Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Justin Roiland Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters | GQ

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- What the hell is this?

- This, Morty, is my archive of all the experiences

you've begged me to remove from your life,

lest you go insane.

- I had so much fun making it and I was like,

"Those characters are really fun to do the voices of,

"talking back and forth like that."

It just felt good, I was like,

"This feels really, really fun."

It was the Rick voice for the grandpa.

It was the Morty voice for the young kid.

It was sort of eventually gonna happen

that those two voices were gonna end up in something

because they were really strong.

- I call them Morty's Mind Blowers!

And we'll be doing this instead of interdimensional cable.

[rock drumbeat]

Lemongrab was, I had a podcast that I did

with Ryan Ridley and Jackie Buscarino

called Grandma's Virginity Podcast.

And Pen Ward was a fan of it,

and Pen created Adventure Time.

We had him on an episode, and I remember after that,

he wanted to, he asked me to do a voice.

I didn't know what it was.

But I was like, "Yeah, of course I'll,

I'd love to do a voice on Adventure Time,"

'cause I loved the show.

They sent me the boards, the storyboards for the episode

and I looked through it.

And I didn't really know what to do

so I went in and then I just started screaming

and he's like, "That's it, great."

- [groaning] This is wrong.

The map lied to me!

It doesn't want me to find the exit!

- I learned the limits of my voice

with that character for sure.

[screaming]

Me! [screaming]

- I blew my voice out really bad.

And Tom Kenny told me to go to this really good ENT

and I had to get a cortisone shot

and not talk for like two weeks.

Literally not talk, I had to use an app called Talk Bot

and I would talk to people using the app, text-to-speech.

And the app sounded really depressing.

So every time I would text something,

people would be like, "Are you okay?"

Cause it'd be like, "I want sandwiches."

And it'd just be really,

everything I would say would sound sad.

And that voice is actually the voice

we ended up using for the butter robot on Rick and Morty,

that exact app, 'cause in the edit bay,

that was around the time in the edit bay

where I was using that app all the time.

I couldn't do Morty's voice for a while

after that Adventure Time, the third episode of Lemongrab.

It was really crazy.

Also I'm not just weirdly petting my lap,

I have my best friend here, one of my best friends.

I've got two, but this is one of them.

Isn't that right, little Pup Pup?

Yes.

[rock music]

Gravity Falls.

Hirsch wanted me to do a voice

and he wasn't quite sure what character

so I kinda came in a couple times

and took a crack at a few different characters

and it didn't stick, and then the Blendin voice

was sort of the one that felt like it worked.

- Oh man, this has gone from bad to worse.

I gotta get out of time Dodge.

- A lot of my voices just sound like Morty.

Like, "Ah man, come on, jeez."

You know, like, but it sounded deeper,

like more like my, it was like,

"I'm Blendin Blandin, I'm," you know,

it was more like that, and Morty's like,

"Ah come on, Rick, you're gonna suffocate me here,

"you're suffocating me, I don't wanna do this."

You know?

A lot of my voices just sound like that.

It's pretty sad.

I don't have a lot of range.

I more just played into the kinda nervousness

and anxiousness that he was sort of dealing with

'cause he had a lot of [beep] on his shoulders

so it just leaned into that.

There wasn't really anybody in my life that I drew for

but I don't really do that ever.

There's no real deep, you know, like,

I'm not sitting there meditating and creating image boards,

I just go in and do it, you know?

Like, I don't know.

[rock music]

Ah, Fish Hooks.

So there's a really interesting story with that.

I was at Disney working with Alex Hirsch on that show,

we were developing it together.

We had cast someone else as the voice of Oscar.

I don't even, I wasn't even a part of this.

I just remember I was there late

and Eric Coleman grabbed me, who's the head of TV animation,

and he was like, "Hey, can you go in

"and just record this character from top to bottom?"

I don't know, they had some sort of emergency

with the audio that they had from the person

that they had cast, and so I was like, "Okay."

And so I went in and I just did the voice

for the little pilot presentation.

