It’s back! Finally. And after an awesome season two opener, we can only expect more masterful episodes from Team MacFarlane.
Concluding our trio of Orville crew interviews is Scott Grimes, who plays Lt Gordon Malloy, close friend and confident to Cpt Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) helmsman and just an all-round bloody great bloke.
Grimes is no stranger to epic TV, one of his most memorable performances was in the phenomenal Band of Brothers, in which he played Donald G. Malarkey and was one of the few members of that impressive cast to be in all 10 episodes. He is also very well known for his voice roles in two other MacFarlane productions, Family Guy and American Dad. Not to mention roles in ER and NCIS. A man of many talents, he’s also an accomplished singer.
When The Orville started there was some confusion in the audience as to exactly what kind of show it was going to be. Was there any confusion on the actors parts?
You know what, I’m going to one up you there. There wasn’t just confusion on the actors parts, there was confusion across the board even with Seth. We still knew what we were making we just didn’t know if it would work. Let’s say that. So, every single day on the set, especially my character, Gordon. Seth and I would talk and Fav [Jon Favreau] and I would talk about what level of comedic exaggeration we wanted to do with, especially my lines. Because we wanted people to take it seriously and the dramatic tone and the science. But, we also wanted to make a different show. So, 100% is the answer, yes, we weren’t throwing something up in there air but, we were hoping that the audience got what we were trying to do which was new. Which was a Seth MacFarlane version of the future from his mind. So yes absolutely we were all as confused as the audience probably.
Is it clear in your mind exactly what the show is going for now?
Yes, it was clear last year in the middle of the year. We did some shifts for season two because Seth wanted to be taken a little bit more seriously. As far as the concept of the show and the adventures and again the science. I think, in a lovely way, we toned down kind of, clownishness in season 2. There’s still comedy, it’s still fun. But, not as much because we already have a base audience so they’re going to, I think like it better because they’re going to love the story lines more without us yucking it up in the background, you know. So, yes we have a complete, we know exactly what the show is now.
Is it true that you are a Star Wars fan and that you do not like Star Trek?
Yes, I love Star Wars! And even when people rag on the ones George Lucas made 15 years ago. I defend it because I think Star Wars is amazing. It’s not that I wasn’t a Star Trek fan. I didn’t really start watching Star Trek until the movies. So, I was a big fan of the movies of Star Trek, but, I don’t know if I’ve seen – unfortunately and fortunately for The Orville – I don’t think I’ve seen a full episode of the TV series Star Trek. But, I did get the opportunity, I was on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and I was cut from it. I know! I filmed my scenes and then they called me going, “The show was too long. Do you still want credit?” And I went, “Hell yeah! I still want credit!” So if you look at the credits of this episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation you’ll see my name but, you’ll never see me in it. But, I got to do it.
Is MacFarlane going to give you more to do in season 2?
Ah yes, is the answer to that. People enjoyed my character, he was kind of a utility character, meaning he could be thrown anywhere. He could go on shuttle, he could go down to a planet, he could stay up there and drive the ship or whatever. So, yeah I got lucky and people liked it. So, there is a lot more Gordon this year. Not too much where it changes the show because the stars. The Captain is the star and the commander she’s the star so… But, yes much more character. Like Ed [MacFarlane] and I’s friendship goes somewhere this year, it’s just deeper and stronger. You’re stuck on a ship together so, obviously the relationships between people are going to get better and better, deeper and deeper. So, yeah Gordon has much more to do and fly’s the shit out of all the ships this year.
Is the show going to get more serious or more funny, more comedy in season 2?
It gets a little more serious. Now, having said that that doesn’t mean those little side jokes to diffuse the situation go away. They don’t. They get a little less slap sticky. They don’t bring you out of the scene as much. That line we were trying to ride before was; did we go to far? Did we take them out of this cool concept of our storyline by yucking it up. And that is a very fine line on this show. But, so yes, we get a little bit more serious because the story lines are more serious. I’m not really supposed to talk about much but, we have a lot, political, religious. Just kind of deep story lines that we can’t really, if you make a joke you’re an asshole, you know. So, yes we get a little more serious but, we still have that humor that makes The Orville the show that it is.
What do you prefer or find more rewarding: the voice or the live action acting or maybe singing?
More rewarding obviously is the singing because you have that immediate response from the people in front of you. And I also think we tend to enjoy the things that we think we do the best. I don’t, I’m not going to go play tennis tomorrow because I don’t think I’m very good but, I’ll play hockey. Same thing with singing. I think I’m better at it in a weird sort of way. I’m not saying I’m great, I’m not that person but, I’m more comfortable with something I think I’m better at. So, I’m really comfortable on a stage, really comfortable singing, performing so, that would be what I would choose. Also, I had a dream when I was a kid, I still do, of like, walking out into Wembley stadium like Bruce Springsteen or Brian Adams and having all these you know, 60,000 people there to see you and sing a long with you. I’m getting a little old for that, don’t think that’s going to happen but, I can still dream right?
You are the best pilot in the Planetary Union. Do you have any flying skills in real life?
