Space may be the final frontier, but no one has done it quite like Seth McFarlane with his new series ‘The Orville’! The show features much of the sci-fi action and drama we’ve come to love over the years, but with a lot of heart and way more comedy than you’re used to seeing in similar fare. The show takes place aboard the titular exploratory starship ‘The Orville‘ with Captain Ed Mercer (Seth McFarlane) and his crew of misfits as part of the Earth’s interstellar fleet four-hundred years into our future.
This week at New York Comic Con 2017, we were lucky enough to sit down with two of the series stars, Adrianne Palicki who plays Commander Kelly Grayson (who also happens to be Captain Mercer’s ex-wife!) and Scott Grimes who plays Lieutenant Gordon Malloy (who happens to be Captain Mercer’s long time best friend) to talk about their time on the show and what fans can expect to see as the series continues! Check out our full interview below!
What was it like to get into bed with Rob Lowe?
Scott Grimes: Well it was pretty…. Oh! You’re talking to her!
Apparently no one recognizes that it was him?
SG: That was on purpose!
Adrianne Palicki: We didn’t tell anybody! No I’m kidding, it was kind of like… I was thirteen all over again. I’m not kidding! My thirteen year old self was dying inside. But really it was awesome, he’s a great person to work with and we had so much fun getting him into that paint!
One of the great things about the show is that it’s not just about a sci-fi thing, but it’s about two people working together that have been divorced, and maybe still care a bit more about each other, so can you tell us a little about playing that aspect of it besides just the whole spaceship setting?
AP: Well it’s a hard character to come into, because as you’re meeting her she’s cheating on him (Captain Ed Mercer), and reading that was an awesome challenge, but still also a challenge. I think by the end of the first episode you kind of warm yourself to Kelly and see that there’s still some love there. And there’s just such a great love between these two people, that I think, and hopefully the fans on some level, are hoping to see where that goes. You know, the whole “will they or won’t they?” throughout the seasons… if we have seasons, which we hopefully will!
What has the journey been like for both of you in terms of the evolution of these characters from what was in the initial scripts to where they are now? How are these characters changing?
AP: I feel like Kelly is more of herself now. She came in with a little bit of nervousness in the sense that people know about their situation and kind of treading lightly, but I think she’s kind of finding her comfort and she’s taking charge in the way that she needs to.
SG: I was just saying, I have zero problem with just playing the sidekick buddy. I don’t really… If I’m the hero once in a while because I did something great, excellent! But I love being the best friend who drives the ship well and says something funny once in a while, and is just friendly with everybody! I don’t need to delve into Gordon’s past or what makes him want to drink on the ship. I love playing Gordon, and wherever they think it should go… a guy that’s funny is kind of a character that is always endearing to people, and that’s half the battle for me. I’m fine with that!
You guys aren’t exactly strangers to acting on television or genre projects, so has there been anything surprising about working on a show set on a space ship?
AP: How much time you spend on that space ship!
SG: That bridge! You put eight people on that bridge for a three-page scene? Oh man!
AP: Yes! Eight hours later…
SG: Seth will look at me and say something, then Seth will look at her and say something, and then you have to cover, and it’s long so that was surprising. The amount of time it takes.
AP: And also the bridge is my favorite time because it’s one of the only times that we’re all together as a cast.
SG: It’s great!
AP: We actually really genuinely love each other, so even though it’s kind of twilighty because we’re all really tired, we’re having fun!
SG: You’ve got to remember that about a year and a half ago, I was approached, as she was, by Seth. We were at a party, and we were outside having a drink and he said “hey Scott, you ever want to do television again?” which is funny because why wouldn’t I? I just couldn’t get any work is really what it was! So I said “yeah!” and about four months later we were at another party and he says “hey remember that thing I was saying about?” and I said “yeah I remember” and he goes “would you ever want to be involved in something like that?” and of course I said “yes!” but that’s usually where it ends! Because the network comes in and says “well we want this person and this person” and god bless him for remembering me, thinking of me, writing it basically for me, and that’s rare! Because I probably wouldn’t have gotten the part. We did go in and do a little audition together for the network to make sure we had chemistry as buddies, but it’s a testament to who he is as a person. That doesn’t happen in the industry! And now for him to collect this group of people together, and already she knew him and J. Lee who plays John LaMarr knows him, and he was a fan of Penny’s… it was already a group that was supposed to get along.
What was it like to play a Krill? That episode is coming up soon! It’s not fun, is it?
SG: It is not! Seth was deathly afraid of it, and you kind of want the leader of your show to be like “nah it’s all good”, but it was the opposite and he didn’t like it. I took it as a challenge because, I guess I… I did an episode of ‘Dexter’ years and years ago. And they taped me, it was a fifteen minute process, but they taped me naked to a table. That changed the way I felt about control. And I just knew that I’d have some sort of weird… but Howard Berger who does all the makeup, is so kind and so beautiful with this, and he would cut a hole in the back and kind of rub my head to make it feel like I was still me. It was not easy! It was hot, sticky, and we were in that stuff for eighteen hours at one point. But I did it, and I feel really good about that challenge. And that episode, and I haven’t seen it, but I think we had such a good time doing it. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Scott, you spent so much time voice acting on ‘American Dad’, and now you’re back on the screen as yourself. Is there a really different approach for you going to work knowing you have to use your whole body and not just your voice? Do you have to put yourself in a different mindset?
SG: No! The voice thing was actually the new thing for me, that was more of a change because you’ve got to talk through a microphone and be a little more energetic and exaggerate a bit. I’d grown up doing this for years, so I’m way more comfortable doing live action. With the voice you’ve got to make it funny, and it has to just come through your voice! With this you can do eye movements and other little things, and I think it’s easier. I’m happy to be back in front of the camera.
What is it like acting on a show where there is comedy, but there is also a lot of real situations you find yourselves in and it’s all on a spaceship?
AP: It’s fun, and it’s situational. The comedy comes out of sort of realistic aspects of the show, and it feels grounded that way. Yes, we’re doing a space show, but we could be on a cruise ship, because at the end of the day these are all real people having real experiences, and its fun to have all of those flavors because that’s what makes real life. It feels real.
SG: And Seth has become like the policeman of it, because we’ll get eight takes but by the eighth take it’s as exaggerated as you want! Then he’d have to come over and say “ahhh! you’re taking it a little too big!” because we want to keep the show… we don’t want it to be ‘Airplane!’ here. We aren’t doing ‘Spaceballs’. There’s been jokes where it’s like “how am I going to say this? People are dying in front of me and there are explosions but I have to turn and say something goofy” and that has been the toughest thing to figure out. How to do that without taking the audience completely out of the drama and the stakes of what is happening. I don’t even know if we’ve done it! But when I watch it I feel like ‘oh okay well that worked”.
Is there much room for improvisation for any of the comedy bits? Or is it more “the script is the script”?
AP: A little bit.
SG: Yeah, it’s not like a rule that we can’t, but why would we?
AP: That’s the thing! It’s all really well written. Why change it?
Adrianne, we know that ‘The Orville’ is sort of taking up all of your time right now, but do you think you have room in your schedule for a return to ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’?
AP: If they asked me, I would absolutely come back! I know Nick Blood is coming back, so what are they going to do without Bobby is all I’m asking? I would absolutely make a cameo at least.
Seth McFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ stars Adrianne Palicki, Scott, Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Halston Stage, Peter Macon, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, and of course, Seth McFarlane himself. The show airs on Thursday Night’s on Fox! Be sure to stay tuned to ScienceFiction.com for more updates on ‘The Orville’!