Twisted Metal's Mike Mitchell Talks Bringing the Beloved Game to Life (Exclusive)

Star of the video game adaptation Mike Mitchell shares his love for the Twisted Metal franchise.

The original Twisted Metal was unleashed on the first PlayStation back in 1995, and thanks to the experience not only embracing the advancements in graphics afforded by the groundbreaking console, but also the PlayStation's tendency to explore more mature content, the experience became a major hit with gamers. Nearly 30 years and multiple installments later, the game is being brought to life for an all-new Peacock series, and as confirmed by star Mike Mitchell, the TV show is much more than an opportunity to cash in on a beloved title, as the storyline will honor the core components of the franchise that fans know and love. Twisted Metal premieres on Peacock on July 27th.

Twisted Metal, a half-hour live-action TV series based on the classic PlayStation game series, is a high-octane action comedy, based on an original take by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and written by Michael Jonathan Smith, about a motor-mouthed outsider 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, 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. caught up with Mitchell to talk the new series, his connection to the source material, and more.

Editor's note: This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA actors' strike.

(Photo: Peacock)

ComicBook.comWere you a Twisted Metal kid? Were you a fan? Do you have many memories about the series when it was just a video game?

Mike Mitchell: I didn't have a PlayStation, but I played Twisted Metal quite a bit just from other friends who had PlayStations. So I wasn't a PlayStation kid, but I remember watching my friend Anthony play Final Fantasy 7, just watching, and it was fun to just watch. Holding a PlayStation remote felt so foreign to me. It was like, "What is this? This is not what I usually hold." I was just a Nintendo kid through and through. 100% Super Mario World. I still do that to this day. I 100% almost every Mario game I feel like. The only two I haven't played are the Galaxies, but I've played them, I just haven't beat them. But PlayStation was ... I was a Nintendo kid and there was PlayStation.

Then, as time went on, I went to college and I was like, "I'm a man and now I put away childish things." And I was so wrong. I bought a GameCube that year. It didn't even last. I bought a GameCube and was playing it. But that's definitely when my video game playing went away a little bit. Then when I graduated college, I came out west. I bought a Wii much later than people had already. The craze had already died down a little bit. I liked that a lot. Did a Wii U, and then finally I moved over to PlayStation. 

I had a roommate that had, Jack Allison, I think it was a PlayStation 3 or 4. I played it, and I played some of the ... What's the Indiana Jones-type game now? I can't think of the name of it. Uncharted. I played the Uncharted games. I played The Last of Us, and then I was fully on board with PlayStation. And now it's been a good 12, 13, 14 years since I've been playing PlayStation. 

I love video games. Just as a 40-year-old man, when I put 100 hours into a game, I'm like, "God, you suck." I just feel time slipping away, and I'm like, as an older man, it hurts. I still do it. For everyone who's reading this, I still do it and I love, it just is, I feel like anyone, once you get older, you're just like, this is a big time commitment. But still, I get a ton of joy out of doing it. But yeah, I wasn't as much of a PlayStation kid when I was younger, and I've come around on that.

I played Twisted Metal. And everyone remembers Sweet Tooth, you know what I mean? And also, I liked Twisted Metal because it was also, it's like a f-cked up game. I feel like so many games like that when you're younger, it's like Mortal Kombat, holy sh-t, this is crazy. And fatalities. And any game where you can see pixelated blood, there's brain or whatever. You get so excited over sh-t like that. And Conker's Bad Fur Day, that's one that I loved. It was like, "Oh, my God, they're swearing. A big pile of sh-t is singing a song." Stuff like that always -- which is dorky, you know what I mean? It is, as some people would say, edgelord-y in some way or whatever, but I ate it up. And Twisted Metal definitely had that thing of, "Hey, this is a game that your parents don't want you to play," or something. 

I was trying to explain what Twisted Metal was to somebody, and it was basically like, "It's kind of the battle mode of Super Mario Kart, but like Mad Max, apocalyptic." I hadn't even realized how it was the same rudimentary basics of driving around, but you're shooting missiles instead of red shells at people. 

Yeah. Try to obliterate each other.

So when it came to a series that was being developed, I'm sure there's still tons of people who are very curious about how that's going to translate to a TV show. Can you talk a little bit just about what sort of role you have in the new show? No matter how much screen time you might have, if you can talk. I don't know if you're having any fistfights with Anthony Mackie or anything.

I got, funny enough, I'm in the show quite a bit. I am in there, which is great. I'm really lucky to be a part of it. And I think Michael Jonathan Smith, who's the showrunner, did such a great job. And he's a guy who cares so much about the game. I think it's fun seeing clips get released and whatever people's reactions are to it, because, look, I am a nerd and I get very specific about stuff. And I don't like a lot of stuff. It also feels like weirdly, and I don't do it intentionally, but when people are loving stuff, I usually am, I don't love it. And then when people are hating on stuff, I'm like, "I don't get why you're hating on this." I'm not trying to be contrary, and, I swear to God, but this game, they released a clip and I feel like people were hard on it and asking all these questions in the comments about, "Do these people even know this game or have they played this game?"

