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If you were blown away by “Free Churro,” Episode 6 of “BoJack Horseman” Season 5,” here’s what it was like when creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg heard Will Arnett perform it for the first time.
“The table read for that script was really phenomenal,” Bob-Waksberg told IndieWire. “It was just Will doing this one man show for this crowd, and it was incredible. It was one of my favorite experiences working on this show, being at that table read and getting that experience… I would say, a master class in acting. He knocked it out of the park.”
“Free Churro” doesn’t immediately telegraph that it’s going to showcase Arnett and Arnett alone, but it eventually becomes clear that the only voice we should expect to hear is the “Arrested Development” star, as very famous movie and TV star BoJack Horseman says goodbye to his mother with an episode-long eulogy.
It’s a tour-de-force moment for the actor, one which Bob-Waksberg said wasn’t a cause of stress for the production team, because “there wasn’t a lot of doubt going into it. I think we felt it was a good script and Will would be able to do it. He’s proven himself to us over and over again that he can handle anything we give him… He’s able to find these comedy beats that are really funny and he’s also able to find these dramatic beats and really explore the drama of the situation in this really beautiful way.”
According to Bob-Waksberg, the actual recording of the episode was done in “very large chunks.”
“Usually when we record, we try to get two or three takes for every line. This was like, ‘I don’t want to exhaust you, so we’re going to go through the whole thing and then if you fudge up or you feel you want to try something again, you can go back and redo it,’” he said. “But, in general, I didn’t stop him. If he was already stopped, I’d give him a note. But mostly it is just his cold read and his take on the character in the moment. There was very little direction given on this episode.”
But Arnett made it clear that, in Bob-Waksberg’s words, “he wanted to get it right. He took it very seriously. He said, ‘Don’t let this go on if it’s not right. I want to know it.’ I think his instincts were really dead on and I think that comes from five years now of really understanding this character, but also his entire acting career and the tools he’s picked up and what he knows how to do. His voice is just an incredible instrument and he’s an expert at manipulating it. So a lot of it was just letting him go and doing the episode as written and then animating it to his voice. It was a real treat.”
For the record, the cast will table read episodes together, but it’s rare that they’ll record together. “I know of two times in our show’s history we’ve recorded two people together,” Bob-Waksberg said. “One was in Season 1, that was the paparazzi birds, because those are my friends Dave [Segal] and Adam [Conover]. We thought it would be fun to let them play off each other and do it together, but since then they’ve always recorded separately.”
Meanwhile, “The second time we had two people together was for the big Bojack/Princes Carolyn fight in the restaurant, where the whole episode goes through this one long conversation between them, because I thought it would be good to get their real interplay with each other. So we had Amy [Sedaris] call in from New York and Will and Amy read through it like a play and we got their actual interactions with each other and the way they actually talk to each other.”
But those are the only two instances, which is pretty incredible when considering the depth of emotion so many “BoJack” scenes communicate. “You watch the episodes and you go, ‘Oh no, it really sounds like they are talking to each other,’ because they are very good actors,” Bob-Waksberg said.
And they’re very good actors confronted with an ever-changing set of scripts, as each season of “BoJack” continues to evolve. “I think we always try to experiment,” he said. “Every season, I want to have episodes that feel like a new thing for the show to be doing or a new way of telling the story or a new kind of story that we’re telling.”
As he added, “For me, that really is a hallmark of the show and what’s fun about the show. It’s not just feeling like every episode is just a bucket of stuff that happens between the previous episode and the next episode. But I like the idea of every episode feeling distinct both in story but also in form.”
“BoJack Horseman” Season 5 is streaming now on Netflix.
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