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 next day on HBO Max.
“YOLO: Silver Destiny begins when a chance encounter at a Sausage Sizzle sets the girls off 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 the Magnificent embarks on a mysterious new quest 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 pretty different. So we have a small writer’s room in Melbourne that consists of Nina Oyama, who’s a comedian in Australia … we’ve got Michelle Brasier, another comedian, and Greta Lee Jackson, Anca Vlasan — all comedians — and I get in a room with them and we just talk about a lot of adventures they’ve gone through with similar kinds of duos of friendships like Sarah and Rachel. Weird, very specific Aussie things and even a lot of feminine things that I don’t know about, obviously, that they explore and we just throw out. It’s a big kind of … we have a lot of fun, actually, in the writers’ room. We just throw out a lot of weird ideas, not even thinking about story structure or anything like that. It’s more just like … what we can actually explore in the season.
And from there, we get rough scripts that they write too and I write, and then we go to the recording stage and that’s with Tod. We used to do it at Princess Pictures at 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 good for creativity, too, because we’d be up late, almost delirious, going through these scripts. What we’d do is we almost rip 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 too. Because that’s like a secondary writer’s room. So yeah, that’s pretty much the process.
Tod, you’ve voiced Rachel since the first YOLO cartoon just over 10 years ago now. When YOLO became a series, did you start to go about doing that voice any differently?
Todor Manojlovic: I actually did without realizing it. I look back on the — there’s actually a video somewhere on YouTube of me doing the voices to the original one on the original YouTube clip — and it’s a lot nastier. It’s really nasty, I really got into it sort of thing. This time around, I think it might have been a little bit more legible, to be honest. It’s still nasty, because Rachel’s got to be pretty gross, but I just did what I sort of 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 little bit different to the original voice, but yeah, it still keeps the character, I think.
Sarah, when you first heard about this role when Crystal Fantasy was coming out, what were your thoughts on YOLO?
Sarah Bishop: Well when I got asked to audition, I saw the original YouTube video — and I’d seen it before. I was a fan of Cusack’s work and had known him for a long time. So I watched that and I went, “Okay!” I’m not as crazy as as that, and even vocally, I’m not as crazy as that, but I went in and I thought, “Okay, like I guess I’ll just kind of do it as like the straight character.” And then that kind of worked 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 figure out what I can add to her and how that helps with the direction of the show.
Michael, Peleeken makes his grand return 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. That’s funny to me. I can actually see — you never want to make a character that’s annoying and make audiences annoyed, but yeah, I just can’t help it. It’s just so funny to me. And he’s not just annoying for the sake of it — I feel like he’s very endearing. That’s kind of the funny aspect about him too. Like, the characters just hate him, but for some reason he cares about them and calls them his best friends and he’s very loving and he’s just a sweet, annoying character that is very fun to throw in there.
Tod, you said Rachel can get pretty nasty and raspy and make some pretty wild noises. How do you approach recording sessions where you know you’re going to have to get real growly?
Todor Manojlovic: Yeah, that’s right. I actually got a question on one of the other interviews about vomiting. I don’t know … realistically I find myself turning into Rachel 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 I catch myself. I go, “God, that sounded a lot like Rachel!” I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Probably not, but anything that I find myself doing and I’ll kind of hyperbolize, make a little bit grosser, anything that I can think that’s gross at the time. I think about drinking having really nasty nights out and waking up in hangovers and dazes and stuff like that, and that’s what gets me into character, basically. Just the clubber girl, being the clubgoer. I was one, once upon a time.
Sarah, like you said, Sarah is kind of the straight man, but she also is still really funny. She has a different sense of humor. Is it challenging to say the very weird things she says very straightly without cracking or breaking?
Sarah Bishop: Yeah, it is! Because these guys really make me laugh and the writers really make me laugh. So yeah, it’s a challenge, but I just want to try and look like a professional in front of Michael. I read it a few times as well beforehand, so a lot of the laughs are happening at home first. The fun part of this experience when we do get the chance is when Michael will sometimes read some of the lines leading up to mine, when he’s voicing the other characters, and it’s always a lot of fun to play off that when we’re recording.
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 actual takes, it’s like, “Oh yeah, that would’ve been the one if we didn’t just crack up and fall on the floor laughing.”
Michael Cusack: Yeah, yeah. I also interrupt takes by yelling at myself too, like, “You suck! What’s wrong with me?!”
Todor Manojlovic: And me laughing like a hyena, basically.
Michael, I can’t help but notice that Lucas has lot of similarities with famed internet critic, Lucas the Magnificent. Have you spoken with him about that since his appearance on Smiling Friends? I know he is very litigious.
Michael Cusack: I’ve seen [that] he’s left some comments on some … I don’t really keep up to date with him because, you know, he’s beneath me.
Michael Cusack: But he does leave comments every now and again saying, you know, various things about legal legalities. I don’t think he’s got any legal foot to stand on 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 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, so yeah. I think he should just chill out. Really.
Yeah. I’m glad that’s out there now too.
Michael Cusack: Yeah.
Definitive video of you saying that.
Michael Cusack: Yeah he’s been getting on my nerves.
Oh, totally understandable. Tod, Rachel appears in Adult Swim promo art with characters from Rick and Morty and Aqua Teen. How crazy is it to see a character that you voice with these mainstay long-standing Adult Swim icons?
Todor Manojlovic: Oh, well 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 9:00 or 10:00 PM or something, and I used to watch Harvey Birdman and Metalocalypse and stuff like that. It’s the most unbelievable thing that I can really try and comprehend. There was this moment during lockdown in Melbourne — we had the longest lockdown in the world, so everybody was locked up and me and Cusack were doing our voices, and Adult Swim thought it’d be funny to do billboards for the first season, even though we couldn’t watch it in Australia.
So I had this moment where I walked up the main Flinders Street station in Melbourne, and I came up to a huge billboard in the middle of the street of just Rachel staring back at me. It was just me in the middle of the street and some seagulls. And I went, “There’s no way this is real life. There’s something going on. I’m just in the matrix.” But yeah, it’s super surreal and I’m still pinching myself every day, you know? It’s great.
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 couple 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 rock up. You don’t have to get there at like 4:00 AM — you get there at like 10. Maybe we’ll start at nine or something, Cusack? It’s just chill. It’s easy.
I think you do get to be — or at least the way these guys work — it feels like you are 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 need to. Whereas in a lot of live action, there’s props or there’s costumes or there’s other people that have built things around that scene and everything. There’s more at stake, it’s harder to change things. So there’s an intimacy to voice acting that is a lot of fun.
Michael Cusack: Yeah.