Rick and Morty‘s season seven premiere marked a new era of the show. It was the first time co-creator Justin Roiland did not voice any characters, including the two titular characters. Adult Swim fired Roiland earlier this year after serious allegations. That included now-dismissed legal charges and other accusations of impropriety. Despite everyone knowing about the upcoming recasting, though, Adult Swim didn’t announce who was stepping into the roles of Rick and Morty until the seventh season actually debuted. Now Rick and Morty has revealed its new lead voice actors. Ian Cardoni is the new voice of Rick, and Harry Belden is playing Morty. But how did the two actors get these coveted parts in Rick and Morty? It took half a year and thousands of candidates to find two actors who sound like the characters we’ve always known.

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Animation’s biggest secret is out of the squanch so Rick and Morty is pulling back the curtain on how it replaced, well, Rick and Morty. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creator Dan Harmon and showrunner Scott Marder said the series ultimately heard thousands of possible replacements over a six-month process. They were looking for two actors instead of just one. That was in part to help preserve each performer’s vocals. They said doing both voices took a toll on Roiland, and it was unfair to do to anyone else. Harmon also said hiring two new people to play Rick and Morty was less disruptive than finding one person to replace both roles, and the show was very much focused on making the change as seamless as possible. That’s why they always wanted to recreate Rick and Morty’s voices rather than change them in any way.

They thought recasting would be easy, but it was anything but. While many people could do exact imitations of the characters in small doses, they couldn’t maintain the voices in conversation. The “exhaustive” search ultimately led them to pick Cardoni as the new voice of Rick. He’d been part of the “first wave” of auditions. Belden came along much later, but both underwent a grueling process that whittled thousands down to the hundreds.

(John Allen replaced Roiland as Mr. Poopybutthole in the premiere. Harmon and Marder didn’t want their new stars to have to deal with also learning another part, though they might do more voices in the future.)

Harmon only got involved in the recasting near the end. He wanted to spare himself from the emotional process of trying to match the voices to their previous iterations. He then listened to potential replacements without knowing who anyone was. When Harmon finally did meet his young new Rick and Morty actors he found their ages shocking, considering they have a big task on a very popular show with some very passionate fans. (Understatement intentional.)

Harmon and Marder think their eager and enthusiastic new actors are why the show could run “30 more years” now. They say their new Rick and Morty have brought a fresh energy to the series. And with time they’ll only get more comfortable in the parts, which will include at least two more seasons. Harmon said they’re already writing season nine. Season nine!

For a show that used to take two years between seasons, that might be the most surprising news. Finding a new Rick and Morty was hard. But getting a new season in a timely fashion once seemed impossible.