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The Twisted Metal TV show made sure it got one character (car-acter?) exactly right

There were four versions of Evelyn the Subaru

A wide shot of Evelyn (an orange Subaru) parked at a gate to a town in Twisted Metal Photo: Skip Bolen/Peacock
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

Cars are more than just vehicles in the world of Twisted Metal. They’re a job requirement, a home, a fortress, a noble steed, and even a family for someone like John Doe (Anthony Mackie) who has nowhere else to go. They are, as the adage goes, a character unto themselves. And the designers behind Peacock’s new series adaptation made sure to take that into account — particularly when it came to John’s beloved Evelyn.

“We were dealing with: Well, what is actually our starting vehicle?” Victoria Paul, Twisted Metal’s production designer, said. “And then once we have that, we did so many illustrations — like, Is it white with a blue stripe? Is that this, is it that? How have we modified the hood? How have we modified the back? What are the rims? What are the guns?

The conversation (even when they spent a “lot of time thinking about which guns attached to which vehicles”) always came back to practicality — and how that balanced against a game franchise as frenzied and wild as Twisted Metal.

“There were some very specific beats about the interior that we had a match. You know, like where certain buttons were, that was very clear from the game,” Paul says. “But mostly, I think it was just us trying to say, OK, what’s the most badass car we can give this guy given he’s been driving this car for 20 years?

John Doe (Anthony Mackie) leans out the window of Evelyn Photo: Skip Bolen/Peacock

In Paul’s mind, Evelyn had to be a car that John conceivably found on the side of the road; in all likelihood, someone’s everyday car that was in constant use before the apocalypse hit. Ty Guidroz, Twisted Metal’s car coordinator, came onto production a little after they decided the style of Evelyn. But in his mind, the look and makeup of Evelyn makes perfect sense.

“The choice of the Subaru WRX was because this is an action-packed show. These cars were going to be expected to do a lot of things,” Guidroz says, noting that there were four different Evelyns, all souped up to do what they needed the car to do. “Part of it was [that] it was a car that was age appropriate, pre-2002. But also [it] could do and perform the things with the type of car that these kids would actually drift — even today! They take these cars, and they drift them on the drift track. So [the cars] will perform the way we wanted them to perform.”

Evelyn is John Doe’s baby, the central car in a series full of them, so of course she got a little bit of special love and attention. She was the longest process, particularly since, as Paul says, there was “no real role model for her from the game.” But as Guidroz and Paul note, Evelyn is just representative of how they wanted every car to feel, whether they were looking at the big Tahoe that Agent Stone (Thomas Haden Church) drives or the infamous ice cream truck that Sweet Tooth (Joe Seanoa) maniacally drives around in.

“Each car has its own character,” Guidroz says. “We had to do that selection process for every character, for every vehicle along the way: What do we want it to do? What does it have to do? Are we going to jump it over something? Are we going to flip it over something? Are we going to slide it around? And so all those things had to come into play when they were selecting the perfect car.”

Twisted Metal season 1 is now streaming on Peacock.

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