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Andy Samberg & Neil Campbell on ‘Indiana Jones’ & What’s Next

Mar 21, 2023


In a world where archeologists are celebrities, and every bit as cool as you grew up thinking they were, there is none quite as well known as Rip Digman…for better or worse. This is Comedy Central’s new adult animated comedy series Digman!, created by Andy Samberg and Neil Campbell. The series follows the once-great archeologist Rip Digman (Samberg), as he recovers from a personal tragedy and a tarnished reputation. Along for the ride and the adventure is Digman’s student, and now official assistant, Saltine (Mitra Jouhari).

In a new interview with Collider, Samberg and Campbell sat down to discuss their inspiration for the show, following archeologist Rip Digman on increasingly chaotic adventures. The pair also discussed their long professional relationship, working with their all-star voice cast, the moments that surprised them, and their favorite Indiana Jones memories.
COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY
COLLIDER: So to kick things off, I feel like I’ve got a couple of ways I can ask this, but I’m going to go with the more fun one. Why archeologists?

ANDY SAMBERG: We were talking about how much we love the archeologist-adventure genre, your Indiana Jones, your National Treasure, et cetera, and the sort of cinema-fication of the old serialized adventure stories basically. And then started laughing about how we were kind of fed this steady diet in our youth of archeologists being swashbuckling adventurers and how it would be so funny to see a world where that was actually the case, as opposed to just something you’re told once every few years when an Indiana Jones movie comes out, basically.

So kind of going into that swashbuckling thing, I know this is not a show for kids, but it does kind of have that Saturday morning cartoon vibe. Does that fit into the swashbuckle of it all?

SAMBERG: I think so. I mean, there’s definitely some nostalgia of it. The Amblin adventure, ’80s Saturday morning cartoons for sure is something that we love, and we hoped to have some of that influence in it for sure, yeah.

NEIL CAMPBELL: Yeah, just anything from when we were kids, like Indiana Jones, like The Goonies. I mean, things beyond when we were kids, too, but that sort of has that feel. I’ve said this before, but Legend of Zelda is this way, too, where there’s a whole world out there to explore, and it’s full of mysteries and secrets and hidden temples, and stuff like that. And you get older, and you go like, “Oh no, it’s not quite like that,” or whatever. But that wonder that you have when you played those things, or when you watched those things as a kid, is just a world we wanted to set it in where you’re like, “No, that is the case in this world.” It’s filled with curses and enchanted objects and hidden temples and secrets and mysteries, and that just felt like a world that felt like a lot of fun to explore and to put a bunch of insane, unhinged characters like Rip into.

Image via Comedy Central

You kind of mentioned before, the National Treasure of it all. I definitely get a chaotic, “I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence” vibe from Rip, so I guess I’m not way off, but I was wondering if you could speak a bit more about the character, the inspiration for that sort of energy, the Nic Cage maybe?

SAMBERG: Yeah, I don’t think Rip would ever steal the Declaration of Independence, mostly for legal reasons. But yes, there’s obviously influence in where the voice started from the Cage impression, and he also happens to have started movies that were Indiana Jones-adjacent. But, speaking to the first thing we were talking about of the world being all about archeologists and them being celebrities, and then building out the character of Rip and deciding like, “Oh, we like this idea that he can’t let go of things, and he collects things, and people, and isms, and old-timey lingo.” He’s kind of stuck in the past and clinging to the past, and then all of a sudden it was like, well, there’s still the hint of this voice there, but it’s actually becoming its own thing, which was much more exciting to us.

Speaking of some of the people he collects, Saltine is one of them, his sidekick, who I absolutely loved. She’s so plucky, she’s so fun. I also found it was refreshing because this kind of show, I guess when we were all younger, the Robin to Rip’s Batman would usually be a young guy. I was wondering if the intent to have her be a young woman was something that came about because of casting, or was that something you were looking at from the outset?

CAMPBELL: It was there from the outset because we wrote the script on spec before we had pitched it and stuff, and before anyone else was attached. So it was there from the beginning. We probably have a list, pages long, of potential characters that could have been in the show, and just certain ones we kept gravitating toward, especially as we started figuring out, “Well, what would an episode of this be?”

An important thing for us was, we just want to make sure everybody is funny on the show. We don’t want a – and not to denigrate Inspector Gadget or something, but I feel like [there are] certain shows from your childhood where you’re like, “There’s a really funny doofus at the center, and then there’s actually the assistant, male or female, who is the smart one who actually saves the day and is the boring character, in a way.” No shade to Inspector Gadget, which I watched a ton and loved.

SAMBERG: [Laughs] The cartoon or the live-action movie.

CAMPBELL: Or the live-action, yes.

Very true, very true.

