The Orville star Scott Grimes talks music, MacFarlane, a future movie & more


Photo Credit: The Orville/Fox Image Acquired from Fox Flash

Hidden Remote sat down with The Orville star Scott Grimes to discuss the show, his musical influences and his relationship with Seth MacFarlane.

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Scott Grimes is the guy who steals scenes with his wit, humor, vocal ability, and all around talent. When he’s not touring with Russell Crowe in their “Indoor Garden Party” band, he’s working as Helmsman Gordon Malloy on The Orville with MacFarlane’s Ed Mercer. Set 400 years in the future, The Orville is a fresh take on sci-fi, an allows Grimes to show off his comedic versatility. Also known for his stellar work as Sargent 1st Class Donald Malarkey on Band of Brothers and Dr. Morris on ER, Grimes is an accomplished musician and vocalist who wows Family Guy and American Dad audiences.

Hidden Remote: I’m loving The Orville so far. Why do you think it’s such a hit?

Scott Grimes: I don’t know why it’s a hit, first of all, and if I knew why it was a hit I’d create a show like it. I think The Orville could have gone either way. I think it’s brand new. I’ve never watched a show like it. When we were initially making it I didn’t know what we were making.

You have to trust the vision of the person that’s at the helm, which is Seth MacFarlane, that he was making what he thought was the next, well, maybe not the next, but an evolution of television. It’s what he wanted to see: Some optimistic version of the future, instead of the kind of dark world, like what the future [we] always see. And I love movies like that, like Blade Runner, Avatar, and obviously lots of other movies. This is more [along the lines of] what if we figure it out and everybody is happy. So I really think it’s become a fan favorite because it’s acted and directed by  a fan of this genre. And it’s doing well because it’s new.

Hidden Remote: I get it because it’s an exciting blend. I’m a huge Star Trek and Seth MacFarlane fan, so the combo has been easy for me to enjoy. But before we talk about Seth and other things, I wanted to ask about your character. To be honest, I think you’ve stolen the show a couple of times. Do you believe your character Lt. Malloy is unaware of his lack of filter, or do you believe his unprofessionalism is ignored because of his connection to Captain Mercer?

Grimes: I think it’s a little of both. He’s definitely unaware of when to say the proper thing and when to shut his mouth. But he’s also really innocent about it. He’s not doing it to hurt anybody. He’s trying to be funny and say the obvious thing that’s on his mind, that you wouldn’t normally say in a military situation like that. Or a battle sequence. I think Gordon is similar to the audience, because he probably says things that they would say.

That’s Seth’s idea of somebody in that situation, who’s funny and quirky. But I think it’s a little of both. But he’s also talented, right? He’s driving the ship, so you can take the bad with the good.

Photo Credit: The Orville/Fox Image Acquired from Fox Flash

Hidden Remote: In a recent interview at NYCC, you mentioned crew camaraderie, and specifically an away mission to another planet, as one of your favorite aspects of The Orville. What’s the ideal crew mission for Lt. Malloy?

Grimes: It’s that! Well, first of all, the ideal one is for him to save everybody’s life by being the only person on the bridge who can drive the ship, because everybody else has been sucked out or something like that. And him being the hero. But I am a big fan of [being] Lt. Malloy and working on the problems. And that’s what this show is to me.

That to me is what I love about this. It’s almost like a movie. It’s almost like an hour-long movie. You could see a lot of these episodes as their own movies, because they’re well written and the storyline is worthy of that.

That would be it for me. If you can combine that, go down to the planet, I have to come back up, and save the day by driving the ship and picking everybody up.

Hidden Remote: I’ve done a bit of research beforehand, so I think your personality might go well with this off-the-wall question. If Lt. Malloy could hack Isaac as payback for the amputation practical joke in one of the following three ways, which would he choose and why?

Grimes: [laughing]

Hidden Remote: One, would he install a humping dog USB attachment on his back. Or, two, would he attach one of those incredibly strong magnets to his rear so he sticks to his bridge chair. Or, three, would he install a voice modulator so Isaac speaks like Samuel Jackson or Fran Drescher, or maybe a voice actor like Tara Strong?

Grimes: I’d say three because then Gordon would be in control of all of those. He could make him sound like whoever he wanted just with the push of a remote. That’s what I would want, but all three are really good. I love the humping dog as well. But I would pick to be in control of that voice. That’s a funny episode right there, where Isaac jacks whatever lines he has, and Gordon makes him sound like Christopher Walken.

Hidden Remote: Right, right. It’s like where people say they want someone to narrate their lives, like Morgan Freeman. Some I’m thinking some oddball voices like those three would be great for anything on Isaac.

Grimes: Absolutely. And Fran Drescher…that would be mildly annoying for a minute.

