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New Horizons: Cast and Creators Share Secrets From ‘The Orville’ Season Three

There’s no doubt to The Orville’s overwhelming place it has won in fans’ hearts. Its departure from FOX Television after the end of Season Two was a savage loss for fans of this show.

However, learning that Hulu had picked up the series for a third season, triumphantly returning to the small screen on June 2, went far in restoring their faith in the Television gods and the cosmos in general.

We needed a conversation with the cast and producers to ask why they thought Season Three of the show will be as deserving of that same devotion … and we were not disappointed with their answers.

Chad Coleman, who plays Klyden, started off. “My number one favourite thing is the hybrid nature of it; to be as zany as hell, silly, and also swing the pendulum to grounded, serious drama. To do both of those things? That’s the sweet spot for me!”

“For me? It’s working with so many artists. You’ve got writers, the sets, and the make-up, special effects? We’re working with hundreds of artists every day and THAT is an absolute privilege.” Mark Jackson (Isaac) added.

Peter Macon, who plays Bortus, also weighed in. “I think what we are attempting to do is super-inspiring. I think that’s what keeps me coming back for more. All these elements – you’re doing a sci-fi, you have all these monsters, politically-themed satire – but what we try to pull off, our intention, is what we do and what really inspires me.”

The Orville is a promise to fans that the excellence in the show is what not only keeps artists like Macon, Coleman and Jackson working on it, but that promise is what resonates in the hearts of fans.

(Photo by: Michael Desmondl/Hulu)

There is a creative social contract between the show’s creators and artists and the audience that’s clearly evident. The effort of the artists who are aware of that obligation to deliver on that promise, building on the success of the previous two seasons and enthusiastically received by the audience with such vigor, that’s what guarantees to fans Season Three will hold that same sense of excellence.

Adrianne Palicki and Penny Jerald (Commander Kelly Grayson and Dr. Claire Finn) had a shared similar perspective on what contributed to the show’s success in the past and why fans will be equally happy with the new season.

“Acknowledgement.” Adrianne started off.

“Yes.” Penny agreed. “We’ve done that from the very beginning, haven’t we?”

“Absolutely. I think with science fiction or comic-book material or anything, the fans are the biggest part of all of it. We don’t work without the fans. I think they’ve been a big part of our success. It’s been our honour to have their support from day one because it’s a tough group!” She laughed.

“They’re honest – they’re brutally honest.” Penny continued. “They’re smart and when you recognize that, then you don’t take advantage of them. They are watching!”

Being held to a high standard of excellence pushes professionals to produce their best work. Oversight and awareness of that standard also explains why fans won’t be disappointed with the third season.

Then there are the perspectives of Jessica Szohr and Anne Winters who play Talla Keyali and Charly Burke. Both are performers who joined the show after its creation. Jessica joined in Season Two and Anne’s character will be a recurring character in Season Three. They recalled the moments when they joined the cast and they learned that they would be contribute to the show’s continuing success.

“I actually met Jess and our producer that day at some random store in West Hollywood. I remember thinking that I knew I was up for the role on The Orville, but I didn’t know when I was going to hear about it.” Anne shared. “I ran into them and they were like: ‘Have you heard the news yet?’ and I was like, no!”

“We had known that afternoon that she was going to get it!” Jess excitedly put in. “But we couldn’t say – it wouldn’t be professional!”

“It wasn’t until hours later that Seth called me … and I was: wait? This is Seth McFarlane? I got the part? What? It turned into a really great day!”

Jess added: “It’s such a huge role and her character is going to be a big arc in Season Three, that it was exciting for us to learn who was going to play Charly! So, it was important for us to learn what kind of tone she was going to go with, what sort of actor she is, what she looked like. It was an exciting surprise to process!”

She also shared with us her story when she joined the cast.

“I had an interesting thing because I actually went for the role of Alara before the first season and didn’t get it, which was a bummer, but as an actor you’re told no nine times before you get told yes! Because I loved the scripts that I had read for Season One! I really wanted to be a part of this show! So, when I got a call from Seth about Season Two to play Talla, I was like, OH MY GOD! YEAH! We had a meeting and I read the scripts. He’s just so brilliant with what he does with this show that you can’t say no! I get to play an alien – I was super pumped and you know you develop friendships with the cast and crew and we’re so excited for the fans and the viewers to come on board with us and watch the blood, sweat and tears we have put into this. Buckle up … because it is going to be a fun and bumpy ride!”

Enthusiasm matters to a production. Both Anne and Jessica were exuberant, to the point of bursting with excitement about what they and their fellow cast mates have to show us this season.