CAMPBELL: But we were just like, “Okay, well we want Rip to have literally an assistant, that’s her position, but who is funny, and stressed out, and weird, and eccentric in her own right, and cast it with someone who makes us laugh a ton.” And we were so fortunate that became Mitra [Jouhari], and she makes us laugh so much. Andy and Mitra record together sometimes and find new things that aren’t in the script, and it’s been really fun.

There is a massive voice cast in this series, some of the best comedic talent out there, but I’m curious, did anybody in particular really surprise you when they kind of stepped in to record?

CAMPBELL: That’s a good question.

SAMBERG: I mean, in terms of our primary cast, I would probably say Dale [Soules], just because I was aware of her from Orange is the New Black, but not beyond that. And her voice, when you hear her voice in a record, you’re like, “Oh man, that is a perfect animation voice.” It’s so resonant, and it has such personality, and she has great timing. So I wouldn’t say we were surprised she was good because we knew she was good, it was more we were just so happy that it came to us. That that idea came across our desk, and we got to hear it and realize how cool it was.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, it definitely helped the writing, too, because we were writing before we were recording, but once we started recording and hearing Dale’s voice, and hearing her bring the character to life, it really affected the writing, and we were able to write more toward what makes her funny and makes Agatha funny.

Image via Comedy Central

Is it different in developing a script in animation where it’s maybe not as easy to riff off of each other because you are isolated in booths? I know Mitra and Andy record together sometimes, but that’s not the case, obviously, for the whole cast. So I was wondering where the difference in creating comedy and animation comes in.

CAMPBELL: Sometimes, even if it wasn’t recording together, Andy would be there, like when we recorded Daniel Radcliffe and stuff. So Andy’s not on a live mic at that time, but he is riffing with Daniel Radcliffe a bit. And so sometimes it was like we still were able to capture the essence of feeling like we’re doing it live. Sometimes it’s just me reading with the other person, but trying to not just go, “Let’s just record this line seven times and then move on to the next.” Like trying to record a scene and get a little rhythm going, and having fun with that.

So part of it was we wanted it to feel kind of alive and surprising in the way that we recorded it, but then invariably you do record a bunch of different sessions and have to edit them together. And that’s just where the animation process and our great editors really help us shape it together, and picking different takes and one scene’s good on its own, and then you hear what it’s coming off of, and you go, “Actually, maybe we need the other one that sounds like this.” It’s just the process, but it’s been great that we have some pretty awesome people we’re working with.

The two of you have worked together before on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but what has it been like to collaborate together, building something from the ground up and starting fresh, that whole experience?

SAMBERG: It’s been awesome. I’ve known Neil a while. I think we first met when I was hosting the MTV Movie Awards, and [Scott] Aukerman brought him in because he also has worked on Comedy Bang! Bang! forever, which is one of my favorite things ever – obviously, one of the silliest things ever created. So we had worked on that, and then became friendly, and I had been on Bang! Bang! a bunch of times and we worked together on that. Then, when I hosted the Emmy’s, he basically ran that with me and wrote incredible stuff, and then he worked on Brooklyn after that. So we’ve known each other a long time and collaborated a ton.

The reason we were so kind of hot to do something together is because we have such similar sensibility. We want to go for the dumbest joke possible, we don’t want to shy away from that. We think it’s to be celebrated, and we make each other laugh. So, when we were working together on Brooklyn, which was super fun unto itself, we kept talking about wanting to make something new together. We talked a lot about how much we love adult animation and all the shows that had inspired us in that world, and we kept talking about how we wanted to make something where no matter what the joke was, if we were in charge, we wouldn’t have to cut it. And that is Digman! essentially.

Something that struck me about this show is the awareness of archeologists taking something from its home, displaying it somewhere else, and that is rightly a huge conversation right now. So I’m guessing that was approached intentionally, and it didn’t just kind of pop up in the writing like, “Oh, right, that’s what they do for a living.” That was very intentional?

SAMBERG: Oh yeah.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, when we wrote the pilot, the line that’s in there, that, “We’ll never have to think about the consequences…” That line was because one of our first conversations about doing a show like this was talking about like, “Hey, it’s not so cool what Indiana Jones is doing. That’s not necessarily something you should be rooting for.” So having an awareness of that as we write it, as we came up with the character, and as we wrote the pilot, was part of it.

SAMBERG: And it kind of ebbs and flows in our narratives. Some of the episodes have absolutely nothing to do with Rip and the crew being put on jobs that even raise that question, the ethics don’t become a part of it, but obviously from the outset, we wanted to not act like we were oblivious to the fact that it’s a complicated, and kind of gray area.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, we have a really smart and funny writing staff, and priority number one was always being as funny as possible and filling something with jokes. But it doesn’t mean we didn’t also then sometimes have conversations be like, “Okay, what are we saying here? Is this something we should be rooting for? Should we tweak this to change things? What are we saying here?” So it was just part of the process that’s like, “Let’s, first of all, try to be funny. We’re not trying to write an essay, we’re trying to be funny.” But then, having to take responsibility for what you write and having those conversations. Sometimes things would change and sometimes we would be like, “Alright, I think we aren’t betraying our values here.” And so it worked out, I think.

