What makes a superhero Tick

The comedic superhero is revived for the third time in three decades.
English actor Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick, whose antennae move and quiver in sync with the character's moods.
English actor Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick, whose antennae move and quiver in sync with the character's moods.PHOTO: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Peter Serafinowicz puts on an insect-like costume to play The Tick, who he says is a weird and old-fashioned superhero

As the superhero The Tick in the Amazon series of the same title, English actor Peter Serafinowicz gamely wears a bright blue costume that makes him look like a giant insect.

Impressively, the antennae move and quiver expressively, perfectly in sync with his character's moods.

He tells The Straits Times that they were actually operated by a puppeteer who works on the children's television show Sesame Street.

"She even has a visual emotional dictionary of the antennae that show different emotions. I found this out only a couple of days ago, I had no idea," he says, speaking over the telephone from Britain.

"It takes a lot of pressure off the acting from me. I can take it easy for a line or two as long as there's something going on upstairs."

The pilot for The Tick premiered on Amazon Prime Video in August last year and the remaining nine episodes of the first season will be released on Friday.

The show was created by Ben Edlund, who first created the satirical superhero in 1986 as a newsletter mascot.

The Tick then found life as a comic-book series in 1988, an animated series in 1994 and a short-lived live-action series in 2001 starring Patrick Warburton in the title role.

Serafinowicz, 45, says: "His performance was so charming and funny and lovely and I thought, 'I just can't watch any more of this.' I've got to kind of make it my own and I hope I don't disappoint people."

To him, The Tick is weird and surreal, but also an old-fashioned superhero, "not like one of these introspective Dark Knight brooding guys".

Since the last attempt at a liveaction series of The Tick in 2001, superheroes have firmly entrenched themselves in the pop culture landscape in films and television series.

The actor agrees that they are everywhere, but says of The Tick: "I don't think the superhero element is the main thing.

"It's a show about these damaged, lonely people who all try and reach out to one another and help one another.

"I think it's very moving, quite sentimental in a genuine way, not in a syrupy, yucky way."

Serafinowicz, who has two children with his wife, actress Sarah Alexander, has been in films such as the comedy Shaun Of The Dead (2004). He also provided the voice of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).

Since last year, he has been putting up a series of videos on his YouTube channel christened Sassy Trump, in which he dubs over United States President Donald Trump's speeches in a silly voice while sticking to his exact words.

"You get so overwhelmed by what he's saying. He says so many nonsensical things all day, everyday, they just lose all meaning.

"It's a weird thing of focusing your attention back on his actual words."

•The Tick premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'What makes a superhero Tick'. Print Edition | Subscribe