Interview: ‘The Orville’ Cast On What’s New For The Orville Crew In ‘New Horizons’

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.

Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) in The Orville: New Horizons (Photo by: Ali Goldstein/Hulu)

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.

Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) in The Orville: New Horizons (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

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.

Lt. Talla Keyali (Jessica Szohr) in The Orville: New Horizons (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

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.

Charly Burke (Anne Winters) on The Orville: New Horizons (Photo by: Michael Desmond/Hulu)

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.

Lt. Cmdr. John LaMarr (J Lee) in The Orville: New Horizons  (Photo by: Kevin Estrada/Hulu)

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.

Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) and Charly Burke (Anne Winters) in The Orville: New Horizons (Photo by: Ali Goldstein/Hulu)

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.

Lt. Cmdr. Bortus (Peter Macon) in The Orville: New Horizons (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

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.

Penny Johnson Jerald as Kassidy Yates with Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine

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.

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I so can’t wait. This going t be Awesome!!!

I find it interesting an unexpected that Jerrold didn’t experience DS9 as an ensemble.

Perhaps it’s because her character mainly interacted with Sisko/Brooks.

If that’s the difference between this series and DS9, then please make every scifi series on TV have more serious sets and production structure versus this sort of party atmosphere please. DS9 is the Stark Trek gold standard in my book…only TOS do I hold at a higher level.

DS9 definitely was and still _IS_ Star Trek’s gold standard in my book, too!

But The Orville has a very similar feel to me — season 1 started off feeling more like “Little Green Men” with a good helping of “Duet” and “The Visitor” sprinkled in, and transitioned to feeling a lot like “In the Pale Moonlight” with a bit of “Our Man Bashir” and “The Magnificent Ferengi” sprinkled in for season 2. Can’t wait to have seen all of season 3!

It is sci-fi comfort food in our house. 😊

Yeah I agree. I think Orville is like comfort food. SNW is also feeling like that so far!

Very well put, Skipper. I feel exactly the same.

Thats actually a normal thing for non-regular actors on TV shows. You’re basically just a soldier brought in for one battle and you better funcion. It’s a very different experience for the regulars. Connor Trineer and Dominic Keating often explain this on their podcast. And aparrently it doesn’t even make that much of a difference if your a Guest Actor for one episode or a whole arc. Marc Alaimo said in the DS9 Documentary that he never felt appreciated or part of the cast even though story wise he’s basically a main character.

Good points Tiger2 and Sacha Sebastian.

But I think that there arenanother elements to this.

What this speaks to is how great the difference is between the “stars” of the crew of the ship and the company of actors, but at the same time there is some correlation between the Starfleet hierarchy and the hierarchy in the company of performers.

The captain, who is the chef de compagnie of the troop of performers, seemed to be expected to take on a leadership role among the cast in the 90s. But the status hierarchy of actors definitely seems to be very much alive in the off screen relationships.

With Discovery, it’s clear that Sonequa Martin-Green is a gracious chef de compagnie who makes every performer feel valued and welcome. Which is not what the writers show on the ship where by contrast the Discovery seems very cliquish, and the show is not written as an ensemble.

Clearly in DS9 the social ensemble was the main cast of heroes, excluding villains, even if the long time recurring actors had enough time on sets and makeup trailers. There were other subgroups of guest and recur actors who worked together a lot (the Klingons, the Ferengi). It seems clear that the time in makeup and on set together established some kind of rapport, even if they were in the outer circle socially.

In another franchise, like MCU or DC Arrowverse, it seems clear that some of the regular villains and recurring characters are part of the company. So, it’s a fair question what is the underlying dynamic.

I actually found that comment Alaimo made quite interesting. He sounded exactly like Dukat, when he was always lamenting how his “valiant efforts” at reducing the Bajoran’s plight were never recognized and how he felt unappreciated…

I read (or heard) Marina Sirtis once speak about the cast of TNG and how much fun they had on many of the later season shows. She noted that Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn were quite the comedian. Seems logical as many of the cast members are still close friends (which kinda’ feels nice to this Star Trek fan for some reason :).

She also spoke about how she knew one of the cast members on DS9 fairly well (perhaps Colm? I just can’t remember) and was invited over to a shooting. She spoke about how different (not worse or better, just different) the atmosphere was on the DS9 stage. Much more serious and efficient.

