‘Twisted Metal’: Anthony Mackie talks creating a story for the high-energy video game

Twisted Metal
Anthony Mackie plays John Doe in ‘Twisted Metal.’
Skip Bolen / Peacock

In the video game world, ‘Twisted Metal’ is a series that has been around for quite some time, with a massively dedicated fanbase still to this day.

Known best by a character named Sweet Tooth (aka a flaming clown head with an arsenal filled ice cream truck), the vehicular combat game has sung the same tune—players choose their cars, the arena, their weapons, and the rest is up to them to survive with the last player standing crowned the winner. 

For the most part, there isn’t a central story, but that has changed with the new Peacock iteration of the brand. The new 10-episode comedy/action streamer is an original take by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, with the story written by Michael Jonathan Smith. In this ‘Twisted Metal‘ iteration, the plot follows a “motor-mouthed outsider” (played by Anthony Mackie) who’s finally offered a chance to fit in if he completes a task—delivering a package in a dangerous and post-apocalyptic world, with plenty of obstacles along the way. 

Twisted Metal
Joe Seanoa as Sweet Tooth in “Twisted Metal.’Skip Bolen / Peacock

“I think the great thing about the show is it uses the themes of the game—’cause remember the game was just like rock ’em, sock ’em, robot, blow ’em up, shoot up cars—but with the show, we actually gave a backstory and created a world and gave context to what the game was,” says Mackie. 

The actor is not only taking on the role of John Doe, a central part of the original games, he also is an executive producer on the new series. 

“We used the game as a blueprint and [there are] a lot of fun Easter eggs from the game that are in the show. And you know, now you get to see John Doe as a three-dimensional person as opposed to a figment of somebody you’re trying to fight against in a devolution derby.”

Mackie’s Doe is also joined by Stephanie Beatriz, Thomas Haden Church, Neve Campbell, plus Will Arnett and Joe Seanoa (Samoa Joe). Behind the scenes on the other hand, Mackie was able to work with some of the minds behind other nostalgic hits brought to life like ‘Cobra Kai’, ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Zombieland.’ 

Twisted Metal
Pictured are Anthony Mackie (left) as John Doe and Stephanie Beatriz as Quiet.Skip Bolen / Peacock

“It’s seeing the world evolve. Like to say that you’re sitting on a Zoom with the dudes who wrote ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Zombie Land’, and to say that you’re on a Zoom with the guy who wrote ‘Cobra Kai’—those are heavy hitters in the industry,” says Mackie.

The actor continues: “So to be able to see all of us come together and work together and develop the show was a lot. It was a learning experience and just seeing those ideas formulate, come to fruition, and then come alive on set—it was a great experience, and I enjoyed it.”

Mackie also goes on to talk about bringing some other characters to life—like Stephanie Beatriz’s Quiet, who is new to the world of ‘Twisted Metal.’

 “It worked out that she came and just fit perfectly into what this character was and really brought her own feeling and flare to it. And because of that, I think the character thrives in a way that’s really beautiful and fun to watch.”

Twisted Metal
Stephanie Beatriz as Quiet.Skip Bolen / Peacock

Quiet works alongside John Doe for a lot of the series, and throughout the entirety of the ten episodes, we get introduced to a slew of other characters both new and old to add to the high-energy octane that the concept is already known for. 

“I’m excited to show John and his fun side. I mean, it can get pretty dark and gloomy when you’re just driving around shooting at people all day, you know?” explains Mackie when asked what he’s most excited about for people to see in the show. 

“He’s an easygoing glass-half-full kind of guy, [and] I wanted the audience to see that. I wanted him to be able to be naive and discover things in front of an audience,” he finishes. “I think that’s fun and there’s something very youthful about that that we don’t really have in our day-to-day lives now. And I wanted to explore within.”

Twisted Metal
Anthony Mackie (left) as John Doe and Joe Seanoa as Sweet Tooth.Skip Bolen / Peacock

Catch all 10 episodes of ‘Twisted Metal’ when it drops on Peacock July 27.