And then that went out the next morning to,

I'm blanking on his name but he's right below Bob Iger

and I can't remember his name, but he was like,

"Oh yeah, this is great,

"the voices are all great, this is awesome."

And so I was sort of like, "Does that mean

"I'm doing the voice of this character or what?

"Like, what's going on?"

They didn't really tell me.

But I sort of assumed, I think I'm doing

the voice of this character.

And then of course, time went on

and I took a job writing on the show,

mainly just 'cause I didn't wanna get recast.

I was like, "If I'm around, they won't recast me."

I was waiting for the other shoe to drop on that

and it didn't happen, so yeah,

I ended up doing that character.

- Wow, Bea.

I guess one could say

that you and I make sweet music together.

[laughing nervously]

- Oscar was more, just more innocent, you know?

Like, I mean it's a Disney cartoon,

so obviously that's, the innocence is sort of built in.

He was gentler.

I think very moral.

Oscar was just like a limp noodle nerd, you know?

Really easy to push around, and like,

bottom feeder kinda character.

- And I learned that crocheting is a fun leisure activity

for fish of any gender.

Look!

I made you both sweater vests!

- Oscar's kind of OCD, if I recall correctly.

Like he's very neurotic.

I think Oscar was a bit more, like,

he had more neuroses going on.

Oh god, that's a throwback character, yeah.

I did a bunch of cartoons, oh [beep], I bumped the mic.

I did a bunch of cartoons for Sarah across the seasons

and, I mean, that was my job for a while, was just,

I was on location at the studio with my friends

and we were just writing and animating cartoons there.

And I was grabbing the cast of the show

to come do voices in between scenes and stuff.

It was really, really cool, that was a really fun time.

I did a cartoon called Cookie Party for Sarah

and we did a few episodes of it and,

God, it was really funny, man.

It was, the concept was this guy named Michael

who makes cookies so good that they come alive.

They want him to eat him really bad,

all the cookies wanna be eaten by him.

But they, but he's kind of overweight and he's trying to,

he's really trying to watch himself

so he doesn't wanna, he just can't eat them.

- I love that all the delicious cookies I bake

come alive and play with me.

But sometimes I really wish

I could share you with other people.

- No!

We won't let other people eat us.

We only want you to eat us.

We wuv you, Michael!

- And then there's this bad guy

who wants to know how he makes cookies

so good that they come alive, and he's coming around,

and he built a robot cookie named Proteus.

It's [beep]ing bonkers but I think we did two or three

episodes of that and I was like, "I [beep]ing loved that,"

I was like, "I would do a lot more more episodes of this."

If the opportunity had presented itself,

I would've been like, "Let's roll with this," you know?

But.

Those are deep cuts if you can dig 'em up.

I don't know where they are.

Garry on "Smallfoot", that was weird.

I don't even know how that happened,

it was just like, "Hey, do you wanna

do this voice for this movie?"

"Okay, yeah, that sounds good."

And I went and I was there for like an hour

or less than an hour, I just,

like, the guy's sprinkled throughout the movie

but he's got like, you know, if you take all the lines

and squish 'em together, it's like,

you could say 'em in under three minutes,

you know what I mean?

So we just kinda jumped to the scenes and I ADRed.

It was really cool, I was like, in a giant mixing room

with a huge movie theater-size screen, doing that stuff.

That was really cool.

That was similar to when I did,

for Michael Dougherty in "Krampus",

I did one of the little cookies.

But that was the same experience.

It was a giant soundstage with a,

I guess when they do movies, they're just like,

"Hey, let's mix it in a [beep]ing extravagant,

"massive cube room with a movie theater screen."

'Cause we don't do Rick and Morty that way.

We did the pilot that way, but, and I was like,

"[beep], this is [beep]ing unnecessary, but all right."

And then we stopped doing that,

started mixing it like, you know, normal people would do.

With Garry, they just said, they wanted him

to just be kinda nervous and panicked.

- He said it fell from the sky!

- Garry, calm down.

You know how you get.

- Okay I'll try but I'm just so scared!

