Andy Allo might not be an actual Angel, but she certainly appears to be like one. It’s late March and we’re on the phone speaking to Allo on a Friday afternoon, having watched all episodes of her hotly anticipated Amazon Prime Video series Upload. While we knew the multi-talented Allo was a revelation in the series opposite Canadian treasure Robbie Amell as Nathan, we didn’t know that Allo would reveal so many fun Upload Easter eggs, or that we would somehow end up singing to her (maybe you had to be there), or that she would end up being an all-around good person, and someone we wouldn’t mind looking out for us on occasion.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our fun interview with the heavenly Andy Allo of Upload.
BT: You’re such a great fit for Nora. How did you get involved in this show?
AA: I auditioned! So I got an audition for this new Greg Daniels project that was a comedy and I was like: “Cool, great, that sounds amazing!” and went in and really went kind of hard with the comedy, and what was interesting is right off the bat, the casting director was like: ” You know what? Throw all the comedy that you just did, throw it out the door”. This show is incredibly grounded and Greg wants to do and create something that is really rooted in heart and reality and not so much playing these strict kind of comedy beats. And right off the bat, that was so refreshing. I think that’s what this show has really done and the world that Greg’s really created, there’s such a balance of real but also funny. You get both, which is really cool.
BT: Tell me about getting to the crux of the character of Nora?
AA: I think for her that it’s her helping people. She has this huge heart, but wanting to connect, whether it’s with her dad or it’s with her clients that she services as her Angel, that’s something that immediately I was like: “Okay, this girl has such a big heart and is trying so hard to connect in a world that’s filled with so much technology” and it’s easy to get disconnected, but in a way she finds a way to connect using all the technology, which I thought was really beautiful. And what’s great is Greg created such a rich character and he has this incredible resume of you think of like Jim and Pam (from The Office), and you think of his characters and you’re like: “Oh, I love these characters”. He has such a gift for that and so kind of coming into it, I already had such a wealth of information and layers from which to draw. But what was even more amazing was Greg then said: “What else? What do you wanna add? What do you want to play?” and so it was such a collaborative environment and project to just have fun and really be creative.
BT: Do you think that a place like Lakeview could actually happen and Horizon could really exist?
AA: Absolutely. [chuckles] Yes! I mean, who was it, Barbra Streisand that cloned her dog? I think it was her, she cloned her dog and that’s just…I mean, wow! We’ve heard about cloning and things like that, but to actually have it happen and someone using that technology to connect with their pet, like I think that’s just the beginning of that, of an upload, of the digital afterlife in which you can live forever and continue to connect with your loved ones and continue to exist. Yeah, I absolutely think the technology could be there, maybe it is already there and we don’t know it. [laughs] But yes, 100 per cent.
BT: What would your ask be of your Angel?
AA: Oooooohhhh!!!! That’s a good question. Well I love breakfast. So I would ask for breakfast all day. And in the trailer, there’s a moment in which Nathan, played by Robbie, goes down to get breakfast and then they announce: “Okay, breakfast is now over”. [laughs] And that would be devastating! Oh my gosh! I love breakfast, I could eat breakfast all day, and so I would be like: “Angel, I need that crispy bacon with some pancakes”. Yes, I would absolutely do that. And it would just be so perfect every time and the bacon is going to be crispy every time, as it should be. [laughs]
BT: What did you like best about working with this great group of actors? You all seem like a really close group of friends.
