ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke about YOLO: Silver Destiny with creator and voice actor Michael Cusack and voice talents Todor Manojlovic and Sarah Bishop. The trio discussed the show’s writing process and becoming part of the Adult Swim pantheon. The show premieres Sunday, January 22 at midnight on Adult Swim and the following day on HBO Max.
“YOLO: Silver Destiny begins when a chance meeting at a sausage sizzle sets the girls in pursuit of their destinies – Sarah wants to grow a beautiful garden and Rachel wants to become a dark empress,” reads the series synopsis. “Meanwhile, Lucas takes the magnificent on a mysterious new mission to overcome Sarah’s repulsion and win her heart.”
Spencer Legacy: Michael, how does the writing process for YOLO differ from Smiling Friends and Koala Man?
Michael Cusack: It’s quite different. So we have a little writer’s room in Melbourne that consists of Nina Oyama, who is a comedian in Australia … we have Michelle Brasier, another comedian, and Greta Lee Jackson, Anca Vlasan – all comedians – and I get into a room with them and we’re just talking about a lot of adventures they’ve been through with similar kind of duos of friendships like Sarah and Rachel. Weird, very specific Australian things and even a lot of feminine things that I obviously don’t know about that they explore and we just throw out. It’s a big kind of … we actually have a lot of fun in the writers’ room. We just throw out a bunch of weird ideas without thinking about story structure or anything like that. It’s more like … what we can actually explore in the season.
And from there we get rough scripts that they also write and I write and then we go to the recording stage and that’s with Tod. We used to do it at Princess Pictures in this church in Melbourne. It was usually late at night, it was during Covid and it was just a weird, weird time. And it was also good for creativity because we would stay up late, almost delirious, going through these scripts. What we would do is we’d almost tear them apart and improvise a lot of what’s there and come up with new ideas and just come up with new aspects to the show in that recording session. Because it’s like a secondary writer’s room. So yeah, that’s pretty much the process.
Tod, you’ve been voicing Rachel since the first YOLO comic a little over 10 years ago now. When YOLO became a series, did you start making that voice different?
Todor Manojlovic: I actually did that without realizing it. I look back at — there’s actually a video somewhere on YouTube of me doing the voices for the original on the original YouTube clip — and it’s much more disgusting. It’s really ugly, I really got into that kind of thing. This time I think it might have been a bit more readable, to be honest. It’s still ugly, because Rachel must be pretty ugly, but I just did what I remembered. I didn’t look back and study or anything like that. I just did what I felt was right for the character. It turned out a bit different from the original voice, but yes, it still retains the character, I think.
Sarah, when you first heard about this role when Crystal Fantasy came out, what were your thoughts on YOLO?
Sarah Bishop: Well, when I was asked to audition, I watched the original YouTube video – and I had seen it before. I was a fan of Cusack’s work and had known him for a long time. So I saw it and I was like, “Okay!” I’m not as crazy as that, and even vocally I’m not as crazy as that, but I went in and was like, “Okay, like I think I’ll just do it as the straight character.” And then it worked. kind of with the direction that they wanted to take Sarah. It was like me figuring out how to honor what these guys had built with Sarah and then also figuring out what I can add to her and how it helps with the direction of the show.
Michael, the Peleeken returns in Silver Destiny. What made him a character that you really wanted to revisit?
Michael Cusack: I don’t know… there’s something about him… he’s so annoying. It’s fun for me. I can actually see – you never want to make a character that is annoying and annoys the audience, but yeah, I just can’t help it. It’s just so much fun for me. And he’s not just annoying for the sake of it – I feel like he’s very endearing. That’s also part of the fun about him. Like the characters just hate him, but for some reason he loves them and calls them his best friends and he’s very loving and he’s just a cute, annoying character that’s a lot of fun to throw in there.
Tod, you said that Rachel can get pretty nasty and furious and make some pretty wild noises. How do you approach recording sessions where you know you’re going to have to really grow up?
Todor Manojlovic: Yeah, that’s right. I actually got a question in one of the other interviews about vomiting. I don’t know… realistically I think I turn into Rachel every now and then during the day, you know? I’ll say something or I’ll do something that’s just super Australian or something. And I catch myself. I’m like, “God, that sounded a lot like Rachel!” I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Probably not, but anything I find myself doing, and I’ll kind of hyperbolize, roughen up a little bit, anything that I might think is ugly at the time. I think about drinking, having really bad nights out and waking up hungover and groggy and stuff like that and that’s basically what gets me into character. Just the clubber being the clubber. I was one, once.
