The hybrid live-action/animation Fox comedy Son of Zorn tells the story of Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), an animated warrior from a faraway island in the Pacific Ocean where everything and everyone is animated, who returns to Orange County, Calif. to win back his live-action ex-wife (Cheryl Hines) and teenage son (Johnny Pemberton). As the Defender of Zephyria, Zorn has fought in countless epic battles throughout his life, but none of them compare to the challenge of reconnecting with his family.
Back in June, Collider was invited (along with a handful of other press outlets) to an Open House on the set of the crazy but hilarious new series, to learn about all things Zorn. While there, we were able to chat 1-on-1 with show creator Reed Agnew, executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, executive producer/director Eric Appel, and co-stars Johnny Pemberton, Tim Meadows and Artemis Pebdani, and we’ve compiled a list of 13 things that you should know about the new Fox comedy.
According to executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Son of Zorn is a family show that’s grounded in emotions and storylines that are part of what humans experience, just through this crazy lens. In actuality, the show is about the complexities of a divorce, and how sad and complicated that can be for a teenage kid.
- Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is an animated character that lives in our reality, and the creators are striving to make this character feel like a living, breathing person. Much of the humor comes from the colliding of the two worlds and the laws of each.
- Because of the show’s crazy premise, show creator Reed Agnew said they try to keep a balance between the silly and the relatable, ping-ponging between those two aesthetics. Typically, the insane stuff isn’t actually what’s funny. The humor is in the small details, and the tone of the show is in line with something like The Office.
- Since Sudeikis is not on set to voice the character, there’s an actor who stands in for Zorn, and as they went through the season, the cast developed a chemistry with that actor. Because so much of comedy is discovering new things on set, they needed someone who could roll with it, with the actors, and improvise. They always shoot their first take with him, and then the animation supervisor draws in temporary animation. But then, when they shoot the scene for real, they only have an X on a microphone stand to work with.
According to Tim Meadows, as the men in Edie’s life, the relationship between her ex, Zorn, and her current beau, Craig, starts out adversarial. Zorn is jealous of Craig, but Craig is above it because he’s confident in his relationship with Edie. Because Craig is a very loving man, he tries to defuse the situation by showing Zorn why his anger is misdirected.
- When Zorn comes back into the picture, Craig is hands off, as far as being a father to Alangulon, aka Alan (Johnny Pemberton). But any relationship with a teenage stepson can be challenging, whether their father is an animated character or not.
- Zorn works in the human world at a place calls Sanitation Solutions, which sells soap and soap-related products, as a “diversity hire,” so they had to hire him. The place is run by Linda, played by Artemis Pebdani, who doesn’t really want to be doing this job.
- Executive Producer/Director Eric Appel (who directed 6 of the 13 episodes in Season 1) went to school for animation, even though he’s not an animator, so getting to direct a comedy series with a crazy animated character is a dream project for him.
In order to pull off a show with such an unusual premise, they really had to make sure that the actors and the crew were on the same page. They did the pilot a year prior to the production of the series itself, which allowed for some time to figure out how to make the execution smoother.
- Every once in awhile, they’ll have an animator on set who will show the actors a flip book of drawings of what the scene is, so that they can get a visual idea of what’s going on and what they need to do.
- As a result of how complicated this show is to put together, they have meetings just to discuss how to make the animation work. They go over what they have to keep and what they can get rid of because so much of it has to get done in post.
- In order to pass animated objects to the live-action actors, they have to create props just to make sure the weight and look of them is right.
- Other animated characters will show up throughout the season, but they all have a tie to something that you would experience, as a human.
Preview Son of Zorn on Fox on September 11th, prior to the premiere on September 25th.