Fox’s new half hour comedy series Son of Zorn is set to air this fall on Sundays at 8:30pm ET/PT. The series is a mix of live-action and animation and stars Jason Sudeikis, Cheryl Hines, Tim Meadows, and Johnny Pemberton. Sudeikis lends his voice to Zorn, an animated warrior who comes from a “faraway island in the Pacific Ocean” but returns to Orange County, CA to reconnect with his son, Alan (Pemberton), and his ex-wife, Edie (Hines). Teamed up in roundtable interviews to discuss the new series at the San Diego Comic Con, Hines, Meadows, and Pemberton talked about working opposite an animated character and what viewers can expect when they tune into the comedy from executive producers Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Seth Cohen, Reed Agnew, Eli Jorné, Sally Bradford McKenna, and Eric Appel.
Cheryl Hines, Tim Meadows and Johnny Pemberton Interview:
How would you describe the series?
Tim Meadows: “The storylines are sort of based in reality, and then we have the world of Zephyria on top of those stories. They can basically go anywhere with how a problem is solved on the show. For instance, we had one episode where characters came from Zephyria that were friends of Zorn and it turned out that one of them was battling alcoholism. We don’t know that in the beginning of the show, and then it’s solved through the characters on the show. It’s hard to explain how it’s all done, but it starts off as a real grounded problem that you would see in a sitcom.”
Johnny Pemberton: “In Zephyria, anything can happen there. There’s some rules…but there’s essentially no rules with that place where he’s from. Anything can happen. Zorn can do anything, really, within reason – within some reason.”
Tim Meadows: “I think we are still figuring out the rules of how it all works. Sometimes I’ll ask, ‘Is this thing real that we’re talking about or is this thing made up? How does this logically fit?’ And then they say, ‘Don’t overthink it,’ basically. ‘Just say the lines.'”
Fox is rich with animated shows. What would your dream cross-over be?
Johnny Pemberton: “Lisa Simpson.”
Tim Meadows: “I’d like to see my character from Bob’s Burgers cross-over to our show.”
Cheryl Hines: “I’m going to use that answer. I’d like to see that, too.”
Will we see any of your characters cross over to the animated world in the show?
Cheryl Hines: “That’s a good question. There is a moment – let’s say that.”
Johnny Pemberton: “But also, Zephyria is not a place where…you don’t become a cartoon in Zephyria.”
Cheryl Hines: “I would still be a real person.”
Johnny Pemberton: “Yeah. Like the same way Zorn is a cartoon in Orange County, the reverse principle still follows.”
Tim Meadows: “But yet he is a cartoon but he can also pick up this microphone. You know what I’m saying?”
Johnny Pemberton: “The thing about Zorn is it’s not weird that he’s a cartoon. It’s sort of like you knew someone who was from a weird country.”
Tim Meadows: (Laughing) “Like Ohio.”
Can you talk a little about the logistics of filming the series?
Cheryl Hines: “Well, logistically it’s challenging because you’re doing a scene with nobody. And, it’s also challenging because you know that Zorn is going to be animated and he takes up a certain amount of space, so you can’t really cross over into his plane when you’re acting. You have to be aware of his space and then also where he would be looking. There are times when you drive home and you think, ‘I think I just lost my mind!’ because you just did a whole scene… Sometimes if it’s just a scene with your character and Zorn, you go crazy by the end of the day.”
Johnny Pemberton: “I had a whole week once where I was hardly ever working with a real live person. One of the last shots of the day was with Cheryl and Tim. I don’t remember what it was but it was one of those things where to actually look at someone where we were communicating it was like, ‘Oh, we can actually express things with our eyes!’ I could relax.”
Cheryl Hines: “It’s a treat when you get to see someone’s eyes.”
What can you say about your character’s relationship with Zorn?
Cheryl Hines: “Well, I play Edie, Zorn’s ex-wife. I want him to have a relationship with his son although Zorn drives me crazy because he’s an idiot. He’s like the bull in the china shop. Every time you try to get him to do one tiny normal thing, it turns into he’s got his sword out and he’s beheading somebody. So, I’m just always trying to keep it connected.”
Tim Meadows: “I play Edie’s fiancé and so Zorn and I are competing for Edie’s affection. My character’s a lot more considerate and caring, almost a nerd.”
Cheryl Hines: “Almost.”
Tim Meadows: “But he’s a really likable person. But as the show evolves over the season, you see that he has his issues also. But he really loves Edie and Alan.”
Johnny Pemberton: “Alan’s relationship with Zorn is kind of contentious. There’s a lot of resentment there because his dad wasn’t there. I think it’s a pretty normal relationship with a teenage person who’s already going through enough sh*t on their own and then has to deal with trying to negotiate the relationship with their absentee father who is returning. And, also you’re a child so you don’t understand why you’re feeling the way you are so it’s hard to negotiate it.”
(Interview by Sandy Kraisirideja. Article by Rebecca Murray.)