AA: I mean you really nailed it on the head. We instantly connected, we instantly felt like a family. There were no egos, everyone was there to create this world and bring it to life that Greg had set. And so we all kind of jumped in and were just so excited to be there. Everybody brings their own thoughts, and even in watching Allegra (Edwards) do her thing, she’s so hilarious and she took a character that I think when you see it, you could be like: “Ah, man! I’m not supposed to like her”, but she’s so great at making this character of Ingrid likable. You feel for her, you like her, you laugh. You enjoy her experience and I think that she’s a genius in that way. Zainab (Johnson) is hilarious, getting to work with her as my co-worker at Horizon, I mean, she would throw out some random funny lines and improv-ing things and you’d be like: “Okay, what?”. [laughs] It’s like trying to keep a straight face and being serious, but she’s so great at what she does and she really brought Aleesha to life as well. And you know, whatever. Robbie’s fine. [laughs] I’m kidding! [giggles] Robbie’s so much fun to work with and we hit it off right away. I think that sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get as far as your scene partners and your partners in crime. You’re spending all day together every day and for us to just…we became friends! We genuinely like each other and I think that’s what makes this show so great. I also have to hand it to Greg, because again, he had such a gift of casting and bringing ensembles together. And he did it again—this ensemble, this cast, we are such a family.
BT: The scenes at Lakeview were incredible and you really take advantage of the Vancouver landscape and especially the lake area. I’m not going to ask you if you were actually walking on water, because I don’t imagine that you have that ability just yet, but was this done there?
AA: I walk on water. Oh no.
BT: Ummm, I’m not so sure about that.
AA: You underestimate my skills!
BT: What was that experience like for you and how much of it was green screen?
AA: Well Vancouver is stunning and I loved living there during the time that we were filming. I would go up there again in a heartbeat, it’s such a beautiful city. We definitely took advantage of being outside as much as we could and that was the preferred way of doing things as much as possible, weather permitting. [laughs] Because sometimes Vancouver weather wasn’t on our side! We did get outdoors and use the scenery and filmed mixing in some green screen to build the world. But the lake stuff, that was so much fun. I’m glad that you bring that up because watching Robbie walk [chuckles] and fall into the water, multiple times, was one of the best scenes to watch. [laughs] The commitment, every single time it was just like: “Okay”. And then you know, it’s just…there’s more to that scene later, which you’ll see in the series, but it was such a fun scene to shoot. And getting to walk on water: I really did. I really did walk on water, that’s not CGI or effects. It’s so cool, the crew and everybody that came together to make these things possible. It was a little scary, the way that they set it up for me to walk out there in this real lake. It was a real lake. But very, very cool.
BT: I’m curious. How did your character manage to grow herbs and vegetables outside of her window?
AA: Yes!! Oh, I know. Nora is such a rebel, she definitely has this mischievous, rebellious streak and in the future, you’re not allowed to grow your own vegetables because everything is 3D printed. So she sneaks in seeds, that’s kind of like the underground market, and grows them from her window, hiding them from the drone.
BT: What did you enjoy about shooting the office scenes? Those were particularly funny.
AA: I think that what made it were the people around me and getting to play off of them. Andrea (Rosen), who plays Lucy, she’s so good at playing Lucy, who is the worst. And her and Zainab and Josh (Banday), my other co-worker, they really set the space for you to just play. I got to play a lot, I’m trying to think of how much I can share and how much I can’t. I have a lot of fun I’ll say “dancing”. I mean, once you watch it, you’ll see that there’s a moment in which I’m dancing in our open office and it’s just wild! That was really, really fun.
BT: What was it like to have Larry Wilmore on set for the second last episode?
AA: Yes! Larry is the sweetest guy. He’s his own kind of legend in his own right, so that was really cool to kind of work opposite him. We got to chat a little bit and he’s so funny, even when we’re sitting in our cast chairs, he’s cracking jokes and his delivery is…he has this mix of deadpan but cheekiness and you’re like: “You’re too much! I can’t handle you”. [laughs] And he was really down to earth and such a cool guy. And so that was fun to have him drop in and make a cameo, which is great that Greg can call in all those favours. [chuckles]
BT: He’s got a deep bench and you must be like, “You worked on that show, you worked on that show, you created that show”. Greg Daniels is a bit of a legend.
AA: Absolutely! And it’s like we’re really creating something new and epic. This was his baby for a really long time and so for him too, I think it’s really been kind of amazing seeing it come to fruition. It’s such an honour getting to be a part of that, and now being a part of his bench. My gosh! That list of accomplishments and now getting to be a part of that history.