Hidden Remote: Go ahead and pitch that idea. If it comes out, I won’t say anything.

Grimes: I will give you full credit!

Hidden Remote: Sounds good. Speaking of voice acting, I’ve been completely shocked about your voice. I didn’t know about it. Your voice is a highly underrated aspect of your abilities. When are we going to see Lt. Malloy save a planet Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home-style by doing something like singing to a whale?

Grimes: [laughing] I love Star Trek IV, first of all. It’s one of my favorites. Anything that goes back in time, right? Are you asking when I’m going to be singing on the show?

Hidden Remote: Yeah! Preferably to a whale, but any time you’ll be singing on the show would be good, too.

Grimes: That would be great if we put a little homage to Star Trek IV. I have this idea, and I’ve wanted to…the only way we could sing on this show, we couldn’t do a musical episode.

Hidden Remote: It’d be too odd.

Grimes: It’d be too odd. I think we should go to a planet where they only sing!

Hidden Remote: [laughing]

Grimes: Right?! It would be great because you’d have to sing, because nobody would understand you unless you had the melodic flowing. That’s my idea. I would love that.

People just want Seth and I to sing. Seth and I sing on the set, sometimes. And we harmonize while we’re waiting between takes. So something like that could be incorporated. Maybe the idea that Gordon would just be having a beer and singing harmony, a Simon and Garfunkel song or something.

Hidden Remote: Some languages, like Korean or Chinese, actually sound like they’re singing to a non-native ear. And if the intonation is incorrect, you could end up insulting someone instead of ordering the beer Gordon might want.

Grimes: [laughing] Exactly.

Hidden Remote: Since we’re talking about singing…when you were eleven and slaying “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on Community Auditions with a vibrato and pitch that proved your pre-pubescence, how badly did you want to become a superstar singer?

Grimes: Well, I still want to become a superstar singer. I’m too old now. I wanted to become a hockey player and a superstar singer because it was the best thing I could do. I loved being on stage. I felt really comfortable up there singing for people. Becoming a superstar, however, is not something that [happened]. Right place at the right time. I did want to become a superstar. I wanted to become Bruce Springsteen or Bryan Adams, or today Ed Sheeran.

I just did a little tour with Russell Crowe and Alan Doyle, guys that I’ve done this record with, in Europe, and we did like four shows over five days and I was exhausted. So I can’t imagine at my age being a rock star, but I still wouldn’t suck and I could step up to do it.

Seth too. Seth wants to be that as well.

Hidden Remote: Sidebar to this, but did you pick Ed Sheeran because of the hair?

Grimes: Ha. He’s doing what I wanted to do!

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 10: Actor Scott Grimes performs onstage at ‘Geeks For Peace’ on July 10, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Kids for Peace)

Hidden Remote: I was reading online that someone said the reason Scott Grimes couldn’t become a superstar musician was because of the hair, and I thought, “How do you explain Ed Sheeran?!”

Grimes: Here’s what I will say. We’re back where we were in like the ’60s and ’70s where people actually didn’t care anyone looked like. They just liked the music. We went through a thing in the ’80s and ’90s where there was a huge thing. You had to be grungy, had to have an image. You don’t really have to anymore. So it’s really nice to see. And also, Ed Sheeran is one of the most talented singers and performers I’ve ever seen. So I couldn’t give a shit what he looks like. I’m just really proud he’s repping the gingers around the world.

Hidden Remote: If you sang an album titled “Scott Grimes Sings Slow Jams,” which songs are mandatory, and approximately how many babies would be named Scott Grimes the following year?

Grimes: [laughing] You mean cover songs?

Hidden Remote: That’s what I was going for.

Grimes: So I’d have to do, by Sheriff, what’s it called? [singing] Baby, I get chills when I’m with you. I love that song.

I’d have to do a Bryan Adams song just because I love him. And, yes, it would be just like the New York blackout of whatever year. Remember? They said 9-months later all these kids were born. It would be huge. It would be a population EXPLOSION of red, uh, well, they wouldn’t have to have red hair.

Hidden Remote: [laughing] Why, right?

Grimes: Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll make an entire record where only redheads are allowed to listen to it.

Hidden Remote: There you go. It’s a master plan.

Grimes: It won’t make that much money.

Hidden Remote: You might. I would probably buy it just for that oddity alone. Speaking of singing, I happen to think some of your best performances are as Steve Smith on American Dad. My personal favorite, “Is She Not Hot Enough For You Dad,” is not the most popular. “Daddy’s Gone” is the one that has taken off. Why is it so popular?

Grimes: Seriously, I think because it’s the first one, and it’s also the closest one to a normal pop song. People, they’re all like Steve. That’s the one that everybody loves. They keep telling me to make a long version of that, but that’s not up to me.