- It was really just working with him to find the voice,

like that's the boring answer, but it's true.

I was like, "Okay like this?"

Like, "No no, a little bit more, like, freaked out,"

you know, whatever, and then I got,

I kinda, okay, that's, okay then.

That's it, they liked that, okay,

I'll just keep doing that. [laughing]

- But what if it is a smallfoot?

Does that mean a stone is wrong?

- [coughs] They're all wrong.

[all gasping]

- People need to start casting me

in these [beep]ing big budget animated movies, right?

I mean, like, listen to my process.

It's like, "Oh, what do you guys want?

"Do you want, okay, like this?"

And then, "Boom, all right, we got it, let's roll,

"let's do this thing."

And I'm real friendly and nice and stuff,

I mean I don't know what's going on.

No I'm kidding, I'm not auditioning for anything,

that's why. - [Mom] You should be.

- I should be, yeah.

I'm too busy.

But if somebody comes to me, hey, yeah,

I'll be in the next sharks movie.

Come on, Katzenberg!

Is he still, no no no, what's DreamWorks?

Is that Katzenberg?

He's got Quibi now, is he still got a foot in DreamWorks?

What is DreamWorks?

Anyways, whatever.

Disney?

No, Disney's, I'm too, I did Disney but I don't know

if they would put me back on Disney, I'm too edgy.

Am I, am I too edgy?

I don't know.

I'm too edgy, maybe.

But come on Disney, put me in the next princess movie,

as like the carrot, you know, "I'm the carrot!

"I'm the [beep]ing carrot in this [beep]ing movie!

"You know, let's sing a [beep]ing song.

"Bla la do dee do, I'm a [beep]ing carrot

"in this Disney movie.

"Make a toy out of me!"

You know?

Anyway.

[rock music]

Krampus.

I'm friends with Michael Dougherty,

he's one of the best people

I've ever met in my life, he's incredible.

And he, like I, has a deep love for horror

and I think his style and the way he approaches horror

is fantastic and, but anyways yeah, he just texted me,

and he was like, "Hey, come do this voice."

'Cause it was just a fun little monster gremlin guy,

just screaming and then it got pitched way up.

[screaming] [whimsical music]

I remember thinking, "I don't think

"anyone's gonna know that's me." [laughing]

It's like, you cannot tell.

I mean, which is fine, it was like,

the point of it was just like,

oh this is cool to put you in here, it'll be fun.

But that was probably the least, like,

"Okay, let's, we gotta really, let's sit down

"and talk about this character, who they are."

You know, it wasn't that, none of that.

- Charge!

[all yelling]

[gun blasting]

[shouting] [squealing]

[both yelling]

- Like it was pitched up, and you know,

and Seth Green did one of 'em, who I'm friends with as well.

That's how I met Michael, was through Seth.

But sorry, it sounds like I'm [beep]ing name drop,

I'm like, "Oh let me pick up these [beep]ing names

"I keep dropping."

Jesus Christ, man.

Huh, Pup Pup, it's a problem, huh?

It's a problem right now.

Chubbie Webbers, that was a fun voice.

My friend Brian Wysol, I really wanted him to have a show.

I was like, "You gotta have a show

"'Cause I just want more of your weird stuff."

So I helped him get this show on Adult Swim

called Hot Streets.

It's funny, I feel like I did the voice for him at one point

'cause we're pretty good friends, we hang out a lot.

And I think it was just like, "Do that [beep]ing thing."

Like do that for the show, you know what I mean?

For this dog.

[humming]

[grunting]

- What is it, you have an STD?

[grunting]

- The funny thing about that character is that

there would be, in the script, I would get a script

and there would be like scripted dialogue for this dog.

Like if the line was like, "Okay, you guys,

"I'm gonna go get the keys for the car."

And then I would be like, [grunting]

you know what I mean?

Or I'd be like, [grunting]

you know what I mean?

Like that kind of, like the Scooby Doo kinda,

but whiny and mumbled and stuff.

- Can't you see we're both fine?

- [Phone] Typhoid fever, stage two.

