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Paul Rudd opens up about his wild new Audible sci-fi comedy 'Escape From Virtual Island'

By Josh Weiss
Paul Rudd Escape From Virtual Island

Don't you just hate it when the futuristic getaway your mom left you starts to malfunction? For Paul Rudd's character in Escape from Virtual Island, that's just an average Tuesday. Written by John Lutz (a vet of Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Seth Meyers), the scripted Audible Original offers up a comedic take on when your classic sci-fi retreat gone awry.

"I was originally drawn to it because of the people involved," Rudd exclusively tells SYFY WIRE via email. "Several cast members had already been cast and I also knew John Lutz through SNL and Seth's show. When I read it, I was immediately drawn to the humor and how clever it is. So, for me it was a no-brainer."

The 4-hour, 28-minute episodic series takes place in 2038, when rich folks can live our their wildest fantasies on Pengalaman Island, a high-end virtual theme park operated by Derek Ambrose (Rudd). When a notable customer goes missing inside the simulation, Derek and his team come to realize that the computer has become self-aware and won't let anyone escape back into the real world.

"He's a kind of uninspired, and lazy dude who doesn't do much," Rudd says of Derek. "When one of the VIP guests gets lost in the virtual world Derek has to grow up and strike out with this bizarre group of colleagues to rescue him."

As you've no doubt seen in the trailer above, Escape from Virtual Island benefits from an insanely talented voice cast including Jack McBrayer, Paula Pell, Amber Ruffin, Scott Adsit, Jane Krakowski, Seth Meyers, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson, Olivia Wilde, and Henry Winkler.

In terms of Ambrose's main squad, McBrayer plays Beasley, Derek's assistant; Ruffin is Faith, Pengalaman Island's head computer scientist; and Pell is Ramona, head of park security. When things go sideways, they bounce around with Derek to a number of different simulations like a British Royal Navy ship, a Wild West saloon, and a Central Park rom-com.

"Working with all the people involved [was] a lot of laughs," Rudd says. "It was also a cool, new way to try and tell a funny story. And of on top of it all, I never had to go through hair and make-up."

The Ant-Man alum also tells us that while he was mostly alone in the recording booth (a normal occurrence for voiceover work), he did get to perform some lines of dialogue alongside Ruffin and Adsit.

Below, you can listen to a hilarious snippet from Episode 6. In it, the gang jumps to a VR environment secretly created by Derek. It's a place where he goes fishing with his virtual dad (Winkler).

While he didn't have to go through the headache of putting on a costume or make-up every day, Rudd did square off with one unexpected challenge during the process of recording his lines: almonds.

"Each day when I'd arrive, there was a bowl of almonds, which is terrible for VO because they get stuck in your throat," he reveals. "I ate them anyway! We all would make jokes about the almonds (as well as eat them) and boy oh boy, did we laugh. In fact, if I listen real closely, I think I can hear the readers laughing at this unexpected, very human anecdote."

To close things out, we asked Mr. Rudd what fantasy he'd live out if he actually had a virtual island at his disposal.

"I'm not discounting the idea we're actually all living on a virtual fantasy island," he concludes. "That said, the ability to fly."

Escape from Virtual Island goes on sale tomorrow (April 2). It's available for pre-order right here.