'Obliterated' creators negotiated C. Thomas Howell's nude scene

C. Thomas Howell went all the way for "Obliterated." Photo courtesy of Netflix
1 of 6 | C. Thomas Howell went all the way for "Obliterated." Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald combine bombastic action and raunchy comedy in Obliterated, premiering Thursday on Netflix.

Actor C. Thomas Howell originally planned to wear a prosthetic penis for a nude scene, but created a bit of legal drama when he opted to forego the prosthetic and go full frontal.


"What had been negotiated, talked about and assumed with C. Thomas Howell was that we would make a prosthetic before him that would look very real," Heald told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "It was a $10,000 prosthetic."

Howell plays a bomb squad technician who parties hard after successfully defusing a bomb. Heald said the trio appreciated the show's intimacy coordinators and contracts, laying out exactly what actors would show on camera.


"It's crafted so that there can't be a power struggle or anyone can't coerce anybody into doing anything more than what they agreed to do," Heald said. "I don't think there ever has been a situation where somebody's like, 'I want to go way further.'"

In Obliterated, an entire task force celebrates after presumably saving Las Vegas from terrorists. But, when they learn there is still another active bomb in the city, they have to return to action before they have time to sober up.

Howell's character, Hagerty, presents himself naked to the rest of the team before he passes out for several episodes. Heald appreciated Howell's commitment to the joke and the team was able to revise his contracts.

"It just became a fun game of conversations with lawyers as the clock is running down saying, 'We have a performer here who's insisting that he gets fully nude,'" Heald said.

Hurwitz confirmed that other actors who appear naked in Obliterated used prosthetic penises. The show includes topless women, too, but Heald said they did not just want to have gratuitous female nudity.

"It's definitely equal opportunity and probably unequal in favor of male nudity," Heald said.

The rest of the team includes field agents Ava (Shelley Hennig), McKnight (Nick Zano) and Trunk (Terrence Terrell), sniper Gomez (Paola Lázaro), pilot Paul (Eugene Kim) and computer hacker Maya (Kimi Rutledge).


Schlossberg said the idea for Obliterated sprang from a hypothetical question about military service people celebrating a successful mission.

"Our brains tend to think, 'Oh, what happens if they party too hard and they're needed for something?'" Schlossberg asked rhetorically. "That's where the comedy comes in."

The trio originally conceived Obliterated as a movie. However, after several seasons of their hit Karate Kid series Cobra Kai, they realized they could explore Obliterated as an hour-long series and devote more time to each team member.

"Everyone's a hero in the story," Hurwitz said. "It's not just McKnight who's a hero or Ava who's a hero. Each of them is a hero and they have their own adventure."

The action scenes become comedic as the heroes try to perform derring-dos while stumbling or hallucinating. Schlossberg also noted that the characters fighting their own inebriation adds suspense to traditional car chases and fights.

"They actually add to the tension because our characters aren't on the ball," Schlossberg said. "So it's even more tense than it would be in a straight action movie."

Obliterated filmed for one month on location in Las Vegas, including the Strip and Fremont Street. Interiors and nondescript exteriors were filmed in Albuquerque, N.M., and screens played Las Vegas backgrounds outside windows.


Before Cobra Kai, Hurwitz and Schlossberg created the Harold and Kumar stoner comedy franchise and Heald co-wrote both Hot Tub Time Machine movies. Heald said their goal with Obliterated was to combine raunchy comedy with their favorite action movies.

"You're watching the hardest R-rated comedy that you can get and you're watching a suspenseful, believable grounded action movie at the same time," Heald said. "We felt the intersection of that was something audiences haven't seen before."

Like their favorite Die Hard and Rambo movies, the trio said they hope Obliterated gets a sequel, too. A second season would find the team on a different adventure.

Schlossberg said the show could change locations like The White Lotus features a different resort each season. Schlossberg noted there are "party cities" around the world.

"You know that these are the types of characters that like to party," Schlossberg said. "You'd think that next time they'd be extra careful, so we'll see what happens."

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