For every star career launched in Hollywood, the dreams of thousands more crash and burn. Prime satirical fodder, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s bittersweet Netflix series Bojack Horseman is one of the finest examples.
“LA is self-satirising,” Bob-Waksberg laughs as he chats to The New Daily ahead of the fourth season debut.
“The culture there can maybe only be expressed in a cartoon with animals. It really is a ridiculous world and a ridiculous industry.”
The darkly comic animated series is set in ‘Hollywoo’ where humans and humanoid animals live side-by-side. Arrested Development’s Will Arnett voices the anthropomorphic horse of the title, the yesterday’s news star of ’90s sitcom Horsin’ Around.
Desperate to make a comeback, the equally self-doubting and egotistical Bojack hits the bottle hard. Unmissable TV just as likely to make you cry sad tears as happy, season four sees Bojack hit the road following the heroin overdose death of a former co-star.
“I’ve always thought that the best comedy comes out of sadness,” Bob-Waksberg says. “The kind of laughing at a funeral thing that you can’t quite help. Life is very funny and strange and sad all at once, and that’s what we try and capture on this show.”
One of Bob-Waksberg’s biggest inspirations is The Simpsons, as evidenced by his haunting Twitter ode to Marge.
Does Marge have friends?
— Raphael Bob-Waksberg (@RaphaelBW) July 12, 2016
“It’s inarguably one of the greatest and most influential shows of the 20th century,” he acknowledges. “My favourite episodes were almost always the melancholy ones, the one about Homer’s mother, Lisa’s substitute, the one where Bart steals the video game and Marge becomes really disappointed in him.”
Co-starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Glow’s Alison Brie and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Amy Sedaris, Bojack also features a cavalcade of celebrity cameos. Jessica Biel, Angela Basset, Stephen Colbert, J.K. Simmons, Stanley Tucci and Broad City stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have all showed up.
Often starstruck, Bob-Waksberg can never predict who’ll bowl him over most. John Krasinski, who plays Jim Halpert on the American version of The Office, was one such surprise stun. He guest starred as Secretariat, a famous racehorse and Bojack’s childhood hero.
“I’d spent so much time watching him on the television and it felt like I had a real connection,” Bob-Waksberg says. “It was eerie.”
One of the show’s earliest breakthroughs was landing a mic drop cameo by the inimitable Angelica Huston as Horsin’ Around exec Angela Diaz.
Luckily Huston is good friends with Arnett, giving them an in. The deal breaker was that Bob-Waksberg needed to see her at a table read, to make sure the scene would work.
“There was a moment where she wasn’t going to be able to do it because her driver was in hospital and she wanted to sit with him while he recovered,” Bob-Waksberg reveals. “She’s amazing.”
Scrambling for a replacement, thankfully Huston’s driver pulled through and she made the read after all.
“You could hear a pin drop during that monologue. I gave her very little direction. She got it and she was amazing. It was a very early moment in the show being like, ‘oh, we’re doing something cool here. This is special’.”
Bojack Horseman season four premieres on Netflix on Friday.