For actor Griffin Newman, getting cast as The Tick’s sidekick, Arthur, is a childhood dream come true. Obsessed with the Fox live-action series from the ‘90s as a kid, Newman couldn’t believe his luck when Amazon and creator Ben Edlund decided to revamp The Tick for a new generation of superhero fans, and binge-style viewing.
In the new sitcom, which drops Aug. 25 on Amazon, neurotic Arthur is actually the protagonist of the show. The Tick is the weirdo in the blue superhero suit, tempting Arthur to bust out of his stabilized life to roam the streets of New York City in a white moth costume. It’s Arthur’s devoted older sister, Dot (Valorie Curry), who gets to worry about what her brother is getting into, and with whom.
In this exclusive interview, we speak to Griffin about how he got the gig, and how it really was a dream come true for the actor with a life-long love of the "SPOON" hero and his sidekick.
I know you were already a fan of Edlund's world, but what was your entry Tick?
My entry was the Fox, Patrick Warburton show. I was about 13 and at the peak of my superhero obsession, not that it’s diminished too much since then. That show came at a really interesting point, which was the year after X-Men, but the year before the first Spider-Man so there wasn’t much live-action superhero stuff out there. I watched it obsessively. When that show ended, that’s when I went back and watched the cartoon.
When you auditioned, did they give you the whole script so you could get a full read on this new Arthur?
I was able to read the whole script going into my first audition, so I could immediately understand what they were trying to do. It was The Tick show I didn’t know I wanted. When I got the email, it was my first confirmation that the show was actually happening. They hadn’t even announced it yet. I was blown away page after page seeing what Ben was actually building. Plus, it became very clear early that this is a really new take on the character, and it’s a lot more centered on him than other versions.
Arthur is a little tragic in the pilot. Did you see the funny buried in that?
My lifelong quest has been to figure out how sad you can make things, and also be funny. It’s what I love when I see that in projects so I’ve attempted to do that kind of thing. The psychology of Arthur was so clear. I just hoped they wanted it to be played real. The gambit I tried to make on this is very often trying to play it like I’m in a drama and the comedy will come out of the juxtaposition between the situations and the visuals, and this really unlikely guy in the middle of it. I put that foot forward.
When did you get a sense you had a chance to get cast?
When I got the call back and I moved along in the process, it made me more desperate to be part of it. I went through the process thinking it would be cool to tell people I got this close to playing Arthur. [Laughs] I assumed they would want to cast someone more well-known than me. I just tried to stand by my guns and see how far I could get. It’s insane that I’m working on it now, a year later.
Were there any chemistry reads with other cast members?
Valorie was the first person cast on the show, so I did my chemistry read with her.
When did they tell you Tick would be played by Peter Serafinowicz?
I got the heads up they cast Peter late, but I’m such a big fan of his, and have been for a long time. I hadn’t even met him yet, and the whole show kind of sinks or swims based on the two of us together. Ben really wanted this [series] to be its own thing. He said he didn’t want us to do impressions of past performances. But fundamentally this is who Arthur and Tick are. It’s almost like a musical pitch you want to hit with both of them. So the first time we met was for a dinner the night before the table read. We got along on a personal level, but we wanted to find the back and forth energy in rehearsals.
There’s something very original about how the pilot sets up Arthur as the sane character next to The Tick.
Yes! As the season develops and the two of us are getting into dangerous situations, Tick becomes a physical caretaker for me because I don’t know what I’m doing. And I’m the one who has to protect him psychologically and emotionally and direct him so he’s not blowing up the wrong building. [Laughs]
How does Arthur’s new path impact his relationship with the very protective, Dot?
There are a lot of different arcs going on in the season, but Arthur hasn’t been allowed a lot of agency or autonomy. Dot has had to constantly direct me, much like I direct Tick away from pitfalls. But now I start to find my calling, that I’ve never had before. As he starts to live more in the superhero world, Dot has to trust him to know what he’s doing.
We also had a chance to catch up with both Griffin and Curry on camera, to discuss their brother/sister dynamic in the series. Check it out below, then let us know if you'll be watching when The Tick debuts Aug. 25 on Amazon.