The Tick has been around since 1986 when cartoonist Ben Edlund brought him to life. After comic book series, an animated series, one live-action series, the blue superhero and his sidekick Arthur came back on the digital platform for 10-episode long series on Amazon Prime Video.
While Peter Serafinowicz of Shaun of the Dead plays The Tick, Search Party alum, Griffin Newman, plays his sidekick Arthur Newman. In a conversation over phone, Newman talks about handling the pressure of iconic character and a possible new battle cry for Arthur. Excerpts:
1. What made you join the superhero bandwagon?
What made me join was that they invited me to join! It wasn’t my choice, I was begging them to let me on and I got lucky that they relented. I was a fan of The Tick, of the previous shows, previous versions, and when I read the script for the pilot, I just fell in love with it and it was the most I had ever wanted to play a character. So it’s just a process of trying to convince everyone in a position of power to entrust me with that responsibility.
2. How did you handle the pressure of portraying one of the cult favourite side kicks? Any tricks in your bag?
I was a big fan, but I became an even bigger fan once I got the part. I just went back in to watch, re-watch all the episodes of the previous shows and then tried to read all the comics so I had as much grounding in my mind as possible to have that to fall back on. But I felt that the script was so strong, so much of the characterisation was right there and it was so different from the previous versions that there was a lot of freedom of how to play it, not feel to behold into who the character has been before.
3. Arthur Everest is an accidental, reluctant superhero. How did you approach the character who was on the fence and then suddenly finds himself narrating of the show?
I think that situation is just like what I felt working on the show. There was a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure that was placed in you that an actor cannot mess up this whole series that has so much riding on it. So anytime I needed to conjure up the sort of terror that Arthur would feel, I would just think about the stakes surrounding me and my employment.
4. Apart from Arthur and The Tick which is your favourite character in the series?
I am a big fan of Ms Lint, who is one of the main villains we face. An unorthodox depiction of a superhero who is kind of after crime, not fully awash, just a little fracture in her cool exterior. I find that character really funny. And Walter, my stepfather, I just think he is such a perfect depiction of well-intentioned blend that sort of drives a character crazy. These are the probably two favourite characters.
5. Which was the most difficult scene you had to do?
Episode five of the series! I think the first 2/3rds of the episode at least was about flying. I am up in the air trying to figure how to get back down, with a lot of dialogues, sort of talking to The Tick over the phone, trying to figure out how to get myself back down to the ground. That was technically very difficult. Here I am, being hoisted up on wires, up off the ground with the green screen and other actors in the scene are actually there. So it’s really kind of just pure make-believe in a way you don’t often have to do. But thankfully, Arthur was supposed to be terrified and in discomfort the entire time, so I could just use the anxiety.
6. The one thing you want fans of the blue superhero to notice more than anything?
The thing that I find most refreshing about the show is just how sincerely good The Tick is, as a character. How kind and selfless he is. Just driven by a desire to help people without any need for acclaim or attention. He just truly cares about people and is trying to be a force for the good in the world. I think that kind of selfless empathy and the pro-active care is something that we could use more of in the world today. I hope people notice that how effective a character, who is so driven by kindness, can actually be.
7. What would be Arthur’s battle cry if you were in charge of assigning it to him?
Well, in the cartoon, his battle cry is ‘not in the face,’ which is what he yells out to try and stop people from punching him in the face, which I am a big fan of. I think that’s probably Griffin’s battle cry would be in real life in that sort of situation! I think Arthur is very straight forward. He’s got more of a strategic mind and awareness than Tick does. So I think he probably would be pretty straight forward and yell, ‘please stop being bad,’ or something overly earnest like that.