For fans of Showtime’s drama Billions, the upcoming Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber may familiar in more ways than one – from the story of a striving entrepreneur looking to shake up their industry, to some of the talent that appears throughout the second. During a TCA panel on Wednesday, executive producers Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Beth Schacter said that they also felt the similarities upon depicting the rise of Uber for Showtime.
“Our voice is our voice, and that’s not an intentional thing,” said Koppelman. “Everybody who does this for a while…[is] working from the place that they’re most connected to.”
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Uma Thurman and Kyle Chandler, Showtime’s Super Pumped tells the story of the ride-sharing company that stands out as both a marvel and a cautionary tale, featuring internal and external battles that ripple with unpredictable consequences. The series is based on Mike Isaac’s bestselling book of the same name.
At the center of the series is Gordon-Levitt’s Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who adds to Billions co-creators Koppelman and Levien’s history of centering ambitious disruptors. Levien spoke about the common ground between his fictional Billions characters and Super Pumped‘s interpretation of a Silicon Valley giant.
“We’ve recognized that what they’re doing in their business and their business life really matters to them. It’s almost like a life and death situation,” he said. “It’s in the core of their identity, so the takes are very high for these characters.”
Schacter added that working on Super Pumped feels lie flexing the “same muscle, but [with] a different source.”
Despite the familiar feel and teaming with fellow Billions executive producers, Koppelman said Super Pumped sets its own path given that “our lead actors are not people who were in Billions, and they each bring a different timing and a different approach” to the script at hand.
Gordon-Levitt, Thurman and Chandler all spoke about the research that went into taking on their real-life personalities. Chandler, who said Bill Gurley would mark his first time taking on a real-life character, said he read Mike Isaac’s book. Thurman, who said she’s met Arianna Huffington in the past, added that she listened to dozens of hours of Huffington speaking to nail down her way of speaking. Gordon-Levitt shared that he not only read up for the part, but met with people who previously interacted with Kalanick himself to help him better portray the complexity of the CEO “vinner,” a.k.a. “sinner and villain.”
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which premieres Feb. 27, comes at a time when nearly every platform seems to have its own take on controversial entrepreneurs and grifters ranging from Netflix’s Inventing Anna‘s to Apple TV+s WeCrashed. The EPs say they didn’t create the show to fit in to a trend of any sort. Bolstering the statement, Schacter clarified that “Travis ins’t a con man.“
“He really willed an entire sector into being. It’s the method of the process we wanted to prosecute,” she said.
Koppelman, Levien and Beth Schacter executive produce, write and serve as showrunners. Paul Schiff, Stephen Schiff and Allyce Ozarski also executive produce and Isaac co-executive produces.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.