Hallucinations, death imminent.

[groaning]

- I will say that the script, in some cases,

they definitely motivated like the energy,

like, "Oh, he needs to be really sad,

"or he needs to be [beep]ing pissed,

"or panicked," or whatever, so.

But it was just funny that they took the time

to write these lines of dialogue

that no one would ever hear.

[rock music]

Rick and Morty.

I'm just checking him for fleas while we do this,

but Rick and Morty.

They were inspired by "Back to the Future".

I did a cartoon that's really disgusting on purpose,

called the Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti,

I think is what it was called.

I was gonna call it the Real Animated "Back to the Future",

I was gonna try to get really like,

let's get a cease-and-desist, kind of energy on it

'cause I had done House of Cosbys

and Bill Cosby came after me and I thought,

I just thought that was so [beep]ing weird,

that Bill Cosby's lawyers would be busy

concerned about a little cartoon, it was so [beep]ing weird.

So I thought, "I'm gonna try doing that again

"and I'm gonna make a really shocking, offensive,

"like [beep]ed up animated cartoon."

And I'd been doing those voices.

So I'll just do those voices for it.

- It's the only way to fix our time travel car.

Your saliva needs to be warm and fresh.

And it must be administered by your tongue, Mharti.

- It was also for Channel 101, and I wanted,

part of me was thinking I wanna hear

an audience of people screaming.

Like, and covering, seeing them cover their eyes

and just go, "Oh God, [beep]!"

So that was sort of the motivation behind it, was like,

it was intentionally disgusting.

- But I don't understand how that would work, Doc.

I don't, I don't, I'm confused, I don't--

- Mharti, trust me!

- Like that was the point.

It wasn't like, "Oh yeah, this is my art, man.

Like, this is what I do, this is who I am."

It wasn't that at all.

It was like, we knew what we were making.

It was like, "This is [beep]ing horrible.

"It's so horrible."

I had so much fun making it and I was like,

"Those characters are really fun to do the voices of,

"talking back and forth like that."

It just felt good, I was like,

"This feels really, really fun."

And so I started figuring out other ways

I could incorporate those characters into things.

I mean, I put 'em in everything.

Like those voices anyways.

I was doing Rick and Morty voices in all the Fox pilots,

like in, just different characters,

and I'd done a bunch more Doc and Mharti stuff

for Channel 101 that's also

really [beep]ing horrible on purpose.

And I knew that they were really strong and interesting

so I just kinda kept going in that direction.

I was building all kinds of projects

around those voices.

Then Dan Harmon called me one day and he's like,

"Okay, these characters are [beep]ing amazing

"and all the crazy [beep] you wanna do is great,

"but let's build a sturdy frame around it.

"Let's put a family, let's make them related,

"so it's Morty's grandpa."

That really made the show way more broad,

way more grounded and just,

I believe it's why the show has gotten

as big as it is, you know?

[rock music]

Solar Opposites was originally an idea I had

for Channel 101, or Acceptable TV actually.

Acceptable TV was a sketch show that me and Dan

and a bunch of the Channel 101 people

had on VH1 for a brief moment,

during the era of like, Flavor Flav's Love Castle

and, you know, New York's Love Machine House or whatever.

But anyway, so it was during that era

and I pitched this thing that was just two aliens.

It was live action, and it was two aliens on Earth

and they were here for some kind of mission,

they had like a supreme leader

that they talked to at the beginning and end,

like a briefing and a debriefing

of whatever their mission was for that episode.

It was gonna be live action with these weird,

papier-mache heads.

And we were gonna put like, in post, in After Effects,

like the 3D mouth and eyes on them.

And the idea was, they're like the Odd Couple of aliens.

So it was Solar Opposites, brilliant.

And so they were gonna be the Odd Couple.

It was very underdeveloped back then.

It was just like, an idea, and I pitched it

and it didn't get any traction

and then I just kinda forgot about it.

