Yousef Abu-Taleb was no stranger to web series when he signed on for Bite Me, the hit zombie comedy whose second season is debuting here on FEARnet. In fact, having starred on the pioneering Lonelygirl15, the self-confessed gaming and comics nerd has worked in the medium since its infancy. I caught up with him recently to discuss what makes Bite Me unique among zom-coms, and what we can expect from season 2. Check out our chat after the jump.
Can you talk a little about how we've seen your character develop so far on Bite Me?
Sure. I'd say the only thing Jeff really cares about are his friends and his video games, and this girl that lives down the street from him. That's all he's really cared about for entire life. That's all he really wanted, up until the zombie outbreak. He never really aspired to be much, and then finds himself put in the position of being a leader. And I think he handles it well. That's pretty much where he's at. He's probably the guy who used to be picked on and didn't realize how much he really had inside of him until he was put to the test.
Were you a horror fan before signing on for this project?
Oh yeah. Definitely. I read World War Z. I love zombies. There's this other book called Boneshaker… I'd seen Dawn of the Dead, which is my favorite zombie film. Tons of things.
World War Z is a great book.
I don't know how the movie's gonna turn out, because if you stick to the book than it probably wouldn't be a great narrative film. So I'm sure they're gonna adapt it in a way that changes the story. Maybe they'll just pick a few of the stories that are in there and combine it into one narrative. That might be a good movie, but the problem is we love seeing books as they were written. So if you do that… I don't know. It's a toss up. We'll see how it turns out.
It's interesting you mention the issue of formatting. Because World War Z's format it pretty unique to that book, but the zombie genre also seems to lend itself well to the web series format…
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Because it would be a perfects series, because you could do an episode a chapter. But as a movie, we'll see. Who knows?
In the case of Bite Me, do you feel like your forging new ground? Because I'm not sure that there's been a definitive zombie web series yet.
I've told a few people this, but my favorite project that I've worked on so far has been Bite Me. That I've ever worked on – whether it's been a feature film, a web series, anything. Bite Me's just been a lot of fun. The production value is great. I feel like there's a lot of chemistry with us. The director's amazing – Jarrett [Lee Conaway]. It's been really good… You've got the zombies going on, but the focus of the show is kind of the relationship between these three guys. So there's a lot going on, and they're all kind of idiots, so that makes it pretty fun too.
How do you think the humor of Bite Me differs from other zombie comedies?
What makes this fresh? Well we definitely have the whole gamer aspect. There is a gamer culture out there, so we're really exploring that. While other movies and shows pretend that they've never heard of zombie, we know what it is. We know how to deal with it. They've existed in games and comics and everything else, forever. The only thing is – while they were saying that the zombie apocalypse is going to happen, it did. So they were prepared for it. That kind of helps out with the humor, because it's almost like breaking the third wall.
Are you a gamer?
Yeah, I am. [Laughs.] I love the Batman series. I thought that was amazing. I was lucky enough to try out the new Resident Evil: Raccoon City. That was super cool. I can't wait to get that. What else… I played all the Uncharted games. That was super fun. I downloaded DC Online and created a superhero and all that sort of stuff, because I'm also a complete comic nerd. I played City of Heroes back in the day, and it's kind of the same thing, but you get to be Superman and Batman and all that good stuff. So I've playing that a little bit too.
As a comic fan, what are your favorites?
Wolverine is my favorite character. I think he's the coolest written character, but a close second is Batman. So right now I'm subscribing to Detective Comics. I went for a couple of new titles. I checked out Animal Man. I checked out X-Factor. I never read X-Factor or knew what it was, but this multiple man character is pretty cool. I subscribed to that too… Games, comics – it's all right up my alley.
What do you think will surprise people the most about season 2?
Just how much bigger it is, and how much more in depth we got to get into our characters, the relationships… Oh, man, it's gonna be epic. It really is.
What else are you working on right now besides Bite Me?
I've got a biopic. I can say this. It's still up in the air, but I may get the chance to play Charlie Chaplin. We're still waiting to see what happens. But if that happens, it would be cool. I just hope I can do him justice.
That's great. One last question – in real life, what's your greatest fear?
I'm terrified of sharks, but on the same hand I really want to go up to San Francisco, because there's this thing you can do where they put you in a steel cage and drop you in and lure a great white in. It's right off the coast of Alcatraz. [Laughs.] So while I'm really afraid of them, I'm also really dying to get under the water and be up close to him.
That sounds like the ultimate thrill ride.
I'd definitely piss in my wetsuit, but whatever. It'd be kind of neat.
If you can handle zombies, you can handle sharks.
Yeah, I know, right? [Laughs.]
Thanks for your time, Yousef. We're looking forward to season 2.
Thank you so much for the time. I can't wait, man. I just want to say to all the fans out there: sorry it's taken a little bit of time, but it's going to be well worth it. This season is so much better than even the last season was. I was lucky to even get on the last season, so I can't wait for everybody to check this out.