I agree with some of the comments. Several of the DS9 episodes over the years have been the best acted Trek I have seen.

Cheers.

I heard this too and I read the DS9 set was more serious due to Avery Brooks. Since he was the lead, everyone just followed his direction from the beginning and set a more serious vibe because that’s usually how he worked. I don’t think they didn’t have fun at times or laughed, they just didn’t crack jokes all day, pull pranks on each other or moon at the camera in a take. That’s why the TNG blooper reels are so much fun to watch lol.

“Scott Grimes: Gordon’s searching for love. He’s getting older and wants that. And that’ll be part of his journey this season.”

Oooh myyy!

This show is on FIRE!!! 🔥🔥🔥
I’m loving every second!!! 😍

😃👍Thank you for the interviews! (Though… when I read the closing disclaimer that “interviews have been edited for clarity,” I burst out laughing — you guys are in serious need of a copy editor with these transcriptions! 😉)

Will you be reviewing the season? I’d love to read your take on it all!

I did not like the first season due to the lame comedy content, and didn’t watch much of the second. But I must admit that this is a good trailer, so I am interested in giving the series another try when I get in my next Hulu rotation. And Johnny, you enthusiasm is infectious – cool!

From the couple of reviews I have read, it sounds like S3 will be a much more serious show with some darker elements to it. IMO this is good, because I know I had some difficulty taking the show seriously back in S1. Seth is super talented and a big Trek fan, but I half expected Stewie or Peter G to show up haha.

Even though I won’t bother signing up for D+ right away, I plan to maybe buy it later this summer for a month or two, so I can binge watch both ObiWan and some of The Orville.

Having seen the season 3 premiere, I can say that Burke is going to be a horrible character. SPOILER ALERT! Her refusal to obey orders should have gotten her kicked out of the Union permanently. Don’t get me wrong. I understand why everyone had such strong feelings about Isaac, but if they had killed one of the best characters on this show, I would have been up Seth MacFarlane’s ass, and not in a good way.

If only the Orville would move to Paramount too. My world would be complete

Disney execs: “Ok, so, we should buy CBS. Got it, stand by..!”

Haven’t watched the first episode yet but I been reading some of the reviews and they are saying this season is a lot more serious and dark. And one person said Orville is more serious than SNW has been so far and considers SNW the lighter and jokier show between the two. Who saw that coming?

OK after watching it, I now understand what the reviews are saying. It’s still the same show and characters, the tone itself is just a little more grown up. There are ‘jokes’ but not really broad ones or sight gags anymore. They just feel more organic to the scenes and not really drawing attention to themselves. The show didn’t get heavier like you’re watching The Expanse all of a sudden, but definitely a little more mature is the best way to put it. Oh and they are definitely on a streaming site now, one of the characters say ‘bullshit’ in the episode.

And I really liked the premiere episode. I won’t give any spoilers away but it does feel closer to Star Trek and the story is a great morality play and a serious subject matter. Think TNG’s The Enemy as a decent parallel. All I will say for a non-spoiler thread. Really hope TM will make review threads for this show again this season. I definitely will be watching now.

And yes, oddly, SNW does come off more funny or light than this show so far, but not a bad or good thing, just an observation.

Definately a pretty strong if not perfect start to the season. Funny thing is, I wasn’t thinking of any Star Trek episodes, when watching it, but of the first and second season of Picard, that each had very similar elements to this (though not the same story of course). McFarlane just developed those elements so much better in an hour than that show did in almost 20 hours …

Oh … that wasnt a put down by the way — I genuinly forgot for a moment, that Picard actually is an official Star Trek show :-D

oh well …

Agreed. Yeah not perfect, but a solid premiere. The trailer made it look like it was going to be an action packed episode but it was quieter and very character driven outside of a few scenes which I really liked. I thought being longer than an hour was going to drag but just the opposite, it flew by for me.

I won’t say it’s better than Picard yet because I actually thought both seasons of that show started off very strong too; but I have a feeling it will be a better season as a whole based on this episode alone.

really good episode. hate the new character so much.

I still hope Disney would release season three of “The Orville” on DVD and Digital–whether under the 20th Century Studios banner or under the 20th Television banner–in time for Christmas.