"It's a fun thing to just d*ck around!" Stephanie Beatriz on Twisted Metal

“It’s a fun thing to just d*ck around!” Stephanie Beatriz on Twisted Metal

“Whether or not you play the games, the characters in this series are absolutely unhinged.”

Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz star in the new live-action comedy series Twisted Metal, based on the iconic PlayStation games.

Based on an original take on the game, the TV series follows a foul-mouthed outsider, John Dough (Mackie), who is offered a chance at a better life, but only if he can successfully deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

With the help of a badass axe-wielding car thief, Quiet (Beatriz), he’ll face savage marauders driving vehicles of destruction and other dangers of the open road, including a deranged clown who drives an all-too-familiar ice cream truck.

We sat down with Stephanie Beatriz to discuss playing [or watching] the PlayStations games back in the day, not hurting Anthony Mackie and driving awesome cars.

Had you ever played the Twisted Metal games before you got involved in the series?

Yeah, I was aware of Twisted Metal. I grew up in a sort of semi suburban area and a lot of my friends had PlayStations. I did not but I’ve watched people play it and I knew what it was about. I knew how weird and dark and twisty it was. So when I heard there was a series being developed about it, I was wondering how they were going to do it and then when I read the scripts, I was like ‘oh, yeah, that’s how they’re doing it. Cool. I like it!’.

How would you compare the series to the games?

There are elements of it that are really dark and twisted and it’s also very (to use a British word) cheeky. The sense of humour is absolutely deranged, which is what it was in the games. Our showrunner, Michael Jonathan Smith, is such a fan of the games. He loves the games dearly. So he’s sprinkled in quite a bit of – not only Easter Eggs – but references for game players that love the game. I think the sensibility of the show is absolute mayhem, with a dash of the most adolescent, ridiculous, unhinged comedy you’ve ever seen.

Expect to see some deranged humour in Twisted Metal.

How would you describe your character, Quiet, in Twisted Metal?

She’s an absolute badass who has a sort of anarchist view of the world. The systems in place don’t make sense to her. Justice isn’t being served in the world and somebody’s got to do something about it. She’s really out for revenge in the beginning of the series and then her point of view shifts as the series goes on, which is really cool to see.

Quiet has had a traumatic past but you also get some great comedy lines in the series. How do you go about balancing the two?

I think that’s a reflection of life. Some of the most funny people I’ve ever met have gone through serious trauma because, how do you survive that? You use humour. You have to use humour, you have to laugh your way out of the deepest, darkest pit because if you don’t, it’ll just suck you right down.

There’s a long history of comedians who have struggled with mental health issues. But in general, human beings – often to let the air out of this high-pressure situation – will make each other laugh because you have to survive it somehow!

Quiet has had a traumatic past.

Your character doesn’t speak in the first episode, and then says very little throughout the series, how did you find that element?

I love the rebelliousness of a woman choosing not to speak! I love the freedom that it gave me as an actor, especially in the first chunk of episodes where I’m not talking because I didn’t have to memorise any lines. I just had to be really present for what was happening around me. The extreme present-acting moments were really fun. I like that. Because the character is not talking, you’re watching to see what she thinks, what she feels, and what she is experiencing. You’re just watching it on someone’s face. We project a lot as viewers and I’m fascinated by what people projected onto her before she spoke.

You have great chemistry with Anthony Mackie in the series. How did you go about bringing that to the show?

It’s totally natural! I mean, we annoy the crap out of each other in real life so it was easy to capture for television viewers at home. Anthony’s hilarious and I’m pretty funny. We give each other a lot of shit and it was an easy transfer into the characters themselves.

Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz have some brilliant chemistry in the series.

We sense some of your dialogue with him has been ad-libbed…

Often it was ad-libbed! A lot of it is scripted but there were certainly additions that we would be allowed to play with once in a while. MJ, our showrunner, is a really great collaborator. A lot of the times he would just say ‘let’s see what happens’, which was really fun.

How did you find doing those crazy driving scenes?

I was nervous. I was really nervous. I’m not a driver in the way that Anthony has cars that he practices on. I got my licence when I was 27.

This isn’t my world at all but I really enjoyed it. We had incredible stunt coordinators, and driving coordinators that really walked me through stuff and held my hand. Sometimes they sat next to me in the car and showed me what to do.

I learned to drive automatic and there was a day when I had to drive standard. So I had to learn how to drive standard in about 15 minutes and then drive at 30 miles an hour while Anthony ran up next to me in the car and then jumped in. I was really stressed because it’s Anthony Mackie! What happens if I mess up and accidentally run over the lead of the show? What do we do now?

But it was great. It all worked out. He’s still alive.

Beatriz had to do some crazy driving stunts in the series but don’t worry, Mackie is still alive!

Phew! The first Twisted Metal game was released back in 1995 and since then the franchise has just grown. What do you think it is about this world that keeps people coming back for more?

It’s the cars. The absolute carnage of the cars and what happens. I’ve had friends be like ‘yeah, me and my sister used to play and we’d just smash into the Eiffel tower until it fell’.

There’s an absolute chaos. The world of it is chaos. I think that’s fun to play in and it’s a fun thing to just dick around!

A lot of gameplay takes place when the player themselves is talking a lot of shit and their teammates or whoever they’re co-playing with is talking a lot of shit. Everyone’s just sitting around talking all this shit.

There’s something about this series that captures that feeling of gameplay where people are sitting around talking a lot of shit and then something crazy happens on screen and the adrenaline gets pumped up to 100 immediately. Then you’re back to a lot of talking shit [haha].

Somehow Michael Jonathan Smith really captured the essence of what it’s like to sit around in somebody’s basement and play these games and talk a lot of shit and have a lot of fun.

Beatriz says that Twisted Metal showrunner Michael Jonathan Smith has captured the essence of what it’s like to sit around in somebody’s basement and play the games.

What are you looking forward to audiences seeing in the series?

I’m excited for them to be surprised by the comedy and I’m excited for the feedback about the build-up to some of these pretty epic car battles.

I’m excited for them to see the characters that get dropped into the world. Because whether or not you play the games, the characters in this series are absolutely unhinged. Unhinged is a word I keep coming back to. All of it is just like, what is happening? What am I looking at right now? What am I watching? I think it’s really fun to watch TV that takes you on that kind of unexpected and fun ride.

The Twisted Metal box set is out now Paramount+ 

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