Comic-Con: The Sidekick is a hilarious short film 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 Sidekick, 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.
Rob told me in a roundtable that the film, which he hopes to turn into a series, is an allegory to his acting career. “When I turned 40, I realized that being an actor was all I ever had done and all I known to do,” he said. “It’s what I’ve trained for. I feel like this is all I’d ever really be good at, you know? So it’s that realization of “Oh my god it’s too late for me, if I quit acting I’m not qualified to do anything else and no one else would take me.”
I talked to Rob and Lizzy Caplan at Comic-Con, where the film premiered, about the film, where Rob hopes to bring the series, Kick Starter and Lizzy also chats about Party Down.
Rob, were you a superhero fan growing up as a kid? What made you want to write this?
Rob: I always loved Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, like that’s as deep as it went for me. But I was a huge fan of all those characters and the movies, subsequent movies made about them, and, uh, and the comic books. So, and I always found myself identifying with the side kick character, like Robin. I have a brother who’s 6’4” and growing up in his shadow as the little guy, and I’m little now, like I was little little, like thought there was something wrong with me little. He like set records in basketball in high school. And I came in there like “Oh, maybe theatre.” So, I always identified with the buddy, so that was kind of where that all came from in my mind.
When you established this world, you wrote a super hero story, but in a very comedic way, in that it seems as though all are living in a very normal world, where there are super heroes.
Rob: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
What kind of made you want to write out a super hero story that way?
Rob: Well, you know the whole thing for me was an allegory for sort of where I was at in life, and ultimately I think it’s an allegory for anybody who’s sort of getting older and feeling questioning what their real purpose in life is. For me it became, like, when I turned 40 I realized that being an actor was all I ever had done and all I known to do, it’s what I’ve trained for, I’m not, I feel like this is all I’d ever really be good at, you know? So it’s that realization of “Oh my god it’s too late for me, if I quit acting I’m not qualified to do anything else and no one else would take me.” There’s some young whippersnapper who’s much more qualified, so any ways. So that’s kind of what it came out of.
So the fact it was for me a kind of allegory, I wanted it to be real people, not some, I didn’t want to create a fake city. Like for me it took place in LA, it was just in LA, where being a super hero was just another profession, like being an actor.
When you wrote this, did you write this with these guys in mind? Your friends?
Rob: Yeah, yeah. I wrote this with these people in mind and went out like on a limb to ask them to do it because you know these are all very busy actors and they’re all friends of mine, but it’s such a passion project for me, I’m like you know what I’m going to go for it. Like, this is my dream cast, and like, they were all able to do it. It was amazing. Look at all these people, like their fantastic. So, yeah, I really did write it with all of them in mind and it was great. It was such a gratifying feeling that they were able to do it.
Where are you hoping to place the show?
Rob: Well, right now we see it as like a cable show or even internet. We really like the Burning Love model which started on the internet then switched over. Every time Michael and I sit down and talk about it we just, like the Kid Loco story, it just spins into episodes, it feels like that’s what it wants to be. It would be great if it could be, like the Burning Love thing is cool because you can get actors like these guys that are working all the time to come in and do one-off, you know what I mean? And then it’s that kind of world where you can introduce a new character and then they’re gone again and we don’t see them again.
Do you feel like the mediums are different? Like web verses T.V.?
Rob: Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s a different landscape now then it was, you know, even two years ago. So yeah it’s totally legitimate to do it that way, and doable, and you can keep it kind of edgy. This isn’t a network show.
How do you guys feel about that kick starter and what young directors are doing?
Lizzy: I think there’s a really good time and place for it and it’s really awesome to see it working, like the Veronica Mars thing was amazing. But I get like seven kick starter request every day. Like enough.
What about the Party Down movie?
Lizzy: Um, I don’t know, I mean were hoping that it happens. I mean clearly the Veronica Mars thing made us like renew hope in it, but I’m not sure what that wants to be, like talking about the Burning Love thing, I don’t know if Party down wants to be a movie or like an Arrested Development kind of thing. I mean, just getting to do it again would be amazing in any form.