"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" icon Matthew Broderick stars in a new post-apocalyptic Netflix series, "Daybreak." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Netflix's post-apocalyptic adventure dramedy Daybreak, premiering Thursday, pays homage to numerous iconic movies, including its star Matthew Broderick's 1986 classic, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
At the center of Daybreak is Josh Wheeler (played by Colin Ford), a teen who talks directly to TV viewers as he and his fellow survivors navigate the newfound freedom that comes with the death or zombification of most of the adults they know.
Broderick plays Glendale High School Principal Burr in the 10-episode adaptation of Brian Ralph's graphic novel.
"They visited [Ferris Bueller's Day Off] in the way they shot scenes, but the character I play is very different, actually. He's probably more like [Principal] Rooney, the Jeffrey Jones character," Broderick told UPI in a round-table interview with reporters at New York Comic Con.
Co-starring Alyvia Lind, Austin Crute and Sophie Simnett, the series takes place in a California overrun by half-dead creatures called Ghoulies and kid gangs whose members wield sharpened lacrosse sticks and flame-throwers.
This marks the two-time Tony-winner's first extended role on television.
"It is an inventive story, and I thought it would be fun to do," Broderick said.
He wouldn't give away too many details about the role other than to emphasize it did not require him to embrace his inner action hero.
"The character has an interesting story, and I wanted to play it out. It was interesting to have a part that could take its time as opposed to a two-hour thing or a play," said Broderick, who performed in The Producers on Broadway.
Appearing in episodes alternately inspired by Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Goodfellas, Mad Max, All That Jazz, sitcoms and Samurai films didn't really influence how he played his character.
"The nods to other movies are on the directors and writers and designers, but for us, we just play the scenes the best that we can. I just think about this scene of a principal catching a kid doing something or having a crush on a teacher," Broderick said.
"This was so different than anything I've ever read," said Krysta Rodriguez, who plays Ms. Crumble, the object of Burr's affection.
"It's rare to find roles for women who get to play as dirty as the boys, and this role gets to do that -- literally and figuratively. I'm covered in dirt all the time and eating bugs and running all over the place, and that was really appealing for me at this phase in my life," the 35-year-old Smash and Quantico alum added.
Ms. Crumble is a biology teacher slowly transitioning into a Ghoulie as a result of biological warfare.
"She becomes somewhat helpful to the kids in their quest to try to figure out what caused this, how to prevent it, how to survive," Rodriguez said. "She is sort of The Professor on Gilligan's Island."
If she had her choice of tribes to join in the Daybreak world, she would cast her lot with Cheermazons, a group of warrior cheerleaders.
"That's where I would probably try to get in, but they have a very strict initiation policy, so I don't know if I would make it through the gauntlet," she said, noting her backup would be the 4-H Club.
"They have the market cornered on agriculture, and they are the ones who can create the food, so I'd want to have that commodity on my side."
Ford -- best known for his work in Under the Dome and Jake and the Neverland Pirates -- plays Josh, a Canadian transfer student to Glendale on Daybreak.
"I get to play two versions of the same character. Josh when we first meet him is kind of an average guy -- C student, doesn't have a lot of friends or whole lot going for him," said Ford, 23. "When the apocalypse happens, there is a switch. ... He starts to live his best life."
Daybreak is one of the first end-of-the-world stories told from the point-of-view of Generation Z.
"In a lot of other apocalyptic movies that I've seen, it seems like the government fully collapses and they go back into the Dark Ages and technology goes out the window," Ford said.
"[During] our apocalypse, we very much use the resources that we have. We grew up with technology, so it doesn't go out the window, so we are not sentenced to the Dark Ages.
"We may act like a bunch of characters from Mad Max, but we still have all the resources that we had before."
Ford related to his character, having also found happiness once he graduated from high school.
"That's what Daybreak is all about -- finding your tribe," he said.
"Once you get out of school, you realize that things weren't as deep as you may have thought that they were and things didn't matter as much as the weight you put on them."