You’ll recognize Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as the powerhouse writing duo behind Certified Fresh apocalyptic comedy Zombieland, sci-fi fantasy flick Life, and, of course, Marvel’s Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and Once Upon a Deadpool.
Their latest project is YouTube Premium action series Wayne, which stars Mark McKenna (Sing Street) and Ciara Bravo (To the Bone) as a teen vigilante couple out to battle injustice and rescue a classic car. Executive producers Reese and Wernick describe the show as “John Wick–meets–John Hughes” — heart-stopping, bad-ass action with a sweet, romantic core.
Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the writers-turned-producers to find out their latest TV and movie obsessions, what makes Wayne binge-worthy, and more.
What is appointment viewing for you?
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Rhett Reese: Well, movie-wise for me recently is Free Solo. I can’t get over Free Solo. It’s all I can think about or talk about, as anyone that knows me knows.
Paul Wernick: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t have much appointment viewing because I like to shut my brain off at night because we’re working so hard in the daytime. It’s hard for me to commit to any one show. Inside The NBA, embarrassingly enough, is my favorite show on television.
What is in your streaming queue?
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Reese: Right now my wife and I are watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is like stepping into an incredible time machine. It’s very well-acted and beautifully shot. It’s just as rich and luscious a show as you could ever imagine watching. And then the other thing my wife’s got me into is The Great British Bake-Off, or Baking Show, or whatever. That’s our sort of guilty pleasure, where we watch as people try to make tarts without soggy bottoms. And that’s fun. And then our next thing we’ll be embarking on is Better Call Saul because Breaking Bad was our favorite show ever, and we’ve fallen behind on Better Call Saul for whatever reason.
What shows are on your DVR?
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Reese: We really went crazy for American Vandal on Netflix, and that’s not on the DVR cause it’s Netflix, but American Vandal my wife and I are totally obsessed with. … I don’t think there’s ever been a funnier, more grounded, real portrayal of high school on television. It’s just that funny, and that good.
Wernick: I would say mine is Shark Tank. I’ve probably got about 50 Shark Tanks on my DVR that my children and I like to watch.
What’s coming soon that you can’t wait for?
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Reese: For me it will be Game of Thrones because I was Game of Thrones obsessed since probably — let me think back — probably about 2007 or so. I read all the books, totally obsessed by them. And then was thrilled when they announced that they were gonna do a show, and I’ve done a deep dive on the show as well.
Wernick: You were Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones was Game of Thrones.
Reese: I was in the bookstore, and I was looking for a fantasy series, and I just happened to pick up that first book. And on page 100 when Jaime Lannister threw Bran out the window I was like, “All right, this is gonna be my series of books for the next, y’know, four or five years.” So I go very far back, and I’m really excited to see how they wrap it up.
Wernick: Wayne. Yeah, Wayne. I can’t wait until January 16. I can’t wait for Wayne.
Sophie-Marie Prime for Rotten Tomatoes: How did you become involved with Wayne, and what made you want to be a part of it?
Reese: Sean [Simmons] created this show. He grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, which is sort of an “other side of the tracks” kind of place. He was inspired to write a spec pilot based on a little bit of his background and watching kids in Brockton who were real tough who would get beat up by groups of bigger kids, but not back down.
Wernick: You know, scripts end up on our desks quite often. This one really jumped off the page. Sean had such a distinctive voice, and that’s really what you look for. There’s so much out there that kind of feels the same, and it feels predictable, and this one you just — it was a page turner. It was kind of a perfect mix of tones for us, and fit into “brand,” if we were to have one, Rhett and I. We jumped at the chance to be involved.
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RT: How would you describe the tone of the show, in comparison to your other projects, like Deadpool and Zombieland?
Wernick: I think it’s very similar. It’s in and out of different tones, and it’s a delicate dance. But real life, it bounces in and out of different tones; sometimes you’re laughing, and sometimes you’re crying, and sometimes you’re getting your ass kicked, and sometimes you’re kicking ass. That’s real life.
