It looks like HBO’s new futuristic space comedy series ‘Avenue 5’, created, written and executive produced by Armando Iannucci is moving forward quickly. Iannucci is the mastermind behind HBO’s long-running, multiple award-winning ‘Veep’. Hugh Laurie headlines ‘Avenue 5’ (which is a working title and may change), which also stars Rebecca Front. Now comes word that Josh Gad, Zach Woods and Niki Amuka-Bird have been added. Suzy Nakamura was also previously announced as part of the cast.
While little about the show is known, ‘Avenue 5’ appears to be the name of a luxury spaceship, which acts as a futuristic version of a cruise ship, but their pleasure trip goes wrong. Laurie is playing Ryan Clark, “the charming and in-control American captain of Avenue 5.” Front will portray Karen Kelly, “a middle-aged American housewife, who boarded Avenue 5 using her sister’s non-transferable ticket. Strong-willed, articulate, likeable. Karen finds herself becoming the voice of the passengers, enjoying her newfound power.”
Gad plays Herman Judd, “the billionaire face and name behind Avenue 5 and the whole Judd brand, which includes hotels, fitness clubs and space tourism. Judd is used to a life of luxury. He made his money from holiday resorts and thinks he’s good at everything else. Terrible at science, he leaves that to the scientists he employs to give him the answers he wants.” It appears that Nakamura’s character, Iris Kimura, is Judd’s personal assistant.
Gad is best known as the voice of Olaf in ‘Frozen’, and will, of course, be heard in November when ‘Frozen II’ opens. He will also be heard as Chuck in ‘The Angry Birds Movie 2’. Gad will appear in the flesh in ‘Artemis Fowl’ which opens in August. In the past few years, he has also been seen in ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, ‘Marshall’, and ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
Zach Woods may be best known for playing Donald “Jared” Dunn on another HBO comedy hit, ‘Silicon Valley’ or as Gabe Lewis in later episodes of NBC’s ‘The Office’. In between, he starred on the USA sitcom ‘Playing House’, and made appearances on ‘Veep’, ‘The League’, and ‘The Good Wife’. He has also appeared in most of Paul Feig’s movies, including ‘The Heat’, ‘Spy’, and ‘Ghostbusters’. W
On ‘Avenue 5’, Woods will portray Matt Spencer, “head of Customer Relations. Despite being a nihilist, Matt is a nice guy who can’t wait to get to the end of his final cruise before promotion to a more senior role on Earth. He has a performance background, but gave up trying to make it as an entertainer years ago.”
Finally, BAFTA-nominee Nikki Amuka-Bird joins the cast as Rav Mulcair, “head of Judd Mission Control on Earth. She’s extremely intelligent but frustrated and exhausted by lack of control. Intense and slightly odd, Rav is racked with guilt over having sent her two best friends into space in an attempt to fix their failing marriage.”
Amuka-Bird may not be familiar to US audiences, but she has a lengthy, highly-acclaimed career in England. She appeared on the series ‘Luther’, and more recently ‘Hard Sun’ from the same creators. She also appeared in the HBO series ‘Quarry’ and in one episode of ‘Doctor Who’. On the big screen, she was in the dud ‘Jupiter Ascending’. She will next be seen in the BBC miniseries ‘Gold Digger’.
‘Avenue 5’ was first announced late last summer, with casting news arriving steadily. However, Woods, Gad and Amuka-Bird’s additions have been reported within the last few days, so it looks as though the show may begin production in the next couple of months.
Check back for updates. How does this series sound so far?