Comic-Con: The Sidekick is a hilarious short film directed by Michael Weithorn that stars some of the funniest comedic actors working today; Ron Livingston, Lizzy Caplan, Jordan Peele, Martin Starr, Josh Meyers, Laura Silverman and Fred Stoller are among the fantastic cast.
The film, written by and starring Rob Benedict, is the story of Max McCabe (Benedict), a career superhero sidekick. For years, he’s been the sidekick to Captain Wonder (Livingston) but now that he’s about to turn 40, he’s growing lazy and is quickly fired. But, getting a job as a sidekick when you’re 40 years old proves difficult and now Max is on the verge of a mental breakdown.
I talked to Jordan Peele (Sidecar Willy) and Josh Meyers (Jimmy T) in a roundtable interview at Comic-Con where they chatted about their characters, working with the cast, on-set rehearsal and more!
Also, check out my interview below with Director Michael Weithorn and Richard Speight Jr!
Jordan, who do you play?
Jordan: I play Sidecar Willy in the Sidekick.
Sidecar Willy, we’ll have to talk more about that.
Josh: And I’m Jimmy T, you know, not as exciting of a name. Got no reaction from the table. Sidecar Willy and everyone’s like “Oh?”
Jimmy T is just, is just a prick. He’s an uppity sidekick who’s rubbing it in the face of Max, who’s just lost his job as a sidekick.
There has to be one in every movie.
Josh: It always seems to be me. (Laughing) That’s what I play.
Do all your characters have inspirations from another comic book character?
Jordan: That’s a good question. I mean Robbie Benedict wrote the movie and starred in it as well. And I think he directed the characters toward us and like Josh was saying, we all play sidekicks that are in this little sidekick community. I mean the character that I am the sidekick of, I don’t know if there is a parallel to him. He’s like a super fast, uh, sort of mad max-ey motorcycle guy, but you know it just works, it rings true. I can’t point to an actual guy, every different super-hero had a little bit of a different style, like they kind of came from a little bit of a different world, and so did their corresponding sidekicks.
So I’m assuming since your Sidecar Willy that you spend a lot of time in a sidecar.
Jordan: I actually don’t. I have the leather jacket, I got the goggles, the side car is implied. It’s implied.
Josh: Don’t you have like a bad hip or something? From riding the sidecar?
Jordan: That was internalizing.
Josh: That was good. I mean, that’s acting.
Let’s talk about the costumes. Did you guys have any sort of input over what you had to wear? Or did they just present it to you and you were like alright.
Jordan: I mean mine was pretty much straight, tight, white lycra.
It was your choice?
Josh: Yeah, it was my choice. I think just also like a white sort of, uh, you know underpants sort of situation going on, but I didn’t have a lot of input.
Jordan: Certainly was lofted up to us like whatever input you guys have, bring it. Rob is a good friend of ours so there’s a lot of trust. I mean I think he trusts in our experience and ability to kind of put the piece together in character. I think a lot of it, what we work off of well is seeing the outfit and that kind of helping us to create the character. I mean it’s a lot of tights in this movie, I’ll just say it kind of worked. I mean when they showed me, when they first unveiled the Sidecar Willy thing, I was like “alright that it, I see him, yeah.”
Josh: Yeah, and if you put me in white lycra and then give me a spray tan and sort of a little tinting in my hair, it’s amazing the jerk that will come out. So naturally.
Jordan: I didn’t even realize you had a spray tan in that.
Josh: Yeah. It was a slow start to the shooting day and it was the first thing that we wanted to shoot, and I was complaining saying “If this is what’s holding us up we might not need a spray tan.” Rob said like “No. Definitely, we need the spray tan.” So we held shooting so that I could just a few shades browner.
How long was the shoot? And how long where you guys on it?
Josh: I feel like they did four or five days maybe, I worked a day, you worked a couple?
Jordan: I worked a couple days, yeah. Both days were maybe 4 or 5 hours, something like that you know? Just two scenes and I still haven’t seen the movie, the film, I still haven’t seen it but one of the cool things about is there are so many funny people coming in and I think that part of the world getting that variety, it seems like kind of everybody has a scene.
