News

7 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets From the Set of Powerless

RottenTomatoes spent an afternoon on set with the cast of NBC's superhero-adjacent comedy

by | February 8, 2017 | Comments

Alan Tudyk, Vanessa Hudgens in Powerless (Chris Haston/NBC)

DC TV’s new sitcom, Powerless, about the regular folks living in the superhero-inhabited world of Charm City, USA, sees the comic book giant take a step into the comedy world.

The series, which debuted February 2 on NBC, stars Vanessa Hudgens as the bright-eyed and optimistic Emily, the new head of a research and development team at Wayne Security — a subsidiary run by Bruce’s slacker cousin, Van (Alan Tudyk) — and the slightly more cynical team around her that invents useful tools for everyday people dealing with superhero destruction all the time.

RottenTomatoes spent an afternoon on set with Hudgens, Tudyk, Ron Funches, Danny Pudi, and Christina Kirk, and documented what we saw as the cast filmed the eighth episode of the season. Here are seven things we learned after a day in Charm City.


1. Wayne Security Has an Almost-Functional Office

Canny Pudi in Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

Not only are there working computers at the desks in the Wayne Security office, but the entire set — where most of the show is filmed — essentially looks like a real-life workspace with an open-office floor plan. These aren’t separate sets: the lab, the kitchen, the conference area, the desks, and Van’s fancy wood-paneled office are all connected.


2. Everybody Improvises

Alan Tudyk in Powerless (Chris Haston/NBC)

“The scripts are really funny. It’s not a lot of changing what’s there,” Tudyk said — but as RT discovered watching take after take of the scene the cast was filming that day, there is room to explore.

“Everybody does their own little bits here and there,” Hudgens revealed. “I feel like Alan does the most. He just comes on set and starts rambling off his own lines that he’s created and they’re always great.”

In an early episode, Tudyk even wrote his own song: “I sang a song a couple of episodes ago. I sang two songs. One of the songs was the one they wrote me, and then the other one…I’ve never done that as an actor. I don’t know what came over me, but I came in with three or four numbers.”

Funches also uses his standup comedy experience regularly, particularly when sharing scenes with Pudi.

“I really like working with Danny,” Funches said. “He’s really fun to play off of. If you improvise anything, he doesn’t need you to be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this so be ready,’ he’s just ready. So if I change something up, he just goes with it.”


3. The Inventions Are Super-Useful, But Maybe Not Super-Cool

Josh Breeding, Ron Funches in Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

There’s a Shark Tank vibe going on in the Wayne Security R&D lab as the characters come up with inventions to help make the constant superhero- and supervillain-induced destruction in Charm City easier for residents to handle. Take, for example, the Rumbrella, which gives the user protection from falling rubble.

“Our products work, but they’re not necessarily some of the most practical things in the world. You use them, [it’s] just that carrying them around would be taxing,” Hudgens explained.

One gadget that was really cool to see, though: a real-life Batarang, Batman’s boomerang-esque bat-shaped weapon.
“I was just very excited to touch it, you know? It’s also very heavy,” Pudi revealed. “They do a good job here about crafting things that are true to their weight.”


4. Where Is Charm City, Anyway?

Powerless (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

Showrunner Patrick Schumacker thinks that Charm City might be located near Cleveland, but writer Sabrina Jaleese, who penned episode eight, has a slightly different take.

“It’s definitely wherever Scranton is. Not too far from Scranton. It’s definitely not the place to be,” Jaleese said. “It’s big enough that Emily comes from a smaller place, and she’s excited to be there. It maybe has that New Jersey vibe, of like a lot of people would rather be a couple towns over in Metropolis or Gotham. It’s definitely an underdog city. So insert whatever town you wanna knock there, and that’s where you’ll find Charm City.”


5. They’re Comic Book Nerds, Too

Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

“I’ve always wanted to touch Batman’s suit,” Pudi confessed. “I’ve always wanted to be inside of a Batmobile and just kind of go for a ride, pick up some food. There’s this place in Chicago called Superdawg where you can go and you can park your car, and you can get Superdawgs through the window. I thought that would be cool with a Batmobile.”

Funches, who is a huge comic fan and reads Teen Titans with his son, said he wants to see Green Lantern in Charm City sometime.

“Green Lantern is probably my favorite superhero of all — John Stewart if you want the specific one,” Funches said. “I would love it if maybe he lost the ring, and I found it and I was just like, ‘Oh, it works for me!’ That would be great. I like that.”

One other thing he wants to see: “Also just making out with Supergirl, whether it’s on the show or off the show. Whatever she’s interested in, really,” he joked.


6. There’s Not Technically a Musical Episode, But…

Vanessa Hudgens in Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

If you’re on the set of Powerless, there’s a 100 percent chance that you’ll hear Hudgens singing. The Grease: Live! star sings literally any chance she can get.

During our afternoon visit, she sang everything from the blues classic “At Last” to the Disney classic “Part of Your World” — and sounded great, too.

Some musical moments might make it on screen — “musical things happen sometimes,” Hudgens dished — but there’s not a full-on musical episode scheduled (yet).

“I’m singing all the time so maybe we’ll give them a hint,” she added.

Hint taken, promised Schumacker: “Every day on set is a musical episode with Vanessa. We don’t have any immediate plans to do it for this season but knock on wood — if we get a second season, I think that would be in order.”


