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Christian Slater and Lizzy caplan team up to voice the brilliant (unhinged) father and (on-the-edge) daughter Rand and Reagan Ridley, pivotal to running America’s shadow government, in Netflix’s new animated adult comedy, Inside Job.
The wild show is, at its heart, an office and family comedy. It focuses on Reagan’s work life, leading a team at Cognito Inc. that creates conspiracies and president-replacing robots (ROBOTUS), and her dysfunctional relationship at home with her father (who was forced out of the company, and now threatens the organization’s very existence by vlogging on YouTube).
Slater, 52, and Caplan, 39, spoke with SPIN about getting into the headspace of mad geniuses behind the running of the greatest superpower in the world, and tackling all sorts of conspiracy theories (lizard people anyone? Flat Earthers) across its 10-episode first season.
How was this show described to you when you got a pitch for it? It’s like a dysfunctional, deep state…
Christian Slater: Yeah. Definitely a crazy, outrageous, completely zany opportunity, and you don’t get all those details. Really, just by watching the episodes, that’s when you start to see it all come together and that’s when you really see what the show is all about. When you’re making it, I’m just in some dark recording booth yelling into a microphone as much as possible, just getting a sense of the small portion that I participate in, in the episodes. It’s wild to see it all come together and to get a sense of who each and every one of these characters end up becoming.
How about you, Lizzy?
Lizzy Caplan: It’s true. You read a script — I only read the first script a couple years ago — and then, as Christian was saying, it becomes this very long kind of piecemeal process where I definitely was only thinking about my little segment of it. And then, to finally get to see it all put together and animated, and “Oh wow, it’s a show!” And not only is it the show, but all of these little pieces came together to make this thing. For me, it surpassed even what was on the page.
Were there any concerns taking on material that skewers various conspiracies, deep state communities? I’m okay taking on lizard people, and lizard orgies [in this], but I’m afraid I’m going to trend on Twitter by flat Earthers, or something like that.
Caplan: I think we sort of avoid — for now — the conspiracy theories that would bring out people that would be very angry with us. But maybe I’m speaking too soon and maybe there are going to be some flat Earthers that come around and have a bone to pick. So hopefully people will see that we’re just trying to have a good time here, right?
Slater: Absolutely. Come on, it’s the deep state, it’s the Illuminati. I mean, the timing of this show couldn’t be more perfect.
I was definitely curious if the Illuminati might be something you’re a little afraid of.
Slater: Well yeah, I mean, is the Illuminati going to be upset about this? That is a deep state concern probably for all of us. But you know what, we’re brave enough to face those kinds of people, and who knows, we might actually be members of it. Perhaps the Illuminati gave us the green light.
So, I would love to talk about the moral compasses of your characters which are so askew. Christian, can you address your self-serving, salty, drunk, old dad character, Rand.
Slater: He’s definitely a disgruntled guy, very upset. But he does believe that he’s the smartest person in the room, that he did nothing wrong as far as how he raised Reagan. He always knew that he was going to be very busy so he tried to create things in order to give Reagan the love and connection that she needed. Was it backwards and crazy and completely insane and outrageous? Absolutely. Are these the techniques that I would use if I were raising my 2-year-old daughter today? No, not at all.
Real hugs, not metal Bear-O (an enormous teddy bear made of metal) hugs.
Slater: Real hugs are certainly very, very important, but at the same time, I mean, a Bear-O is a pretty darn cool creature to have, protecting you and watching your back.
And Lizzy, what’s driving Reagan to do things like make ROBOTUS (robot president)?
Caplan: I think you touched on it a bit in your last question — Reagan’s life and job would be a lot easier if she didn’t have a moral compass — a pesky moral compass. She really is grappling with that throughout, but she’s also very ambitious, and she wants to be at the top of the company. She deserves to be running that place, and so, coming up with the AI that’s the most advanced AI, and creating the singularity, that’s impressive stuff in this group of people.
Yeah, not too bad for a day’s work. So, both of these characters to me seem like they had the ability to go rogue at any moment in time. I was curious about bringing that into the voiceover booth, and just being able to work with that kind of energy that could explode at any moment. These are tightly wound folks.
Slater: Going in to record this character was a lot of fun. I find playing these types of characters and getting to go in a booth and really let yourself go absolutely crazy and let loose is extraordinarily therapeutic. I enjoy that aspect of what it is that I get to do and the outrageousness. We’ve recorded more episodes than were ready to be seen yet. It gets crazier and crazier and crazier as it goes deeper and deeper down into this rabbit hole.
Caplan: And maybe there are animated shows where you can record for six, seven hours — I think I had to cap it at around three, and by the end it was brutal, because these characters are yellers.
What was it like recording this show during the pandemic?
Slater: I was in L.A. doing it in my closet. I certainly do not have an at-home recording booth so I was doing it in my closet with as much crap stuffed in there to make it absorb the sound and then the lights off, because the lights made noise. It was like a dark little cave. I spent a lot of time under a duvet in my living room, hiding underneath my wife’s desk. The circumstances were completely insane — I felt like a little kid — but any job you can do in your underwear, is a job that works for me.
Did you use any playlists or particular musical artists to help get into character a little bit. I love a music warm-up.
Slater: I do believe music is an extraordinarily helpful tool to motivate myself. I’m a big fan of John Williams, so I listened to a lot of movie themes. They get me going. I’m also a big fan of Will Smith, which my wife thinks is funny, but he’s got this great song called, “I’m Coming,” which is really, really good.
Caplan: I like to think of you listening to the Home Alone soundtrack.
Slater: Yes. Well, that one makes me cry. So, if I have to do an emotional scene…
Caplan: Me too.
Slater: Yeah, that one really gets me.
Caplan: My husband [actor Tom Riley] does the same thing, he listens to only movie scores, nostalgic movie scores, and it’s great.
Slater: Rocky is incredible if you’re working out. “Eye of the Tiger.” All of those are so good.