The Orville: New Horizons Actor Scott Grimes On His Big Action Scene And Embracing More Drama [Interview]

After a three-year hiatus, the crew of the Orville is finally exploring the galaxy once again. Now airing on Hulu under the name "The Orville: New Horizons," Seth MacFarlane's sci-fi dramedy about the crew of an exploratory space vessel in the 25th century is leaning much more into the science fiction side of their descriptors as opposed to the comedy part. But where does that leave some of the funniest parts of the show, like helmsman Lt. Gordon Malloy?

Ahead of the new season's fourth episode, we recently spoke to star Scott Grimes, who plays Gordon, about the returning series and his character's new place in it. And honestly, it's not that different from his old place. Captain Mercer's best friend and the best pilot in the fleet has always had a knack for practical jokes, but we've seen many layers to Lt. Malloy throughout the show's run so far in episodes like season 1's "Krill" and season 2's "Lasting Impressions." Although in the third season, all that gets taken to the next level — along with the CGI budget and the show's overall storytelling.

In our discussion, we touch on the heavy topics contained in the first episode of season 3, "Electric Sheep," following the events of season 2's run-in with the Kaylon, the inspirations behind Gordon's near-death experience in "Morality Paradox," and the various bits that Grimes loves and hates about filming "The Orville." Plus, we get into just how cool it is to be a character in a comic book.

Next generation

It seems like a few things have been turned up to 11 since "The Orville" moved from Fox to Hulu, but did you as a cast member experience any changes as a result, creatively or otherwise?

I think just what [stories] Seth wanted to tell. Obviously being on Fox, he had people not so much in his corner as far as what he wanted the show to become. He wanted it to be a little bit more thoughtful science fiction, serious, dramatic, and they probably wanted to keep it a little lighter. I did notice what we were being asked as actors. [The] show just became a little bit more dramatic.

And I did notice a bit of money, a little bit more money in what we're showing and what we're building. Some of these sets every day I'd walk on and there would be a different set that you're like, "Is this serious? They're still building these practical sets," and that was what Seth wanted to do. Just those things. Hulu gave us some time and some cash, and we ran with it.

Strange new worlds

While he's known to be a jokester, Lt. Gordon Malloy is much more than comic relief on "The Orville." In fact, you get to show off your dramatic chops in a number of the show's best episodes. But it seems, as you said, like Gordon gets a lot more serious in the first three episodes of "New Horizons," especially in episode 1. Were you excited to explore more aspects of your character in this new season, particularly in response to the Isaac situation?

Yeah, definitely. As an actor you also go, "Well, you're taking the comedy out, where's my place in the show?" So I was really happy that Seth and the writers and [director] Jon Cassar allowed Gordon to do what you just said, to grow and have thoughts and have this thing about Isaac that was definitely prevalent in episode 1. So yes, I'm really happy to Gordon to still have a place on the show. He's still a good [pilot], he drives the ship, and I still have these little quips once in a while, these comments that lighten up the scenes, that's my job also. So yes, very happy to still have a place on this show. And it's going to get more and more dramatic for the show and for Gordon.

In regards to the Isaac situation from episode 1, your show hasn't been afraid to explore controversial topics in the past, but were you surprised by Gordon's reaction to the whole thing in the opening of this season?

I was. I knew that my character had to be someone that Charly [Anne Winters' character] needed to talk to about it. How I took it, though — because I love Isaac. I think the reason Gordon had a problem with Isaac is not because of the same reasons that Charly had. The Kaylon killed her friend. Gordon was upset because he trusted this guy, Isaac. If you remember, I sang songs to Isaac last year and we were good friends. We were jokesters together. And so I think Gordon had just had that reaction because he trusted Isaac and that hurt Gordon. And you'll see a little bit of that as it goes on and maybe that trust will come back.

First contact

In the third episode of the season, it seemed like the immortal beings were tailor-making the near death experience to each member of the landing party. It was interesting to see that Gordon's hallucination involved a high school bully. Why do you think that's what was picked out for Gordon?

You know, it's so funny you said that, because I haven't really had this conversation with Seth. He's one of my best friends in the world, but I do know that some of those fears are his, [like] the flying one. So he wrote about himself. But I do remember having conversations about being a redheaded kid in school when I was a child and some things that happened to me.

