While The Last Kids on Earth, a new Netflix original series based on the graphic novel series from writer Max Brailler and artist Douglas Holgate, may be a unique flavor of post-apocalyptic hijinks, it’s always good for the audeince — and the cast — to have some familiar touchstones going into something new. During a recent interview with series star Nick Wolfhard (who plays Jack Sullivan in the animated series), be broke down some of his personal influences, as well as those he thinks were big influences on the series itself. Some of them were pretty obvious — no surprise, really, that Codename: Kids Next Door comes up — but others were a little less so.
Wolfhard is also planning a project with his brother Finn, famous for his work on Stranger Things, so that whole household knows something about how much popular culture influences other popular culture, influences other popular culture ad infinitum. And between writer Max Brailler, executive producer Scott Peterson, and the cast themselves, there are a lot of inlets for new influences.
“I actually learned about it from a lot of my co-stars as well as the people making the show eventually, after I joined them and started recording,” Wolfhard admitted. “I learned that it was actually extremely popular. It’s a New York Times bestseller and a lot of kids love to read it. It’s also got a lot of real-life references in terms of it’s stories. I remember one of the books references 20th Century Fox. I think in an interview done recently, Scott Peterson and Max Brailler had mentioned that the opening scene in the book I believe actually takes place at CVS Pharmacy, but obviously you can’t do that. You can’t do that onscreen because of licensing issues. It just goes to show how relatable Max wants it to be to kids, and it’s part of why they can relate to it and love it so much. But also the story is obviously the biggest part that drags them in, and the characters.”
To zero in on those characters, Wolfhard mostly focused on what was on the page, but tonally, he said that he took influences from a wide range of things, including live-action horror movies, animation, and cult director Edgar Wright.
“For me it’s Zombieland meets Codename: Kids Next Door, meets Scott Pilgrim,” Wolfhard explained. “That’s the comparison I usually make. Kids Next Door is the show — I grew up kind of watching it. They’ve got this big tree fort, a treehouse base and they’ve got all these different cool inventions and stuff like that. And Edgar Wright is a big kind of influence on the editing for sure. He directed the Scott Pilgrim movie, so there’s that comparison there. And visually it also kind of reminds you of Scott Pilgrim a little bit. It’s really cool. I love it.”
And like those influences, Wolfhard thinks the series, which he says is planned for multiple seasons with only the first already available on Netflix, has the potential to appeal to more than just the kids you expect from an animated adventure series.
“There’s these great dramatic moments in there too, kind of these dramatic nuggets that are all sorted in there and it’s also got some great stuff for the adults too,” Wolfhard said. “I think it’s honestly one of those shows that all ages can enjoy, especially later on when we get into the full series. I guess Scott Peterson kind of spilled the beans. We’re doing multiple seasons, or as he likes to call it multiple books.”
The Last Kids on Earth Book One is available to stream now on Netflix, with more episodes planned for a release in 2020.