DePaul alum Kevin Bigley loves being on ‘Upload,’ a sci-fi comedy with ‘so much going on’
His character on the Amazon Prime series, Luke Crossley, is a habitual line-stepper who shepherds the show’s hero through the ins and outs of their new reality — a virtual afterlife.
Actor Kevin Bigley revels in the art of surprise when it comes to the characters he plays.
“It’s a lot of fun playing a character who could introduce a new component to the area of the show that hasn’t been introduced by anybody else; it’s really cool,” said Bigley.
Bigley, an alumnus of DePaul University’s theater school, stars in the new Amazon Prime original series “Upload,” a sci-fi comedy from creator Greg Daniels (“The Office”). It’s set in a technologically advanced future where humans can choose to be “uploaded” into a virtual afterlife when they find themselves close to death.
“Upload” follows actor Robbie Amell’s character, Nathan Brown, an app developer close to death after a suspicious auto accident, who needs to decide quickly if he wants to enlist in a virtual afterlife provided by the Horizon company,
“One of the things that differentiates it from some of the stuff out there is that it has so much going on, and some people could find the negative in that,” said Bigley. “For me, when I read the script, it was a positive. It felt like a turducken of genre; there’s just so many things happening. And I think Greg [Daniels] navigated very well that he wanted to replicate a Bollywood film, and that it had all these different genres and story lines happening.”
Bigley’s character, Luke Crossley, Nathan’s afterlife friend and a veteran of a future war with Iran, often pushes back against the rules by clashing with Horizon’s employees, while habitually line-stepping along the way — an experience Bigley compares to being a member of a band.
“Everybody has their instrument, and the bass player shouldn’t be doing any soloing; there should be a guitar player,” said Bigley. “So I know that Luke’s job is to navigate the world, and kind of show what you can do in this universe and to guide Robbie, show him kind of the ins and outs of the world.”
Bigley describes his experience working with Daniels, an Emmy Award winner who also worked on “The Simpsons” and “Parks and Recreation,” as “awesome and difficult.”
“I really wanted to impress him, which is a terrible way to go into work every day, but I feel like I got over it pretty quickly,” said Bigley. “I started to realize that it was crucial to get over my reverence of him.”
Also a writer, Bigley recently released a nostalgia-centric novel called “Comaville.”
“My book came out in March, which was perfect timing for the pandemic — very unfortunate,” said Bigley. “People are watching the show and then reaching out to me, and then they’re getting the book, so it’s been kind of a unique and interesting experience.
“I decided to put all of my efforts into a full-length novel. It took about a year and a half, and Clash [Books] decided to publish it, and it was the ultimate justification because I took an idea that was my own that was uncompromised and thought to fruition.”
Bigley, a northern California native who has starred in “BoJack Horseman,” “Undone,” and “Sirens,” credits his time in Chicago at DePaul’s theatre school for his career trajectory.
While at DePaul, he had a decision to make: continue to write for the DePaulia — the university’s student newspaper — or focus on acting.
“I realized that it [writing] was kind of taking away from my pursuit as an actor and took my time spent dedicating myself to it, so I decided to throw myself further into acting,” said Bigley. “Chicago is a city where I think we expect a lot out of you as an actor; it comes with its own reputation that you’re an actor from Chicago, so you kind of have to live up to it.”
And, like everyone else, Bigley has put his life and career on hold indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He looks forward to getting back to work when coronavirus cases slow down.
“We’re supposed to be shooting the second season of “Upload” at some point,” said Bigley. “Hopefully soon because we got renewed. I was set to start shooting on ‘Undone’ season two, which was for Amazon, and that of course got delayed.
“Hopefully, once everyone’s given the go-ahead and thumbs-up, we start shooting again. … Hopefully, everyone puts in these protocols that are safe and we can move forward with this whole disease and get back to work.”