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GINX TV > Interview > Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal Showrunner Talks Future Seasons, Cameo Characters and Inspiring a New Game

We sat down with Michael Jonathan Smith, Showrunner for the Twister Metal TV Show to look back over Season 1, his plans to move the series forward, cutting characters, and much more.
Twisted Metal Showrunner Talks Future Seasons, Cameo Characters and Inspiring a New Game

It's been a long wait, but the Twisted Metal TV show is finally available to watch for those in the UK, having first aired in the US last July.

We've no doubt that fans of the classic PlayStation game will have already found a way to watch the show by now. However, if you've held off you will likely have already heard some of the hype and positive reception towards the show. Frankly, the success is little surprise to GINX given Michael Jonathan Smith (Co-Executive Producer of Cobra Kai) is at the helm.

Ahead of the season launching on Paramount+ in the UK, GINX had time to sit down for an exclusive interview with showrunner Smith to discuss how he approached the TV show, some of his creative decisions, and what we can look forward to in the future.

Note: In a bid to not spoil too much of the ending for Twisted Metal Season 1, we've popped our Season 2 related questions into a seperate interview, which you can read on the link above when it goes live March 28.

GINX: It seems like you were given quite a lot of flexibility with the show to adapt it in your way, especially with the characters. For instance, we meet characters like Amber who is driving Darkside. But in the games, she would have been driving Flower Power. So creatively, that must be great for you from the offset to kind of not be beholden to the source material too much, and be able to do your own thing. 

MJ: Yeah. You know, it was so fun about Twisted Metal is there's a very specific spine to those games and there's a tone to those games that we want to capture. Obviously, some are darker than others, but what's so fun to me about those games is just even looking at who drove what car in each game, it felt like oh you know, sometimes you know, Mortimor drove Shadows, sometimes Raven drove Shadow. So it kind of gave us the opportunity to kind of switch that around and be surprising and because the games have been kind of out of the Limelight for so long, it also felt like an opportunity to, kind of create a new interpretation which is always my favourite thing about adaptation is like, oh, how's that character that you remember interpreted now or updated or just in this new environment, what are they like? So it felt it was a lot of fun to build out this world and see how these characters would fit into it and how they might have changed from the games, you know, now that they're in this like post-apocalyptic era.


GINX: I know Twisted metal historically has that kind of darker more serious side but they also have that comedic element and atmosphere, I guess how great must have been for you to have the likes of Anthony Mackie, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Mantzoukas, Chloe Fineman, Mike Mitchell. All excellent comedy actors with a rich comedy history. It must make your job so much easier when you're trying to bring that comedy into the show.

MJ: Absolutely. I mean, they're all total All-Stars and we have a lot of fun on set with alts and trying to up every take. Everyone just came ready to play which made it just so much fun, and what's so great about this show, and the world of Twisted Metal in general; you said the comedy, I mean, Sweet Tooth wishes to become a caterpillar in the second game! So we do have this like this irreverence that we can tap into. So it was really fun to just be like, you never know what's coming around the corner. You never know what these characters are going to be like. I mean, I remember when we were shooting episode eight, I was talking to Stephanie, and was like, 'what if you did this entire scene with a very bad British accent?' We just thought it was, uh, you know, why not. So we just really had a blast filming, and it was just a great time.


GINX: When it came to the first season and writing it - and potentially what you're going through at the moment with Season 2 - How did you approach which characters you wanted to have in the show because you've got so many interesting nods from one episode to the next? For instance, how did you decide who would become a cornerstone character of the universe you're creating, and how did you pick say, a more irreverent character that you wanted to have in the background, like a Pizza Boy.

MJ: That's a great question. I mean, for Season 1 specifically so much of it is about the relationship between John (Anthony Mackie) and Quiet (Stephanie Beatriz). So it was always about what stage in their relationship at this moment and then what characters would come into play. Like I can give an example with episode seven. You know that episode is very much about like, you know, you've got your new partner and what is it like to bring your partner to a work event and your ex shows up. And we were like 'oh my God, Bloody Mary would be the perfect character' as she fits really well, especially knowing her lore and her backstory and how we can update it to fit into that character.

There was one character - a BIG character - that was going to be in one of the episodes in Season 1 and we had to cut it.