Then there’s Seth McFarlane.

(Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

Jessica and Anne both alluded to McFarlane’s creative nature and what he brings to The Orville, but this was a sentiment shared by other cast members as well.

It was also a very apparent element when Brannon Braga, Jon Cassar and David A. Goodman joined the conversation.

Brannon Braga immediately offered this. “When Seth called, and told me that he had invented this show called The Orville, and I was like: what will it be like to return to the format of one-hour science fiction allegory? This was missing from television; especially something with a hopeful vision of the future. That’s what I love about this show.”

Seth McFarlane deserves overwhelming credit for returning something that was absent back to television. To bring in someone like Brannon Braga, with his experience in Star Trek, his expertise in creating a show that was tailor-made for a fandom to love and bond with, is just not indicative of his commitment but his awareness of the culture this show was made for. His team reflects his vision.

David Goodman had more to add.

“I think for me, it’s something similar. I get to play a role in the creation of this sci-fi universe. I’m a giant geek. I get to participate in the politics, the characters, the alien races – it’s never-ending excitement. As a writer and a creative person, that’s my favourite thing.”

“The ability to work with people who are like-minded, and want to make this thing work. That we were given permission this year? Season Two was bigger than One and Three is going to be bigger than One and Two both put together.” Jon Cassar contributed.

The conversation turned to Seth McFarlane’s breadth of creative vision.

“It’s all Seth.” David said. “A lot of showrunners have to have a clear vision for their show, but nobody has one like Seth. That became our everything.”

Then, Jon, David and Brannon shared something about Season Three that hadn’t been revealed.

“We were originally going to do twelve episodes of Season Three. For COVID reasons, there was an episode that we couldn’t produce the way that Seth wanted to produce. So, we didn’t make it, but Seth wrote it as a novella and it will be released at some point in the season. And THAT is a cool, fuckin’ idea that he came up with. He wrote the script; he wrote the novella, and people are gonna love it – it’s so good! We have only told you and that’s the first time we have mentioned it today!”

We were then joined by Scott Grimes and J Lee who play Lt. Gordon Malloy and Chief Engineer John Lamarr who had their thoughts on the secret of this show’s success.

“Seth McFarlane.” J Lee instantly answered.

“He will not allow people to see something he’s not proud of.” Scott Grimes said. “Every aspect of this show – from the buttons on our uniforms – is him. Not in a rude way. It’s just his dream to do this show. So, the product that you see is fine toothcombed and organic and funny. He just knows how to conduct everybody.”

The respect is shared equally amongst the cast though but both J and Scott were eager to describe the camaraderie felt amongst the cast.

“I will tell you.” Scott began. “There are scenes filmed in the mess hall, and I go to take a sip and they’re rolling film and someone has switched the glass to real whiskey and that’s a real reaction!”

“Yeah, someone whose name rhymes with Scott Grimes!” J chuckled in response. “You know, you can’t do it alone, right? If we just shot our stuff – no special effects, the score, we’re just gonna look like a bunch of goofballs. So, we all know this is a team effort. We have one of the best teams in showbiz.”

Scott agreed. “You know, J and I’s energy comes from a couple of things. We were friends before, and Seth knew that and it would translate. What you’re getting right now – it’s like a hockey team and you travel together. You have good days and bad days but at the end of the week, they year what that is, is friends. J and I have come through like a little war together and when you share that and come through it as friends, it’s something special.”

We all had to talk about the cameos were a huge reason for this show’s success in the past. People randomly threw in their favorite cameos.

“Rob Lowe!” Adrianne Palicki answered.

“Charlize Theron!” Chad Coleman enthusiastically shouted and both J and Jon agreed with that.

“It hasn’t happened yet!” Brannon Braga put in.

“We got a big one coming up in this season that’s really going to blow your mind!” Jon Cassar said. But then quickly and laughingly added: “But we’re not going to tell you who it is!”

“The ones we can’t talk about yet!” J Lee agreed.

“Yeah – I know who you’re looking forward to!” Peter Macon said to Chad.

The Orville is a blend of humour, episodic sci-fi storytelling and endearing characters that viewers can care about, but that’s not the promised secret of its success; that’s just a recipe for a well put-together and entertaining show. In this case, it’s a mixture of a promise to recognized fans by a collection of people who are excited to work with each other and be a part of someone’s creative vision that an audience wants.

It’s an audience that I’m happy to be a part of.

Season Three of The Orville: New Horizons releases on Hulu, June 2. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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