Heart is a big thing with all our projects. I think it’s something that we try and mine because if you can get people to feel — if you can ideally get people to cry in the same episode that they’re laughing — it’s a pretty great accomplishment. And we think Sean, as brilliant as he is, has kind of captured that in a way that’s really difficult to capture.
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RT:How would you describe Wayne (Mark McKenna) as a character? What makes him tick?
Wernick: I think it’s justice and injustice, quite honestly. He just hates when people — good people — are wronged, and he tries to make right in the world. It’s this 16-year-old boy; he’s got anger impulse and issues, but he’s got a maturity to him in that sense. We always describe him as a little bit of a vigilante. He does have some Bruce Wayne in him, strangely, or Charles Bronson. He’s the badass, but he’s the badass for making right of the world’s wrongs.
Reese: We also wanted to hit the fact that not every tough guy is so tough when they’re faced with women, because he doesn’t know much about girls. And so, as tough as he is when he’s in a fist fight, he’s in over his head when it comes to meeting Del, this girl he’s got a crush on. He’s got to navigate that in his own inexperience, and that’s really fun.
We describe the show as “John Wick–meets–John Hughes,” and that’s for a reason. It’s an ass-kicking show, but it’s also a romance — it’s about a teen who’s really delving into first love. And we think that definitely gives the show sweetness to go along with its hard edge.
Wernick: Yeah, and Mark McKenna, he’s such a brilliant actor. … He’s a badass, but there’s a real kind of sweet vulnerability to him. And I think both in the character, and in the way Mark captures that onscreen, it’s awesome to watch.
RT: What’s Wayne’s relationship with Del (Ciara Bravo) like, and how does it evolve?
Reese: I don’t wanna spoil it, but it’s funny — in some ways they’re sort of meant for each other. They’re both from dysfunctional families, other side of the tracks, struggling to get by, don’t always get the support at home that maybe children with their good hearts should be afforded. But I think they’re also different. Wayne’s definitely more strong, silent. Del’s more talkative. They have strange idiosyncrasies that might not work together, and yet somehow do. So they’re a bit of a mismatched pair. I think watching that relationship develop, and go from being more than just the obsession or lust of first-time teenage love to something much deeper, is what this show’s about, really, over the course of the 10 episodes.
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RT: What do you think makes Del tick? What makes her stick with Wayne despite everything they go through?
Reese: Well, you’ll see a lot of Del’s personality has been shaped by her mother — and you’ll learn more about Del’s mother moving forward, and her mother’s relationship with her father. She’s a complex character, more so than Wayne. Wayne is a little simple like, I think, most men. He’s got his wants and his desires. Things trigger him, and he acts.
Del is more complex than Wayne. You’ll see all kinds of different shades in her, and you’ll see a vulnerability over time that speaks to why she likes Wayne, and why she likes his directness, and why she likes his direct, non-deceptive way of dealing with the world. … You’ll just see her evolve. Episode 5, in particular, is just a stunner. It’s what we think is our best episode, and it’s focused on Del.
Wernick: Episode 5 is actually my favorite episode of the series so far. It’s exclusively about Del, and how she came to be who she is. The show’s called “Wayne,” but it really could be called “Wayne and Del,” because that really is what the show’s about. We wanted to make a strong female character, and she’s super super-strong — almost to a fault at times. She’s a badass.
Reese: But she’s also not at all one-dimensional either, because I think sometimes now the strong female is as much of a cliché as anything else. Every person’s got strengths and weaknesses throughout their character, male or female, and she’s strong in some ways, and she’s actually really vulnerable and weak, even, in other ways.
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RT: What do each of you relate to in Wayne or Del as characters?