BT: What would it mean to you to be able to continue to tell this story?
AA: Awww! It would mean the world. I love Nora and I love her story and I love the possibilities because they’re limitless. This world is so vast and so rich, it’s so full of stories and also the things that we haven’t discovered yet that we get to discover together, and then the different rules of this new world, there’s so many things to explore. I would love to continue on and dive deeper into this whole new kind of futuristic world and what it means having a digital afterlife.
BT: How does your musicality influence your acting and your performance?
AA: The similarity is in the sense of rhythm, right? So with music there’s a rhythm, whether with the beat or with the guitar or vocally, how you fit into the arrangement. And I think that’s also true for acting, but especially comedy, because comedy has a rhythm. Even as grounded as this show is, there is a definite rhythm to it. I feel like my musical background kind of helped in that way. And also in the scenes in which I get to be an Angel and speak into my microphone and be the voice from in the room when you don’t see me. I think that vocally being a singer, that helps, as well as being able to use my voice in that way and to be able to create different layers to who Nora is as an Angel and well as just Nora, and that was really fun because she exists in these two worlds. And so as an actor, that was really fun to play, like: “Okay, who is she as the Angel, who is she as the person who works at this company, and who is she in reality?” and the duality of that.
BT: To what degree did the clothing and make-up being different in the two worlds influence the performance?
AA: Exactly, yes! Yeah! You know in Upload, she gets to have an Avatar and she gets to look how she wants to look and is afforded certain luxuries. And then in reality, you get to see that she’s different. [laughs] The wardrobe and the make-up made that change even more distinct and created even moreso the duality of her. And also, you think of the lighting and the way in which it was shot. I mean, in New York, where she is, the reality is kind of the dark, the way that they shot it, it’s not as pretty. And then when you go into the digital afterlife, into Lakeview, it’s stunning. [laughs] There’s all those changes between the worlds from what she wears in her day-to-day life, to her being in a nice Burberry coat, dude, it’s nice! And you know, you got a little make-up on [laughs] she’s looking sharp in Lakeview! And then you cut to reality and you’re like: “Listen, [chuckles] I’m just trying to get by.”
BT: What was your experience like being in Pitch Perfect 3? I think that your band Evermoist was a clear favourite.
AA: We should have won. That’s all I’m saying. [laughs] We should have won that record deal. [laughs] No offence, no offence Bellas there, we love you. But Evermoist, we were the shit. [laughs] That was a blast! It was the first time that I got to do something that bridged being a musician and a singer with being an actress. That was such a dream and getting to be a part of the Pitch Perfect franchise, too, was really fun because I had watched the other two movies and I just enjoyed watching them as a viewer. So then getting the chance to be in it, was really a dream.
BT: What have been some of your quaranstreams?
AA: Oh my gosh, I started re-watching Rick and Morty, I obsess, [laughs] so I’ve watched that. They’ve dropped a new season for that so now I’m just re-watching everything. Ooohhh, Billions. And the new season comes out, I just saw the trailer for the next season and I cannot wait! I’m so excited. And ooohhh, Westworld! I’m all caught up, but the new season just started also, so I’m primed and ready for that to come out every Sunday. [laughs]
BT: What makes Upload appropriate for our current time of social distancing?
AA: I think that the great thing when it comes to watching TV and watching shows, you really sucked in to their world and it’s a way to escape and it’s a way to take your mind off things. And I feel like Upload encompasses all of that. It’s this new world that is exciting, it’s different, you can really dive into it and discover along with the characters. And it’s also lighthearted, so it’s such a perfect combination of all the things that you want in a show because there’s comedy, there’s heart, there’s some mystery, and it’s all the things into which you can jump just to give people a little fun and a little something different. I think that it’s the perfect time to have something light-hearted that takes you on a journey and I think Upload does that, and so I think that people are now ready for it more than ever.