Sarah Chalke on the strange appeal of animated sensation ‘Rick and Morty’

Critically acclaimed, half-hour series returns for a fourth season Sunday on Adult Swim

Sarah Chalke on the strange appeal of animated sensation ‘Rick and Morty’

Of all the major series Ottawa-born actress Sarah Chalke has starred in — from “Scrubs” to “Roseanne” to “How I Met Your Mother” — it’s an irreverent animated one with wacky storylines that really gets her celebrity friends jazzed.

Chalke is among the stars of “Rick and Morty,” an adult animated comedy about the space misadventures of sociopathic mad scientist Rick and his anxious teenage grandson Morty. Both characters are voiced by Justin Roiland, who co-created the series with Dan Harmon.

Chalke voices Rick’s daughter, Beth, alongside Chris Parnell as her husband, Jerry.

The critically acclaimed, half-hour series returns for a fourth season Sunday on Adult Swim.

“This show, more than any other show I’ve worked on, I get approached by friends saying, ‘I want to do a voice, I want to be on it,’ because everybody loves to watch it,” Chalke said during a stop in Toronto back in May.

“I think part of the reason of why it’s resonated with people so much is because the humour is so funny and so smart, and also it dives into much bigger questions about life and the universe and our position in it.

“You think you’re going into a comedy and then all of a sudden you’re asking questions about the planet and the universe and if it’s infinite — ’Does anything matter?’”

“Rick and Morty” sees the title characters encountering madcap scenarios and intergalactic characters as they hop around alternate dimensions via Rick’s portal gun.

Its celebrity fans have raved about the show in interviews and on social media, including Chris Evans, Daniel Radcliffe and Kanye West, who tweeted last year: “This is my favorite show. I’ve seen every episode at least 5 times each.”

And celebrity cameos abound.

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert played a rival alien scientist named Zeep Xanflorp, Jemaine Clement of “Flight of the Conchords” voiced an alien cloud nicknamed Fart, and Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon played a therapist trying to help the family understand why Rick has turned himself into a pickle.

Other cameos include Oscar-nominated filmmaker Werner Herzog as a wise old alien, and comedy stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as a two-headed testicle monster.

“It lives in this amazing little universe of sci-fi, comedy, and it’s sort of filthy and amoral at times,” said Parnell.

“It’s the minds of Justin and Dan and this amazing team of writer-producers they put together. They’re geniuses, really. I mean that sincerely. I hope they don’t hear this, because that’s too sappy.”

Asked who might do a cameo in the fourth season, Chalke and Parnell couldn’t say, noting they’re not usually privy to such information before the show airs. Network officials also remained mum this week when asked.

“I often don’t know who’s playing the parts. Sometimes I’ll recognize a voice but often I don’t,” said Parnell, a former cast member of “Saturday Night Live.”

“I’m usually in the dark completely about anything that’s going on until I see it or read it.”

Parnell said he and Chalke don’t even record their parts together, so their stop in Toronto was a rare chance to see each other face-to-face.

“Rick and Morty” is notorious for taking long breaks between seasons, and the latest instalment is no exception, landing more than two years after the previous one ended.

“Justin and Dan just want it to be a specific way and they want it to be right and they don’t want to record until it’s right,” said Chalke.

It also “took forever” for Adult Swim and the show’s creators to work out a deal, added Parnell.

“That was the only time that I’ve really been concerned, because I knew it was a hit and I was like, ‘Are they seriously not going to step up and renew the show and make the deal that Dan and Justin want?’” Parnell said.

“And finally they did, so I was very happy to hear that.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to Stoney and Minnie lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Most Read