Reese: I came from a upper- to upper-middle-class neighborhood in Arizona where it was very suburban. … Very cookie cutter, and sweet, and almost Mr. Rogers–like. So I can’t relate to a lot of what Wayne and Del are going through. And yet, where I click into it the most is just the rage over injustice in the world. … And then secondarily, I was sort of a hopeless romantic in grade school and high school. Every year I was in love with a new girl, and was too afraid to do anything about it or tell her. Seeing Wayne and Del’s romantic relationship, I just find it very relatable — that lack of sure footing that you have when you’ve never really expressed romantic feelings to anybody before. And you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you don’t know how to kiss, and you don’t know the right things to say. I relate to that like crazy.
Wernick: And I relate to just the pure rage. I’m not as romantic and sweet as Rhett.
Wayne premieres Wednesday, Jan. 16 on YouTube Premium.
RHONY: Analyzing Dorinda Medley’s behavior post-Miamiby A C
The Real Housewives of New York City were in for a real mess when Tinsley Mortimer brought her receipts for Dorinda Medley’s takedown.
The Real Housewives of New York City had the first in-person reunion since March! Tinsley Mortimer was in attendance from Chicago and everyone had their fancy masks on. Ramona Singer started the reunion off with some heat about her traveling during the quarantine. Leah McSweeney was very vocal about how she felt that Ramona was dancing and living her best life in Florida while many people were dying due to the coronavirus.
Even Andy Cohen jumped in to say Ramona was not following guidelines with her lax behavior in the last few months. Not to mention she felt a little ill but traveled to Florida right after! Both Ramona and Avery Singer tested positive for the coronavirus antibodies.
Tinsley vs Dorinda
But the real drama at the reunion was with Dorinda Medley and Tinsley! Knowing that Dorinda was fired not long after the reunion was taped really adds to her awful behavior. Even Andy shouted at her that she was not taking any responsibility for her actions, she was just deflecting the entire time. When he asked about her drinking, she said something about how she felt sorry for Ramona. Next up, Dorinda said Ramona’s facelift looked great.
Tinsley made a great point that the turkey baster comment being offensive to SO many people that were watching and how vile the comment was. Dorinda did offer an apology for the comment but it did not seem sincere. The apology came much too late, especially for viewers who might be having issues with getting pregnant.
But here’s the real tea
Tinsley said that Scott Kluth gave John Mahdessian money and they got into a fight about it during season 11. She noted that this made Dorinda very mad because John went behind her back to borrow money. In turn, she took this out on Tinsley for the next year or so. Tinsley said production was worried about her safety that night. because Dorinda was so mad. They also aired some of the unreleased footage from that night that backed up her story.
It sounds like Tinsley has a lot of information about Dorinda’s anger and was polite enough not to spill all of it in the months since she left the show. But now Tinsley has the opportunity to defend herself and we are so here to watch that happen!
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.
The Real Housewives of New York City reunion will continue next Thursday at 9 PM ET!
Ah, the sweet smell of success! Within the universe of Amazon’s The Boys, success probably smells a lot like burning flesh, whale guts, and a freshly popped can of Fresca. Thankfully the cast and crew of behind the success of The Boys don’t have catch a whiff of any of that to know that their show is a major hit in the real world. As the cast recalled during a visit to the set of The Boys Season 2 last fall, they could tell that the show was a hit just from the reviews and reactions of everyone around them. Everyone from random TV critics online to their friends and family had something to say about the show—and thankfully those early reviews were positive, because they woulda really harshed one cast member’s vibe.
“I try to stay away from reviews,” said Laz Alonso, sounding every bit as cautious as his character, Mother’s Milk. “I’ve gotten in my own head when I read reviews. Being able to read [reviews] at first, was the first thing that really gave me like—’Oh shit, we might be good.’”
The early reviews were good—which isn’t a given considering just how much superhero content there is to consume. There’s a lot of competition, so for The Boys to not only stand out in the crowd but stand out for the right reasons was a feat.
