Exclusive: With Netflix Geeked Week now rolling around, fans have been treated with some early holiday gifts, which includes a special look at Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, Netflix’s upcoming animated series based on the live-action film and the original comic. However, this isn’t your usual modern adaptation.
At this year’s New York Comic Con, we had the chance to speak with Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley about taking a different route with the Netflix series, working with animation powerhouse Science SARU, reuniting with the live-action cast including Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and more.
Adapting ‘Scott Pilgrim’ Comics Into Animation
Reporter: What was the process in figuring out what you needed to take from the comics into this drastically different show?
O’MALLEY: It’s like you want it to make sense for people who’ve never seen Scott Pilgrim before, but because there are millions of people who’ve seen the movie or read the books, you have to say something that works for them too. That was a narrow target to hit like, “Does it make sense? Does it resonate with people who are intimately familiar with the material?”
Knowing that we have this material and this cast and all these characters to play with, we want them to have fun. We want the audience to have fun and want it to all make sense and be layered for people who watch shows these days. I think we did an okay job!
Reporter: Watching the film and reading the books, some panels were translated to the screen from live-action to animation. From comics to animation, did you overcome any limitations you had from the film?
O’MALLEY: I think fans understand that too: animation and comics go hand-in-hand, but Edgar Wright did such a kick-ass job that people still cite Scott Pilgrim as “the best video-game movie”, “the best anime movie”. I think they’re right in a lot of ways like [Wright] established that whole visual language.
It’s not a matter of trying to compete with the movie, but trying to let the animators do what they do best. There’s no gravity in animation unless you draw it that way, it’s much free-er and as long as it follows an emotional logic, you can get away with a lot, which I tried to do with the comic.
What I was really into was being able to write stuff I would never be able to in the comic like sound, with some characters playing music in one scene. That was the dream, to do something outside the comic sphere.
Bringing ‘Scott Pilgrim’s Cast Back Together
CoveredGeekly: What was it like bringing the original live-action cast back after 13 years since Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and how did that process help develop this show?
O’MALLEY: The cast really defined the characters: the books were written a long time ago and I was still pretty young when I was writing the first two books. I had never met a movie star or been to a movie set so Lucas Lee is vague in the book, but Chris Evans brings so much to it. How could you go back to the book from that?
It would be so disappointing cause Evans just brings so much to that, but that’s just one example. Every character is rounded out and a lot of details were filled in because that’s what actors do: they bring their own background research. Now that we had all that to work with in addition to the growing fan response to the characters, with their own imaginations, I had to take all of that into account.
‘Scott Pilgrim’s Action With Science SARU
Reporter: What was the process like working with Science SARU and having them create these action sequence in an intrinsic way towards animation?
O’MALLEY: The first thing we went within anime was action, the villain scenes, the cool shit. We started off writing the action scenes and we realized quickly that we could just write them as loosely as possible, send them to [Science] SARU, they come back with something amazing and we’d go back rewriting the script.
Especially, some of the big Roxy-Ramona scene has a lot of amazing stuff and we tried not to guide it that much. We had to let go to some degree and let those artists do what they do best: let their imaginations go wild.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off premieres on Netflix on November 17. The series comes from award-winning animation house Science SARU (Devilman Crybaby, Japan Sinks, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken) and UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, produced for Netflix.