The 'Koala Man' creators discuss casting Hugh Jackman and animation influences

The 'Koala Man' creators discuss casting Hugh Jackman and animation influences ...

While we were at San Diego Comic-Con this year, we chatted with Michael Cusack, Benji Samit, and Dan Hernandez about their new series Koala Man. The season of "Koala Man" was intended to serve as potential television series pilots for future series. The series has now been picked up by 20th Television Animation for Hulu.

The Koala Man series focuses on a family man who shares a not-so-secret identity as the titular hero who has a burning desire to defy small crimes in their small town of Dapto in Australia. Sarah Snook and Demi Lardner serve as showrunners, having previously worked on projects such as Pokemon Detective Pikachu and The Addams Family 2.

Hugh Jackman was asked what it was like to portray Big Greg in the role of Big Greg, whether or not they got the triple threat to sing, what their influences were, and what they were excited about for Comic-Con.

Collider: It's great to see you guys. So first off, I just have to ask about having Hugh Jackman on the program. I'd love to know the story behind it. How did you get him? Was he difficult to acquire?

MICHAEL CUSACK: I think the story goes, we went out to Hugh, because we want the stars in this program. I'm pretty sure he showed it to one of his kids, and they were like, you must do this, it's very specific Aussie. We're very grateful for that.

BENNI SAMIT: Very well, we kind of created this part of Big Greg for Hugh. We were like, "This is obviously going to be Hugh Jackman," because the character is the most Australian guy in the world. And who is the king of Australia? Hugh Jackman.

DAN HERNANDEZ: It was one of those things where a lot of people said to us to sway our expectations about it. "Okay, yeah, we'll try you know, but don't... Hugh Jackman is one of the greatest actors in history." And then I think he was the easiest yes we've ever had out of anyone. He loved Michael. He just loved the program, and he was there. We couldn't believe it.

So, I'm guessing there's no singing involved then?

HERNANDEZ: I wouldn't say that there is no singing involved.

SAMIT: We wouldn't cast Hugh Jackman and not have him sing a song.

HERNANDEZ: He also brought a lot that was not on the page. That's because he's such a gifted performer. He's just the greatest of the best, so please, keep an eye on Hugh's performances.

Any Wolverine jokes? I have to ask.

CUSACK: I mean, it's a superhero show. I'm sure the undertones are there, but there are no direct Wolverine references there. We didn't want him to appear too fan-boyish on him.

SAMIT: We wanted to be cool.

HERNANDEZ: We had to pretend to be much calmer about the whole thing than we were.

Dan and Benji, you are showrunners. What has it been like working on this show after working on big projects like Pokemon Detective Pikachu?

SAMIT: Absolutely, it's been wonderful. We've had a long-running film career, and we've produced a lot of television. This is our first time showrunning. It's been a wonderful partnership, the three of us, like building this world, crafting the program, and putting everything together.

HERNANDEZ: I think that in television, you can tell a longer form story. I don't think we treat it like a one-long film, I think we're very proud of the TV formula, and you know, episodic, and each episode has its own nugget. However, over the course of eight episodes, you can spend a lot of time with these characters that you can't in a movie that's just gotta move, gotta move, gotta move.

Michael, who played Koala Man in Fresh Blood, which was the first time we saw him, how has it been going from a single episode to a full-blown series?

CUSACK: It's been an incredible journey, because going from what I do, which is very rough and crafty, it was a roller coaster to get it into more of a mainstream formula. Like, how do you get a program [that] comes from a very small, crafty roots that goes] to a wider audience? It's just, exactly what I wanted to do when I was a kid, have a 20th Century Fox show. I think that's the weirdest part.

Yes, you'll certainly introduce some people to Australia-isms. However, when it comes to childhoods, I know you're all into animation. I want to know what influences you had when you were growing up? Do you have a favorite TV show or favorite movie that influenced you?

SAMIT: I would say we've all reached a point at which The Simpsons, I believe I could speak for most of us, influenced our comedy and our storytelling. That sparked this whole world of adult animation or animation with an expanded audience. That would be my childhood.

CUSACK: Yeah, The Simpsons are definitely an influence on me. I probably saw South Park when I was younger. It was like the secret thing. What Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker] did with it and how you get away with it was such a huge influence on me as a kid. It's South Park, Futurama, and everything.

HERNANDEZ: That was the same for me. But in this particular situation, I also enjoyed things like X-Men: The Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series, and Heavy Metal. So it's been interesting in a show like this, which is a superhero show, where there's a lot of action, but we kind of treat it fairly seriously.

SAMIT: Yeah, in particular, we really try and combine the animated family sitcom that people all know very well at this point with a superhero so. Those classic superhero cartoons. Those two have never really been married before, in the way that we're doing it, and it's really exciting.

I'm glad to hear that you've got some good stuff for sale at Comic-Con, and those are some of my favorites as well. Do you have anything that you're interested in seeing at Comic-Con?

HERNANDEZ: I'll take my seat at Comic-Con because I've never been in probably five years... I've already decided that I'm permitted to spend all of my money I've spent in the previous five years basically today. I've already, I wasn't on the floor for five minutes before I dropped some money. I've got a commission from one of my favorite artists on my plate. It's going to be an extravagant experience.

SAMIT: You are very likely to be doing well.

What about you guys?

CUSACK: It's like going to Vegas. You have to spend a lot of money on this stupid thing, and then regret it when you return. I'm actually probably 10% more excited to be on the floor than all the press stuff just because I used to do it, and it's not been done for years. So yeah, I'll buy a lot of junk.

HERNANDEZ: We're planning a shopping day in the near future. Soon.

SAMIT: I have small children and I can use them. 'Oh, no, I'm buying this for them. It's not for me, these toys.'

HERNANDEZ: It's also Benji's birthday. He's got something to offer. I don't know what to expect yet, but when I see it, I'll be sure.

Well, happy birthday! And thank you so much for talking with me on Koala Man.

CUSACK: Thank you!

HERNANDEZ: It was a pleasure! So much fun.