Vanessa Hudgens Interview on ‘Powerless,’ Superheroes, and Comedy

Vanessa Hudgens stars in Powerless
Christina Kirk, Alan Tudyk, Vanessa Hudgens and Danny Pudi star in ‘Powerless’ (Photo Credit: NBCUniversal)
Vanessa Hudgens says that when audiences tune in to check out the pilot episode of NBC’s Powerless set in the DC Comics universe, they’ll get to see superheroes Crimson Fox and Jack O’Lantern in action. But while superheroes will show up, the comedy series is actually about real people left to deal with the mess created after superheroes perform their heroic actions. Hudgens plays a claims adjuster who helps put the city back together in the aftermath of epic superhero battles.

The series marks the first DC Comics-inspired TV comedy and will air later this year or early 2017 on NBC.

Vanessa Hudgens Interview:

What was it about this show that drew you in?

Vanessa Hudgens: “I never really thought about doing TV. When I started entertaining the idea I was like I’d want to do something that was a comedy, something that’s lighthearted, makes people laugh because those are the type of shows that I love. My favorite shows are Parks and Recreation and The Office, which are both NBC workplace comedies. So, I knew that they know what they’re doing and the fact that this was falling under the same umbrella was like it’s going to be something that I would like to watch which means I should probably do it.”

When you get a call about being in a superhero universe show but find out you’re not going to be wearing a cape, what was your reaction?

Vanessa Hudgens: “Well, for me it was always pitched first as a work space comedy which I love. But the fact that it’s taking on a whole new perspective in the world of superheroes I thought was so smart because whenever you see superheroes in a film, all the spotlight is on them entirely. They have super epic battles in the middle of the city, and they just leave the city in rubble. Like, what happens afterwards? What is the aftermath of that? That’s what we get to explore. We get to be the people living in the world full of superheroes and villains, picking up after them because we work for an insurance company and trying to find our own strength as a person living in a world full of these people who are bigger than life, which makes you feel even smaller.”

How much mythology did you have to know about superheroes and special powers?

Vanessa Hudgens: “I mean, I definitely have a lot of work cut out ahead of me. My character is the head of claims so she is dealing with the superheroes on a daily basis – not them personally, but their actions and how it affects other people. I did not grow up a big comic book person. I was the girl in the dance studio doing ballet and not reading comics, so I definitely have some homework cut out for me.”

Can you tell what it was about your character that really caught your eye?

Vanessa Hudgens: “It’s really funny because when I first read the script my character was way more timid, very observant, kind of meek. We did our table read and I think they thought why are we making her play this character when she is like this other part of her that I don’t necessarily see personally but I guess is the feisty side, the side that’s got a bit more grit than balls, and so they wrote that in. It changed drastically from what it was originally to where it is now. I just love her because she’s kind of standing for the fact that you don’t need superpowers to be a powerful person. She’s figuring her way out through life, stumbling through but you get to see her do it with like a bunch of really funny people as well.”

So in claims, how tough is your character on the damage these people cause?

Vanessa Hudgens: “I like approving claims. I want to help people, that’s the thing. My character, Emily, she feels like she’s making her way in making the world a better place one claim at a time. When Alan Tudyk’s character comes in, the new boss, he tries to smush that down and to get us to approve less claims. We end up battling it out in a little office rivalry.”

How did you feel about going off script with these other comedians?

Vanessa Hudgens: “It’s very new for me. Comedy isn’t something that I’ve done a lot of, and all these guys are comedians. They’re so funny and so smart. So, I don’t know. I put my feet in the water. I dipped in there a little bit. I’m sure it’s going to continue to happen more and more. But it’s great when you have people who are so clever right there next to you.”

How much of the actual superhero action will audiences get to see?

Vanessa Hudgens: “The superheroes are definitely there. They’re not the focus. But, our pilot opens up with a super battle so you definitely get some action.”

Who makes you laugh the most on the set?

Vanessa Hudgens: “I don’t know. Danny [Pudi] cracks me up. He’s got twin boys but he himself is like a big kid.”

They’ve announced the High School Musical 4. Would you like to be involved to pass the torch?

Vanessa Hudgens: [Laughing] “I did my thing. Let them do theirs.”

Watch the Vanessa Hudgens interview:

(Interview by Fred Topel. Article written by Rebecca Murray.)