‘The Tick’ Interview: Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman Discuss the Crazy Superhero Series

Amazon Studio’s The Tick returns for the second half of season one on February 23, 2018. Starring Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman, the hilarious, binge-worthy half-hour comedy is set in a world in which superheroes have been accepted as real and seeing a large man in a weird blue suit with antenna walking the streets doesn’t draw double takes from passersby.

Teamed up together for our exclusive phone interview, Serafinowicz and Newman discussed what fans of the Amazon Prime Video series can look forward to in season one’s second half. They also talked about how the characters have developed, the scripts, and answered the most important question of all: Is The Tick always naked or never naked?

Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman The Tick Interview:

It’s hard not to fall in love with this series. How much of a joy is it to get each script?

Peter Serafinowicz: “Well, you know, it’s funny. It is quite a joyous thing to read these scripts. I remember when I read the first four scripts of the series proper after the pilot, I read the first four in one go. I was just struck by the beauty of the writing. I was quite overwhelmed, actually. I thought, ‘Wow, this is something pretty special.’”

Griffin Newman: “I remember that moment specifically because we waited almost a year in between when we did the pilot and when we got those scripts for the season. I think Peter and I were both so relieved and overjoyed by how exciting we found those episodes.

But I do think it’s a two-pronged thing because I’ll read the episode and get so excited by the scope of imagination and ingenuity on display, and then you go, ‘Wait, we have to actually make this! How are we going to do this?’ Some of the scenes are so wild. And then you go, ‘I’m going to be the guy in the shower? I’m going to have to carry the bus?’ (Laughing) So, it’s like I’m so glad he wrote this and now how am I not going to mess this up.”

It’s a really tough tone you have to strike with the show. It’s sweet, but it can’t be overly so. Is it difficult to find that right tone?

Peter Serafinowicz: “I think that tone is such an important thing, and particularly for this show it is. I think that Ben (Edlund) has done such a fantastic job of maintaining this tone whereby these crazy characters can exist in this world that feels like a real, functioning world and these characters that are…well, in my case my character is super extreme but you care about these characters. They’re not just like ciphers. They’re not just there for gags or effects. You care about them all and I think to tie them all together with tone, to weave them all together in this world where you believe that all these people can exist and these things can actually happen, is quite a feat. So, yeah, I think it’s tricky though, isn’t it?”

Griffin Newman: “Yeah, that was like the biggest shift from the previous versions of The Tick to our version here was adding that extra flavor of trying to get that emotional honesty. I think we were all not scared but very aware that the success of the show was going to ride on if we could find a way to balance that with the absurdity, with the space of the superhero world and all that.

I remember on the pilot we did rehearsals and would come up with three versions of every scene. Like, we did the more straight version, the most comedic version, and the middle version so that when we got on set to actually film, we knew what the range was and we could kind of pick and choose. As the season went on, I think it started to develop as like a second nature where we started to be better at identifying what that tone was. But it definitely took some trial and error to find the right balance of everything.”

The Tick Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman Interview
Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman in ‘The Tick’ (Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Did you find more often than not that you were sticking with the middle ground rather than the most comedic or serious versions?

Griffin Newman: “I mean, it’s weird for me because I think Arthur’s kind of the dial on the show in between the two worlds: the heightened superhero world and the sort of real world with real problems. So, I feel like when Arthur’s in real situations – if he’s at work, if he’s with his family, on his day-to-day life – I tend to go bigger and more comedic because he’s then usually the unusual circumstance. In superhero scenes, I usually try and dial it back because The Tick is so big, Lint is so big, and all these other characters that I feel like it’s my job to be the human element. So, it’s trying to ride that line and figure out what your character’s responsibility is in that scene because you want to always have one foot in each side.”

Peter, has it become second nature to slip into the character and into that costume. Do you feel like you’re really The Tick at this point?

Griffin Newman: “The costume is very easy to slip into. It’s easy to put on and take off.” (laughing)

Peter Serafinowicz: “I don’t know if it’s second nature…I suppose it’s more like first nature for me. It’s got to the point where, yeah, I don’t really even think about what I’m doing as an actor. The words just kind of transform themselves. I say them, I do what the script says, and that seems to be how The Tick works himself, you know?”

Griffin Newman: “The Tick definitely behaves in his world like he’s playing off a script. Like, there’s a pre-set script of how a superhero talks and behaves, and he’s just not internalizing his decisions at all. He’s just moving forward.”

