Robbie Amell Dishes On Living A Parallel Reality As “Upload” Premieres On Amazon

Robbie AmellPhoto Credit: Rowan Daly

In our new reality, TV has become so, so important to our daily happiness, and today, your daily dose should come from Upload, which premieres today on Amazon. The sci-fi, romantic, satire series, created by Greg Daniels (The Office/Parks and Recreation) takes place in the near future, where people who are near death can be “uploaded” into a virtual afterlife of their choice. Set in 2033, the secretly romantic Brooklyn-born Nora [Andy Allo] works in customer service for a luxurious virtual reality environment. When handsome L.A. party boy Nathan Brown’s [Robbie Amell] self-driving car crashes, his high-maintenance girlfriend, Ingrid [Allegra Edwards] uploads him permanently into Nora’s VR world. The 10-episode series was meant to premiere at both SXSW and the Cannes Film Festival, but due to the coronavirus, well, let’s jus say plans for proper premieres have had to be un-loaded.

Amell, who is known for playing Stephen Jameson on The CW’s series The Tomorrow People, Ronnie Raymond/Firestorm on The CW’s series The Flash and Fred Jones in the films Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and Scooby-Doo! is pragmatic about how the virus is upsetting his industry. He’s riding it out, focusing on the positive—and the countless other projects he has in the pipeline. He recently released the hit sci-fi thriller, Code 8 on Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi that he produced with his cousin Stephen Amell of Arrow and has The Hating Game, a rom-com based on Sally Thorne’s popular book of the same name co-starring Lucy Hale. 

Here, we chatted with this new dad about his projects, his future and how the coronavirus is affecting his present.

Robbie Amell Photo Credit: Rowan Daly

Talk to us about “Upload,” why this project appealed to you personally and, if it was a role you HAD to have, how hard you fought for it.

I first auditioned for the role back in October of 2017. I met with Greg Daniels, the show’s creator. I was the first to audition for the role. I loved the dialogue. I loved the script. I felt like it was made for me. I went in and thought it went great. I met with Greg for over an hour. The next day my agent said he loved me but they were looking in a different direction. A month later I got a call that I would be going back in. I walked in and Greg said, ‘You were the first person to audition for this. It would be great if you were the last.’ Luckily I was. I’m really excited for people to see this show. It’s so weird and funny. I think people will really like it.

If you could picture YOUR afterlife, what would it look like? Who would be there with you?

What a dark question! My loved ones would be there. All my friends and family. There would also be a lot of golf and hockey :)

You produced “Code 8” with your cousin and fellow “Arrow”-verse occupant Stephen Amell. What was the process like? Is it something you’d do again?

It was a difficult and very long process. But it was an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Being able to make a movie with friends and family was a dream come true. Everyone worked so hard and cared so much. It never felt like work. Even when it was hard.

Have you and Stephen given thought to seriously starting your own production company? If so, what sort of projects would you be focused on? What are tentative names?

We are currently in pre-production on Code 8 the series, for Quibi. We are focused on that but will hopefully keep making projects in the future.

Why did you decide to flip your superhero roles in a sense, and focus on a world in which you’d be feared, not beloved?

We knew we wanted to make something that we were fans of and that our fans would enjoy. Especially since we were asking them to invest in us and the film. We also wanted to make something that we felt that we could do well. But there had been so many super hero stories told, we knew we needed to put our own spin on it. I’m very proud of what we made.

Let’s talk about the “Babysitter 2”. What surprises are in store that differ from the first film?

I can’t tell you much. But the movie is just as stylized and even more crazy than the first one. Also, I still don’t have a shirt.

Robbie Amell Photo Credit: Rowan Daly

You have a new rom-com coming out In “Desperados”. How was it playing a guy in a coma? Do we get to see your relationship through flashbacks?

I’m only briefly in a coma. The coma is off screen. But the movie was a lot of fun to shoot. Nasim Pedrad is so funny. She had me cracking up the whole shoot.

You seem very comfortable playing the leading man in rom-coms and no one has been able to fill that Matthew McConaughey void… is this something we will see more of in the future?

Thank you. I enjoy being able to bring some of myself to my roles. With rom coms it just comes naturally. I always try and make my co-star laugh.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of “The Hating Game.” How are you preparing to play Joshua Templeman? Is it tricky when you’re playing a fan favorite?

We keep getting pushed back. Just got pushed again because of this coronavirus. Hopefully it comes together soon. I’m just doing my research and seeing what people care most about Josh online. But at the end of the day I have to bring my version of him to the screen and be happy with my performance.

On that note, do you ever slow down? How do you relax at home with so many projects in the works?

My wife and I had a baby six months ago so, no I definitely don’t relax—haha. But it’s amazing. He’s so chunky and adorable. He’s a very happy baby. And my wife and I are best friends so that’s all the down time I need.

You’re a new father (congrats!). How do you balance work and newfound fatherhood? Tell us what adjustments you and your wife have made with projects and work. Has parenting been a pleasure, rough, or somewhere in the middle?

Yeah, it’s a huge life change. But it’s amazing. It’s a huge perspective shift. He’s so fun and happy. We are very lucky. My wife and I are taking it day by day and having a blast.

And last but not least, how has the coronavirus impacted your life thus far?

Coronavirus has cost me:
Upload premiere as SXSW
Upload premiere at Cannes series
Upload London premiere
Pushed The Hating Game

It’s frustrating. But it has cost a lot of people a lot more. I just want everyone to stay safe. Hopefully it passes soon.