So how’s the press tour going?
It’s good, man. I’m excited that people are finally able to see the whole show in its entirety right away. I think people are going to enjoy it.
I’ve seen the first six episodes, and it seems like a show ideal for Netflix binge-ing — it’s just fun to spend time with these characters.
It’s great. You’ve seen the first six, so you kind of know the world they’re living in, but right around Episode 6 or 7 it just takes this really interesting turn that I think is going to surprise pretty much everyone watching. So I’m excited to see what people think about that.
What drew you to animated comedy? Did you just need a break from all the drama in “Breaking Bad” and “Need for Speed”?
[laughs] I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe. I’ve always wanted to do an animated series. I wanted to find the right one. You know there’s a lot of them. I think you’re right. For the past six years I’ve been doing something so heavy — and it was so great, and I wouldn’t obviously change it for anything — but I did always gravitate toward the darker things, the more affected characters in a way. So this is a nice change of pace.
When this came to me, it was just a 10-page treatment, and there was no studio or network behind it at that time. When they approached me with it, Noel Bright, one of our producers, and Raphael [Bob-Waksberg], our creator, they asked if I would like to develop it with them and I read it and I thought it was brilliant and I said, “Yes. Of course. I would be honored.” So we kind of got our dream cast together, and then we recorded it and did a little bit of animation to it and decided to start pitching it around. The first place we took it to — really, the first and only place we took it to — was Netflix and they told us pretty much right away that they wanted to give us the green light. It was very exciting for all of us.
Todd, your character on “Bojack Horseman,” and Jesse from “Breaking Bad” have a very similar vibe. Same hoodie. Same slacker demeanor (at least that’s how Jesse started). Is that a coincidence, something you brought to the character, or a way for you to put a funny face on an animated version of Jesse?
Yeah, I think it’s a funny coincidence and maybe a little tip of the hat to the character I once played — and it’s funny that his name is Todd, my arch-nemesis on “Breaking Bad” — but he’s just a fun-loving guy who just wants everyone around him to be happy. He’s definitely a slacker, but he’s a good guy.
In the fourth episode, Todd writes and performs a Space Rock Opera.
Did you have any hand in writing those very special lyrics?
I mean, I knew that it was happening pretty early on when we were recording the second episode and they were planning on doing this whole rock opera episode, and I was very, very excited. I had no hand in writing the rock opera, but I did bring the rock opera to life. I kind of figured out on my own Todd way how I thought Todd would sing it, and I think Raphael and I kind of fine-tuned… I mean, it was brilliant. Let’s be honest. [laughs]
I just listened to the most incredible CD, and when I first started hearing it, the CD was on shuffle so the songs were just scattered. It was kind of like a rock opera, but I didn’t know — I mean, it was like a rock opera — but I didn’t know when I first started listening to it. Oh my God. What’s his name? It’s called “15 Minutes.” You have to listen to it. One second. I have to —
[to a friend] Hey, Angel! Who sings “15 Minutes”? Yeah, the rock opera. [Angel: “Barry Manilow!”]
Barry Manilow. Oh my God. You have to just download it and do yourself a favor and listen to it. When I started listening to it, I was like, “What is this?” And then it would skip to Track 7 and it would be something completely different and it seemed like it had this really, kind of sad musician singing. Then you realize, “Oh. It’s a kind of rock opera.” It’s all about this guy’s kind of rise and fall, trying to get his 15 minutes of fame. It’s amazing. Anyway, sorry. I went off on a tangent.
No, that’s great. I will absolutely take you up on that recommendation, but before you have to go, I was curious about your relationship with Netflix and streaming TV shows. Vince Gilligan credited Netflix for a lot of “Breaking Bad’s” success. Did that exposure and immediate, full season release factor into your decision to pitch to the company? Why did you think this would succeed on a binge-able platform when “Bojack” and “Breaking Bad” are such different shows?
We went to Netflix because Netflix didn’t really have any original animated content, and also, how people are watching shows now — everyone is just binge-watching. That’s just how people are doing it. That’s the future. That’s at least what I think the future is, but there is something special about watching a show from week to week. You have that week sort of buffer in between each episode to let each episode marinate and it’s nice, but let’s be honest: we always just want to know what the hell’s happening.
I’m super deep into “Friday Night Lights” right now. I’d never seen the series, and we’re toward the end of the third season. We’re just living in that world right now, and it’s so great. It’s such an experience. That’s why I thought this show would just really live on something like Netflix. You know, a lazy Saturday or a lazy Sunday and people just won’t want to turn this show off. That’s what we’re hoping.
I bet “Friday Night Lights” is giving you a different view of Todd right now.
[laughs] I know, man! Jesse Plemmons is just so brilliant. I love it.
“Bojack Horseman” will be available Friday, August 22 on Netflix.