WATCHING The Today Show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon break out into the Macarena around a confused Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn, is one of craziest scenes you'll see on Australian TV this year.
However, it's simply one of several madcap moments which appear in provocative new comedy, C*A*U*G*H*T.
The six-part series was written by actor and first-time director Kick Gurry, who is best known for starring in the films Looking For Alibrandi, Garage Days and Speed Racer.
C*A*U*G*H*T follows four Australian soldiers who are captured on a secret mission into a war zone. In order to keep themselves from being executed. They convince their captors to let them create a hostage video, which goes viral and turns the foursome into instant celebrities.
The celebrity power on the show itself is incredible for an Australian production.
Penn stars in C*A*U*G*H*T and served as executive producer, while the cast also includes Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox, Bryan Brown and Erik Thomson.
So how exactly did Gurry come to convince Penn - one of the world's most revered actors - to become an executive producer on a "bonkers" Australian comedy?
It turns he didn't. Penn asked to be involved.
In late 2019 Gurry filmed a teaser for C*A*U*G*H*T after writing a script for himself and his fellow Australian Los Angeles housemates - Lincoln Younes (Home & Away, Love Child), Ben O'Toole (Bloody Hell, Hacksaw Ridge) and Alexander England (The Beautiful Lie) - following a spell of failed auditions.
The teaser featured one of C*A*U*G*H*T's craziest scenes, which depict Gurry, Younes, O'Toole and England tied up and piled onto each other naked in a muddy pit.
"We were out in the pit near Richmond on the hottest day of the year when those fires were raging in Sydney at the end of 2019," Gurry says. "It was 40 degrees and we're all naked in that pit. We looked at each other and thought, 'what the f - - k are we doing'?"
It was 40 degrees and we're all naked in that pit. We looked at each other and thought, 'what the f--k are we doing?'- Kick Gurry
Gurry pitched the teaser around LA and eventually it found its way to Penn. The pair knew each other vaguely from the 2008 film Speed Racer, which Gurry starred in.
Gurry says the provocative nature of C*A*U*G*H*T appealed to Penn.
"He calls it creative courage," Gurry says. "He says, 'there's a lack of creative courage in the world these days' and his words were, 'this is perfectly inappropriate' and he said he'd love to go on the journey with us."
It began a three-year close working relationship between Gurry and Penn, which included weekly calls across the Pacific Ocean during the pandemic.
"He would ring me up and say, 'why don't you come over' meaning from Sydney to LA, not around the corner to a mate's place, and we'd sit on his couch and watch through all six episodes," he says.
"He would have notes on every character's arc, every character's performance, every actor. It was an incredible insight into his process and how his mind works."
Making a comedy out of hostage videos in a world post-ISIS was deemed too dangerous for several networks, until Gurry found a supportive party in Stan.
Gurry says C*A*U*G*H*T was inspired by his favourite childhood film, the classic Monty Python's Life of Brian.
"Why I set it with hostage videos and war, was because I wanted to show the most absurd version of humanity's fascination with fame these days," he says.
"It was taking it to furthest degree, in the midst of war and in the middle of being taken hostage, these guys realise fame is more powerful than anything in that situation and they think fame is going to be the catalyst for their lives to change."
C*A*U*G*H*T premieres on September 28 on Stan.