Image via Comedy Central

Speaking of the show generally, were there any episodes, characters, concepts – non-spoilery – that really took you by surprise as you were developing it and as you were writing it?

CAMPBELL: When were pitching the show, we kind of had a bunch of different ideas and one of them was like, they break the Ten Commandments and then the world is thrown into chaos because they think that means you don’t need to follow them anymore. And so that was an idea Andy and I had from the moment we were pitching the show. Then we hired a writing staff, and they brought in a bunch of really funny ideas, too, and a bunch of it just sort of came out of the room.

I couldn’t even pinpoint a moment it would happen, but all the twists within in the third episode when they’re seeking the commandments, and the backup set, and all those twists and turns with the creatures. I’m trying to be so vague and not spoil anything. That wasn’t something, I don’t think, Andy and I would’ve thought of as we were pitching the show. It just came out of following the story where it took us and felt like a fun surprise. The sixth episode has a big object they’re seeking that was pitched in the room by one of our writers and just made us laugh a ton.

Are there any aspects of archeology or exploration, not necessarily the technical, but the pulpy, action-adventure side of it that you maybe would want to explore that you didn’t get a chance to this season?

SAMBERG: I think, not in any specific terms, but the reason we were excited to make the show is that it can feel like how these global adventure movies feel now where they could go anywhere. So we can just think of places on Earth, or any place for mythology that has ever been alluded to on Earth, and if we feel like that’s something we want to do an episode about, we can go for it. So, I don’t think there’s one thing we’re like, “Oh man, we didn’t get to do that. We have to do that,” but we already have a crazy long list that would last us many seasons of things that we think would be fun jumping off points.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, just other worlds, countries, terrains, cities. A lot of the fun a lot of times was we’d come up with something and then our animators, once we see the designs, we’re like, “Oh my God, they make Venice look so awesome, or they make London look so awesome,” or something like that. I would love to see them do that with so many other places around the globe. And also fictional places as well. So there’s a ton I’d be so excited to go explore and dig into the archeology of other places.

SAMBERG: Pun intended. Got there.

CAMPBELL: Yes.

Andy, I want to pivot for a second and ask, this is kind of a two-parter, but I need to ask about The Lonely Island. So first I want to know if you guys have anything coming up anytime soon?

SAMBERG: If you mean something where it’s all three of us making something solely together with just the three of us, sadly the answer is not right now yet. We share a company, so everything all of us are doing is sort of together, but I know that’s not what the question actually is. But, I’m hoping soon. It’s been really hard with kids, living on different coasts, COVID, shows, movies. We’re turning into a trope of a comedy group that’s getting pushed apart in their old age, but we really want to make another album, we really want to make another movie together. We’re constantly talking about how and when that could happen. So I would say it 100% will, it just isn’t in the immediate.

Then I guess this ties back into Digman! But can we expect any musical moments from Rip Digman?

SAMBERG: Oh!

CAMPBELL: Well he does sing in the pilot, so…

SAMBERG: A little in the pilot. He is a bit of a jazzman. He’s a bit of a jazzman!

CAMPBELL: Yeah, we have Tim Robinson singing, so that’s in the beginning of the fifth episode.

SAMBERG: The trailer we just put out with the slowed-down Smash Mouth, we debated having Rip be doing the singing, but ultimately decided against it. So not yet. It’s a lot like The Lonely Island question, seems inevitable that it will happen, but it has not yet happened.

I will just leave that there for everybody to dig into – and that’s my terrible archeology joke for the day.

SAMBERG: [Laughs] Okay, great.

CAMPBELL: Love it.

Image via Comedy Central

Last non-Digman! question. Again, Andy, I want to ask about your upcoming movie, Lee, which is a bit more of, maybe, a serious thing than your fans are used to seeing from you. And I just wanted to know what that experience was like?

SAMBERG: It was really fascinating, and I had a great time. We shot in Budapest, and it’s, by far, the most dramatic project I’ve ever been a part of.

CAMPBELL: Was The Bachelor filming there when you were there?

SAMBERG: The Bachelor?

CAMPBELL: The Bachelor went to Budapest this season, so I’m just asking.

SAMBERG: Oh, got it. No, I wasn’t aware of that.

CAMPBELL: All right. Just asking.

SAMBERG: I mean, maybe they were, I don’t know. I know they were shooting Dune 2.

Are you going to pop up in the back of Dune 2 and be like, “What’s up?”

SAMBERG: Oh my God, I wish. I fucking love Dune so much.