Peter Serafinowicz: “Yeah. And I know as well from the pilot and the early episodes of the series I would think, ‘How would The Tick say this or do this?’ And pretty quickly I stopped thinking about that. I didn’t need to; I just did it.”

Griffin Newman: “I feel like Arthur’s the opposite where it’s just like trying to be as conscious of everything around me at all times. Like when the cameras roll, I launch into a mode of being super observant and hyper aware and struggling to process everything because Arthur’s just constantly overcome by everything. That is his real superpower – not even the suit but his super awareness and his ability to recognize what’s happening around him and analyze what should be done.”

Do you find yourselves breaking a lot on set or at this point are you able to keep yourself under control, no matter the lines or scenes?

Griffin Newman: “It’s weird. We actually don’t break that much I think because we both get so deep into these characters’ heads. I will often at the end of the night if I’m describing what we filmed to someone else, go like, ‘Wait, that was absurd! I spent 10 pages today talking to a dog!’ But the scene feels very serious when you’re in it.

There’s one specific joke that you ad-libbed that I couldn’t get through. I don’t think there is a clean take of it without me breaking. I haven’t seen the episode yet, but I assume they used one where my face is not visible. […] We’ll let people discover that when it happens, but there was one moment that I just thought was such a perfect, beautiful Tick on a totally different wavelength from anyone else that Peter had. No matter how many times I heard it, it never stopped being funny.”

The Tick Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz Interview
Griffin Newman and Peter Serafinowicz in ‘The Tick’ (Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video)

I love the relationship The Tick and Arthur has developed over the first half of season one. What can fans look forward to from that relationship in the second half of the season?

Griffin Newman: “I think it’s The Tick and Arthur really working as a team now. There was a lot of resistance on Arthur’s part to buy into what The Tick was saying and to allow this guy into his life because he’s terrifying. But, that wall has been broken. I think they love each other now. There’s not the same level of resistance. I think you get to see all the levels that plays out in terms of us fighting together, our fighting others together, in terms of how we talk, we strategize.”

Peter Serafinowicz: “Yeah, we’re really inside each other’s heads at this point. That resistance that was there at the start, it kind of shifts a little bit towards the other way with The Tick resisting Arthur a little bit. But, generally, they’re really super in tune with each other.”

Griffin Newman: “Yeah, and maybe that’s the shift in the dynamic is that The Tick resists a little more in the second half. (Laughing) But, also, The Tick and Arthur are each one half of a functional person and so they start realizing how to coordinate together so that they can walk and talk successfully. They’re like two kids stacked up on top of each other in a trench coat. Together they resemble one vaguely normal adult.”

Peter, is The Tick always naked or is he never naked?

Peter Serafinowicz: (Laughing) “I just don’t know. I don’t know! I can’t even answer that question truthfully about myself. Well I can tell you that I am naked right now.”

Griffin Newman: “He is very naked. I’ve been trying to cover him up and he keeps throwing the towel on the other side of the room.”

Peter Serafinowicz: (Laughing) “I’m naked for this one.”

Griffin Newman: “It’s a good question. We redesigned the suit from the pilot to episode two and sort of just acknowledged that he looks different, but also didn’t really dig into that which I appreciate. So, it does set a standard that whatever his physical form is, he’s somewhat malleable. So that, to me, feels more organic than chosen. That’s a clue to me, perhaps. I’m not speaking from any inside information, just as a fan who’s over-analyzing the text. Perhaps we’re seeing more of a naked creature who’s going through different physical changes, going through puberty perhaps or a larval stage, than a guy who’s getting his other suit back from the dry cleaners.”

Peter, do you think The Tick really wants to understand where he came from or do you believe that’s something he just thinks he should want to understand?

Peter Serafinowicz: “I think he thinks that he should want to understand. All he really wants to do is to be a superhero and for Arthur to be at his side. Those are the only two things he really, really wants to do. He’s not super interested. He thinks he ought to be, but I think you’re right. He feels like he ought to be.”

Griffin Newman: “It makes The Tick insecure to realize that everyone else cares about that, because The Tick is really not interested in self-awareness, but Arthur is so crippling self-aware that I think a lot of his journey in these new episodes in the second half of season one is him going, ‘Wait, is this something I should be aware of? Should I know who I am?’ And the mere fact that that’s not something that ever seemed natural to him I think throws him into a crisis more than the fact that he doesn’t know.”