Time is right for Hulu’s ‘Future Man’

Hulu’s original production “Future Man” follows a young man who works as a janitor during the day but is an amazing gamer at night who is recruited by a pair of warriors from the future to travel through time so they can save humanity. Executive producers Seth Rogen and Kyle Hunter describe it as “The Last Starfighter” meets “Terminator” meets “Children of Men” meets “Back to the Future” meets “Quantum Leap.” 

If that wasn’t confusing enough, Josh Hutcherson, who plays the time-traveling gamer, adds there’s also a touch of “Schindler’s List.” Hutcherson’s obviously joking, because the 13-part series comes from the same guys who created the offbeat “Pineapple Express” and “This is the End.”

Rogen gets serious for a moment in an attempt to give a clearer picture of the new sci-fi comedy for the streaming service.

“It’s inspired by a lot of the science fiction movies that we grew up (with). Pretty much any science fiction movie from the last 35 years, roughly, influenced the show,” Rogen says. “But more than anything, it’s kind of like a journey from a janitor to potentially the savior of mankind and the story of two future warriors slowly humanizing in our world, which is a weird thing to say out loud.

“But that’s kind of the emotional core of the show and all these science fiction (movies) are the plot of the show. It was important for us to have a show that had a lot of plot to it because, to us, the idea of a half-hour comedy that was incredibly plot-driven was a unique opportunity and something unique in what can only be described as a crowded marketplace.”

The series starts in present-day Los Angeles but makes major leaps back in time where the travelers will have to deal with various iconic moments, music, people and locales. The second episode has the travelers visiting 1969 at the exact moment a very important historical moment is happening. All the gamer can do is work with Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson), the pair who came from a future where things are so bad they see nothing wrong with eating rats.

The fact “Future Man” has been inspired by so many popular movies is not something the executive producers are trying to hide. Rogen wanted to make sure that many of those films are mentioned in the series as a way of saying they know the influence past films have had on this production.

Rogen, who was born in the early ’80s, has a deep passion for the movies in the ’60s because it was such a good time for independent filmmaking. He loved the idea of trying to reflect that time period through the show.

“It was a fun area to take the show, both visually and narratively. The music, the style of it, the different themes that are exactly the same themes that are happening now, basically, and have probably been happening forever and will continue to happen until the world ends,” Rogen says. “I think sometimes it’s nice to use old older times as metaphors for current times.

“They’re not that thinly veiled often.”

Hutcherson, who’s best known for his portrayal of Peeta Mellark in “The Hunger Games” movie franchise, is not only the star of the new series, but also serves as one of the producers. He had worked with Rogen on the recent James Franco film “The Disaster Artist.” A few weeks later, Hutcheson was approached about starring in the series. He thought the project sounded original and crazy. Plus his character in “Future Man” has the same first name, Josh Futterman.

The idea of being a producer sounded good in the beginning, but once the filming started, it became more of a distraction.

“I found myself talking in third person on set. ‘I don’t think Josh would actually …’ But, I digress. As far as producing goes, I got to be involved in more of the creative conversations and some ideas they were formulating,” Hutcherson says. “As the show went on, kind of being able to, every now and then, lend a hand on set when we had a problem trying to figure something out.”

A lot of those questions had to do with making Hutcherson’s character different from the other film characters selected to save the world. Most of the time, the reluctant hero will fight the calling but then eventually go from weakling to action hero. His “Future Man” character ends up embracing his nerdiness because it helps him deal with the challenges they face through the decades.

That means Josh Futterman will never become a proficient fighter.

“I think we avoided a lot of those tropes. We played into some of them that are funny and work for the show, but at the same time, it was a very honest character. And he brings humanity and empathy into the world of Tiger and Wolf, which has abandoned all of that, and they see things as hard enemies and very hard lines. And Josh lives in the gray.” Hutcherson says.

 

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