I'm like, "You have no idea how much attention to detail this guy has and how much he loves the game." I've learned so much more about the game even since I started on there. But yeah, man, it's a lot of fun. Obviously, it's a challenge to adapt something like that to a series, and I think the writers did such a great job. It's a lot of fun, and it's crazy, and it really goes there in a lot of different ways. I think that there's a comment that got people who love the show upset was, where it was like, "Oh, there's a lot of things that there's not a huge lore to Twisted Metal or whatever." And people are like, "Yeah, there is." And it's like, no, they are thinking about all of that stuff. They care. Like I said, M.J. cares so much about the lore of the game.

There's a lot of fun things to do to adapt it to a TV show. Just character stuff and learning more. For instance, I play Stu of Mike and Stu, and we're like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the universe, and we're around a lot of different things as it happens throughout the show. But what do you know about Mike and Stu from the games? Just two dummies that are there, and then they wish to fly and they jump off a building and they die. That's the basis of their story.

So it was fun to create a character off of what you see in the game and then also what you thought it should be and what the writers wrote for you. That was a blast, too. I think Sweet Tooth is the one that people were very protective of. There's a lot of different backstories to him, and I love what they came up with. Samoa Joe is so good in the show. I watched the first two episodes last night. And Will Arnett is so great. He's such, again, another great voice guy. 

Well, it's great that, not that the filmmakers are connected or anything, but that you have something like The LEGO Movie, or now you have the Barbie movie where it's like, it might seem super thin or super just superficial cashing in on a title. But then once you actually watch it and realize not only does it respect the passionate fans and that lore, but it also reinvents it in ways that make it so exciting for fans. That's what it sounds like Twisted Metal's going to be.

100%. And, again, just so much credit to M.J. and the writers who are on strike right now. And they should get what they're demanding and they deserve it because they did such a good job, I can't wait for people to see it because I think people have also been like, "Oh, I wanted this to be darker in tone," and stuff. I'm like, the show is dark. It's not not-dark, it is funny and fun. That's what I loved about it when I was reading it, is like, this is a genuinely funny and fun, and f-cked up show that I think people are going to have fun watching.

And, look, I'm not saying anything bad against -- obviously people loved The Last of Us, but it's like, I want to have fun watching shows, too. I don't want to always watch a show where I'm just like, "Man, life sucks." You know what I mean? I think that they did just such a great job of balancing the fun, and the comedy, and the darkness, and the gore, and I think they did a great job. They set so much stuff up for seasons to come, too, which I hope there's more of. 

Well, I inadvertently made a connection that helps me with a segue by mentioning The LEGO Movie to director Chris McKay, and you worked with him on The Tomorrow War, which he claims is getting a sequel. Have you heard anything about The 2morrow War?

Man, I mean, I thought that movie was so much fun, and I thought McKay did a great job with it, and I had a blast doing that role. I think that movie is just, again, a lot of fun. I would love for 2morrow War to happen, but I don't know, I'm not sure how they could write Cowan into the movie, because you do see me get, basically, I get immolated, I guess you could say. I just get overtaken by a wave of flames. So how do you come back from that? I don't know, really. But it also deals with time travel, so I'm like, could they maybe jump in and save Cowan and Norah, which is Mary Lynn Rajskub, which we were like a duo? I had a blast.

My time on The Tomorrow War reminded me, I spent so much time with Mary Lynn, we were like a duo, and then on Twisted Metal, it was the same thing for me and Samoa Joe. We spent a lot of time together during the course of filming the show. But I think there's a way to pull it off. 

So, McKay, if you're listening, I think that you should, there's time travel, there's a way for us to come back. But yeah, my favorite parts of that movie, and the script, too, was a bunch of idiots trying to manage their way through this alien war. So it'll be fun to get some of the dummies back, which includes me and Mary Lynn Rajskub, but I don't know if it will happen. I have no idea. 

Look, I don't work at Amazon. I don't know Jeff Bezos, but they should make a sequel to it.

Listen, if you go on right now, the number one petition is to rewrite all the Star Wars but with no women. And then the number two is to bring back Cowan from The Tomorrow War for the Tomorrow War sequel that's definitely going to happen.

I only started the second one, not the first one. I just want to be clear that I did nothing to do with the first one. 

It's a good thing that you cleared your name, because I know how much you love every Star Wars sequel. Every Disney Star Wars. I know how much you can't get enough of those.

It's really funny. With Disney, I have a podcast Doughboys, for people that don't know of it, and we review fast food and chain restaurants, and I gave a lot of sh-t to the new Star Wars movies. And I was like, man, I never knew that giving sh-t to Disney properties gets people mad at you. Had no idea that. It's like, don't we all agree that they're the most giant evil corporate entertainment company there is? 

You don't need to defend them. You don't need to defend Mickey Mouse. He'll be fine. 

Yeah, exactly. And I love Disney in a lot of different ways, but the new Star Wars movies didn't do it for me as much, but to each their own. 

Twisted Metal premieres on Peacock on July 27th. You can catch up with Doughboys wherever you get your podcasts. The Doughboys Double is available through Patreon

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.