Sarah, like you said, Sarah is kind of a straight man, but she’s also still really funny. She has a different sense of humor. Is it challenging to say the very strange things she says very bluntly without cracking or breaking down?
Sarah Bishop: Yes it is! Because these guys really make me laugh and the writers really make me laugh. So yes, it’s a challenge, but I just want to try to look like a pro in front of Michael. I also read it a few times beforehand, so a lot of the laughs happen at home first. The fun part of this experience, when we get the chance, is when Michael sometimes reads some of the lines to me when he’s voicing the other characters, and it’s always a lot of fun to act that out when we shoot.
Todor Manojlovic: Oh, if it helps, we interrupt some of our own lines by laughing too hard sometimes,
Sarah Bishop: Oh, that’s good to know!
Todor Manojlovic: Yeah, in the middle of the actual filming, it’s like, “Oh yeah, that would have been the one if we didn’t just collapse and fall on the floor laughing.”
Michael Cusack: Yes Yes. I also interrupt the recordings by also yelling at myself like, “You suck! What’s wrong with me?!”
Todor Manojlovic: And I’m laughing like a hyena, basically.
Michael, I can’t help but notice that Lucas has many similarities to the famous internet reviewer, Lucas the Magnificent. Have you spoken to him about it since his appearance on Smiling Friends? I know he is very legal.
Michael Cusack: I have seen [that] he’s left some comments on some… I don’t really keep up with him because you know he’s beneath me.
Michael Cusack: But he leaves comments every now and then and says, you know, various things about legal legalities. I don’t think he has any legal standing when it comes to … he’s going to have to fight Warner Brothers. and I don’t think he should do that. I don’t think it’s in his best interest. But yeah, I mean, I feel like they’re very different characters, Lucas and Lucas the Magnificent. I don’t see any … like it wasn’t inspired. If anything, it’s a coincidence, then yes. I think he just needs to relax. Really.
Yes. I’m glad it’s out there now too.
Michael Cusack: Yes.
Definitive video of you saying that.
Michael Cusack: Yes, he has gotten on my nerves.
Oh, totally understandable. Tod, Rachel appears in Adult Swim promo art featuring characters from Rick and Morty and Aqua Teen. How crazy is it to see a character that you voice with these long-standing icons of adult swimming?
Todor Manojlovic: Oh, I think I watched my first Adult Swim cartoon 20 years ago or something, maybe even longer than that. There was a little block that they had on Aussie TV, maybe at 9pm or 10pm or something and I used to watch Harvey Birdman and Metalocalypse and stuff like that. This is the most incredible thing I can really try to understand. There was this moment during lockdown in Melbourne – we had the longest lockdown in the world, so everyone was locked in, and me and Cusack were doing our voices, and Adult Swim thought it would be fun to do billboards for the first season, even though we couldn’t see it in Australia.
So I had that moment where I was walking up the main train station on Flinders Street in Melbourne and I came to a big billboard in the middle of the street where Rachel was staring back at me. It was just me in the middle of the street and some seagulls. And I said, “There’s no way, this is real life. Something’s happening. I’m just in the matrix.” But yeah, it’s super surreal and I still pinch myself every day, you know? It is well.
Sarah, you’ve primarily done a lot of live-action acting, so what are your thoughts on voice acting now that you’ve done a few seasons of YOLO?
Sarah Bishop: It’s the best. It’s like the best kept secret. They don’t teach you about this in acting school, and it’s the best gig. You just smoke up. You don’t have to get there at 04.00 – you arrive at 10. Maybe we start at nine or something, Cusack? It’s just chill. It’s easy.
I think you become—or at least the way those guys work—it feels like you’re more connected to the character and the writing because we can just talk about moments and scenes in the room and adjust things if we have need it. Whereas in a lot of live action there are props or costumes or there are other people who have built things around that scene and everything. There is more at stake, it is harder to change things. So there’s an intimacy to voice acting that’s a lot of fun.
Michael Cusack: Yes.