TV

A Few Spoiler Free Thoughts From Greg Daniels About ‘Upload’ And Season 2

That Upload season 1 ending. I just want to talk about it so much because it’s such a wild, crushing turn of events that leads into so many, many questions about what comes next for Nora and Nathan on the show. But in a time where the rules of time aren’t quite what they once were, perhaps a couple of weeks isn’t enough to assume that everyone with an interest in a streaming show has seen said streaming show. Especially considering that we’re all drowning a little in streaming options.

Still, Upload is very good, and we wanted to remind you of that and give a little hint, following the season 2 renewal, of where things might go. And so, when we got the chance to talk with series creator Greg Daniels about the upcoming Netflix series, Space Force (more on that closer to the premiere), we also delved into the decision to end Upload season 1 on a cliffhanger (without revealing what happened), the relationship between Nora and Nathan, what actors Andy Allo and Robbie Amell bring to those characters, and some of the rules of the road and ambition going into season 2, which they’re already in the process of writing.

All of this is, for the most part, spoiler-free assuming you have a basic understanding of the show from trailers and such. Though, again, if you have seen the whole season then there will still be value for you as well.

I’m curious because, obviously, Season 1 ends at a point where you can definitely call that a cliffhanger. If you hadn’t gotten to Season 2, would you have been satisfied with where that ended?

When I originally pitched it, I had two seasons worked out in advance. Maybe I was a little overconfident, but I do have a feeling of where we’re going. The amount of closure at the end is something I debated with Amazon, and after we shot it, we pulled back on some of the closing up of things. We’re pretty deep into Season 2 now with the writers, so I guess if they hadn’t picked it up, there would’ve been a good bit of wasted work. I have in my deal, I believe, that if they don’t pick it up, I can finish it as a graphic novel.

Interesting.

Yeah. I’ve been working on this for so long that I was worried about that if I didn’t get a chance to do it, so I somehow retained the rights to put it out as a comic book if it didn’t go forwards.

Is that still something where it could live beyond a Season 2 or go in different directions as a graphic novel or a comic?

Oh, that’s a good idea. I don’t know. I was mostly concerned with it never reaching the light of day at all when I put that in the contract. But with these 10-episode seasons, you generate so many ideas and you just can’t use all of them, so I think that that could be really fun to branch off.

You say you started with two seasons in mind, is that still the case or is there room to expand and go deeper now?

Oh no, I could go further. I could go further. I just had two seasons broken in order to show where I wanted to go.

Does this show end when we see Nora and Nathan together finally, or is there more story to tell when and if that happens?

Well, the romance is part of the show, but there’s also a mystery part, and then there’s, I would say, the sort of a more joyful comedy part, I guess, that’s more like a normal show. So if for some reason there was no more tension in the romance story, I think there would still be some possibilities in the other stories if we wanted to keep going. But I only have a few possible endings floating around; I don’t actually know how this thing ends.

Can you talk a little bit about what Robbie Amell and Andy Allo brought to their characters and just how the show changed from birth to where it is now?

Well, Andy has a tremendous likability to her and she’s just sort of radiant, so there were things where I had it in dialogue and then I changed it so that it was more like the camera’s on her face and we just see her thinking and feeling stuff, which was part of the goal, to be more cinematic with the show anyway. But from the beginning, when she came in to audition, I called an audible on some of the scenes and I made a new moment, which became the first moment that we introduce her in the subway where she’s looking over another subway rider’s shoulder and watching the Adam Sandler movie 50 First Dates and just having this really sincere emotional reaction to the romanticism of it. I was sort of playing it like it’s a classic old Hollywood romance and people in the future looking back on it very wistfully since the future has gotten less romantic.

Anyway, she’s really good at just letting the camera be on her face, so I probably wrote in that direction more for her. Robbie has this… to me, in terms of what makes him funny, I think he has sort of a Cary Grant energy. That’s a bit of an old reference, but he’s very, obviously, attractive, but he’s very composed and he’s very funny, but in a very subtle way. One of the, I think, breakthroughs for the Season 1 writers was that we would watch his comedy reel. He’s done a lot of guest comedy spots on different shows, playing off of Josh Gad and stuff like that, and you could see that he’s got a really good sense of humor, even though his resume leans more into the action area.

Yeah. This was definitely an introduction for me, specifically with him, to see him carry over that charm and really find that comedic rhythm that I didn’t necessarily know that he had. I hadn’t seen Andy in anything, either, so really it was interesting to see them both inhabit these characters. Was that part of the appeal of casting them, that when you see them, you don’t instantly remember them from a big comedy role?

Yeah, I think so. My wife is a TV executive, and she was the original programmer of The WB, among other things. She always says that television makes stars, and I think there’s something very pleasurable as a viewer to come into a show and not know really anything about the actors and just bond with them in their characters that are being presented to you. So yeah, I love doing that. I have had a good experience in finding casts that I really liked and then bringing them to the viewers.

The gray market is something that I thought was really fascinating. Is there room, going forward, to see other offshoots and other areas and alternate afterlives and things along those lines?

Yeah, I think that’s a really fun part of the show. We’re going to explore the (Luddite) world more and the different design and cybersecurity areas of the Horizon company. Yeah, I think that’s super fun to do. It’s expensive, but it’s very fun

Obviously, this is a show that uniquely has the ability to do things like that. Even stuff as simple as the level of detail with the names of companies and certain things buried in the visuals of the show really adds to the charm.

Thanks, that’s something that I always took from The Simpsons — if you’re going to have a mall, you better put jokes on all of the stores. I really like to put comedy in the visuals. I don’t know, for some reason that seems easier to me than… It might’ve been from doing cartoons for so long.

You’re plotting out season 2 now, you’ve got Space Force beginning shortly. How do you juggle the process of both of those shows going almost simultaneously?

Well, it isn’t easy, but it’s easier that it’s not the first season. When I was running The Office, I also launched Parks And Recreation, and there was a season where, with help, I was co-showrunning The Office with Paul Lieberstein and co-showrunning Parks with Mike Schur, and it was Season 2 of Parks and Season 6 of The Office, but the total number of episodes was almost 50 episodes in one year.

That’s insane.

Here, we’re talking like 20 episodes, maybe. The main casting is done and the tone is set. I know I’m going to be working very, very hard, I know that, but I think it’s doable. The hardest part is figuring out how to shoot nowadays. That is, to me, the hardest part. There’s a lot of information going around, some of the production executives are saying you should be on stages more and use more green screens, but then other things I’ve read would suggest the stage is not the best place in terms of circulation of a virus. I don’t know, some aspects of it are a little up in the air.

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