The Orville: New Horizons debuts on Thursday. The third season of Seth MacFarlane’s homage to Star Trek: The Next Generation brings new adventures for the crew of the USS Orville, and TrekMovie had a chance to speak to members of the cast to get an update on what’s to come. The series of exclusive interviews were done as pairs and we have the highlights of what’s new below, which includes information on the new character being played by Anne Winters. We also get some of Penny Johnson Jerald’s insights into contrasting her Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with The Orville experiences.
Things get complicated for Adrianne Palicki and Penny Johnson Jerald
Season two of The Orville ended with a couple of episodes involving time travel and Adrianne Palicki playing two versions of Kelly Grayson. The actress tells TrekMovie that there are even bigger challenges ahead in season three:
Adrianne Palicki: There is a there’s a big storyline coming up that is very intense and hard for Kelly. And she has to navigate that and it’s very difficult thing to do. As an actor, I would say the hardest thing I’ve probably ever done was the season two finale playing two versions of Kelly, so nothing physically that challenging like that this season, but emotionally, I think that there’s a massive storyline that’s going to hit a of nerves and hopefully hearts. It’s something about what’s happening in the world right now.
Season two wrapped up with the younger version of Kelly being sent back to her original time and Palicki confirmed that the younger Kelly’s memories were indeed wiped by Dr. Finn:
Adrianne Palicki: I don’t think she has the memory. That was part of what Dr. Finn did for her which changed some things. It was such a fun character to play, that different version of what could have happened. But no, I don’t I don’t think that advises her character in the future. I think Kelly will always have feelings for Ed. And maybe we’ll see that evolve this season.
A big part of season two was the close relationship between Dr. Finn and her family and Isaac, which became a point of conflict when the Kaylons attacked Earth. Penny Johnson Jerald talked about how the fallout will play a part in Claire’s story in season three, but she has other things going on too:
Penny Johnson Jerald: It starts off being the very big challenge because she has to navigate how to protect her children from the aftermath of that, because he was let in and they did trust him, and then he betrayed them. But not just that. Claire’s backstory will come into play. And it just gets complicated for her. All of these things. And finally, it’s brought to some kind of understanding and I think a favorable ending, but it doesn’t happen without Claire getting some advice from her best friend Kelly. Every doctor needs a good doctor and my doctor is my commander.
What’s new with the newbies
The Orville cast has evolved over the three seasons. In season two, Jessica Szohr joined as the Xelayan head of security, Lt. Talla Keyali. The third season brings in Anne Winters to play the ship’s new navigator, Ensign Charly Burke. Winters talked to TrekMovie about her character and what it was like joining the series:
Anne Winters: She definitely comes hot. She has a point of view. She is standing up for what she thinks and is very stubborn. You left off season two with the Kaylon battle, and she’s the only survivor from one of the ships that gets completely destroyed. So she’s coming in with a very hard heart, especially towards Isaac. So they have a really cool arc and storyline this season. I get to work with Mark [Jackson] a lot.
And just being the new navigator and being able to work with Scott [Grimes] and being the navigator of a ship was super new and different for me. And working with Seth [MacFarlane] was incredible seeing how he creates storylines, and just the vibe he brings on set as a director and creator I thought was really powerful. I’m excited to see what people think about Charly though. She’s definitely a different character and brings kind of a different dynamic to the show this season.
And Szohr gave us an update on what’s new for Talla:
Jessica Szohr: Everything was so fun this season. We had new sets, new characters that come and join us. So there was just a lot of fun stuff going on. But it’s kind of a bumpy ride for Talla this season. She experiences some ups and downs with her career and with some relationships. She does seem to find where she fits with the crew, which I know is very important to her. And I know that [Captain] Ed [Mercer] puts more trust with trust with her and so he gives her more responsibility… And you are going to learn new things with her backstory and her parents. So it’ll be a fun journey for everyone to kind of go on with with Talla this year.
The pair of actresses also talked about how Jessica was able to help Anne with being the new person on set:
Jessica Szohr: I sure hope [I helped]. She came in ready to rock and roll. She was super professional, fun on-set and off-set. So it felt kind of like she was a part of the crew from the beginning which is great. And we were also excited to see who was going to play Charly. It was it’s such a big arc in this in this season. So as soon as we found out who it was and what she did with the role it was just all so exciting and happy.
Anne Winters: She definitely did reach out to me and made me feel very comfortable. She was like, “I was the newbie on set last season and I am here and let’s be friends.” So I definitely felt a warm welcome from her for sure. But also with all the cast. I felt very welcomed by everybody, which was nice.
Getting a little more serious with Scott Grimes and J Lee
The Orville will be leaning a bit less into the humor and more into the sci-fi and character drama. Two characters known for a good laugh are Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) and chief engineer John Lamarr (J Lee); the pair spoke about getting a bit more serious in season three:
Scott Grimes: The good thing is, it’s not like I go “Oh, I’m not gonna have anything to do.” Gordon has already established that he can be funny. So now it’s just a little less of it. And there has to be some comic relief and anything, so I still say the fun things and they’re still funny. I also get to do serious stuff as well. Like pilot the ship, which is always a blast. So I think we found a way for this show to evolve into what it is and have Gordon kind of help out a little bit more and be a little bit more mature instead of just goofy.