Did you guys rehearse at all? Or was it just like on set?
Josh: It was on set. The scene that I was in was with Jordan and Ike Barinholtz, myself and Rob, in a Laundromat, all friends between twelve and sixteen years. So, it was not something that we really needed to work through, we were pretty confident going in that it was going to be alright. And yeah, it was very loose, we certainly got what was in the script but then we got a lot of things that weren’t on the page.
Jordan: A lot of the humor in the film comes from just taking this heightened reality and just placing it in the most casual, real conversation, real people with real problems, real flaws, so it’s sort of you know, it doesn’t play like any other kind of superhero world you ever seen. It plays on such a small scale level. It; It gets satirical of the whole concept of sidekicks. Which is like, there’s this dude running around admittedly inferior to his partner.
Josh: And he knows, he never aspired to be number one because he knew he didn’t have it in him. It’s that kind of guy.
Going forward with that, I know that there’s plans, there’s hopes to turn this into a series too. Has there been talk about parts for both of your characters? Or do they want to take them?
Josh: Well I think that if, I don’t know if it would go web series, T.V. series, Adult Swim, or something like that where you could have fifteen minute episodes, but I feel like Rob would love to kind of expand and like the Sidecar Willy episode and the Jimmy T. episode, and have it be the type of show you know where you get a lot good people to come in and do a week and then have their episode, and then maybe popping in here or there, but to have that freedom to not sort of lock actors into something and also have, you know, the joy of like “Oh, hey next week I have my sidekick episode.”
Jordan: You got to think that from with the series it would just be, you know a revolving door of comedic talent coming in, just playing a new character, and it would be an ever expanding world.
Another part of the allegory I think, if I remember, it’s kind of like, it feels like actors right?
Jordan: Yeah, I think it’s a bit of that, it’s a bit of Robbie Benedict’s mid-life crises. Which he wrote an article for HuffPo on about that exactly.
I also talked with Director Michael Weithorn and Richard Speight Jr., who also stars in the film. Here we talk about the film and working with friends and how that helps with creativity.
Michael, you directed the film?
Michael: Yeah, I’m the director and I produced it a long with Rob Benedict, the brains of the operation.
Richard: I, on the other hand had a much smaller impact on the whole project, I was an actor in the film and uh, have you gone over what the film is essentially?
No, I haven’t.
Richard: Well, I’m going to ruin, the, it’s called The Sidekick and I’m a sidekick but I’m not the Sidekick, Rob Benedict is The Sidekick.
Michael: And by the way, I want to say that Richard actually had a much bigger role than that would suggest, he was incredibly instrumental, he’d done a film and Rob and Richard were friends, and Richard was incredibly helpful in helping us navigate the process and putting us together with people, behind the scenes, you know crew and cast, and we couldn’t have done it without him.
It seems there were a lot of “it was friendly.” It was friends out with friends.
Richard: Oh god no, there was so much drugs and alcohol on that set, and the fighting?
Well that’s friendly, right?
Richard: Well you’d think, but then what happens is when you get to high that’s when it becomes about fighting, brawling, and cursing. And grabbing, there was a lot of grabbing. You know it was a very nice group of people.
But I think that is, I mean the team [Michael and Rob] put together, they had a great piece of material, [they]sort of called from your friends, you know for crew and cast that would work together, so that everybody was there because they wanted to be there. Nobody was collecting a pay check; they were there because they enjoyed the material and wanted to be a part of it.
Does it help with creativity?
Michael: Yeah, you know I have worked almost exclusively my whole career for network television and so to do something like this where there’s no budget and people are just doing it as a labor of love, and are there because they want to, it just changes the dynamic so completely in a wonderful way, and these guys all knew each other. I knew Rob, but I didn’t know a lot of his friends who came and just to get a chance to work with the, with such incredibly talented people, who are just there, just to kind of have fun and do it. There’s no agenda, there’s no prima-donnas, it’s just everybody there just to kind of do it.