Having penned the scripts for Deadpool, Zombieland and so many other hits, Hollywood scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick know the keys to making a great action comedy. The duo is getting another crack at the genre while serving as executive producers for the new YouTube Premium series Wayne, which will have its world premiere at the Tribeca TV Festival on Sunday, Sept. 23, before hitting the streaming service in 2019.
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick will be joined by stars Mark McKenna and Ciara Bravo, as well as director Iain B. MacDonald and series creator Shawn Simmons at this weekend’s festivities. According to the Deadpool writers, Simmons’ Wayne is a “breath of fresh air” that offers a “window into Shawn’s childhood” growing up in the rough town of Brockton, located just outside of Boston. Wayne follows McKenna’s titular character as he tries to locate his late father’s stolen Pontiac Trans Am, going on a “gritty, hilarious, and sometimes bloody road trip adventure” from Southie to Florida with his crush Del (Bravo) by his side.
“We’re sitting on what we think is a brilliant, dramatic, funny, heartfelt television show that’s unlike anything out there,” says Wernick. “We’re really, really excited to unveil it on the world.”
Ahead, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick open up about the series, how it stacks up to their past projects and what it’s like to work with YouTube.
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick talk YouTube Premium series Wayne
Where did the idea for Wayne come from?
Rhett Reese: Shawn is from Brockton, Massachusetts, which is a hard scrabbled suburb of Boston. I think that the show has been percolating in the back of Shawn’s brain his entire life. He’s from Brockton, he grew up there, went to school there.
Paul Wernick: Got the s—t beat out of him there.
Reese: Yeah, and also beat the s—t out of some other folks there, probably. And so that voice is very much lived inside his head. When he decided to do this project about a kid from the other side of the tracks in Brockton, I think a lot of it came from personal experience.
How does the show compare to your past action comedy works?
Wernick: It fits squarely into what we’ve done before. This really is an action comedy that has heart, is a love story. The dirty little secret about “Deadpool,” it was a romantic comedy. The first movie was a romantic comedy disguised as a superhero movie. This really is a love story, a romance, disguised as an action adventure. It’s the story of this boy, Wayne, who falls in love with Del, also 14-15 year old kid. It’s action, it’s adventure, it’s drama and, most importantly, it’s heart.
Why was Mark McKenna the right fit to play Wayne?
Reese: He wears a lot on his face, and Wayne is a character of few words. Mark is very expressive with his face. He’s also very physical. There’s almost nothing he can’t do, so whether it’s throw a punch or ride a bicycle – he’s really great at bicycle tricks – he’s a very physical actor. He’s got a great and there’s an authenticity to him. The only question we had about him was, “Can you create the Boston accent or the Brockton accent, given that you’re Irish?” What we thankfully discovered was that a lot of the influences in Boston are Irish, of course, and that accent ultimately evolved from an Irish accent. So it wasn’t that hard for him to do.
Did you guys enjoy collaborating with YouTube on this series?
Reese: YouTube’s been really the best. They are a brash, newer network. What we’ve found in the past is networks like that tend to be the ones taking the biggest risks and throwing the greatest hail Mary passes. They have terrific taste. They also really promote artistic freedom. They don’t micro-manage too much, but where they do, they’re helpful. They really have let us make the show we wanted to make, been very supportive. We think they’re on one of the single best platforms in the world, as I think Cobra Kai showed. Cobra Kai’s first episode got 47 million views. I don’t think Wayne will come close to that, obviously, I don’t think anyone will ever come close to that because that’s a unique branded piece entertainment. But I do think what we learned there is just the power of YouTube, the power of that particular portal to get to young people and to appeal to people of all ages. We’re very excited to be in partnership with them.