Rick and Morty finally returns this Sunday after more than two years, when the show’s fourth season premieres at Adult Swim on November 10. When we last saw the Smiths, Beth and Jerry had reunited. While their reconciliation wasn’t great for Rick, it was a welcome one for his grandkids, especially Summer, voiced by Spencer Grammer. Nerdist got a chance to speak with Grammer ahead of the new season, and she told us what the family’s new situation will mean for season four, along with her favorite moments from the past, the ridiculous way she accidentally “scares” her friends in hotels, and why viewers love the Smith family’s dysfunction.
Summer has gone from a minor character to a major character who also gets to go on insane adventures with the Rick. What’s it like getting to play someone who undergoes that kind of transformation?
Spencer Grammer: The character originally started off as a side character. She was part of the family dynamic. I think as I introduced them to my own independent nature, my independent feminist perspective, the character grew, because she says things with conviction and authority. It’s been really wonderful to experience that as a voice actor, because I get to do so many more fun things.
We get the script, you read them, and then we go into the booth and we record them, and I get to imagine all of these wonderful scenarios without actually ever seeing what it looks yet. And that part is the most fun, because it’s extremely creative to imagine you’re running away from aliens, or fighting, or being stuck in a spaceship that’s protecting Summer, or witnessing all of the crazy things that happen outside.
Who is your favorite crazy character you got to interact with?
SG: I always really loved the Needful Things episode. I had such a range there. Summer was trying to be independent, then she had to stand tough to Rick, then she ends up collaborating with him and they end up taking steroids and beating the shit out of everybody. It’s the most fun thing to see happen in real life.
Was that your favorite episode you worked on?
SG: I think “keep Summer safe” was probably my favorite because when I read what happened I was in the booth going, “Oh my god!” It was so upsetting, the emotional experience of seeing what happened was very intense. I really liked last season’s Mad Max World too (S3, E2, “Rickmancing the Stone“). I felt like Summer grew while pretending to be an adult for a while. It’s very, very fun to play a little bit of a melodrama, even in a post-apocalyptic world. There was marital unrest that was very entertaining. There are some great episodes coming up that I had a blast working on too. There’s a few great Summer storylines coming.
Summer had a very emotional season three after her parents separated. What can we expect from her in season four now that they’re back together?
SG: There’s some acting out that happens. I think I’m allowed to say that. Our notes were like, “Cool stuff happens, more adventure.” There is definitely more acting out is the best answer I can give without giving too much away.
How would you describe Summer’s current feelings for her grandfather?
SG: She respects him in a weird way. I know Rick is this crazy mad scientist drunk, but there seems to be a reasoning behind his psychopathy. That makes Summer respect him, because he does everything with conviction.
People really seem drawn to the show’s depiction of a dysfunctional family. Why do you think, on a show that’s so inherently bizarre, that has struck such a chord with viewers?
SG: I think everyone has a dysfunctional family. When you have all this crazy stuff going on that’s based on science and research, that seems extraordinary and extraterrestrial and also multidimensional, you want to be grounded in something that feels very comforting. So despite whatever is happening on the adventures they’re going on, you know they’re still a family and that family is bonded in a way. That’s probably the reason. And your family would be so much cooler if it was dysfunctional but could still go to other dimensions.
Fan expectations are always really high, but they are especially high after the show’s longest hiatus. What were your expectations during the long wait and do you find the amount of time between seasons frustrating?
SG: No, I’m always very busy right. I’m not particularly frustrated between seasons. It’s twofold. You want what you can’t have, so you get frustrated because you want to see. But it also allows you to really really, really want it when it comes out. So it’s always been a two-year long process from me recording to the episode to it going on, and in that year we’ll record episodes multiple times. Sometimes I’ll go in and record over animatics, and then even as we go along and the animation becomes more solid we’re still going in and adding new lines. I went in last week and recorded lines for four or five episodes, lines that were added later or changed for clarity. So I’m constantly involved. It doesn’t feel like any time has gone on in between. But also I’ve been recording the show for over eight years. I’ve gotten used to that as the schedule.
Now that the show’s been around for as long as it has and it’s so popular, how often do fans of the show recognize you by your voice?
SG: I don’t get recognized for my voice that often, but what does happen often is I have friends of mine who don’t realize I’m on the show. They’ll be taking a shower in some random hotel room and they hear my voice and go, “Spencer?” Then they put together that I’m on the show and I get a text message at two in the morning saying, “I didn’t realize that was you and I thought you were in my room and it was creepy!” It’s very entertaining.
What’s the most common thing you hear from Rick and Morty fans?
SG: More recently that they love Summer. Also, “When’s the new season coming out? Do Justin [Roiland] and Dan [Harmon] hate each other? Are they always fighting?” And I’m like, “No.” I don’t know their personal lives, but not from what I can tell. We have a great time together. But generally lots of questions about why the show hasn’t been airing yet.
Speaking of Dan and Justin, what’s something about working on the show that would surprise fans?
SG: If I’m screaming we don’t record that in order. We record it at the end of the session so I don’t lose my voice if I’m really, really screaming. And the funny thing is it’s the short lines that are hardest. If I say, “Oh my God, Grandpa Rick!” that one’s the hardest, as opposed to when I say a speech. If I have a speech I just go all the way through and it’s great. But if I have one word then I suck. I can’t get it right. It takes me twice as long to do one word.
What would you say to fans about how season four is different from the first three?
SG: We’ve established the family dynamics a lot. We have some room now to do more crazy things and maybe work as a team as opposed to always in opposition.
Like with the parasites in season two’s “Total Rickall“?
SG: Right. There’s more [episodes] like that, more humor. Transgressive humor, pushing the envelope a little bit. That’s the best part about doing animation. Because it’s animation you can kind of get away with the dirty joke in some way, which I think is very funny.
An exclusive new image from season 4 (Adult Swim)
Featured Image: Adult Swim