It’s fitting that the cast of Fox’s new live-action-animated hybrid series Son of Zorn entered the press room of San Diego Comic-Con without their intergalactic leading man. Actors Cheryl Hines, Tim Meadows, and titular son of Zorn Johnny Pemberton, had to get used to acting around a green screen while the animated warrior Zorn, voiced by Jason Sudeikis, sat on the sidelines until it was time for post-production.
We were on hand as Hines, Meadows, and Pemberton sat down with reporters to discuss their characters’ relationships with the mysterious Zorn, the challenges of acting on show with groundbreaking ambitions, and the rules of animation.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the obvious one, but where else did you look to prep for the role?
Tim Meadows: I don’t really prep for roles. I just read the lines and memorize it. There was nothing to really prep for. We all know what Roger Rabbit is. As actors, going into it we already knew there was going to be a lot of green screen. It’s not that much of a shock doing it. Learning who our characters are and stuff is probably the biggest discovery as we shot the episodes. We aren’t the same in the first episode as we are in the beginning.
How have the logistics of filming been?
Hines: Logistically it’s challenging because you’re doing a scene with nobody. It’s also challenging because with Zorn because he’s going to be animated and he takes up a certain amount of space so you can’t really crossover into his plane when you’re acting. You need to be aware of his space and also where he would be looking. There are times when you drive home and think ‘I think I just lost my mind!’ Sometimes if it’s a scene with your character and Zorn, you go crazy by the end of the day.
Johnny Pemberton: I had a whole week where I was hardly working with a real-life person.
Even with Zorn, the setup to the show is conventional sitcom. How does the show look to break convention throughout the season?
Cheryl Hines: What’s great about Son of Zorn is our writers are so talented. Talk about imaginations, every week you cannot believe what you’re seeing. Every week they come up with something out of the box. Because our show has a heightened reality, they can really take it to a place you can’t imagine. There are moments when you watch it and say “that did not just happen.”
Meadows: Some of the storylines are based in reality. And then we have the world of Zephyria on top of those storylines. They can basically go anywhere with how a problem is solved on the show. We have one episode where characters who came from Zephyria are friends of Zorn and it turns out one of them is battling alcoholism and we don’t know that in the beginning of the show and it’s solved through those characters. It starts off as a real, grounded issue you’d see on a sitcom.
Pemberton: Zephyria, anything can happen there. There are some rules, but essentially there are no rules. Zorn can do anything within reason.
Meadows: We are still figuring out the rules of how it all works. Sometimes I’ll ask those guys ‘is this thing real’ or ‘how does this logically fit?’ And they say ‘don’t overthink it.’ Just say the lines and shut up!
Fox is known for its animated series. If you can have a crossover on Zorn, who would it be?
Pemberton: Lisa Simpson.
Meadows: I’d like to see my character from Bob’s Burgers crossover.
Hines: I’m going to use that answer. I’d like to see that too!
Will we see your characters cross over into the animated world?
Hines: There’s a moment, let’s say that.
Pemberton: You don’t become a cartoon in Zephyria.
Hines: I’d still be a real person.
Pemberton: The same way Zorn is a cartoon in Orange County, other reverse principle still follows.
Meadows: But yet he’s a cartoon, and he can still pick up this microphone.
Pemberton: The thing about Zorn is that it’s not weird that he’s a cartoon. It’s like you know someone from a weird country.
Meadow: Like Ohio. [Laughs]
Fox also shared with Den of Geek exclusive behind-the-scenes teasers for Son of Zorn: