to the guy behind the guy. And I thought in what world is that guy the lead? I wanted to see what the sidekick and his sidekick buddies talked about in their off time. Did they like their job as the second? Did they secretly hate their boss? Â So it was fun writing a story where the focus was the sidekick’s struggle to find it in himself to be the #1 in his story.
TV GOODNESS: What is your favorite moment or line of dialogue from your film and why?
Rob: I’ve got a lot of favorites. If I had to choose itâ€™s probably when Martin Starr’s character (who is a bad guy but recognizes Max, “from work”) and gives him a what’s up. They catch up and then he hits Max and explains that he’s still on the clock. And then he looks around and whispers “blood diamond,” his own name, and scampers away.
TV GOODNESS: Talk about the cast — there are so many great actors and comedians in this film. How did you get everyone to participate?
Rob: These are all people Iâ€™ve known for several years. I wrote most of their parts with them in mind. I just put out the feelers â€” sent the script and they agreed to do it. I was incredibly lucky that way. It really is a dream cast – to have that in a short film is rare.
TV GOODNESS: How did you decide who would get to play what character?
Rob: From the time I wrote many of the roles I had specific people in mind â€” I always wanted Lizzy (Caplan) to play Bailey, she has that perfect cute but quirky energy. I always knew I wanted Ike Barinholtz and Jordan Peele to play my sidekick buddies. Martin Starr was the perfect fit for Blood Diamond. The only person that I wasnâ€™t sure Iâ€™d get was Ron (Livingston). I had only recently met him and someone pointed out that he would be the perfect Captain Wonder. I thought the idea was genius. I put out the feelers and he agreed to do it.
TV GOODNESS: And talk about the experience of making the film — it had to be so much fun to shoot.
Rob: It was an absolute blast. Many times as we were shooting I had to step away and kind of pinch myself and take in the fact that this was so awesome that we’re actually doing it.
TV GOODNESS: How long did it take to shoot? And what was the most challenging part of the shoot?
Rob: We shot it in five very long days. Itâ€™s always a challenge when you produce something and youâ€™re also in itâ€¦but incredibly gratifying. The most challenging part was working out shooting logistics while also trying to play the scene right. For example, in the laundromat, we were running out of time, we had to be out of the place by a certain time. And Iâ€™m trying to play the scene but Iâ€™m also thinking, â€œWe gotta make this quick!”
TV GOODNESS: Why is this film perfect for those of us who love everything that’s related to superheroes?
Rob: Weâ€™ve created a world of fictitious superheroes who behave like normal people. The thing I personally love most about superheroes is when they act like real people. The human quality of Superman, Batman, the Hulk. That is what the film is about: they do laundry, talk about their bosses, pine over relationshipsâ€¦.just like real people do, except theyâ€™re in spandex.
TV GOODNESS: Talk about your experience with The Sidekick at Comic-Con — what was that like for you to have people watch it and love it?
Rob: It was amazing. We had thousands of people and the movie played on four different screens. Â It was the perfect audience for it. I looked around and thought, â€œThese are my people.â€
TV GOODNESS: Who is your sidekick in real life — and how do they contribute to your life?
Rob: I guess Iâ€™d have to say my dog. Heâ€™s the perfect sidekick. Always by my side, defending me from the evil mailman, loves me no matter what. The only problem is that he too is getting old. But I donâ€™t have the heart to fire him.
TV GOODNESS: Who is your favorite fictional sidekick and why?
Rob: Robin is the quintessential sidekick to me. He is simply Batmanâ€™s right hand man â€” always on his side, he is speedy, throws a good punch and knows just when to say â€œLook out!â€ Honorable mentions go to Bucky, Sancho Panza, and Tonto.
TV GOODNESS: Have the Supernatural fans seen your filmÂ yet — what are they saying?
Rob: Many of them have. They as always are very supportive. Everyone is saying great things. They especially like the scene with me and Richard Speight Jr. (Gabriel/The Trickster, Supernatural)â€¦
TV GOODNESS: And now that we know Chuck is around again — when will you return to Supernatural?
Rob: I canâ€™t tell you that! Even if I knowâ€¦.which I donâ€™tâ€¦I couldnâ€™t tell you! But it was nice to be there for the 200th episode. Itâ€™s nice to be around again.
TV GOODNESS: What’s next for you?
Rob: Iâ€™ve got a lot of writing projects that we are looking into producing. And looking for that next killer sidekick role!!
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