7. They Have More Future Plans

Powerless TNT (Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

“A lot of times it’s me and Danny and Jennie [Pierson sharing scenes together],” Funches said. “We have our own little nickname: they call us ‘TNT,’ the noisy three, which is fun. I think it’s cute. We’re going to get matching leather jackets if we get a second season.”

Powerless airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC


Tag Cloud

TLC rotten movies we love Classic Film free movies Winter TV anime YouTube reviews Action Nat Geo Acorn TV renewed TV shows police drama christmas movies cancelled TV shows satire docudrama series RT21 YA Lifetime Christmas movies period drama Pride Month Musical festivals breaking bad YouTube Premium cops Premiere Dates Lifetime classics GIFs Country name the review Watching Series die hard NYCC LGBT boxoffice Holiday Masterpiece Avengers Elton John 24 frames 2018 20th Century Fox Fall TV Epix films Esquire MCU sequel video on demand Marvel Studios movies sitcom Thanksgiving 72 Emmy Awards 4/20 Pop TV south america Marathons FX GoT asian-american Warner Bros. thriller toronto documentaries Ovation GLAAD science fiction Disney Channel Writers Guild of America HBO adaptation CBS All Access unscripted parents BBC One emmy awards mockumentary RT History Crunchyroll medical drama talk show Disney discovery Heroines cults cinemax Spike Marvel HBO Max Best and Worst Food Network psycho canceled Dark Horse Comics game of thrones psychological thriller Apple TV Plus Mindy Kaling BET Awards streaming based on movie Animation Amazon Studios Arrowverse richard e. Grant A&E TV renewals TCM foreign Drama Lucasfilm Binge Guide comiccon Discovery Channel toy story Starz 45 Nominations SundanceTV PBS 2016 TV Land The Purge screenings romance criterion remakes Tomatazos critics Photos Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Comedy cancelled television Quiz Holidays Creative Arts Emmys stand-up comedy canceled TV shows scary movies what to watch game show Television Academy WGN Logo Black Mirror doctor who Columbia Pictures batman Pixar Superheroes DC streaming service biography Interview superhero BET all-time 2020 teaser Infographic Academy Awards Vudu CBS Mary Poppins Returns Sundance Now best spy thriller Red Carpet 71st Emmy Awards USA Network politics IFC Films OWN children's TV TCA mutant cats ITV cars Freeform zero dark thirty aliens APB blaxploitation sports joker hist OneApp social media Netflix Christmas movies vampires Trivia Super Bowl spanish language dogs WarnerMedia screen actors guild cooking news chucky DC Comics comics mission: impossible dragons supernatural Bravo Superheroe football sequels Amazon Prime TruTV ratings Character Guide DirecTV historical drama Awards Tour Reality hollywood Reality Competition ABC DC Universe nature Paramount Network PaleyFest casting FOX award winner Sundance TV crime drama 2015 New York Comic Con worst movies Rom-Com Television Critics Association slashers stop motion Captain marvel Sony Pictures FXX Western theme song NBC Cannes San Diego Comic-Con revenge Fox News CNN Sundance halloween Rock Amazon Prime Video robots Certified Fresh documentary VICE El Rey FX on Hulu Syfy Chernobyl composers comic Calendar TIFF President video zombie Video Games Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt green book 2017 scorecard dark Mudbound Tarantino directors BAFTA Fantasy indie BBC America universal monsters cartoon elevated horror reboot Teen Marvel Television political drama PlayStation TCA Awards anthology ghosts Star Trek Spectrum Originals SXSW Comedy Central National Geographic Tumblr technology Mary poppins Biopics Tubi American Society of Cinematographers book HBO Go spinoff Trailer Paramount rotten Oscars worst First Reviews cancelled zombies Rocketman versus Women's History Month Sci-Fi war franchise Hallmark TCA 2017 spain USA Nickelodeon Song of Ice and Fire Set visit Mystery travel Spring TV comedies Pop Turner Classic Movies Extras Music Travel Channel animated Netflix BBC Awards Disney Plus The Witch Star Wars kids Christmas disaster Ghostbusters Black History Month Shudder CMT Year in Review Countdown Polls and Games child's play VOD The CW singing competition ESPN space Endgame crime TBS Horror Opinion 007 a nightmare on elm street Election Summer indiana jones justice league 2019 Anna Paquin Ellie Kemper Lionsgate 21st Century Fox Cosplay The Arrangement TNT Podcast Crackle quibi witnail facebook dc E! Comic Book MTV Hulu adventure blockbuster Disney+ Disney Plus nfl Amazon obituary Shondaland DGA Universal jamie lee curtis Martial Arts Film AMC Baby Yoda TV Rocky cancelled TV series SDCC Musicals Hear Us Out hispanic Family stoner VH1 See It Skip It crime thriller concert Schedule Pet Sematary serial killer Emmy Nominations Pirates transformers dramedy Trophy Talk binge Valentine's Day strong female leads ABC Family Comics on TV Mary Tyler Moore Showtime movie nbcuniversal miniseries Grammys History Cartoon Network venice crossover fast and furious Stephen King CW Seed Hallmark Christmas movies latino spider-man Britbox Disney streaming service festival X-Men IFC Funimation Adult Swim Film Festival Kids & Family A24 The Walking Dead Apple TV+ diversity harry potter Turner dceu MSNBC E3 Apple romantic comedy Brie Larson golden globes YouTube Red First Look tv talk TCA Winter 2020 television Toys laika Box Office twilight independent Emmys werewolf Winners natural history true crime Sneak Peek finale LGBTQ sag awards Walt Disney Pictures Peacock