In 2012, the world was introduced to the charismatic villain of the Pitch Perfect franchise, Bumper Allen. Played by Adam Devine, Bumper was the obnoxious and arrogant leader of The Treblemakers, the all-male a capella group at Barden University. After failing to make it as John Mayer’s backup singer, Bumper returned to Barden as a security guard and struck up a relationship with Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Although he became one of the funniest characters in the franchise, Devine did not appear in the final film in the trilogy, Pitch Perfect 3, leaving Bumper’s future open-ended.
Now, Devine is reprising his role as Bumper, who receives a shot at stardom in Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin, the new spinoff series from Peacock. Developed by Megan Amram and Elizabeth Banks, the series follows Bumper, who heads to Germany after his a capella TikTok goes viral to chase his dreams of becoming a singing sensation. Devine is joined by an ensemble cast featuring Sarah Hyland, Jameela Jamil, Lera Abova, and Flula Borg, with the latter reprising his role of Pieter Krämer from Pitch Perfect 2.
In an interview with Digital Trends, the cast and creator of the spinoff discuss Bumper’s redemption story and why the Pitch Perfect franchise continues to resonate with fans a decade later.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: Adam, do you ever wonder where Bumper would be if he made it as John Mayer’s backup singer?
Adam Devine: In an alternate universe, that’s what the show would be about.
Bumper also got a bad rap. Yes, he’s obnoxious and annoying at times, but as soon as he left The Treblemakers, they lost.
Devine: They fell apart. I was the motor that kept them running. I remind Skylar Astin and Ben Platt about that all the time, being like, “You are nothing without me.”
No one ever said it’s easy to work with winners.
Devine: That’s right. I’m like the Kobe Bryant of a capella singing.
Take me into the process of when you were first approached to return for the spinoff. What were those initial discussions like?
Devine: Well, it was during the pandemic, and Elizabeth Banks was just texting me out of the blue. She’s like, “Hey, I got a weird question to run by you. Would you mind hopping on a Zoom?” I was like, “Yeah, let me clear my schedule … Yes, I can Zoom with you.” And then she pitched me the idea.
To be perfectly honest, I loved it from the jump. I never got to put a bow on my Pitch Perfect experience the way the girls did with that third movie. So I was excited to revisit the character again, and to do it in Germany and to do it with Megan Amram, our showrunner, I think is incredible. Then this cast with Sarah, who I know and love and have worked with before, I thought it was an easy yes for me to come back.
Sarah, when you read the script, what was your initial reaction?
Sarah Hyland: I actually didn’t get the script until I officially signed on. [Laughs]
Devine: Top-secret stuff.
Hyland: I was like, “Pitch Perfect and Adam. Berlin. Yeah, I’ll do it for sure.” I was told a little bit about [my character] Heidi. I was really excited to be a part of the Pitch Perfect franchise. I was even more excited to be able to work with Adam again and to be able to sing. I haven’t sung professionally in a long time, so that was something that was not new, but different. I think that a lot of people haven’t seen that before, so I was excited about that.
Megan, I know you’re a Pitch Perfect fan. Which is the best movie in the franchise?
Megan Amram: I probably shouldn’t play favorites, but I do think Pitch Perfect 2 has a scope to it that is great. I think it’s the soundtrack I listen to the most. Though I also have played Pitch Perfect, when they sing Titanium, like a billion times, so it’s tough.
How did this idea for a spinoff come on your radar?
Amram: Well, as you said, I was a fan of the movies, and I knew Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks a little bit before we worked on this show. They always sort of thought that I might be a fit for the universe without knowing exactly what the project would be. They had the idea that they wanted to expand into TV in an offbeat way, in the way that Marvel has done their television shows.
They asked me if I was interested in doing a show about Bumper, which they also thought was ripe for deepening his character. I am a huge Adam Devine fan from Workaholics and The Righteous Gemstones. I was like, “This sounds right.” Music, Adam Devine, and Berlin came a little bit later, but that was great, too.
Flula, do you think Das Sound Machine was robbed at the World Championships [in Pitch Perfect 2]?
Flula Borg: Dan, this is as consistent as the fact that gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared. Yes, DSM won. They won. Then they won later. They won in the cut. They won when you watch it again. They won if you’re drunk and you watch it. Dan, this is not even an argument. Yes, Das Sound Machine won.
I’m glad we’re on the same page because I did rewatch the performances before this interview, and DSM won.
Jameela Jamil: 100%.
Borg: I’m German. We’re literal. Of course, we won. I would tell you if we sucked.
You hear they’re making a spinoff about Bumper, and they want you back. What was going through your mind at the time?
Borg: My mind was, “Do I do Greek yogurt or plain, regular yogurt?” That’s about 82% of my life. The second thing was, “Are you kidding me? Please pinch me in an appropriate area because this is a very exciting piece of news.”
I would say Greek yogurt.
Borg: Greek all the way, Dan.
Jameela, you recently posted a story of a dance rehearsal on your Instagram. How was the singing and dancing for you in the show?
Jamil: It was humiliating for everyone, Dan. Listen, I am a big fan of embarrassment. I am a big fan of failure. I run towards it, [like] a moth to a flame. Any situation in which I could possibly globally humiliate myself, that’s my jam. That’s my kink, being this far out of my comfort zone. I’d never done acting before I did The Good Place. I never did action, and then I did She-Hulk.
I never had to sing and dance and wear corsets and wigs on television before. So when Megan called me and offered me the opportunity to go and jump as far out of my comfort zone all the way in Germany, I jumped at the opportunity. I never imagined I would get to work with so many funny and stupid people.
How did you find the balance between the Pitch Perfect franchise and telling a fresh, new story?
Amram: Well, there were a couple touchstones of what makes Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect that I knew we really wanted to hit. The music was obviously one. We have a cappella in this show, and then, we also have a bunch of original music and covers, which hopefully expand the music world in a fun way. Ryan Tedder wrote a song for us, who’s like an incredibly famous songwriter. But, if I had to sum up why I think people love the movies, it’s the spirit of friendship and camaraderie. That carried over very overtly into our show. Bumper is the main character, but the ensemble and his new group of friends are really the heart of the show.
How well did you think the new cast members meshed within the universe?
Amram: So well. You move to Berlin for three months with people you don’t know that well, and you can only hope that you at least become friends. It felt so much like college.
I was going to say study abroad.
Amram: No, truly. I never studied abroad, and I came back to America after this, and my boyfriend was like, “You sound like every 20 year old who’s like, ‘I met my best friends, and I love all of the things I learned about in Europe.'” I could not stop talking about Europe for months. I’m glad you brought up the other characters because we have this ensemble, but then also, we have these female characters who are not the Bellas. I think that it was also very important to me that we have that spirit of female friendship too, and it all came out great because we all became BFFs in real life.
Sarah, did you have a favorite singing moment throughout this series?
Hyland: Well, we have some of the most iconic songs. The music that we have for this show is so amazing. It’s ridiculous the type of stuff that we’re able to get. Ryan Tedder wrote an original song for the show, and I think it’s just such an honor and a privilege to be able to sing an original piece of his. I think that probably has to be it.
Flula, how was it jumping back into your character? Did it take some time to readjust, or was it pretty seamless?
Borg: You know, some people that grow up at a small town in America played linebacker, and then they played. Then, 20 years later, they’re like, “Hey, you should play linebacker again,” and they’re like, “No, this is terrible. My knees are on fire.” That was not what happened to me. I put on that mesh, Dan. It smelled and felt delicious on my nipples. I was so excited to a capella my face off.
Jameela, you’ve been on a run of villainous roles with She-Hulk, and now this. When I talk to actors, they mention how fun it is to play a villain. As someone who’s done it a few times, what do you think it takes to be an effective villain?
Jamil: I don’t know, but I think I think the answer is deep within me. The fact that I’m attracted to these roles is saying something. I’m dropping some sort of a hint. But no, I don’t especially care what the role is. I just want to know that I’m going to have fun and do something that I’ve never done before. That just so happens to be Asians, and when it comes to Asians, it’s really nice to be South Asian playing a villain where I don’t have a bomb strapped to me. Do you know what I mean?
Normally, we’ve only had to be one kind of bad guy. Not to make it all political, but it’s nice to play just like a standard South Asian asshole because they exist. To have that and expand my repertoire, I think the meatier, juicier, sillier roles, in my opinion, the ones that I love the most, tend to always be the bad guy. Something happened there to make them turn. I think that’s the bit that I’m the most curious about. The costumes tend to be more fabulous.
Jamil: And you just get to behave as badly as you can, and then you’re getting paid for it. What a dream.
The spinoff proves there are more stories to tell, not just with Bumper, but with other characters from the franchise. Do you have any other ideas for what you want to see in the future?
Amram: I actually have tons of ideas because I will say that viewers of television are so savvy now that you have to make sure that you’re challenging them on what is surprising. To expand what they like about season 1, but make new stuff. I always keep in mind if this show went 10 seasons, where would it go? I do have ideas in my head, but I won’t tell them yet because they’re probably insane. [Laughs]
It’s been 10 years since Pitch Perfect. Adam, why do you think this franchise resonated with fans for the past decade?
Devine: You know, we’ve been asked that throughout the press day that we’ve had today. I think it’s the breath of fresh air that Pitch Perfect is currently with this new series and was 10 years ago, where it’s just fun the whole way through. Obviously, there are emotional moments, and we pull on the heartstrings, but even in those moments, you’re having a good time.
You’re along for the ride with these characters, and you want to see them win. Even though I was the villain of the Pitch Perfect movies, I think we fleshed out my character and made him a real person. You kind of want to root for this guy, even though he was a maniac in the movies. You’re like, “Well, I want this guy, this sad sack, to get a second shot …”
He’s more of an antagonist than a villain.
Devine: Hey, I won Best Villain at a Teen Choice Awards, OK.
Hyland: Prove it.
Devine: I beat Bane that year, just saying.
All six episodes of Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin are now streaming on Peacock.
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