ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke about YOLO: Silver Destiny with creator and voice actor Michael Cusack, composer and voice actor Todor Manojlovic, and voice acress Sarah Bishop. The trio discussed the Season 2 finale and what it was like to work on the second season compared to the first. The three-part finale premieres Sunday, March 5 at midnight on Adult Swim and the next day on HBO Max.
“YOLO: Silver Destiny begins when a chance encounter at a Sausage Sizzle sets the girls off in pursuit of their destinies — Sarah wants to grow a beautiful garden, and Rachel wants to become a dark Empress,” reads the series’ synopsis. “Meanwhile, Lucas the Magnificent embarks on a mysterious new quest to overcome Sarah’s repulsion and win her heart.”
Spencer Legacy: Michael, this season was a lot more serialized than Cystal Fantasy. Now that it’s concluding, how do you feel trying the serialized route went overall?
Michael Cusack: So it was really … it’s much more challenging, definitely. It had its parts where it’s more rewarding too, but I think right now, I’m a little bit serialized out. I was just saying before to these guys, if we do another season — if we’re lucky enough — I feel like it probably will be less serialized than this season. I love doing it, I think it’s really fun, but there’s also something really fun about just the pure episodic stuff where you can truly jump in whenever and it’s an isolated story. So there’s pros and cons to both and it depends [on] what mood you are in and how you feel when you wake up in the morning [Laughs]. So it changes, but I feel like we itched that serialization itch in this one.
Sarah and Tod, did this new format change how you went about your performances at all? Did you try and stay more consistent with where they’re at at the end of each episode, or was it more of how you did it in Crystal Fantasy?
Todor Manojlovic: Well, I felt like it was kind of just similar to the way I did it in the first season, personally. I didn’t feel myself becoming serialized, if you would put it that way. Each episode we did — and they do roll into each other, so there might have been bits, especially when I was working on the music as well. It was sort of all the episodes in a block, at one point. It was sort of like I was jumping between episodes, so there was more of a connection, I suppose, for me personally between all the episodes rather than individual ones at a time. But I guess that was more the workflow rather than getting into character. It was just a similar process to the first season, for me — just insanity. We just try and keep it insane. Chaos is how me and Cusack like to word it.
Sarah Bishop: For me, I didn’t really think about the serialization because Sarah doesn’t know, as a character, where things are going to go. So she’s just in the moment that she’s in. So I think as long as you are playing the truth of that moment, then you’re sort of doing the right thing. That said, I think I could also rely on really solid scripts. So the writers knew the journey and they knew that they were setting up the dominoes that were going to lead to this moment all through the season. So I think I could just trust in what they’d built and that it would naturally reach the end of this journey that they started her on.
Michael, Lucas has a lot of development in this season. What made him a character that you really wanted to explore beyond just his original concept?
Michael Cusack: I was thinking about this before and I think it’s because … I always wanted to do a show about two Aussie girls. Like, I’ve done it for years — 10 years ago doing the YOLO shorts. But I can get only to a certain point of relatability, you know? We’ve got female writers in the room, giving all their weird “going out with their girlfriends” stories. But I probably related more to the nerd stuff. There wasn’t really a way to put that into Sarah and Rachel. because that’s so specific to the character. Lucas was like … he’s another character I’ve kind of done for years in various other aspects — he’s existed. There’s just something really fun about it.
He’s so different to Rachel and Sarah. He creates an interesting kind of offset. I like his obsession with Sarah, it’s a fun thing to play with. And I think when he says like, “We’re a trio” in the second episode, that felt like the energy of Season 2. I don’t know what else it was other than that. It just seemed to make sense to have him be in the mix.
Todor Manojlovic: I think it also stemmed a little bit from — we were talking about this before, we were almost thinking about life as a role-playing game at the time. Lots of what he says has lots of RPG references. There are a few RPG references in — I was about to say “in the game” — in the show as well. So I think that was a little bit of that coming out. He’s clearly a geek who likes his games. He likes his Dungeons & Dragons and stuff. I thought it was great to see Lucas’s evolution.
Sarah Bishop: Can we make a game?
Michael Cusack: I’d love to make a card game.
Todor Manojlovic: Oh yeah, a card game! YOLO card game.
That’d be awesome, and Sarah, how did you feel about Sarah’s journey in Silver Destiny? With the gardening hobby and exploring friendship, how’d you feel about that?
Sarah Bishop: I loved it. It’s really fun because I’m not in the writer’s room, so I get these scripts and then that’s when I discover what’s going to happen with Sarah. I was really surprised and delighted when I saw the whole garden journey for her. We kind of talk a lot about how she’s sort of the grounded character in the show, so it’s fun to take that quite literally and she becomes even more grounded and is all about the garden and the soil. But I’ve also been saying to these guys that if we go to Season 3, I think Sarah needs to party and get her dancing shoes back on.
Michael Cusack: All right, we’ll do it! [Laughs]. I completely agree. I was saying it before, but Season 2 was made during Covid. So it feels a little bit like the lockdown episode, in a way. I guess because a lot of it was inspired by what was going on at the time. I tried to make a garden, a lot of people I know did the same. So if we do more episodes, I think that would be our big “going back out and going back partying” thing.
YOLO world tour.
Michael Cusack: Yeah, exactly. I feel like we’ve done the low, chill characterization season and we got that out of our systems, but I think if we got to do more, it’d be bigger and more about what the show’s about — the partying and stuff.
Tod, Rachel spends a lot of time with Lucas in this season and what’s fun about that is she seems more subdued-annoyed by Lucas. She’s not really over the top, she’s just realistically bothered by him. What was voicing those interactions like?
Todor Manojlovic: I love doing that because I feel like whenever I am associating with Lucas … I think Rachel has a soft spot for Lucas. I really do. I don’t know what it is — maybe it’s because he’s clearly a little bit of an outcast, but every time I’m doing the voice, even if I’m screaming at him, there’s something where I feel like they’re friends, you know?
And again, Rachel would not admit that, but she’s happy to go along. Like she would very clearly say, “Absolutely not. I’m not going on this quest with you into the bee dungeon,” or wherever the hell else they’re going. But yeah, she’s always up for the quest or for wherever Lucas is going. I think she has a soft spot Lucas. I feel that coming out when I’m doing it.
Michael Cusack: I love that. The Rachel and Lucas dynamic is so fun. It’s kind of like when George Costanza is with Elaine on an episode, like they’re both only together because they have an anchor point as Jerry. It’s it’s just funny that Lucas and Rachel are both kind of obsessed with Sarah.
It’s such a real thing too, two acquaintances.
Michael Cusack: Yeah, yeah! Tod, you said they’re both kind of toxic relationships. Lucas and Sarah and Rachel and Sarah. So Sarah really gets the brunt of it. But yeah, I love seeing the two together.
Sarah Bishop: But they also come from a town where it’s small enough that you can’t really cut people out completely. In cities, people just get rid of people because you’re never going to see them again. But in those towns, it’s very common that you do have these people around that you find annoying, but they’re going to be there all the time.
Todor Manojlovic: That is the classic tale of Wollongong! And I mean, it is a city, but it feels like a town. It really does. You can’t escape somebody who you might want to [Laughs]. You’re always just one degree separated from somebody, even if you move down and away from them.
Michael Cusack: And you have mutual Facebook friends.
Michael, Rachel sort of lives a whole life in the finale in the same way that Sarah did in in Season 1. How intentional was that?
Michael Cusack: I don’t know if it was intentional. It’s funny you say that.
Todor Manojlovic: That’s well-put, yeah.
Michael Cusack: I think I noticed that after, more. I think we were just fulfilling what we set up with the visions, where Rachel wanted to become empress, Sarah wanted a garden. The Empress thing, from the start, it was always going to be like … Rachel’s chosen a path of death and loss and disappointment and just seeing how that went for Rachel. But yeah, I think it kind of worked out in a fun way where it sort of was an opposite to what happened in Season 1. I think it was just a happy accident.
There are some touching moments in the finale between Sarah and Rachel. Is it hard to kind of pivot from the outlandish comedy to the more heartfelt moments, or is that pretty natural?
Michael Cusack: I think as long as it’s not forced, you can kind of just feel it. If it feels right and you’re not … there’s some shows you could watch and it sometimes feels like it’s a note, like a network note, to make something more emotional — it almost feels forced. I think with this, we try to do it as organically as possible and maybe … it feels right to us, and maybe it’s cringe to other people, but it doesn’t really matter, I guess, to us, because we know it feels authentic. So I think that’s why it works for us.