“I’ve been in movies that you put your whole heart and soul in and then people just kill it! Just annihilated!” said Alonso. “Even Avatar, in the beginning, they were calling us Smurfs. They were calling us all kinds of fucked up shit.” Not so, with The Boys! “When I started reading the [critics], the people that live and breathe this and cover everything and everybody, and they’re giving [The Boys] good reviews? I was like, alright! Maybe we’re onto something!… When it came out, man, it was just like, people really bought in. They bought in, and they loved the fact that we’re not the typical show. We’re something different.”
The show’s success with critics early on just validated what the cast felt while filming Season 1. “We know something special is happening,” said Tomer Capon, who plays Frenchie. “We felt that, even in Season 1. Now that we’re getting the feedback for it, it’s amazing.”
The cast then had to deal with, y’know, being on a hit show—which is a bit surreal considering that the superpowered half of The Boys is all about the pressures and danger of sudden fame. In a way, both Starlight and the actor who plays her, Erin Moriarty, endured a similar career trajectory. Of course, Moriarty’s rise to fame was way, way more positive anything Starlight went through when she joined the Seven.
“The environment on the show is a really supportive one, and it’s a really lovely one,” said Moriarty, whose superhero Starlight has no such comfort on the Seven. “We’re all a family off set. Luckily, it’s been a much more positive experience for me… For me, I’m just working on an awesome job with people I love. I’m much more fortunate than her.”
Jack Quaid—whose mild-mannered Hughie was designed to be the most relatable character on the show—knew they had a hit on their hands when he learned that the teens, the most reliable arbiters of cool, chimed in. “My little sister, she just went to boarding school—she’s like 13, and very much not allowed to watch this show,” said Quaid. “But she has friends that are coming up to her, I think they saw a photo of me on her phone or something, and they were like, ‘Oh, Hughie!’ And she was like, ‘You watch The Boys?’ Apparently, a lot of teenagers do—which they totally shouldn’t be! But that was the moment I was like, ‘Oh, teenagers are sneaking this show in. That’s something.’
Nathan Mitchell—who plays the Seven’s murderous man in black, Black Noir—has enjoyed the show’s rise from a unique vantage point. Since his face and voice have yet to be seen or heard on the show, he gets all the perks of being on a hit show and his day-to-day is more or less the same. “Only the people who are really into the show will know me. I still have this degree of privacy,” said Mitchell. But if you think that Boys fans haven’t figured out who’s under that cowl, then you don’t know Boys fans. “We got off at the airport for Comic-Con, and somebody walked up to me and was like, ‘Hey, can you sign this?’ It was me in the [Black Noir] suit. I was like, ‘Okay!’ That was before the show had even come out.”
When the show came out, the cast—specifically Karen Fukuhara, who plays the silent killer Kimiko—was surprised to find that Boys fans had been hiding in plain sight all along. “I think when a lot of my friends from Japan, and also America, reached out to me and they said, ‘I’m a comic book fan and I read this in high school,’ which is crazy, by the way, ‘and it was just translated so well on screen.’”
Thus a diehard fandom was born—and you better believe they started making fan art. “I was walking down the street, checking Instagram—which is a very unsafe thing to do—and somebody tagged me,” said Quaid. “It was this person who made fan art of The Boys as The Spice Girls. [Laughs] I was Baby Spice, because, of course. It was cool. You could tell that she put some thought into which Boy would be which Spice Girl. It was at that moment that I was like, okay. If people are making fan art, typically that’s a good sign.”
The Boys did more than inspire fan art; it inspired the fans themselves. There was somebody who came up to me at one of the conventions who said Hughie dealing with anxiety really helped her with her anxiety,” said Quaid. “We had this very real talk about—because I’m an anxious person, for sure—just talking to her about what that’s like and how it goes away, and how you deal with it. That got way deeper than I ever thought I would get with fans. That was really cool.”
The Boys are changing lives, one bloody brawl at a time.
New episodes of The Boys Season 2 hit Amazon Prime Video every Friday.