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

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 Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is seeking interest from the community to join as members in supporting the history of Williams Lake. (Williams Lake Tribune photo)
Museum seeks to expand membership

Davana MAHON Special to the Tribune/Advisor The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin… Continue reading

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

Midori (left) and Ed Kozuki, with their daughter, Janis. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Ed and Midori Kozuki release book: Raising Janis

“There’s more than one way to see the world,” Ed said.

Tamara Bush has been appointed to the Williams Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Tamara Bush appointed to Williams Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee

Bush will represent the Old Age Pensioners Organization on the committee

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read