In this interview, Director Tom Marshall talks Upload season 3 episodes 3 & 4, including his excitement to work on the show, the cast, and more.
Upload season 3 is underway on Prime Video and fans are finally getting some of the answers they have been looking for since the end of season 2. That said, there are certainly more crazy things happening.
There are currently two Nathans, as his body in Lakeview has been rebooted and he was also downloaded into a body that Ingrid had grown for him. He and Nora and working to take down those that murdered him because of greed. In Lakeview, Ingrid and new Nathan are bonding.
We chatted with Director Tom Marshall about Upload season 3 episodes 3 and 4. He reveals the inspiration behind Cyber Discount Day, a holiday that celebrates sales and consumerism. Tom also discusses directing Robbie Amell as two different versions of Nathan and Owen Daniels as multiple AI Guys.
Tom Marshall Talks Upload Season 3 Episodes 3 & 4
Mama’s Geeky: What was it about Upload that drew you to want to be a part of it?
Tom Marshall: It’s funny, this is the first time I’ve worked on a show that I’ve been a fan of. I obviously started shows that I’ve grown to love, but this is the first time where I was fanboying for a good chunk of time at the beginning. I had to get over that. Because I’d watched the first two seasons and loved them, loved the characters, loved the world. Being in Lakeview, that was crazy. All right, it’s real. This is a thing.
I had to just get that initial fanboying out the way, and then I could start to do my work. It was great for that, and it didn’t disappoint, because it could have been a nightmare. Could you imagine? I’m a big fan of the show and then I go and everyone was horrible and it was a nightmare? But it was so lovely and arguably right up there as one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever done. So it didn’t disappoint.
Mama’s Geeky: Can you talk about bringing the Thanksgiving holiday elements to Cyber Discount Day?
Tom Marshall: Well, it’s just that thing. It’s where we’re heading. Amazon and Facebook, they’re our new priests. It’s that sort of slightly depressing thing of it’s in our bones now. This technology and these companies sort of do have a hold on us. There’s certain companies where we need it, you just go there, right? You don’t even think about it. You just go there to get that thing. It’s sort of like muscle response.
I guess this is just was taking it that step further, in the near future. What if these companies have such a hold on us. They essentially become the things we build the air around. The things we build our events and our get togethers around. And it’s how the family gets together. I would love to say how funny and ridiculous, but I don’t know. Is that what we’re doing in 10 years? You don’t know anymore. But you have a lot of fun with that.
Mama’s Geeky: You’re not wrong. Black Friday sales start on Thanksgiving now. The line is already blurry.
Tom Marshall: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, it was our version of Black Friday, but in the afterlife. We got a kick out of, and we thought there’s something funny, and sort of relatable, and real world about it. These people in Lakeview are dead, yet they still have that response to want things. And a sale. Even when you’re dead. You’re dead and they’re still trying to sell you stuff.
Mama’s Geeky: I’d love to talk about the two Nathans because Robbie plays these two versions of the same character very well. What are the challenges and logistics of directing him?
Tom Marshall: There’s a very simple route we took a lot of the time which was that Lakeview Nathan is in his honeymoon period with Ingrid, again. He’s got that spring in his step that can only come when you’re in that honeymoon period. You’re in heaven, essentially. You’ve still got your six pack and there’s none of that real world stuff weighing you down.
Whereas real world Nathan, he’s put on a bit of weight. We put a little belly on him. It’s not even a big belly. It’s not Thor in the Avengers film. He doesn’t let himself go. He’s just got a very real world little pouch that would appear if your body had been comatose for as long as it has had. We set him up as a bit of a vain character back in in season one, so having that little extra few pounds created this whole world of insecurity for him that we then played on when we were performing it.
The note was just look a little bit more insecure. And then the big thing was tired. I remember giving the note of just being tired a lot, because it struck me that in Lakeview you were put to sleep. Whereas real world Nathan, he’s having to sleep in a bed with his mom and his mom’s new lover, get up early to try and find work, and scavenge for food. So, it was playing it that extra bit tired and rundown, and reacting to the real world again. What the real world was and felt like sometimes.
Mama’s Geeky: You also have to shoot a lot of AI Guys. In Upload season 3 episode 3, in particular, with them all around the table together. How does that work?
Tom Marshall: What was nice about coming in at season three, is they’ve done two seasons of that. Owen knew what to do. The computer people knew what to do. I had a computer person, and he told me what to do. And I just did that. And it worked. But it’s sort of fun having all those different versions of AI guy, because then you can start to try stuff out. Literally four, or five, or six different ways. You’ve got like four or five chances doing stuff. It wasn’t as much of a nightmare as I thought it was, it was fine.
I think what helps it is Owen. I think he’s so great and he’s so easy and lovely to work with. He brings so much to it. You would do a take of Owen, and you do it say like three or four times, those three or four times are going to be really unique and different and great in their own way. But then obviously, what happens is that you do that, then each Owen gets three or four takes. So you get this whole plethora of amazing, comedic stuff thanks to him. So they were fun. Not nearly as much of a nightmare as I thought it would be.
Mama’s Geeky: Being on the third season now, do you feel that a lot of the actors brought suggestions for their characters?
Tom Marshall: Yeah, they know them so well now, but say for instance, Robbie, I think, was relishing this time around to do stuff that was a little bit outside the Nathan spectrum. Because he is getting dragged through the mud a bit, literally your times. You’re doing stuff that was Nathan out of his comfort zone. There’s a moment where he gets to be terrified. He liked seeing Nathan terrified. He liked that. He relished that a bit, when we did the takes of it, we pushed it further and further, and then we saw the ones we used.
They know the characters well, in such a great way, now they’re limbering up a bit and they feel comfortable doing stuff that’s new and feels different than expected. Allegra [Edwards] is amazing. Now she’s really served in season three by Ingrid’s again getting put into very un-Ingrid like environments, like work for instance. So she really unleashes both barrels. It couldn’t have happened without the other two seasons happening, if you know what I mean. We’ve build up that Ingrid character that the we’re now sort of undercutting and picking apart. She really got her teeth into it.
But they’re all amazing. Kevin’s just so so funny and arguably, I don’t know if I should be telling this story, but I just think it’s so funny. There’s a moment where Luke is snitched on. Right? And I think in the script, it said, he runs away. And we did it. It was funny. Good. And then Kevin says, you know that Homer Simpson meme, where he disappears into a hedge? And I was like, Yeah. And he says, I think I should do one like that. And I was like, Yeah, do that. And then that, arguably, and you’ll see it when you watch it, that’s my favorite moment of my entire episode. So I think they’re in a good place where they love the show, they know other people love the show, the know the characters, and are now like really having fun and expanding on what they’ve done before.
Mama’s Geeky: Would you come back for Upload season 4 and direct another episode or two?
Tom Marshall: Oh, I would kill to. I would love that.
About Upload Season 3
Upload is a sci-fi comedy series from Emmy-winning writer Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill), set in a technologically advanced future where holographic phones, self-driving vehicles, AI assistance, and 3D food printers are the norm. And, forget about dying – instead, you’ll be “uploaded” to a virtual reality afterlife, and enjoy all the comforts of a world-class resort. Provided you can afford it.
In Upload Season Three, Nathan has been duplicated. While “download” Nathan is reuniting with Nora, a Horizen customer service rep realizes he is missing from Lakeview and restores a backup “upload” of him. Now more than ever, Nathan, Nora, Ingrid, Luke, Aleesha … and even A.I. Guy, struggle to find a balance in their careers, technology, and love between the real world and the virtual reality “after-life.”
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.