‘Upload’s Robbie Amell: Nathan ‘Has to Die to Realize That He Wasn’t Really Living’
In the 10-episode sci-fi comedy, the young app developer winds up in the hospital following a self-driving car accident. After a quick decision with his girlfriend, Ingrid (Allegra Edwards), he is “uploaded” to the luxurious virtual afterlife, Lakeview. There, he meets his customer service “Angel” Nora (Andy Allo), who serves as his guide.
It’s also with this new digital extension of life that Nathan realizes the kind of person he was before — and that he can maybe find a way to do better.
Here, Amell previews Nathan’s journey in Lakeview.
What’s Nathan like before he dies and is uploaded?
Robbie Amell: He’s a little bit of a shallow douchebag, to be honest. I don’t think he’s ever a bad guy. He’s been able to coast through life a little bit. Maybe his priorities are in the wrong place. He’s got a hot girlfriend, and they have fun together, but the relationship is pretty shallow. He doesn’t know that things could be better and more interesting for him. I thought that it was great that he kind of has to die to realize that he wasn’t really living.
And what goes into his decision to be uploaded?
Panic, more than anything. In this world, you have the opportunity to take this digital afterlife instead of just regular death. If I was in a position, I would want to do that as well. But with that being said, you can’t go backwards. It is pretty finite to say, “I’m going to upload,” because that means your regular life is over. Ultimately the decision is kind of made for him because he thinks he’s dying and won’t be able to recover, and all of a sudden, his girlfriend owns him, in the digital afterlife.
Set up the world of Lakeview and what it has to offer.
What I think Greg Daniels did so well is — we were doing an interview the other day, and he said, “It’s not a utopia or a dystopia, it’s kind of a middle-topia.” That’s so interesting because if it was a utopia, it would get boring after a little while, but if it was a dystopia, it would be hard to make it that funny.
It’s like life. There are highs and lows, but I think he asks some interesting questions. In Lakeview, because it’s made by people, they all have some of the same problems that life had. There’s a division of wealth. There’s greed and capitalism. Everything’s an upcharge. That’s just business. Of course that’s how it works because it’s death, it’s gross, and it mimics the same problems that life has.
What’s Nathan like as he adjusts to his new digital life? How do his relationships with family and friends change as a result?
You find out that Nathan didn’t really have that many friends before he uploaded. It takes somebody like Nora to show him that, having somebody who feels like she’s truly there for him, and friends like Luke in Upload. His eyes were opened a little bit to the type of person he used to be.
The dynamic between him and Nora is really nice. They lean on each other and learn from each other about what’s important. She’s this window for him back into the real world, but she’s also his life raft in Upload.
I love so many other things in Upload, like you’re not allowed to work. As a young person, being uploaded, you’re essentially in a bit of a retirement home, and that would be tough for someone in their mid- to late 20s. It would be awesome for a minute, but then all of a sudden, you’d be like, “What’s my purpose? What can I do here?” It’s nice when he starts trying to figure out how to help other people and stop thinking about himself for a minute.
You mentioned what Nora means to Nathan, but what does he offer her?
Nora’s so swept up in trying to save her father and trying to get him to upload that I don’t think she really takes any time for herself or looks out for herself and Nathan helps show her that life can be beautiful. They develop this relationship and kind of absorb the best parts of each other’s personalities.
Upload, Series Premiere, Friday, May 1, Amazon Prime Video