Rob Benedict, whom Supernatural fans know as Chuck, has put together a funny short film in The Sidekick, which offers a look at the underdogs of the story and what happens when a sidekick has to figure out what to do after he’s no longer someone’s assistant. The film first premiered at Comic-Con in 2013, and now, it’s been released digitally, on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo and will be available on Hulu in March.
BuddyTV talked to Benedict about the short film, its digital release, and why everyone should watch it, as well as his return to Supernatural for episode 200.
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The Sidekick has finally been released digitally. How does it feel after the Comic-Con premiere was over a year and a half ago?
It’s great, it’s great. We had a year of doing film festivals, and the whole time, I just couldn’t wait to have it out there for the public to see it, so it feels great. It feels great to finally have it out.
First, it premieres at Comic-Con. Now it’s out digitally and reaching a wider audience just when comic books are everywhere on TV. Does it seem like these releases couldn’t have been timed better in a way?
That’s what’s so exciting about it, that comic book heroes are bigger than ever right now. Our take on it is looking at the sidekick, which isn’t really always the focus and so yeah, it just feels great to be in that market. Even a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, which was so popular last year and such a great movie, really, Guardians of the Galaxy is a lot of sidekicks working together, you know? So yeah, it feels perfect time to shine the light on the sidekick.
Can you talk about the inspiration for the film and why you chose to put it out now/2013?
Basically, it started because I turned 40, and I started thinking there was nothing else I was qualified to do other than be an actor or a writer – that’s all I’ve ever done my whole life – and then you think of the sidekick and someone like Robin to Batman. Robin has no powers, no super powers, he just knows how to say, ‘Get in,’ and ‘Here, catch!’ so that made me think, what does a sidekick do when he’s too old? … What does that look like? That’s what really inspired it. It really came from a midlife crisis of, ‘Oh my god, I’m 40, and there’s nothing else I can do. I’m not trained in anything else but this.’ And that’s sort of the sidekick’s dilemma in the movie: ‘Now what? What am I going to do? I don’t know how to do anything else but be someone’s assistant.’ So, he creates a world where he is the number one, he’s not the number two anymore.
The reason it’s taken so long is after Comic-Con, we just went into the film circuit, the film festival circuit, and that goes for about a year, and so we did that and went all around the country, promoting the movie and then through that, we got distribution with Filmbuff, and that always takes some time, to get that launched, and then this is the perfect time to do it, after the holidays, kick it off now.
What’s your favorite part about Max’s journey from the beginning to the end of the film?
My favorite part is really that thing I just mentioned, the idea that he’s a number two, a professional number two who really never thought of himself as a number one, and he needs someone — Lizzy Caplan’s character — who sort of teaches him he’s the number one because it’s his life, and that’s what I think is really cool. He finally finds a place where saying, ‘here, catch, look out,’ is a job that he can do for himself, not for anyone else, and so that’s kind of cool. Even at the end, he gets offered his job back, then he has to decide what he wants to do, and that’s what I like about it, him having the confidence to be the main character in his own life.
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What do you think stands out in the film for superhero fans and then on the flip side, for non-superhero fans?
For superhero fans, I’ve created this whole league of superheroes and sidekicks, and so each of them has their own superpower and they all have their own original costumes that we made, so there’s a lot of references to comics, just via my own world I created, so that’s really fun and we have a lot of fun with that. For non-superhero fans, we’ve got a great cast of actors. Lizzy Caplan and Ron Livingston, Jordan Peele from Key & Peele, Ike Barinholtz from The Mindy Project, Jason Ritter, so many people, Martin Starr, who’s in Silicon Valley now, so that’s I think what would be exciting for even non-superhero fans, you get to see some of your favorite actors doing this funny and kind of sweet comedy.
Even though it can appeal to anyone, are you surprised by anyone you’ve received feedback from about it? Fans of a certain genre?
That’s what was so great about premiering it at Comic-Con, we premiered to this crowd, a huge crowd in this enormous space, that were all comic book fans. That’s why you go to Comic-Con, and it was so well received. The audience just went really ballistic for it. They all approved, which is really nice because that’s what you want. You want people who are superhero fans to approve of it. That was a good place for us to start.
With the digital release, is a series or another short film closer to being a reality than it was say, at the Comic-Con premiere?
Yeah, definitely. Certainly getting it out there like this always helps. Originally, I’d wanted to make it into a feature, and that’s still sort of in the works as well, but the film is 30 minutes and it feels almost like the pilot of a TV show. We’ve been pitching it and now certainly having it out there and getting people to watch it and give us feedback helps that journey.
Do you have any specific ideas where you’d want to go in the future with these characters?
Yeah, definitely. When I set out to make it, I thought, oh, well, this will just be a teaser for a longer feature, but the way it looks, it feels like, to be a TV show and it’s a world where there’s so many, there’s such a plethora of characters you can introduce, and I’m fortunate enough to know a lot of fun actors that I think would gladly come on and do a one-off guest star on it, so definitely, it’s a world I want to continue to explore and continue to look into this world of superheroes and sidekicks and the underbelly of what they do when they’re not on the clock.
If you could dream cast anyone as any character, who would you pick?
Anybody with a comedy background would just be fun. I love Jeff Bridges, I’m a big Jeff Bridges fan, so I think he would be a good sort of overlord, the head of the evil doers. He can be sort of an Agent X or something like that, where he’s the master of the evil characters. I’d like to see that.
If you had to pitch The Sidekick to someone who wasn’t sure if they wanted to watch it, what would you say?
I’d say that it’s a story that’s not unfamiliar to many Americans, which is about anyone sort of middle-aged who has a career change or loses their job has to figure out what heir purpose in life is, that is a reality not only for people out college, but for people in late 30s, early 40s, sort of redefine yourself. It’s a story about the underdogs, and it’s a story about people who want to figure out what their place is in the world, and besides that, it’s super funny with some really great actors in it.
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What other projects do you have coming up?
I’ve got a couple of scripts that I’ve written that are right now being shopped around, and I’m always coming back to Supernatural, the TV series. I was back on that a couple months ago, and promoting Sidekick.
That actually leads into another question. It was great to see you back on Supernatural for episode 200. What was it like being back and filming that scene?
It was so fun. I’m still such good friends with all those people because we do these conventions together, these fan conventions together, and so when they told me they wanted me to come back for the 200th, it was exciting and it was just so fun to sort of embody that role again. It was fun too for the fans I think just to sort of say Chuck is still alive and still around, so I think it opens the door for more things for Chuck.
It says something about you and the character that fans still want Chuck back, and this is season 10.
Yeah, it’s cool. It was really sweet, and I got such good reactions to that and people were really excited about that, which is great. It’s good to know that Chuck is still relevant in that world.
The Sidekick is available on iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo and is coming to Hulu in March.
(Image courtesy of Beck Media)