Bumper (Adam Devine) is back! Photo courtesy of Peacock
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Adam Devine said Pitch Perfect producer Elizabeth Banks got the idea for the spinoff series, Bumper in Berlin, premiering Wednesday on Peacock, from Marvel's Loki series on Disney+.
"'Loki was the villain in the Marvel universe and you're the villain in the Pitch Perfect universe,'" Devine recounted Banks' conversation with him in a recent Zoom interview with UPI. "Maybe we have a spinoff show about Bumper where he goes to Berlin to resurrect his pop career."
Banks and producer Max Handelman hired Megan Amram to create and showrun Bumper in Berlin. Amram, 35, said her job was to be faithful to the movies while moving the supporting character of Bumper forward.
"It really was important to me, even for a silly franchise, to make sure the characters were really recognizable," Amram said. "How do we maintain the characters we saw in the movies, but also give them deeper back stories, age them up a little bit and make them protagonists whom you could root for?"
Devine, 39, played Bumper in the first two Pitch Perfect movies. The character attended Barden University and led a male a cappella team, the Treblemakers.
Bumper was the nemesis to the female singing team, the Bellas. Pitch Perfect 3 followed the Bellas' career after graduation, so Bumper was no longer a factor for them.
"You kind of left Bumper in a lurch and you didn't really tie up his character," Devine said. "It was really fun for me to get back to Bumper and show him as a more evolved person."
As Loki spent six episodes focused on what made Loki the troublemaker he was in the Marvel movies, Bumper in Berlin shows who Bumper is when he's not threatening the Bellas. Seven years after 2015's Pitch Perfect 2, Bumper still hasn't made it as a singer.
"He's at rock bottom and he hasn't moved on with his life," Devine said. "This is a chance to make some great strides not only in his career, but in himself as a person."
Bumper gets that chance from another Pitch Perfect nemesis. Peter Kramer (Flula Borg), of the Bellas' Pitch Perfect 2 rivals, Das Sound Machine, invites Bumper to Berlin, where Kramer claims Bumper has gone viral.
Borg, 40, said he was also surprised to get a call to reprise his nemesis role. Borg compared Kramer to Die Hard's villain, although Kramer did not die at the end of Pitch Perfect 2.
"Once Hans Gruber's watch is unlatched and he falls down that skyscraper, he's not coming back," Borg said. "So I was very shocked, very surprised and very happy."
Bumper in Berlin introduces new characters, like Kramer's assistant Heidi (Sarah Hyland). Pitch Perfect is Hyland's first series since Modern Family ended in 2020.
"[Heidi] harbors this secret that she moonlights at night as a singer/songwriter in a local bar," Hyland said. "She's very much a perfectionist and terrified to share her work with the world because she wants it to be perfect, which I very much relate to."
Hyland, 31, had a singing background as a child actor in Broadway's 2006 production of Grey Gardens as Jackie Bouvier. Her last live show was Hair at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in 2014.
"I've just always been more so a musical theater singer," Hyland said. "I've missed singing a lot."
Since Bumper in Berlin rehabilitates two of Pitch Perfect's villains, it has to invent a new one. Jameela Jamil plays German pop star Gisela, who is also Kramer's ex-girlfriend.
Jamil, 36, has a background as a jazz singer, but she found that no help with performing comical pop songs. Jamil said she had to take medication to get over her nerves performing scenes at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, full of extras in the stands.
"I took Klonopin," Jamil said. "I took anti-anxiety medication sometimes before I would have to get up on stage at the Olympic stadium and perform in front of hundreds of people."
Jamil said she based Gisela's German accent on Borg's.
"In the plane journey over, I just watched his Conan interviews again and again and again," Jamil said.
Bumper and the Treblemakers had five songs in Pitch Perfect and only four in the sequel. Devine sings new a cappella renditions of pop songs in every episode of Bumper in Berlin.
Devine said he was impressed by the caliber of songs the show was able to clear. Amram said she was impressed Taylor Swift licensed her version of "Message in a Bottle" and Guns N' Roses licensed "Sweet Child O' Mine."
In the series premiere, Bumper sings "99 Luftballoons" in German, in which Devine is fluent.
"I really took German in high school," Devine said. "I always thought the language was cool sounding."
The show also features an original song, "They Don't Know My Name." Ryan Tedder composed the song, which Hyland and Devine sing.
"I and the other writers described to him narratively what was going on in the show, what the characters were thinking," Amram said. "He then went off and turned that into this perfect little pop song."
All six episodes of Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin are available Wednesday.