No, I don’t have any flying skills. But, again, another still to this day, at 47 years old I have a dream of being a pilot. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, I think I’d be a good pilot. But, I have a fear of it and a respect for it. So, I think, I’ve never talked about this because no one’s really asked. And really neither did you but, I’m going to say it anyways.
The one thing on the show that they never told us how to do, that we had to figure out on our own. Are our consoles. The things that we’re working. Whatever it is in front of you. Whether it’s the pilot, whether it’s the co pilot, whether it’s the navigator. That was up to us. That was up to us to figure out what, how you would fly this thing that, there is no, obviously there is no ship so, how would we know how to fly it? They’re all flat panels. We don’t really have buttons. So we are faking it and making up our own thing which by now, after these two seasons. I think I’m the Wiz. I think that I could fly the Orville tomorrow morning. Because I figured out, I do the same things over and over again. You know, here’s the thrust, here’s the quantum drive. So, I am a closet pilot in my real life. I think that went to Gordon and the character and how much I really enjoyed figuring out how to fly the Orville.
That reminds me of a scene in Galaxy Quest, where Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) was facing that exact same problem…
That’s so funny that you say that because his line in Galaxy Quest is, he sits at the console and he goes, “I remember this! I remember I had it all worked out.” That’s almost verbatim what happened, I’m telling you I had it all worked out. So, when I got The Orville I never forgot because I love Galaxy Quest, I think that Galaxy Quest is an incredible movie. I can’t believe they never made a sequel. But, that’s, I always remember that guy sitting there going, “I had it all worked out!” And I was like, “I have got to work this out.” Because there are people that will watch the show and say, “Every time he goes to Quantum Drive you do the same thing.” And I say, “You’re damn right I do because there are people saying I won’t,” I mean I didn’t if I don’t you know.
Are there any tropes from sci-fi in particular that you would like to see on the show or avoid at all costs?
We’ve had a couple guest actors that were on Star Trek. I don’t want that to continue too much. Like lets say Patrick Stuart who I do American Dad with, so he has a relationship with Seth MacFarlane. I don’t know if it would be good to have Patrick Stuart on The Orville because then I think that takes you out of the reality that we are trying to create on The Orville right. You know, you try so much to create a show that people are weighted in and I think that would go a little to far.
It’s a fine line and I’m wrong most of the time because we’ve had actors on the show so far, that were on last years season who had been on Star Trek and that have, you know, and I thought. We had Rob Lowe playing an alien. I was like “This is ridiculous.” Not, that I don’t love Rob Lowe, I do. But, I was like, “He’s going to immediately take everybody out of the reality of the show.” But, he didn’t. I was completely wrong he was amazing. And we had him on again. So, I’m not the best person to ask that. But, I also want to stay away from one of the crew members dying in every episode. you know. My number could be up pretty quick.
Did your real-life relationship with Seth MacFarlane influence the relationship between Ed and Gordon?
One thousand percent. Seth and I were friends before American Dad. We had met through a mutual friend, he was fan of horrible C-movies in the 80s that I was a part of and we just got on really well. So when he started American Dad he just thought of me and said “Do you want to do this?” Then as the years went by, yes, we stayed friends, we lost touch for a bit while working because, you know how it is.
The thing I always say is, “If you know how Seth, it’s not so much, it’s his words. But it’s also his mouth. And you can laugh all you want but, I really mean it. If you know how to speak his words, then you’re set for life because he’ll keep hiring you.” Because you get this kind of humor that he’s trying to do. Because all, here’s a little secret, all I’m trying to do The Orville and American Dad is say a line as good as Seth would. And Seth only wants me to say these lines how he hears them in his head.
So, it’s almost like if you can picture a graph when I’m doing my close up and you see Seth looking at me. If my line hits the humor spike of how he hears the line then we’re ready. And I think I just have a kind of second hand how to do that now. But, absolutely when The Orville started he called me up and said, “I’m doing this show, would you want to play my best friend?” I said “Yes.” We did a screen test together and it was gold because we just improved off of each other and just had an immediate obviously you could see our friendship. So, the long answer there is yes. 100% we are friends on the show and I’m on the show because of our friendship in real life, yes.
What TV do you watch?
I like watching cooking shows. I think Gordon Ramsey is the best in the world. I could watch him ride a bike. I don’t care what he does. I love Hell’s Kitchen, I love Master Chef, Master Chef Jr., Kitchen Nightmares. All of his shows I could watch all day long. As far as like Game of Thrones and stuff, I haven’t really watched a show since West Wing that I really loved. And I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, everyone’s trying to get me to watch it. I’m not really into that kind of stuff. But, the cooking stuff and now the fixer upper stuff. Where you just throw on something and watch someone, you know build a house. I’m boring. I’m telling you. I know that’s boring, but of course I watch The Orville I mean, who doesn’t?
The Orville is on Thursday nights at 9pm on FOX.
Scott Snowden is MyM’s US Editor. Follow him on Twitter.
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• The Orville (season one) – every episode reviewed