The only thing better than the idea of seeing Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph co-starring on a sitcom has been the reality of this comedy union on NBC's Up All Night. Eschewing the over-the-top antics each became synonymous with as a result of previous shows, the freshman series has mined real world parental problems for huge, but grounded, laughs.
Tonight delivers Up All Night's most heartfelt outing to date as the action flashes back to Amy's eventful birth. I caught up with star Will Arnett to find out what excites him about the episode, if it's been difficult to turn down the character volume and what you can expect from the upcoming Arrested Development projects!
ETonline: It takes every new show a few weeks to find its groove, but now that you're in it and picked up for the full season, how are you feeling about Up All Night?
Will Arnett: It's funny, your series gets reviewed based on the pilot, which becomes the logline for the entire series. Until you break through the four episode threshold, which is when you can start redefining people and talking about the series in a different way. But up until then, you're forced to jam onto people the premise of the show and the relationships – there's so much pressure on a pilot to deliver on so many levels and at the same time, be funny. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't because people will say, "Oh, it was funny but I don't know who these characters are" pr, "There was so much time spent talking about who they are and there were no jokes." It's a balancing act. It's just the way the system is, but it's tough.
ETonline: In that exploration process, what have you found to be imperative with the show's comedy?
Arnett: I think it's important the comedy comes from a real place. We're not making an absurdist comedy. This is the first time I've been a part of something where the comedy comes out of real life versus over the top everything. The story is the heart of it and that's the story about a woman with her husband, child and best friend. It's nice, but it's a different gear.
ETonline: Has it been difficult going from playing over-the-top characters on Arrested Development and Running Wilde to the more realistic Chris on Up All Night?
Arnett: Chris is without question the most realistic person I've ever played, which has been really fun for me. To be honest, one of the challenges is that I'm so used to ending the scene with some big hard comedy moment. Having a softer landing has been the biggest challenge for me. But it's also been really nice.
ETonline: What can you tease about tonight's episode?
Arnett: The whole thing is a flashback and I'm really excited about it. The episode starts 18 months earlier, which is an interesting idea. I don't know if I've ever seen a comedy that used a whole episode as a flashback. It's a nice way to tell the story of how we got to where we are. It's another piece in their puzzle. I know that as a parent of two young kids and having gone through my wife's childbirth, it hits close to home on a personal level.
ETonline: I would imagine that much of the show does that.
Arnett: Absolutely. This show really rings true for me, and [Applegate and Rudolph] too – your priorities immediately change the moment you learn you're expecting. Everything you do, you do in service of your children. You're responsible for another human being and your entire worldview shifts. You're no longer number one on the totem pole. In my house, I'm just slightly above the dog in terms of importance.
Up All Night airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.