Executive produced by Rick and Morty and Community‘s Dan Harmon, the new FXX animated comedy series Little Demon blends elements of Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Dogma and Family Guy into an engaging and hilarious stew of sacrilegious silliness. The story chronicles the relationship between Satan (Danny DeVito), the Earthly woman he impregnated, single mother Laura (Aubrey Plaza), and their 13-year-old Antichrist daughter Chrissy (Lucy DeVito, Danny’s real-life child). As one can imagine with a family this non-traditional, chaos reigns…as does the non-stop threats posed by demons and Old Scratch himself, who yearns to possess his spawn’s soul.
The show itself is among the year’s most engaging animated efforts, buoyed by its stellar voice acting. At our Den of Geek Suite at San Diego Comic-Con last month, we had the opportunity to chat with Aubrey Plaza and the DeVitos about everything from the allure of evil to the difficulties of doing voicework in a conversation that was as hilarious as it was enlightening. Take a look.
Den of Geek: Danny, what is it about evil characters you find so appealing?
Danny DeVito: I don’t find them evil and bad, that’s the thing right there. It’s so much fun to have an edge, to have some secrets and have some things that people don’t know.
People may think they know everything about Satan, but they really don’t know about Satan. In our show its really about a mother and a daughter and a dad, basically because the antichrist is born to this beautiful woman that I chose to be carrier of my spawn. And boy did it work out!
Aubrey, what did you bring to the character of Laura as she adjusts to small town life?
Aubrey Plaza: I really try to ground her. She’s a complicated character. She’s flawed, she’s a single mother, demons are coming after her every day and she’s got to take care of her 13-year-old girl. She’s just doing the best she can.
I just try to bring the truth to her, what a single mom would be like in these circumstances. The stakes are high. She’s going to die everyday, people are trying to kill her daughter. What are you gonna do?
Lucy, how does one prepare to play the role of the Antichrist?
Lucy DeVito: It’s real easy actually. The way that I approached Chrissy, similar to Aubrey, that she’s a real person. I think that there are dualities in everyone, and being a 13 year old girl you can be demon-like at times.
I think that that’s a really fun way to explore coming-of-age, grappling with your broken family. I feel like that was the way to do it, just to be myself, honestly.
What are some of the challenges doing voiceover as opposed to live action acting?
Lucy DeVito: This is my first animated role so it was all very new to me, but what I discovered is that I could have a lot of fun with different levels and try different things, and because we’re in a horror comedy we can take risks – and because it’s animated we want it to be funny and enjoyable too.
So there were opportunities for real grounded moments and also wild, crazy over-the-top moments as well.
Aubrey Plaza: I find it very challenging. I actually feel like it’s a struggle for me. I give it up to all the voiceover actors in the world who are really good at it because I find it very hard actually. It’s a totally different skill.
But what I love about it is just to be completely surrender to my imagination, because I feel like I have a very wild imagination, so those sessions I just block out, and I get to imagine myself killing demons and doing spells and just doing all those things I wish I could do in real life.
I just live out my greatest fantasies in a tiny little booth by myself.
Danny DeVito: I love the freedom of it. I think that is, as Lucy and Aubrey were saying, you get into that booth and your imagination can run wild.
The creators of the show have written wonderful scripts and we get to improvise around. The thing I find the most challenging is that I do sometimes talk slow/sometimes I talk fast, and the weird thing about it is that you have to really push in the booth.
I find that having that challenge and also trying to make sense of the character and the lines, that’s one of the biggest hurdles for me. You can go big, you can go, like Lucy was saying, honest, you can go real, but there’s a thing that seems to be always hanging over you, you gotta get it out…
Aubrey Plaza: You gotta pace it up.
Danny DeVito: Pace it up!
Lucy DeVito: Our show runs at a clip.
Danny DeVito: A really high level.
Lucy DeVito: And also being in the booth you’re by yourself so it’s not as easy to understand what the story…
Aubrey Plaza: But we take a lot of uppers!
Lucy DeVito: Yeah.
Danny DeVito: I drink a lot of coffee.
Aubrey Plaza: A lot of coffee.
Little Demon airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET on FXX.