One of the more intriguing entries in Netflix’s new, ever-growing roster of original series is “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” a prequel to the cult classic comedy from “The State” alums David Wain and Michael Showalter — and featuring a before-they-were-stars cast the likes of Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, all of whom are back for the new series.
Were there any reservations about doing a prequel with the same actors almost 15 years later?
MICHAEL SHOWALTER: No, that was an asset. In our mind that was part of the fun of it, was the joke being we were too old then, we’re way too old now, and instead of making our characters older, we made them younger.
DAVID WAIN: It’s surprising how much you stop paying attention to it.
MS: One of the big movies from our childhood was “Grease,” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, who are playing high school … I don’t even think they’re seniors.
DW: They’re seniors.
MS: They are? They’re definitely seniors?
DW: They’re seniors in high school.
MS: And I mean, they’re fully adult in that movie. Like, Olivia Newton-John is like in her late 30s. But I mean that was sort of our inspiration castingwise. Because you don’t care.
How much have you paid attention to the film’s die-hard fans and what they want to see from exploring more of these characters?
DW: To me, I don’t think we’re like literally serving the fans per se, but I do think we are very caring of this group of characters and what it is and care about it as fans ourselves of it in a way. And it’s very important to us to make something that satisfies the fans’ desire for more of this, while at the same time not doing any sort of retread and that was what we were trying to do.
What about the new additions to the cast?
DW:We have Lake Bell. Jason Schwartzman plays one of the head counselors. Lake Bells plays [Showalter’s character] Coop’s girlfriend who just got back from a trip to Israel. We have Michael Cera and John Hamm and Chris Pine all playing roles that are too surprising to tell you more about. We have Michaela Watkins playing a choreographer for the big musical that happens later that day. John Slattery is playing the guest director of the musical. Kristen Wiig, Josh Charles, [even I] make an appearance as an Israeli counselor who poses a threat to Coop.
MS:Yeah David’s character and my characters and Lake Bell’s character are in sort of like a love triangle.
Without getting into actual figures, how did the budget for this compare to the original film?
DW:I think it was $75 million per episode.
MS:We had “Avengers”type numbers. It was an embarrassment of budget. It was so much budget that were just giving people bags of money on the way out.
DW:Basically when you had lunch on set, you could have brownies or you could have Arnold Palmers or just a bag of money. Or all three if you want, if you’re that hungry.
That sounds delicious.
DW:Basically the process of doing it was very similar to the original movie, even though in some ways it’s obviously different. We’re 15 years older and a million things have happened in our careers, but the actual going back to it was like a total mind-trip.
MS:We didn’t sleep in bunks. When we made the original, we slept in bunks.
DW:Yeah, we slept in the cabins and ate the camp food.
MS:Well, we eventually we stopped eating camp food.
DW:On the original movie the camp cooks made the food for the crew, but it was so bad that even our lowbudget, young, hungry crew was like…
MS:“I can’t eat this.”