I had a deal at Fox, 20th, and so I had kinda gone through

three other show ideas with them,

or two other show ideas, sorry,

and I was on the last one and it was sort of like,

okay, if they don't like this, then I'm out,

I'm out of the contract.

And so I got my buddy Mike McMahan, who I've known forever

and who was working on Rick and Morty at the time.

'Cause I was like, "I can't, I've tried two pitches

"on my own and I don't wanna do this by myself anymore.

"Like it's not, it's too much."

So I was like, "Let's do this together if you want to

"and let's come up with something."

So we just started brainstorming ideas.

In between seasons two and three of Rick and Morty

is when this happened.

And then I was like, "Well, okay.

"I do have a thing from a long time ago

"that's pretty much a blank canvas called Solar Opposites

"that could be pretty fun.

"And it's just aliens on Earth."

And we reworked it 'cause originally it was gonna be

the same as the old idea, which is,

they're on Earth, observing humans,

and reporting back to the home world.

But then we realized, I think it's a lot better

if their home world's completely destroyed

and they're stranded on Earth.

It's a bit more of like a Gilligan's Island.

But the primary objective was like,

let's come up with something that we can just

have a lot of fun and do a bunch of crazy [beep].

Let's just build some characters

that will be really fun to write and voice.

So we leaned into the idea of, you know,

the opposites idea obviously.

Like Korvo, who's the button-down, like,

serious, don't [beep] around, you know, kind of character.

I play that, I play him.

- We may be trapped on this world,

on the brink of mass extinction,

plagued by a species that destroys the environment,

but at least we have each other.

[belching] [both groaning]

- Gross!

And then Thomas Middleditch plays Terry,

who is the, he's just so obsessed with Earth culture,

human culture, like everything.

Anime, Pokemon, football, video games, movies, Gossip Girl,

I mean just [beep]ing anything, the Kardashians.

And then Korvo sort of sees humanity

as like a virus on the planet, which it's true,

polluting the planet, destroying it,

creating a Texas-sized trash island

in the middle of the ocean.

That's a real thing, I think, I don't know.

Maybe it's not real,

maybe we're being lied to about everything.

Maybe we're living in a simulation.

But anyways, Korvo is just like,

"Humans are [beep]ing horrible, the air's polluted,

"all the stupid [beep] they make up is dumb

"and a waste of time," like our art,

our video games, our movies.

Then, as the show progresses, there are things

that he can get kinda sucked into.

I probably oversold the idea

that he doesn't like Earth culture,

'cause, he just doesn't like humans and he's more crotchety

and more, he's got his guard up,

he doesn't want to [beep]ing like anything,

but then sometimes he does, and it's like begrudgingly,

he'll end up getting really into some, like magic,

we have an episode where he gets way into magic.

There's a motive for him to do it,

like he's got an ulterior motive for getting into magic,

but at first he [beep]ing hates it, he hates magic,

and then he kinda starts to,

it's like this begrudging, like oh.

I mean at its core, the show is,

you know, a family of aliens that are living amongst humans

and then you just get to see them,

they're almost like immigrants,

it's like an immigrant story where they're,

they're just trying to understand humanity

and they're very confused about certain things

that we take for granted and understand.

And there's a lot of humor to be had there.

But then there's also, they have access to this, like,

their ship is filled with all kinds of crazy,

futuristic, sci-fi [beep] so they're kind of,

they're getting into a lot of trouble.

They're solving a lot of their problems

with technology that we've never heard of as humans

that cause a lot of problems on the show.

And there's a lot of fun there.

- Oh don't throw that out, I can sell it!

- It has an unstable gray hole inside.

- You're an unstable gray hole.

- And then we just kinda follow, you know,

those characters doing their little odds and ends.

It's really exciting, really exciting show.

All right GQ, I guess that's enough rambling from me.

I'm in my trash bunker, safe, for now,

from the coronavirus, so hopefully you guys stay safe too.

And you know, watch out for the economy collapse

that's coming up, buy Bitcoin and crypto,

I don't know, maybe don't do that.

All right, bye. [chuckling]

[rock music]

The Description of Justin Roiland Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters | GQ