Jack Black returns as Po in Season 2 of the Netflix original series Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight. I had a chance to talk with one of the executive producers, Peter Hastings, to learn more about the show and its star.
This season, the giant panda Po teams up with an English knight (Rita Ora) to rescue a set of magical weapons—and maybe even save the world. Hastings calls it a “globe-trotting adventure” with a “ragtag band of misfits.”
Hastings enjoyed watching Black transform into his character. “A total blast,” he says about working together. “Jack is Po. I often describe Po as a lovable loser who can kick butt. Jack, very much, is really good at playing both of those things.”
Hastings is a black belt at delivering for fans. He says a successful series is driven by a strong lead character. “Po dictates a lot of what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to tell the stories. We think, ‘Oh, this would be fun to have happen,’ and ‘Here’s a surprise.’” He adds, “Kung Fu Panda is an action comedy, so we’re always looking for interesting ways to do new action.”
Po’s fellow warrior Mr. Ping (James Hong) returns this season. There are also new characters, both villains and heroes. “When you have a really good character, like Po,” Hastings says, “all you have to do is throw him into a new situation, and fun stuff is going to happen.”
A fourth film in the Kung Fu Panda franchise comes out next year. Will there be overlapping story lines between it and the series? “There’s definitely a lot of back and forth” between the creative teams, Hastings says. “It’s a question of, ‘What do we keep? What do we avoid?’ A balancing act goes on.”
Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight is streaming now.