7 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets From the Set of Powerless

RottenTomatoes spent an afternoon on set with the cast of NBC's superhero-adjacent comedy

by | February 8, 2017 | Comments

Alan Tudyk, Vanessa Hudgens in Powerless (Chris Haston/NBC)

DC TV’s new sitcom, Powerless, about the regular folks living in the superhero-inhabited world of Charm City, USA, sees the comic book giant take a step into the comedy world.

The series, which debuted February 2 on NBC, stars Vanessa Hudgens as the bright-eyed and optimistic Emily, the new head of a research and development team at Wayne Security — a subsidiary run by Bruce’s slacker cousin, Van (Alan Tudyk) — and the slightly more cynical team around her that invents useful tools for everyday people dealing with superhero destruction all the time.

RottenTomatoes spent an afternoon on set with Hudgens, Tudyk, Ron Funches, Danny Pudi, and Christina Kirk, and documented what we saw as the cast filmed the eighth episode of the season. Here are seven things we learned after a day in Charm City.

1. Wayne Security Has an Almost-Functional Office

Canny Pudi in Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

Not only are there working computers at the desks in the Wayne Security office, but the entire set — where most of the show is filmed — essentially looks like a real-life workspace with an open-office floor plan. These aren’t separate sets: the lab, the kitchen, the conference area, the desks, and Van’s fancy wood-paneled office are all connected.

2. Everybody Improvises

Alan Tudyk in Powerless (Chris Haston/NBC)

“The scripts are really funny. It’s not a lot of changing what’s there,” Tudyk said — but as RT discovered watching take after take of the scene the cast was filming that day, there is room to explore.

“Everybody does their own little bits here and there,” Hudgens revealed. “I feel like Alan does the most. He just comes on set and starts rambling off his own lines that he’s created and they’re always great.”

In an early episode, Tudyk even wrote his own song: “I sang a song a couple of episodes ago. I sang two songs. One of the songs was the one they wrote me, and then the other one…I’ve never done that as an actor. I don’t know what came over me, but I came in with three or four numbers.”

Funches also uses his standup comedy experience regularly, particularly when sharing scenes with Pudi.

“I really like working with Danny,” Funches said. “He’s really fun to play off of. If you improvise anything, he doesn’t need you to be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this so be ready,’ he’s just ready. So if I change something up, he just goes with it.”

3. The Inventions Are Super-Useful, But Maybe Not Super-Cool

Josh Breeding, Ron Funches in Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)

There’s a Shark Tank vibe going on in the Wayne Security R&D lab as the characters come up with inventions to help make the constant superhero- and supervillain-induced destruction in Charm City easier for residents to handle. Take, for example, the Rumbrella, which gives the user protection from falling rubble.

“Our products work, but they’re not necessarily some of the most practical things in the world. You use them, [it’s] just that carrying them around would be taxing,” Hudgens explained.

One gadget that was really cool to see, though: a real-life Batarang, Batman’s boomerang-esque bat-shaped weapon.
“I was just very excited to touch it, you know? It’s also very heavy,” Pudi revealed. “They do a good job here about crafting things that are true to their weight.”

4. Where Is Charm City, Anyway?

Powerless (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

Showrunner Patrick Schumacker thinks that Charm City might be located near Cleveland, but writer Sabrina Jaleese, who penned episode eight, has a slightly different take.

“It’s definitely wherever Scranton is. Not too far from Scranton. It’s definitely not the place to be,” Jaleese said. “It’s big enough that Emily comes from a smaller place, and she’s excited to be there. It maybe has that New Jersey vibe, of like a lot of people would rather be a couple towns over in Metropolis or Gotham. It’s definitely an underdog city. So insert whatever town you wanna knock there, and that’s where you’ll find Charm City.”

5. They’re Comic Book Nerds, Too

Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

“I’ve always wanted to touch Batman’s suit,” Pudi confessed. “I’ve always wanted to be inside of a Batmobile and just kind of go for a ride, pick up some food. There’s this place in Chicago called Superdawg where you can go and you can park your car, and you can get Superdawgs through the window. I thought that would be cool with a Batmobile.”

Funches, who is a huge comic fan and reads Teen Titans with his son, said he wants to see Green Lantern in Charm City sometime.

“Green Lantern is probably my favorite superhero of all — John Stewart if you want the specific one,” Funches said. “I would love it if maybe he lost the ring, and I found it and I was just like, ‘Oh, it works for me!’ That would be great. I like that.”

One other thing he wants to see: “Also just making out with Supergirl, whether it’s on the show or off the show. Whatever she’s interested in, really,” he joked.

6. There’s Not Technically a Musical Episode, But…

Vanessa Hudgens in Powerless (Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

If you’re on the set of Powerless, there’s a 100 percent chance that you’ll hear Hudgens singing. The Grease: Live! star sings literally any chance she can get.

During our afternoon visit, she sang everything from the blues classic “At Last” to the Disney classic “Part of Your World” — and sounded great, too.

Some musical moments might make it on screen — “musical things happen sometimes,” Hudgens dished — but there’s not a full-on musical episode scheduled (yet).

“I’m singing all the time so maybe we’ll give them a hint,” she added.