J Lee: My character had to switch from being a goofball a little earlier. We found out John was super smart in season one and became chief engineer. There’s still some random one-liners here and there. With the promotion, John takes his job very seriously. And on the Orville we find ourselves in some rough spots a lot and they need John to kind of help them figure it. But yeah, I think with season three, this is where we are now. This is the show Seth always wanted to make. And he is able to tell these stories the way he wants to tell them.
J Lee talked about how the increased production budget allowed for a brand-new engineering:
J Lee: That new engineering set is awesome. It’s practical and built on two levels. In the first episode, John runs up the steps and there is a very cool Steadicam shot that follows me up the steps to the second level. As an actor, this is my playpen, and these are my lieutenants. It’s fun.
Scott Grimes talked about having a new bridge buddy with the introduction of the character Charly:
Scott Grimes: Having Charly on the show and since John Lamar left the bridge, having someone to sit next to and banter off of as far as driving the drive in the ship, that’s been great. I’ve loved that.
He also indicated an upcoming character arc for Gordon:
Scott Grimes: Gordon’s searching for love. He’s getting older and wants that. And that’ll be part of his journey this season.
Understanding Moclan culture with Peter Macon and Chad Coleman
The USS Orville’s most prominent aliens are Lt. Commander Bortus (Peter Macon) and his husband Klyden (Chad L. Coleman). Over the first two seasons, their relationship has gone through a lot, and the actors talked about how they are still dealing with all of that in season three, hinting there is more tension to come:
Peter Macon: I think what may be new is the culmination of everything that’s happened before for these guys. What’s going to be new to dealing with everything we’ve laid out about them.
Chad Coleman: To me, there is the appearance that things could be settling down. Things have settled and we have gone through some really rocky times. And now we just go have some family fun… But it is a setup for a serious-ish storm. Conflict is more compelling in drama, right?
The Moclans have been used to develop some of the more topical stories for the show and our recent interview with the producers indicated that will continue into season three. Chad Coleman talked about what it’s like playing Klyden and taking on these different cultural viewpoints:
Chad Coleman: It’s interesting. I hope we will continue to unfold their culture. And I want to make sure people walk away with the appropriate amount of respect for who we are, and where we come from, and not be so easy to just dismiss it from an Earth perspective. This is a culture in and of itself and that’s how they live. So it’s just a little bit of that for me because I got to be loyal to what is on the page about Klyden. Just hopefully we will find acceptance, or hopefully people have some sense of tolerance to understand this is what we were taught. This is what was real to us. So the unlearning, or the shifting of a perspective, it should take what it takes.
Penny Johnson Jerald on how The Orville isn’t Deep Space Nine
Much has been said about how much The Orville draws from Star Trek, but Penny Johnson Jerald has a unique perspective, having played the recurring role of Kassidy Yates over five seasons on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She offered up some of her insights now that she has three seasons of The Orville (starting in 2017) to compare to her Trek experience:
Penny Johnson Jerald: To be honest, it didn’t take this 40 years of shooting The Orville to be able to make the distinction with Star Trek [laughs]. Just being on set, I could tell this is going to be a different experience. It’s not that it was just so laid back and lackadaisical. It wasn’t that. But it was trusting and that other people could contribute to what’s going on with talking about ideas and things like that. And so it wasn’t as rigid as it was on Deep Space Nine. On Deep Space Nine there was no conversation. The only conversation I would have with Deep Space Nine was with me and Avery [Brooks] talking about our scenes and our beats. We were these thespian actors talking on a level like that. But it was nothing about how much fun we were having behind the cameras and things like that. We had great chemistry, but we did the work. So the big difference is the environment in which we were working.
The similarities is that we have we have Trekky people. We have David Goodman, we have Brannon Braga. And at the very beginning we even had our cinematographer from Deep Space Nine [Marvin Rush]. And we have had many guest stars from Star Trek. And the fans would get so excited because they thought “Oh, they’re really doing a Star Trek.” But truly we’re not. The Orville is its own monster. It truly is. It’s different in that the tone is different. Out of all the Treks, Deep Space Nine I think is the only one that dealt with issues similar to The Orville. The human existence and how people are feeling. And also this is truly an ensemble piece and Deep Space Nine was Sisko’s thing.
New Horizons Thursday
The Orville: New Horizons premieres tomorrow, Thursday, June 2, 2022. New episodes will be released weekly only on Hulu in the USA. Internationally The Orville is also on Star on Disney+ in select markets.
For more details, check out our exclusive interview with executive producers Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, and Jon Cassar.
Check out the recent trailer…
Note: Interviews have been edited for clarity.
Keep up with all The Orville news and analysis on TrekMovie.