With Rick and Morty currently enjoying the first half of Season 4 on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, I had a chance to chat with Summer herself Spencer Grammer about her character’s past, present, and future. The conversation comes as part of our continuing interview series through Collider Weekly’s animation podcast, Saturday Mourning Cartoons. We talked about how the role originally came to her, what Summer is currently going through on the show, and what insane surprises are in store for her in this season and future episodes. Additionally, Grammer revealed her favorite moments and episodes from the series as well as other projects she has coming up.
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You can listen to the full audio from the interview above or check out a sample of our conversation below:
Rick and Morty has been on the air since 2013, and you guys have plenty more episodes to come, but how did the role of Summer originally come to you?
Spencer Grammer: Well, I got pregnant and I was like, “Hey, I can’t be on camera, so how about I get into voice over work?” And I started to audition for little parts here and there, and obviously, Rick and Morty, when they had pitched it to me it was like, “Oh Dan Harmon made Monster House.” And I was like, “Oh cool, that seems legit.” You didn’t really think about it that much and it was like, “Yay.” And they send you a picture of what the character will look like, and the description of who she is and you read the pilot and then you read your lines. And they’re like, “Oh, this one episode is all of your lines that you just have to do.” And for whatever reason, I tried to think of a friend who felt like this character, a really good adult friend, but her teenage version, right?
So, I had this one friend who was a musician, writer, actress, beautiful, graduated early from college as a double major, and I imagined when she was in high school she was super nerdy, you know? And never really found her sea legs until later because, that’s what I imagined. And so, when I went in, I thought about her as this duckling prior to becoming a swan and I recorded this audition and Justin [Roiland] was like, “Oh, when I heard your voice I thought you were Summer.” Because, I feel she isn’t secure yet, trying to find herself as a woman. You know? Yeah. So, that’s how it happened. And now we’ve just been recording episodes here and there for the last ten years.
Do you normally record by yourself? Or do you get a chance to actually record with the cast?
Grammer: No, we all record separately. Justin enjoys being there because most of the time he’s there to direct. Usually the writer of the episode has to be there as well. So, it’s you in the booth and them on the other side of the glass, and I can’t hear what they’re saying because they’d have to press the button for me to hear it in my headphones on the other side. So, if I don’t get it right they’ll discuss it. They’re like, “Maybe do it like this.” And I’m like, “Okay, I’ll try.” But it’s also a collaboration in that way. Sometimes they’ll come up with things to try and find something better or slightly differentiate it from what they were thinking. So I’ll go on a rant about something I’m seeing, or has happened to me that day and then they get takes from that.
Has there been a lot of times where you’ve maybe recorded something that didn’t ultimately make the cut?
Grammer: One word lines are always harder for me. One word or one little phrase is always more difficult. I think because it has to line up with the button of the joke sometimes. And that can be hard to land, depending on what kind of joke you want it to be. And, I’d say, what happens a lot of the time is I get lines added to episodes more often than I get them taken away. And also, story lines change a lot. If a story line isn’t working, audibly, they’ll go back and re-write and [sometimes] change the whole episode.
There’s one episode we recorded a lot of times. A lot, a lot of times. If Summer hasn’t had a Dan Harmon pass yet, then usually, Summer’s character will be a little bit different, if it feels like Summer doesn’t have as much of an intention as she normally does. So, those things happen too, but very rarely. Mostly we’re just making the story better and I get more lines.
You’ve also recorded some mini episodes over the years too that get to explore Summer’s story a little bit better. Do you know if there are any more mini episodes like that in the works?
Grammer: Yeah. Yes. There are. Definitely are more episodes like that. You’ll see some pretty dynamic [stories] for Summer coming up. We have, I think, two more episodes airing in this chunk. And then we have another five coming out eventually, sooner than later. And then we also have, I know they’re working on season five. I hope we do get to explore more from her background and the future and just in general. Yeah.
Where are you in production on Season 4 then?
Grammer: I just recorded 4.10 when I was in LA a few weeks ago but, those change a lot. I’ll be going back to do pick-ups probably for some of them. They’re revising and then re-writing certain things. So, we’re not finished yet but yes, I recorded all of them so far.
Is there anything you can tease in this current season for fans out there of Summer? And maybe give some teases as to what she might be going through?
Grammer: I don’t know. She’s definitely going to see some stuff she wished she hadn’t seen, I guess. She definitely sees some things that maybe are controversial or that are a little bit awkward and, yeah, maybe wish she hadn’t seen. But other than that I can’t really say any specifics. I’d get in trouble, I think.
Well, let’s look back on Summer’s past episodes then. Do you have either a favorite episode or a favorite moment for Summer? Or, if you don’t necessarily have one, is there one that fans always bring up that they want to talk about with you?
Grammer: People just generally like Summer because she’s a pretty strong female character. I get that a lot, that she rolls with what’s going on in the world. I also think she just doesn’t denies herself at all. She just stands up for herself. And I really love the episode, in general, I really love the Pickle Rick episode. That might be my favorite episode. But I also really like the episode where she goes to save Rick when he’s in prison.
There’s so many great Summer stories, like when she and Grandpa Rick take steroids and then go beat up the devil, basically. I think that’s so funny. I still laugh really hard at that every time I see it. It’s one of my favorite things. And then, I also like that Christmas episode we had, where she has a boyfriend. I just thought that was so funny. I wanted more boyfriend stuff. Summer and her boyfriend. I think that would be hilarious.
In addition to Rick and Morty, and the episodes that are to come, what’s up next for you? And what other projects are you currently working on that you’d like to talk about?
Grammer: Well, I just did guest star on that Project Blue Book, which was super fun for me. Because it’s on History Channel, but it’s filmed in the 50s style and I was like, I’m a fan of X-Files but also I get to be wearing 1950’s clothing, and I’m like, “Yes, please.” So that’s coming up sometime. I’m trying to think it’s airing pretty soon and I’m towards the end of the season. And then, what else do I have going on? There’s probably some Indie movies that haven’t come out yet. And then I’m finishing graduate school, to be honest.
I’m working on a thesis from Columbia. So I’m just in the middle, I don’t know if you’ve ever had to do a thesis, but it’s almost like you’re at the bottom of a murky lake trying to find the surface. But it comes to you like in a dream, like Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein, you know?
That worked out pretty well for her, yeah.
Grammer: That’s how I feel myself. Yeah, I’m just really trying to create a new genre of film, alone. And it’s very, very exciting and I am excited about traveling.
That’s very cool.
Grammer: Yeah. And I raised a child. So other than that it’s no big deal. No big deal. Becoming a mother, a responsible, socially aware, socially conscious person. That’s something I care about also.
Which is tough but necessary these days. Absolutely.
Grammer: Tough but necessary. Yeah.