Sarah Bishop: I think the best comedy comes from heart — when there’s real heart. It’s not just funny for the sake of it. I think this has it in spades, but I don’t think you guys set out to do it, which is what makes it really interesting. I think you want to make something really funny and the heart’s just there because you’re trying to be true and authentic, but I don’t think you’re starting from that point, which I think is what makes this fun.
Michael Cusack: Yeah. Like some shows … there’s such a benefit to doing the “no hugging, no learning” thing — that’s the Seinfeld rule. We did that in Smiling Friends and we try to stick to that and it’s an aspect that really helps the comedy of that show. But I think the way I see YOLO is it’s a bit of an excuse to be cringe. That’s why I was fine with dressing up as Sarah and dancing and having the emotional beats. YOLO is an excuse to kind of do anything, not really have rules. That goes for the animation too. It kind of changes. Whatever feels right at the time.
Todor Manojlovic: That’s how I felt doing the music as well and I think that’s why I felt comfortable with it when Cusack asked me to do it. Brendan [Caulfield], who did the music for the first season, was busy on Koala Man at the time, so I got asked to do the music and I think I was only comfortable in the sense that it’s like, “Yeah, I can just make cringey stuff.” I felt like all the music I made in the past was cringey anyway, so I sort of just applied it to what was happening and that’s why I think it felt good the whole way
Michael Cusack: Embracing cringe. That’s definitely the log line of YOLO [Laughs].
Todor Manojlovic: That’s actually Season 3. It’s called that: YOLO: Embracing Cringe.
That’s perfect. Tod, you get to give those emotional cringe moments, but at the same time you’re doing that really intense, nasty voice. Is it hard to get it through that voice or is that a fun challenge?
Todor Manojlovic: It’s a fun challenge. The toughest Rachel lines are the emotional ones, always, because she’s not usually very in-touch with her emotions. In fact, those scenes that you’ll see in the finale, they were done without Cusack directing at the time. It was just sort of … it was me talking to me, basically. It was really fun, actually, to do myself and really get into the roots of the character. I think it came out, you know? I think Rachel can tug at your heartstrings when need be. I just have to get stuck in a little bit more and get in the headspace, because mostly it’s just disgusting and yelling and this and that, but yeah, it was really fun to do.
The second season is now coming to an end and you guys did those fun promos with the live-action ones and the animated ones and the behind-the-scenes stuff. How do you feel about the whole journey of this season outside of the show itself? How has it been for you guys now that you’re a bit more used to it?
Michael Cusack: For me, super satisfying and less stressful than Season 1. Season 1 of anything is harder because you’re really building it from the ground up. This one … we already had a reference point of Season 1 to work off. When I was starting out with Season 1, I was kind of still adapting from being a YouTuber to going into working with crews. So it was a bit of a learning curve for me. But [with] Season 2, I had put a lot of trust in our super talented crew and our writers and everything. It was extremely rewarding to not be so micromanage-y and just get stuff back and be so pleasantly surprised. It was really fun and I’m very proud of it.
Todor Manojlovic: Yeah, I feel super satisfied as well. It feels like it’s reached a wider audience this time, as well. Maybe it’s because they’re drumming up a little bit of tension, releasing it week by week. But it’s been really positive and I love seeing all the fan art and posts about it and stuff like that. And getting to know everybody on the team at the studio, because I was managing the studio, was just fantastic. It was so much fun. We have such a bigger team and now there’s so many more people that I’m friends with and so many fantastic artists that I met along the way. So yeah, it’s been just fantastic.
Sarah Bishop: Yeah, I think that’s been part of it for me, as well as the community around YOLO. Whether it’s the fans or the people that work on it. I haven’t met a lot of the artists, but we now follow each other on Instagram and we’re always looking at each other’s posts and that’s really fun.
For me, this is just such a dream job. It’s a great show. The script is great. I love this character. I really love playing the straight character in amongst a lot of chaotic characters, so this is just a really fun job for me. It’s also just fun to hang out with Michael and Tod. I saw Michael recently in L.A. and Tod and I are going to catch up tomorrow here in Melbourne and it’s really cool when you can work with your friends