By CHRIS TRONDSEN and PETERSON GONZAGA
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD— For many actors, it’s exciting to know that a second season of their show is picked up. Zainab Johnson and Kevin Bigley of the Prime Video sci-fi series “Upload,” were excited to finally share their thoughts on the new season of their show, which premiered on March 11.
“Upload” is based in a future in which people are able to upload a virtual version themselves in the afterlife and choose what kind of life they can have. In the first season of the show, computer programmer Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) dies prematurely and is uploaded to Lake View with his girlfriend Ingrid Kannerman (Allegra Edwards) who happens to still be alive in real life. Nathan also becomes good friends in the afterlife with Luke (Kevin Bigley) who helps him find the positives of living in a digital heaven. Nathan and Luke are able to connect with their still living customer service reps Nora (Andy Allo) and Aleesha (Zainab Johnson) respectively.
Johnson and Bigley are thankful viewers have grown fond of their characters and the show itself. Viewers will be able to see how the duo’s characters grow in Season Two as Luke and Zainab have a more intimate connection.
Front Row Features: With all the buzz surrounding Season Two, how excited are you for fans to see your work?
Zainab Johnson: It feels really good. Gratefully, they’ve been hounding us. It’s funny because we have very little control as to when it’s going to come out. It takes so much to make this show and while we get celebrated because we’re the faces of the show, so much goes into making “Upload” from the producers, the editors and everything from things like people dubbing our voices. I was able to watch Season One in German and Italian. It takes so much to get this show out there. I’m so excited we finally get to share it with the viewers.
Kevin Bigley: It’s kind of like that birthday that’s coming up. It’s like this birthday is bigger than past birthdays that I’ve had since I turned 21.
FRF: People care about the characters. You act like siblings on the show going back and forth. Aleesha likes keeping Kevin’s character in check. How is it for you on- and off-camera?
Johnson: It’s always been a lot of fun. I think when I go on with my scenes with Kevin, Aleesha and Luke, I’m going to try and win. Even if it’s not written for me to win, I’m going to still try and win. I think most times, Aleesha wins. I think the difference between Season One and Season Two is that I annoyed Luke a lot in Season One.
I was keeping him in check and he did not like it. In Season Two, it seems like he needs it. He doesn’t know what to do when I’m not around. I think that’s an interesting shift within the same dynamics.
Bigley: Luke is an agent of chaos. He’s just constantly creating it. I also think he’s kind of like how they say about a dog, “If they’re not getting positive attention, they’re going to act out just to get attention.” (Luke) just starts causing (a ruckus) to get attention.
FRF: Zainab, you must be doing well today because you have all your fingers.
Bigley: They’re all here. All ten of them.
FRF: In this season, it looks like you’re running the ship because Nora is MIA. Tell me how your character is handling running the ship?
Johnson: Nobody really likes to do more work, especially for the same amount of pay. I think it’s kind of fun to give Aleesha more responsibility because it’s interesting to see what she does with it. In Season One, she was really casual about what she would do at work (now) she’s full force. She’s in it and not going back. Also, what’s happening simultaneously is while she’s filling in for Nora, she’s hurt and missing her. That was kind of interesting for me to kind of live with— if that makes sense—in the beginning of the second season.
FRF: Kevin, your character Luke is not boring. Tell us a little bit about his evolution this season.
Bigley: He’s been much more helpful. He’s helpful in his own way. Nathan can be of service whether by distracting Aleesha or while they go to New York, without giving much away. It’s like creating a game or finding out information or balancing Nathan when he’s being a little bit too ambitious and a little bit to harsh with some people. I think that he’s a little bit more built-out in this season and more fully formed, which is really nice as an actor. Also, (show creator) Greg Daniels will help you navigate sometimes when you go in and think it’s a serious scene. Greg will then say that it still has to be a little bit funny. He helps us understand how he pieces it together and will say it has to be comedic while giving out information. It’s really a challenge and a good one at that. Greg is really good at that. We have to look at all these little pieces and how they fit into a larger bigger piece.
There are some show runners where when you ask them, “How was that?” they’ll go, “It was funny but let’s work on blah blah blah.” Greg hires you to do your job and he will really work. After Covid hit, he wasn’t around as much. I used to go up to him a lot and ask, “Was it funny?” He’ll say, “Okay. Let’s stop. Just go out and do your job. It’s funny because I hired you to do it.” He’s not that kind of guy. I felt comfortable after Season One. He’s happy with the product and happy what you’re doing; he’s not a monster.
FRF: Why should viewers tune in to Season Two?
Johnson: If you watched Season One and you loved it, we give you so much more of that. You’re already in the world and you understand the world so now we just go wild in it. But then we give all this new stuff that makes you think further to question what you thought about the first season (and) the choice you would make and the technology you would use. If you haven’t seen the show, I would say you need to watch it because it is the best part of every show all in one. It has romance, comedy, sci-fi and suspense—it’s everything all in one. It’s a rewarding ride.