Hint taken, promised Schumacker: “Every day on set is a musical episode with Vanessa. We don’t have any immediate plans to do it for this season but knock on wood — if we get a second season, I think that would be in order.”

7. They Have More Future Plans

Powerless TNT (Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

“A lot of times it’s me and Danny and Jennie [Pierson sharing scenes together],” Funches said. “We have our own little nickname: they call us ‘TNT,’ the noisy three, which is fun. I think it’s cute. We’re going to get matching leather jackets if we get a second season.”

Powerless airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC

Tag Cloud

Apple TV Plus DC Universe dogs Awards revenge cinemax kids Comics on TV Vudu Chernobyl FXX Fox News Tubi doctor who VH1 Peacock FOX indie canceled cancelled sag awards First Look cops Dark Horse Comics Funimation CBS All Access TCM The CW 21st Century Fox travel discovery what to watch TruTV dragons hispanic RT21 Comic Book SXSW Captain marvel E3 Tumblr 2015 Turner Paramount Network Shudder Netflix Disney+ Disney Plus Lucasfilm blockbuster Summer name the review Spike Cartoon Network Certified Fresh TIFF Hulu 2017 Musicals Countdown Film Festival green book Apple 2020 Reality Mary poppins halloween Superheroes miniseries SundanceTV The Witch WarnerMedia Quiz Sundance TV space First Reviews crossover ratings FX Nominations USA Network tv talk Box Office Rocky harry potter Shondaland Food Network boxoffice Arrowverse Acorn TV Academy Awards Freeform based on movie cooking Martial Arts SDCC TBS christmas movies Nat Geo Walt Disney Pictures 20th Century Fox Fantasy Year in Review Creative Arts Emmys Disney streaming service Trivia toy story TCA Winter 2020 Esquire Trailer cancelled TV series Country CW Seed adaptation Ovation Marvel Studios Marvel Disney Video Games TCA DGA FX on Hulu LGBT Winners Starz USA Britbox Teen Action GoT Crackle Rom-Com Pixar spanish language GIFs canceled TV shows Tomatazos Heroines children's TV Showtime MCU quibi Nickelodeon romantic comedy political drama scary movies dramedy blaxploitation Amazon Prime Video cancelled TV shows psycho History TLC Masterpiece spider-man AMC ITV docudrama GLAAD Rock Song of Ice and Fire Paramount supernatural Crunchyroll DC streaming service politics game of thrones Drama teaser free movies golden globes The Walking Dead HBO video Avengers dc The Arrangement Bravo spain Endgame documentary Photos Disney Plus Music Emmy Nominations festivals adventure zombies werewolf Pirates OneApp reboot comics screenings Sony Pictures Disney Channel Mystery WGN cats Star Trek TV Land Schedule singing competition El Rey comiccon cartoon historical drama unscripted casting American Society of Cinematographers movies Lionsgate Super Bowl Baby Yoda Kids & Family 2018 anime true crime facebook President Awards Tour franchise Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt crime A24 Character Guide Mudbound crime drama Ghostbusters natural history rotten movies we love Winter TV Rocketman PaleyFest RT History cults ESPN richard e. Grant HBO Max Family Mary Poppins Returns Epix ABC Family series Universal universal monsters mutant binge Toys Discovery Channel Columbia Pictures nature Logo jamie lee curtis game show IFC thriller animated Stephen King Amazon Prime Netflix Christmas movies Syfy Thanksgiving Television Academy BET ABC See It Skip It CNN Hallmark biography serial killer Watching Series Opinion technology psychological thriller 45 YouTube Spring TV television Black History Month DC Comics Calendar Marathons latino spy thriller Amazon Studios Pride Month Star Wars Superheroe Premiere Dates anthology Warner Bros. Set visit Apple TV+ movie Holiday finale spinoff cancelled television Lifetime Christmas movies Holidays Amazon composers war DirecTV 24 frames Oscars 007 Valentine's Day elevated horror PBS TCA 2017 2019 Animation BBC sitcom book A&E Lifetime Writers Guild of America Pet Sematary transformers CMT Pop BBC America slashers TV robots Travel Channel TV renewals CBS Infographic batman Extras romance Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ghosts New York Comic Con Hallmark Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con Christmas Horror TNT vampires National Geographic APB Podcast renewed TV shows comic Sundance Now NBC Marvel Television LGBTQ The Purge Film Black Mirror Fall TV 2016 YouTube Premium Trophy Talk X-Men Women's History Month sports dceu Binge Guide Tarantino Sundance Emmys zombie Comedy crime thriller Turner Classic Movies Cosplay Brie Larson Pop TV independent Adult Swim directors theme song strong female leads science fiction Best and Worst medical drama Mindy Kaling Mary Tyler Moore Interview OWN Comedy Central justice league Election joker mockumentary stand-up comedy MSNBC streaming 71st Emmy Awards cars MTV YA Polls and Games versus talk show IFC Films VICE aliens Grammys diversity sequel NYCC south america breaking bad Reality Competition E! YouTube Red police drama Western Musical Cannes screen actors guild disaster Anna Paquin witnail social media Biopics Sci-Fi foreign reviews Classic Film Sneak Peek Red Carpet award winner Ellie Kemper zero dark thirty period drama Spectrum Originals hist Elton John