So it was always about starting with what characters would mesh well with John and Quiet. But then also, for me, it's what are the characters that fans are really excited to see and have a mental list of, I know people would love this. I know people would love to see that. We knew Twister is a fan-favorite. Obviously, Sweet Tooth was going to be in the show regardless. So it came from being a fan and thinking, what are the people fans really want to see? And then knowing, which characters should we save for down the line, because there are other big heavy hitters that people are excited about.


GINX: On that, did you have to make any tough calls on who not to include or who to maybe cut back on. Because you mention episode 7, we meet and see the character Pit Piper very briefly. So I'm guessing there must have been characters that you had to cut back on, or characters that just didn't make the cut entirely because it maybe didn't fit the overarching arc of the episode or season.

MJ: Oh yeah, absolutely. I won't give a specific (example) because I want to save the character for when they do show up, But there was one character - a BIG character - that was going to be in one of the episodes in Season 1 and we had to cut it; but I think we cut it for the best. It allowed me to focus more on John and Quiet's story and the antagonists that they ran into, but we have had to make those cuts, definitely.

I have ideas for Season 3! I'm starting to think about future Seasons beyond that.

GINX: This is a bit of an offshoot but how good must it also feel for yourself and the writers that when you got all these brilliant characters in the show, you got to create your own badass original character in Quiet? You must be thinking 'if they make another game, she is definitely making it in'. That must feel amazing!?

MJ: Oh, it's so great. I mean, look, like the fact that people come up to me and ask 'is Quiet in the games', and that is like, a huge compliment to me and the writers. We really just wanted to come at this with a 'What is a character that I would love to play in the game' energy. Like if I saw Quiet was in the game and she had these axe-throwing abilities or you know, Hatchet abilities, that would be a fun character to play. So it's great that people seem to love Quiet, especially as Stephanie is a dream to work with. Honestly, she's so great as that character. So yeah, it felt really good seeing the response.


GINX: Excuse the pun, but like, how much gas do you think is in the tank in terms of longevity for the show? Because it feels like, even though you hit on a lot of characters in that first season, and I know that there's more that are coming in Season 2, it still feels like there's a lot of backstory for characters like Quiet (or John) to unravel, and it feels as though there's plenty more to explore from the characters that you've already touched on. So, how long do you see this having, potentially?

MJ: Honestly, as long as the fans want it, I'm down. I mean, I think what's so fun about Twisted Metal for me is It was so important to feel like the world had weight to it and rules to it and logic to it. So that, you know, you want to spend time in this world and spend time with these characters, and I think one of the things I'm really happy about is the feeling that you never know what's around the corner, you never know who you're going to run into or what cool tribe or group, you might run into, like, the Convoy in Season 1.

I think we have the gas to keep going for a long period of time. Honestly, like, we're working on Season 2 right now. I have ideas for Season 3! I'm starting to think about future Seasons beyond that. I would love to keep this thing going.

I think we have the gas to keep going for a long period of time... I would love to keep this thing going.

Twisted Metal 2 World Tour Artwork

GINX: I mentioned to you before we started that I played a lot of Twisted Metal, and as a kid I played a lot of Twisted Metal Two: World Tour. Do you want to see it have that kind of 'World Tour' element that they had in the second game? Or do you think this show fits better, as a kind of American Wasteland; Is it believable if we're in Paris and beyond?

MJ: What I think is fun about our show is that if we ever got the opportunity to go 'World Tour', I'd love to answer what happened to those other places. What happened to those other countries and civilisations, you know, how were they affected by this apocalypse too? I'm definitely open to asking those questions and diving into that world-building and solving those things, I think it'd be a fun thing to see down the line.

Twisted Metal 2 World Tour

GINX: Seeing the reception that the first seasons had, and all the amazing comments you've had from people coming up to you. Plus the fact you're in the midst of Season 2, there must be a small part of you that's kind of thinking, 'what I'm creating now and the success I'm having with it, that's got to somehow manifest itself into a new game'. Because speaking for us Twisted Metal fans, it's been 12 years and we're sitting here and getting very hungry. So given the Show's success, if that's not convincing someone (at Sony)...

MJ: Like absolutely. I mean, I would love there to be another game. I would love to be a part of it in some way, if that happens. Although, it's so above my pay grade.

But I am a big video game fan. I love games, and I love Twisted Metal, and if we Inspired them to make a new one, that would be a huge. It'd be so flattering, and it'd be an honour, and honestly, I just want to get back in that world and play it.

All episodes of Twisted Metal Season 1 are available to watch and stream right now on Paramount+