Andy Allo on Amazon’s digital afterlife comedy series, Upload (Interview)

Upload Robbie Amell Andy Allo Photo by Katie Yu
Upload with Robbie Amell and Andy Allo. Photo credit: Katie Yu

Amazon’s comedy series, Upload, is created by Greg Daniels, who has worked on shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill, and The Simpsons. The series is now available on the streaming service, and it follows Nathan (Robbie Amell), someone who dies from an accident and is uploaded into a digital afterlife.

Andy Allo plays Nora, a customer service representative at Horizon who helps guide Nathan into his new world that is very reminiscent of our world in regard to video games, the internet, social media, and dating apps. Given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to chat with Andy. The interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

John Nguyen: Did you have to audition for the role in Upload?

Andy Allo: Yes, I auditioned. First of all, it’s Greg Daniels, so I’m in. Getting to work with him and the audition process were just fun. We would just hang out in the audition room, and he would throw out different scenes, ones that I hadn’t even gotten before. He’s like, “Let’s try this one. What about this one?” It was just fun, and that was the environment from day one. It was about a week from my first audition to booking the role. It was really fast, and Greg just set the tone for where you were collaborative. You felt like you were empowered to speak up, be creative and join in the conversation for this world that he spent so much time building.

Andy Allo in Amazon’s Upload. Photo credit: Katie Yu

What’s the synopsis of this world, and were you prepared for the craziness?

It’s set in the not-too-distant future where you can upload yourself to a digital afterlife. And my character, Nora, exists in the real world, and she’s a customer service rep and works for one of the companies that has a programmed afterlife called Lakeview. She gets to design avatars, upload your memories, and get you settled into this next chapter of your life, which is so wild to do.

This comedy is surprising with heads being blown up, and just some gruesome stuff. Were you expecting any of that, or were you shocked or surprised?

Oh, I was completely shocked. I was not ready for it at all. Reading it and then witnessing it were two different things. I love that the show kind of throws you off. You can’t quite expect what’s going to happen, which I think is so fun.

Greg talks about it in this way. It’s a mix of romantic comedy and mystery, and sci-fi. He calls this genre stew. I love that because there’s a little bit of everything in there for everyone. Then you throw in these moments of shock and gore, and you’re like, “Wait, what?!” [laughs] And that’s the best because you just have to jump into this world that doesn’t hold your hand. You just have to be along for the ride.

Speaking of holding hands, you do guide Robbie’s character. At first, Nora is like, “This guy’s like full of himself.” But then slowly you start to learn more about him and you start falling for a digital character.

Initially, Nora’s impression of Nathan is that he’s such a douche and she doesn’t like him at all. I love that kind of character arc of getting to know Nathan and giving him a shot to be who he wants to be. I think that brings up an interesting kind of question of judging people instantly and whether you give them a chance to say, “No, this is who I am. I know maybe I come off this way, but I’m actually like this.” I think the show gives people a lot to talk about. It’s definitely a conversation starter.

Andy Allo in Upload. Photo credit: Aaron Epstein
Andy Allo in Upload. Photo credit: Aaron Epstein

The future of social media is captured here, but instead of rating food and businesses, you rate people. You have to be on your best behavior. I don’t know if you ever have that fear in the real world like the dating app in Upload?

On Uber, you can see what your rating is as a rider, and I think drivers cannot pick you up if you have a bad rating. I haven’t checked my rating lately, but it was a thing between me and my friends. We were like, “Wait, what’s your rating? We wanted to know if you’re a good passenger.”

I just read this article in China that they have this rating system that’s tied to your whole life, your bank, and everything. And if a certain rating drops for you, it makes it hard for you to actually rent an apartment or buy a car. It is so wild that the world we live in is actually happening like this.

It’s like the companies know what you’re doing at all times and whether your future is good or not.

Right! Yeah, I mean, it’s so wild. Even just looking something up on a website, then opening another browser and all these ads pop up with everything that you ever wanted that are tied to the one thing that you just searched.

There’s also a part where you listen to music at work, and your boss disabled your music. That was a bummer.

Nora’s a bit of a rebel, and she kind of does her own thing. She’s got a bit of this sneaky side and does pranks, which I really liked. That was fun to dive into as a character. And Greg really created so many layers within the characters that you get to play off of, especially if you look at Nora and her coworker, Alicia. She is not really good. Stuff happens to the people that she takes care of. I don’t know why, but it just does.

You know why. [both laughing]

Nora cares so much about her clients and she’s their angel. So it’s interesting seeing these two people existing in the same world.

Greg is behind this show, and there are Easter eggs here and there. What was that like seeing those?

There are so many little like nuggets. I think what’s interesting is that we started working on this show in 2017, and Greg had this idea like 30 years ago. So it’s been a long journey and process. Robbie, Greg and I were talking about this. It’s so wild that in one of the scenes people are wearing masks, and it’s like, “Wait, what?” But they’re wearing masks because in the future there’s pollution because we haven’t been taken care of this world. So it has nothing to do with a virus or anything like that. We shot that a year ago, and so there are these little things that you see that it almost seems like the show is mimicking life now. I think that’s what will be interesting as people watch it. It doesn’t hit you over the head with the little Easter eggs. It’s there. They’re so subtle that sometimes you might have to watch it again and be like, “Oh, my God! I missed that. That’s really cool.” So it’s such an intricate world that Greg’s created.

If you had to choose between uploading or the other alternative, which would you choose?

Upload! 100%! No question. I just want my upload to be at the Caribbean beach somewhere, relaxing with my guitar, some tacos, and a pina colada. [laughs] Also my friends and family while we have this epic afterlife vacation.

You can now watch Upload on Amazon Prime Video.

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John Nguyen
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