Lisa Kudrow Says That Working on ‘Time Bandits’ Was Like “Stepping Into a Piece of Artwork”

Lisa Kudrow, Rune Temte, Kal-El Tuck, Tadhg Murphy, Charlyne Yi and Roger Jean Nsengiyumva in
Courtesy of AppleTV+

If you remember the 1981 fantasy film Time Bandits, then you might be excited to learn that it’s coming back to screens, albeit a little differently: this reboot will be a series on Apple TV+, set in modern times, with Lisa Kudrow as Penelope, the (unofficial) leader of the bandits. This reiteration of the family-friendly classic (premiering July 24 on Apple TV+) includes even more periods of history than the feature film had the chance to travel to, and introduces lots of new characters and story lines as well. Plus, the bandits are… taller.

TIME BANDITS, Sean Connery, Craig Warnock, 1981. TM and

Sean Connery and Craig Warnock star in Time Bandits, 1981 Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

The show is hilarious, with humor that adults can enjoy too, such as a scene where Kevin’s parents are “watching” a TV show while also reading about the show on their phones. All poor history-obsessed Kevin (played exceptionally by Kal El-Tuck) wants to do is read, but they tell him to get with the times and use the smartphone they bought him. Instead, he returns to his room, which is apparently a portal for the Time Bandits to enter, and, like the original film, he is quickly sucked away into a world of adventure all across the globe and through various civilizations and time periods. Get ready to visit Vikings, Mayans, and even 1920s bootleggers, while enjoying some quirky characters and witty jokes. Which isn’t surprising, with Jemaine Clement (who also plays the antagonist Wrongness, in addition to be co-creator and co-writer) and Taika Waititi at the helm.

We recently got to talk a bit to Lisa Kudrow about the new Time Bandits.

Lisa Kudrow in Time Bandits (2024)

If you could pick a time to travel to, what would you choose?

I really would just prefer to stay where I am with good, modern plumbing, air conditioning, and no odor. Yeah. But I wouldn’t mind meeting Madam Chung just for a brief visit, one meal, before I had to go to the bathroom and just find out how’d this happen.

What was Kal El-Tuck like to work with?

Kal was a dream. His mom, Louise, was there, and she is phenomenally great and just a good friend to talk to. He’s so smart, and such a good actor. He’s so good. People were improvising and he was keeping up listening, talking. He’s great. I mean, the only difficulty was that he’d have to go to school or he’d have to be done with the day and we’d keep working and we’d have to shoot scenes without him.

Time Bandits 2024

It is such a great cast, and I’m sure it was such a fun time shooting on set. What was it like shooting the episodes? Were there any moments on set that stood out to you?

Every day we were stepping on a new set, and it was stepping into a piece of artwork. It was so thrilling. And just honestly, I’ve never been on something that took my breath away just with how beautiful it was. Like the Mayan temple at sunset, I felt like, “Where am I going to travel to where I will experience this?” Because it felt very real. They actually went and shot a sunset, and it was on this volume stage, on all the walls. We were in the middle of a jungle on this set, and I actually felt like I was at the top of a Mayan temple, not the ruins of it, an actual one looking at a sunset.

Were you a fan of the original movie? How do you feel about this version of it? Do you like the changes that they made?

Well, I better feel okay with it because I’m in it! I liked the movie. I don’t think I’m that level of fan where it’s got to be the same. I’m not fanatical about it, but look, I think if you’re going from a story that’s two hours and stretching it to 10 hours or almost 10 hours, that, yeah, there’ve got to be some changes. And it’s just based on the movie Time Bandits. If you really love Time Bandits and don’t want anything to change with Time Bandits, then you should probably just watch the movie. But I think the series is fun. I think it’s in the same spirit. I think it is. But what do I know? I’m just in it.

It’s really funny. I was laughing out loud at work a lot.

Oh, that’s good. See, I think laughing out loud is important. If you’re watching a comedy and you laugh out loud — if I laugh out loud more than twice, then it’s beyond hilarious.

I think it does a good job at being watchable for the whole family, adults and kids.

And you don’t have to have a family to watch it too. Whenever something’s like “it’s for families,” it’s like, what are people without families going to watch?

Tadhg Murphy, Roger Jean Nsengiyumva, Rune Temte, Kiera Thompson, Kal-El Tuck and Lisa Kudrow in "Time Bandits," premiering July 24, 2024 on Apple TV+.

Courtesy of AppleTV+

True. Do you find that there are parallels between you and Penelope? Any similarities or differences that stand out to you?

I wouldn’t present my confidence in the same way that Penelope does or assertiveness in the same way that Penelope does. But knowing it’s there is good, especially as you get older and you don’t have to be as, maybe it’s just also from the generation that I’m from where trying to make them happy: “Oh no, I don’t want to step on any toes.” And then as we get older, it feels like we’re allowed to say, “no, that’s not happening. Thank you. No.”

Time Bandits premieres July 24 on Apple TV+.

Kid Stuff
Want More?

Kid Stuff

June 2018

Unleash your inner child by reliving your favorite kids TV shows, cartoons, toys and more!

Buy This Issue
More Of This: