Disenchantment Star Abbi Jacobson Teases Beanie's Hero's Journey In Season 4 [Interview]

Being queen of a magical kingdom sounds like a lot of fun, but it turns out it's also extremely challenging. For "Disenchantment" character Princess Tiabeanie (Abbi Jacobson), being Queen of Dreamland means taking care of her mildly insane father, looking out for her friends Elfo (Nat Faxon) and Luci (Eric André), and hopefully averting a multitude of wars. "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening created the medieval fantasy series for Netflix, and part four is set to debut on the streaming service this week. The trailer for the upcoming season shows Queen Bean enjoying some of the perks of her new position, like freshly poured beer in the morning, but also depicts her possibly getting married in the bowels of Hell. Every time it looks like Bean might finally be out of danger, something even more ridiculous happens to throw her world out of whack. 

I was fortunate enough to chat with Jacobson via phone about the upcoming season and what makes "Disenchantment" so special. It turns out that keeping characters relatable even when they're in a completely ridiculous world can lead to some fantastic fantasy storytelling. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

A "Hero's Journey" for Beanie

Over the first three seasons, we've really seen Beanie grow into her own. Now that she's Queen of Dreamland, what kind of changes can we expect for her in part 4?

I think the creators and the writers and everybody, they've just done such a great job of expanding the character from who we first meet in the beginning of the show, and I think the fourth part is just an expansion of that. I think it's probably the most personal for Beanie. It definitely feels like she, along with the other main characters, are kind of on this heroes' journey. There's a lot of solo exploration to find herself, but also to find her way back and figure out how to save the kingdom. I think that was a big part of that is figuring out who she is, and then also that she needs other people to do that with her. Well, not always other people. They're not always people with this show. 

"If we're lucky, we get to invest in ourselves and do some inventory."

That's true. And it's funny that you say that, because her relationships with her parents are super complicated. I was wondering how you think having such a boneheaded dad and competent but evil mother has shaped her up to this point?

Yeah. I mean, I think she's been dealt quite the hand for sure, in terms of her upbringing and her parents and who they are and who she thinks they were, who she thought they were her whole life. And as the show keeps going and you learn more about her parents and who they are and who they are at their core. I think that even despite those first impressions — I think Zøg, even though he is a bonehead, I think that there's such heart there at the core, that she really knows him better in that way. There is a heart that Bean got there from him. Her mom is full of constant surprises, and they're not always good. There're some surprises that are good, too.

I think, as I said before, this part is such a personal exploration and Bean learns so much about herself in this season. A lot of it is looking at — as we all get older, if we're lucky, we get to invest in ourselves and do some inventory. And I think getting to see her parents deeper and deeper only allows her to know herself and figure out what choices she wants to make.

The Power of Found Family

What parts of yourself do you see in Tiabeanie? Is there a little bit of you in there?

[Laughs] Yeah, I mean, I think so. I definitely think that there's an adventurous spirit, but I don't often partake in as much as Bean. But that sort of longing to see the world and have adventures, even though hers are often necessary adventures. I think the humor, definitely. That and I think the finding of her people, in Elfo and Luci. I really relate to finding like-minded people a little bit later in life that helped me navigate my way. Elfo, Bean, and Luci are this special trio that help each other figure out the ups and downs of life. I love that part. That part's probably my favorite, that unlikely friendship between the three of them.

"I would be a split between Bean and Elfo."

I love that. Would you go out drinking with Beanie, Elfo, and Luci, if you existed in that world?

Yeah. This is so funny, I feel like we're talking about "Disenchantment" the way people are talking about like "Sex in the City," like "who are you?" Cause I would be a split between Bean and Elfo. I have a lot of the Elfo anxiety, I think, but there's a part of me that's definitely a little bit Beanie. I think I would go out with them, I don't know if I could keep up, drinking-wise, but I would try.

And if you had the chance to go to Dreamland, what kind of creature or person would you want to be?

Oh man. I guess, I feel like I'd probably want to be Bean. Everyone else is walking on some tricky territory. I feel like anyone could die at any moment. So I feel like Bean seems like a safe way to go.

"The talent of everyone voicing this show is sort of unparalleled."

What do you think makes "Disenchantment" stand apart from some of the other cartoons out there for adults?

I mean, listen, I'm so blown away by this show in terms of the style of it. It's so beautiful. It has the fantasy/sci-fi elements, but also the comedy has Matt [Groenig] and Josh's [Weinstein] groundedness that they always bring to every show that I think is so special and makes you relate to the characters, even though they are in this wildly different world, this medieval kingdom.

Also, I love the way they let us improvise. I know that's in other shows, but that's probably one of my favorite parts about doing it. I've been in enough — maybe not this year because of COVID — but I've been in enough recordings with a lot of these other voice actors, and the talent of everyone voicing this show is sort of unparalleled. I've just been able to sit and watch them work and it's pretty f***ing rad what they can do.

"It's freeing in a lot of ways because you're only hearing me and you're not seeing me."

That's so cool. What's it like voice acting compared to being on camera — and even then more than that, what's it like doing something like "Disenchantment" versus a big family movie, like "The Mitchells vs. The Machines"?

Yeah. I mean, the voice acting as opposed to a live-action thing, it's freeing in a lot of ways because you're only hearing me and you're not seeing me. I'm not concerned with a lot of other elements of what my body's doing, but it also forces me to be a little bit like bigger with my body, because I want to make sure that I'm conveying everything just through my voice. But in both of those things you mentioned, I'm not a voice actor thus far; I don't change my voice very much. Sometimes I'll go a little bit lower or scrappier, but I pretty much stay within my register or whatever it's called. But I think that it's just freeing. You get to try so many things.

[There's a] freedom of the way in which we record and the time it takes. We get to revisit a lot of scenes over the year-and-a-half, I don't know what the span is, but you get to sort of come back and retry things, whereas in live-action stuff, you don't really get to do a lot of that. And that's so fun for me.

I guess with "Disenchantment," it feels like ongoing adventures with twist and turns, and with "Mitchells," it felt like this one week that we were telling — it's very contained within that story and the specific relationships of a film like that. Versus a show, it's way more expansive in terms of where they can go and what wild different stories they're going to tell season to season. So it just feels like way more, if that makes sense.

"Disenchantment" part 4 hits Netflix on February 9, 2022.