[Seth] remembers stuff like that, man. His mind is incredible. I was lucky enough to be kind of an actor and not get the brunt of what people that maybe looked like me when I was a kid had to go through, but I still had it. I think that's what he wrote into it. He wrote in just the old-school [swirly], because that definitely happened to me. I don't know if I got the crap beat out of me that bad, but that swirly in the toilet, that's real. I mean, that had happened to me. I think he grabs things from his friends and things that he hears about and puts them in because that was as real as it gets.

We don't know a ton about Gordon's life prior to the beginning of the show, but it is interesting to kind of see how he reacts in that environment, you know?

Yeah, yeah. We don't, you're right. I mean, you're going to see something coming up that I can't talk about, but yeah. You'll get to delve into who he was, who he's going to be.

Oh, I can't wait.

Undiscovered country

Speaking of those moments with the bully in the episode, it seemed like you got into a lot more action moments than we usually see you in regularly. How was that experience filming with Randall the monster?

I loved it. I loved every second of it. I like the running, I like all the things. I'm this kind of guy that even if I fear something, then I'll show up even earlier because I want to get that out. I was a little nervous going in, we did some wire work where the monsters pick me up and I go 50, 60 feet in the air and I was nervous, but I loved it. Our crew and our stunt crew and all that are so amazing. And just the action. Like Adrianne Palicki is an action star in movies, so when you have someone in the cast that does something better than you, you've got to step up. There wasn't a day — I couldn't complain, because you have all these amazing people like her who's a stunt performer. So I had to step up to the plate and I enjoyed every second of it.


In this episode we also re-encounter the beings from the multiphasic world and it was a fun callback to an earlier adventure. Are there any other aliens or planets or storylines that you'd like to revisit somewhere along the line?

I would love it. Yeah. That's as much as I'm going to say to you.

[Laughs] One of Seth's favorite things to do is to make you forget so that he can remind you later and you go, "Oh my God, look what we're doing!" So yeah, that's part of his writing thing. I've forgotten everything, wink, wink, but I also have forgotten, it's been so long. But I'm assuming, yeah, we're going to probably see some things we've seen in the past.

Absolutely. I just remember having that moment of watching "Morality Paradox" and guest star Elizabeth Gillies' character revealing herself as part of that civilization from the end of season 1 and I was just like, "Yooo!"

She was such a trooper, too [with her costume]. She had like head to toe ... I think it was really hot outside, too. We were out in this parking lot filming that final scene, the desert scene, and they'd filled the parking lot with sand and it was hot and she's just in all this prosthetics and a bodysuit. I felt so bad for her. She was a trooper. She has like five pages of dialogue as she's talking to us, and she did it over and over and over again, and she got on a plane and went back to New York, or wherever she was from. We got really lucky to get her because we could have been standing there for another 15 hours with any other actress that maybe didn't know their lines. It was terrific.


And you've had some experience with the special effects makeup, too. Again, "Krill" is one of the best episodes of the show and it involved you guys going undercover.

I just watched it again, because I've been doing this a long time, I'm 50 years old. I still watch that and I think it is the best time and the best comedic performance that you could ever get out of me. Again, I'm not complementing myself, but I watched that and I think what Seth and I accomplished in that "Krill" episode was awesome. We just had a blast, it's kind of old vaudeville, and we just had a good time. I hope to revisit that someday, that would be fun. No question.

You said you're not going to compliment yourself, but I'm going to compliment you for you, because that's one of my favorite episodes.

And again, I hated it. I hated being in that makeup so much, but I think that's what created that performance for Seth and I because all we could do was act. Because if we stopped for a second, we were miserable. You know, it was a terrible thing. The makeup department, Howard Berger and that whole crew, is just incredible at making you feel comfortable, so I'd love to do that again.

The final frontier

Finally, as an old school sci-fi fan, I'm sure that you have some connection to comic books. I was wondering how it feels for you to be in the Orville comics from Dark Horse?

It's awesome! My dad used to take me to the comic book store when I was a kid and when it first came out and [executive producer and writer of the comics] David A. Goodman first showed it to me, I was like, "I cannot believe this!" I also loved that we looked like us, but we look like a comic version of us. That's just a dream come true to have somebody draw you as a comic book character. It was just — it was awesome! My hair's a little too red, but I get it. It has to be.

New episodes of "The Orville: New Horizons" arrive every Thursday on Hulu.