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SDCC2015: The Amazing Time-Traveling Crazy Science “Rick and Morty” Roundtable Interview

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Adult Swim Upfront 2013 - Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty premieres in 2013 on Adult Swim.
Ryan Ridley (left), Justin Roiland (center), Dan Harmon (right)
Ryan Ridley (left), Justin Roiland (center), Dan Harmon (right)

Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty is the story of a troubled intergalactic adventurer and the chaos he brings to his family. Season two premieres on Sunday, July 26, 2015.

Toonzone News, along with other members of the press, sat down with executive producer Dan Harmon, executive producer and voice actor of both Rick and Morty Justin Roiland, and writer and voice talent Ryan Ridley.

The following interview contains strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Do not use while operating heavy machinery or driving.

QUESTION: How was the reaction to getting a second season?

DAN HARMON: It was a mixed blessing. Justin and I were worried about the first episode, frankly, because it was very complicated and hit or miss, and I think the silver lining of the leak was that it was sort of a soft rolling. The other part of the mixed blessing is, in your wildest dreams people want your show that bad. The only downside is that Justin is still working on it.

JUSTIN ROILAND: Yeah, I’m still making fixes. There’s still little animation mistakes and little things that I’m catching and changing. I was shocked at how much people like that episode.

Q: Any idea how it leaked?

JUSTIN ROILAND: Press. We know for a fact that it came from the press screener site only because we had to bleep only two words in those versions. No other copies had those words bleeped, so it was one of the first things one of our coordinators looked at. They definitely came from the press site. There are all these rumors that it came from me, that I leaked it, which I would never do in a million years. There are all these rumors that it came from iTunes somehow, but that’s all a bunch of bullshit. Somebody must have sent the press site to a friend with the passwords and they probably used one of these image recording programs to draw a square over the screen and just rip it. I haven’t watched it myself. The show is in HD, and that’s full awesome 5.1 Dolby Digital THX. It’s got a good mix to it, so no matter how you slice it, it is subpar to what will actually air.

Rick and MortyQ: In terms of network reaction and Standards and Practices, have you had to do a lot of work to cut things out?

JUSTIN ROILAND: Very little.

RYAN RIDLEY: He posted an Instagram of the notes.

DAN HARMON: Memos are just hilarious. It doesn’t matter. It’s funny to see a list and look at it.

JUSTIN ROILAND: It’s hilarious. Usually we get to do what we want. Our notes are usually “censor the use of fuck here,” “censor the use of motherfucker here.”

RYAN RIDLEY: Do you ever think of maybe saying “motherfucker” less?

JUSTIN ROILAND: In season one we did. In season one, we were more, “You can’t say that.” Season two…I don’t know what happened.

RYAN RIDLEY: And they’re not even in the script.

JUSTIN ROILAND: A lot of them are. But then there’s a lot where it’s just me.

Q: How do you win at Roy?

JUSTIN ROILAND: That’s like asking how do you win at Minecraft.

DAN HARMON: Roy is a sandbox character.

JUSTIN ROILAND: A total sandbox character.

RYAN RIDLEY: That’s like asking how do you win at life?

DAN HARMON: How you lose at Roy is trying to win. The first thing Rick does is he goes off the grid. I wrote the tag for that episode. I always wanted to do Roy as Rick plays it. It would’ve been a kid wakes up in bed, and then it would’ve just gone Grand Theft Auto.

RYAN RIDLEY: He would’ve just punched his mother and ran.

DAN HARMON: I don’t know if the irony would’ve played.

JUSTIN ROILAND: That episode, way too late, had two amazing tags. That tag, which is by the way the first time I’m hearing it. The other tag is the Paul Fleishman tag, which is the best tag ever. And we’re talking about an episode that is not officially released. There’s a really great moment where we meet an alternate reality version of Jerry who’s actually a stepdad to Morty. Beth and Jerry separated and this guy Paul Fleishman is like—

RYAN RIDLEY: An incredibly anti-Semitic selling out of my people.

Rick and Morty Season 2JUSTIN ROILAND: It’s very lovingly portrayed. And I don’t overstep my bounds with Morty, and this whole thing. We wanted to do a tag where they’re all at the dinner table and he’s like preparing some kind of holiday.

RYAN RIDLEY: It looks like 1930’s Nazi propaganda imagery. The way you signed off on his portrayal.

JUSTIN ROILAND: I didn’t do it.

Q: How has the popularity of Rick and Morty affected how we’re going into season two?

JUSTIN ROILAND: I think going into season two, Dan answered this many times, the stakes are raised. We felt like we were a little blown away at how well received season one was, so we were like oh my god we need to keep it going, keep the bar high. I think that stuff swimming around in the back of your head ultimately makes things worse or harder.

DAN HARMON: I think that helped us relax and have fun. The part that’s difficult is simply doing a second season of a show that is now out there. You can’t put a mirror in front of a parakeet without changing the entire environment of the cage. That’s the difficult part.

JUSTIN ROILAND: There’s all kinds of threads and things we purposefully left open. Lots of debates about should we do more Meeseeks episodes. Let’s bring back Evil Morty.

DAN HARMON: Season one, you’re just making it up as you go. You’ll never regain that joy.

Q: Are you doing another TV episode?

JUSTIN ROILAND: Yes. Keep your expectations low. That first one we did happened to have this beautiful crescendo of an ending and the A and B story were so greatly juxtaposed in terms of tone. This new one is kind of balls to the wall. It’s a sketch episode again, interdimensional cable TV, but the A story and B story are both sort of in the same area of craziness.

RYAN RIDLEY: I noticed you removed my subtitle. I titled it “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate”, and you took away “Tempting Fate.”

JUSTIN ROILAND: No, that’s on the Tivos. When you go to Tivo, that’s what the TV Guide says.