Synopsis : Timmy Yoon is an analog dreamer living in a 5G world. And after learning he is operating the last Blockbuster Video in America, Timmy and his staff employees (including his long time crush, Eliza fight to stay relevant. The only way to succeed is to remind their community that they provide something big corporations can’t: human connection.
Q: I saw the documentary, “The Last Blockbuster,” last year, about the last one in Bend, Oregon. have you seen it? Did that film inspire this series? How did creator Vanessa Ramos come up with this story?
RP: I saw that documentary even before I signed on to do this, and it was so great. From what I know, I don’t believe that film was an inspiration for this series. I don’t think Vanessa saw the documentary until after she created the series because she didn’t want to make it too similar. She wanted it to be an original fictitious Blockbuster. I don’t believe the documentary is the inspiration for the show, but there are a lot of themes [memes?], obviously, that are similar.
Q: There’s a woman named Sandy, the manager of that last Blockbuster in Oregon, who’s like that character in the series. Is it based on the script Vanessa Ramos wrote? Did you also add your comedic sense into the script?
RP: I wasn’t involved in the writing of the scripts. But I did talk to Vanessa a lot, and Jackie [Clarke, the writer] and David Caspe, the other writer, and the producers, about my character. We talked about the things that I’d love to do and the ways in which I saw Timmy — sometimes I pitched them jokes. They were very open and collaborative in wanting me to have a say in how to shape the character. Then on the day we were filming, there were definitely times when we got to improvise here and there. It was all very collaborative.
Q: When you were a kid, what fond memories do you have of going to your local Blockbuster?
RP: Oh my gosh! I spent so much time in the Blockbuster video store as a kid. We had our neighborhood Blockbuster, not far from our house, and it was a big one. It looked just like the one in the show — the set on the show looks exactly like my neighborhood Blockbuster. I remember going there and spending hours walking up and down the aisles, looking at the boxes and trying to decide on what movie to rent for that weekend. Being very indecisive, I remember taking a very long time to choose.
Q: I heard that you are not doing much of SNS. This series is so much about the community and people who embrace walk-in places, and we’re missing the opportunity ever since we start to stream everything. Is that the attraction of this series?
RP: I think so. For the character I play, Timmy, the most important thing to him is human connection, people helping each other, being physically there for each other and taking care of one another. That’s very important. He feels the world is changing and technology is making us farther from one another. He feels like it’s very important to maintain those real human connections. That’s part of the reason why he wants to save this Blockbuster because he still wants that community in his life and wants these workers to be in his life. People mean so much to him and he feels like we’re losing that because of technology.
Q: How did you like to wearing that almost iconic Blockbuster uniform?
RP: [laughs] I loved it. It was cool to wear, because it automatically makes you feel like you work in a Blockbuster but also it was very comfortable. It was nice not to have to wear a complicated costume every day. It was very easy and I loved it.
Q: In the movie, Blockbuster employees try to create the sections for employees’ picks. If you were to create the section for the Blockbuster rack, what would your selections be?
RP: Oh, gosh. That’s a good question. I don’t know. Well, there’s already the rom-com aisle, and I have always loved romantic comedies.
But I probably also have an aisle for movies to have playing in the background. You know, those kinds of movies. There’s a lot of movies that I love that I don’t necessarily just sit and watch, but movies that are nice to have playing in the background while you do other things. That would be a section that I’d create.
Q: I remember I’d rent out a DVD at the Blockbuster when it’s Halloween, and the clerks were all dressed up. It must have been fun shooting the episode.
RP: Yes, super-fun. I was so happy that we got to do holiday themed episodes, and Halloween. With traditional comedies on network TV they would always have their Halloween special. With”Fresh Off the Boat,” we always had our Halloween episode. So it was cool that we got to do that for “Blockbuster”.
Q: In this series, there are lots of tidbits, such as extra payment on late fees, or when you open the box, there’s a different title on the film. Are there any elements that you noticed when you were kids that you brought to the story?
RP: I think the writers did a lot of research. They had a lot, and talked about it in the writers’ room — all the little things that happened back then that will never happen anymore. We don’t have video rental places anymore. I do remember renting a movie and then coming home and opening the box, — sometimes it would be a different movie in there — and being so upset that I’d have to go back to the store and tell them. I remember things like that.
One time, I remember opening up the box and there were two movies in there — that was like hitting the jackpot. That was a really fun special day. All those little human mistakes that were made in the Blockbuster, those are fun little details to have in the show.
Q: It’s really ironic that this series “Blockbuster” would release in Netflix, the company that once tried to sell itself to Blockbuster. What do you want audiences to take away from this wonderful series?
RP: I hope the audience really loves the show. I hope that they feel a great warmth from the show, and feel like it’s a good antidote to all the stuff that’s out there right now, whether it be in the real world, or the other shows that people are watching now.
We haven’t had a show like this in awhile. It’s a feel-good show, so my hope is that people feel good from watching it and that they spread the word if they like it, and that it does really well for the service. Because I’d love to keep doing it.
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Here’s the trailer of the film.