[Lee] was a really amazing experience. A big part of the draw for me, outside of the fact that I was really drawn to playing this real person, David Scherman, and the script, was getting to work with Kate Winslet, who is someone that I just really admire and I know has an incredible work ethic and a consistent high quality of work. So, when they asked if I’d be interested in that, that was, for me, a big reason I was willing to give it a shot and sort of go out of my comfort zone.

I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know how much I am, or am not, even in it. Could be a lot, could be a little, could be a medium amount. Those options are all on the table to them. But it was cool, man. I mean, it was really heavy and intense, and I feel like it’s something I would not have been ready for even a few years ago, in terms of my life experience, to be able to let my guard down that much and be that grounded, and real, and vulnerable to it because it really covers some heavy things. But I’m glad I did it, and I can’t wait to see it, and I hope it turns out great.

All right, back to Digman!, back to the archeology. What is something the two of you are really excited for fans to experience this season?

SAMBERG: Oh, man. The hope with this one, truly, and it sounds kind of basic, but it’s just our thing, is we just hope people will really laugh. We went into it being like, “Let’s go in with the intention of making something that people who genuinely love comedy can turn it on and just crack up, and hopefully quote it with their friends, or something.” Sort of back to the reason we got into this. When we were first talking about doing it, we were like, “So I’ve done this crazy sort of sketch format with SNL and Lonely Island stuff…” Neil has done it with Bang! Bang!, and then we both got a ton of narrative, episodic experience with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and now we want to do something where we sort of marry the two skillsets basically. So we’re hoping that that’s how it lands.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, I mean, honestly, every episode feels different and special in its own way to me. I don’t feel like it follows one strict formula, and there’s something in every single episode I’m excited for people to see. And yeah, [there are] little moments where I hope to resonate with people the way they make me laugh. Just, the end of 104, or the cold open of the finale. It’s like [there are] just things here and there that really tickle me or make me laugh, and I’m excited for people to see all of them.

Image via Comedy Central

A couple of rapid-fire things to end it out. So favorite pulpy, non-Indiana Jones, non-National Treasure story?

SAMBERG: That’s sort of in this genre?

Yeah, sort of the archeology, pulpy adventure genre. And it can’t be Digman! either.

SAMBERG: [Laughs] No, we would never be so bold!

CAMPBELL: I don’t know, I’ve said earlier there’s [a] John Huston movie, The Man Who Would Be King. I was saying to Andy earlier, that’s one that kind of inspired a little bit of the pilot, and stuff like that that I think is really interesting. You know what I love? Those South Park multi-part episodes where it’s a huge adventure, like the “Imaginationland,” or the “Black Friday.” That’s what I love, is comedy, and they are just doing some huge genre adventure thing. And I think that really tickles me a lot.

SAMBERG: I mean, [there are] obviously also The Mummy movies, and – I haven’t seen them since I was a kid – but I really loved The Jewel of The Nile and Romancing the Stone, and those were kind of romance, action-adventure. I feel like one of them was at least a professor or something, but I could be totally wrong.

Jewel of the Nile, I think?

CAMPBELL: I mean, Yojimbo or something is great too. It’s funny and crazy and stuff.

Bringing it back to everybody’s favorite whip-cracking archeologist. Second, of course, to Rip Digman, Indiana Jones. What is your favorite Indiana Jones moment? Do you have one?

SAMBERG: I mean, [there are] too many to choose from, but I will say, one that really shaped my life was when the guy is doing all the crazy stuff with the knives, and then he shoots him. I know now from reading about it, that they wanted to choreograph a huge fight scene and I think it was Harrison Ford that was like, “Why don’t I just shoot him?” Which is so fucking funny. Then you watch it, and you’re like, “Oh, that’s just the Indiana Jones franchise in one moment.” Right there is like, you’re pulling something off that’s both super funny, but also fun. You feel like you’re really on an adventure. Just the fact that they were able to get such a huge laugh in something that was so broad was really impressive, I thought.

CAMPBELL: When I was a kid, I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the movie theater, and you know the guy’s face melts, or kind of ages rapidly at the end. Then that night I had a nightmare where a skull said to me, “How old are you? I’m 99.” And then it bit my ear, and then I woke up and my ear hurt. So, that was my moment. The Last Crusade giving me a nightmare.

SAMBERG: The face-melting at the end of Raiders, it gave everyone nightmares. I don’t know anyone that didn’t have nightmares from that. That, and maybe Large Marge in [Pee-wee’s Big Adventure].

CAMPBELL: Yes.

SAMBERG: The claymation, which is so funny to think about now when you watch it, it’s so goofy, but I wonder if they feel any responsibility for that. I feel like every kid in the world had nightmares about that.

I think they do, because Crystal Skull did not have jump scares like that. So they’re like, okay, we’re not taking responsibility for this generation now. We traumatized the whole other one.

Digman! premieres on Comedy Central on March 22.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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