“Is She Not Hot Enough” would be my second favorite because it has this line that I remember sang, which is, “The time inside her was the best damn nine months of my life.” You gotta be sick to think of writing a line like that. How do you write it?! God almighty. It’s just so hard to get this one out.

First, would be this whole episode we did called Trapped in the Locker. Really, I worked my ass off on that, man. I mean, you listen to that, you go back and listen to that, that’s not easy to do. It wasn’t. And I’m really proud of that.

Hidden Remote: I can tell you half the time I hear you sing I can hardly believe it until I see it on YouTube. Especially considering I have zero ability to sing.

Grimes: My parents were nice enough to give me one of the best teachers growing up. You take a couple of lessons and there you go. And I haven’t taken a singing lesson in thirty years. I’m really glad my parents invested in me.

Hidden Remote: A lot of people online seem to compare your voice to Keith Sweat and stuff like that pop up. Who do you think you sound like?

Grimes: You know, as I get older, I think I sound more and more like me; but I definitely liked Michael Jackson when I was younger. But Keith Sweat sounded a bit like Michael Jackson; so, it’s not that off. When I made my second record called “Livin on the Run” in 2005, I was trying on purpose to sound like Bryan Adams because I just liked him. Sometimes I guess I sound like Bryan Adams, but now, I’m getting older now, and I don’t feel like copying anybody. So I guess I just sound like me.

What I mean by that is I could easily copy Ed Sheeran, and all kind of singers doing it naturally. But when I say I sound like me, I just mean it feels sort of natural to sing and it sounds that way.

Hidden Remote: I understand. Back to Steve, he’s a funny character because he seems confident but he’s completely lost. Steve has unsuccessfully tried to hook up with nearly every female in sight, including his crush, a cheerleader, a Russian mail order bride, a gymnast, and even an Octogenarian, why do you think he’s failed?

Grimes: That’s funny. It’s kind of the rule of comedy. You get him right there, about to grab the breast, of the woman that’s allowing him to grab the breast. Let’s make sure we say that.

Hidden Remote: No doubt. Especially with recent developments.

Grimes: If he finally gets it, then the gag’s over. He should never lose his virginity. He should never get the girl, because then the gag’s over. But if you’re asking why Steve doesn’t, I mean, I don’t know. He’s just not suave like Scott Grimes, ya know?

Hidden Remote: Exactly.

Grimes: I have to really dig deep to play that character. It’s so unlike me.

Hidden Remote: [laughing] A deal-sealer 100% of the time, obviously.

Grimes: [laughing] Yeah. Yeah.

Photo Credit: The Orville/Fox, Michael Becker Image Acquired from Fox Flash

Hidden Remote: Let’s switch over to Seth MacFarlane. You have obvious become good friends and have worked together a good bit. Other than the obvious love for music and show tunes between takes, what has led you to work with Seth MacFarlane on three different projects?

Grimes: You know, it’s a funny thing. I grew up with this girl in New York City. A friend of mine named Kim. She became his assistant, right? On Family Guy. She just talked to him. And he’s such a weird, B-movie, pop culture that he loved this movie I did called Critters. And we just got along.

It seems like the way we get along today. Just our love of movie quotes, and theme songs, and compositions, and movie themes. That’s all we do. That’s all we do all day. We play this game where we try to stump each other about TV show themes. Or “Who wrote this?” We really, just really have the same sense of humor. When he was casting for American Dad, he said there is this guy that I know that has that same kind of knowledge, that same humor, that mind. That was it.

I’m telling you, that’s really what it has to do a lot of times with Seth. It has nothing to do with how you look. Even if you’re a great actor. If you can do what he can already do. Like, he can do all my lines better than me. If I can get close enough, then you have a shot, because he writes it down and he wants it said how he hears it in his head. And I can accomplish that having known him a while and having the same humor.

Long answer, but I’m content if he is happy if I’m saying the words he’s been writing.

Hidden Remote: I understand where you’re coming from. As a kid we moved all over and sometimes I only had one channel on television. We basically just quoted movies and I can quote the entire script to Karate Kid as it happens.

Grimes: Oh yeah! You’d love us, man. We really try to stump each other, especially the movie bits.

Hidden Remote: Speaking of Seth’s creations. Which of your fictional fathers was more upset at you? Joe Swanson of his son Kevin Swanson for lying about his time in Iraq and the booby-trapped Thanksgiving turkey in Family Guy? Or, Judge Walter Burns of his son “Birdie” Burns because he refused to pass the puck in Mystery, Alaska?

Grimes: Who’s more upset?

BURBANK, CA – MAY 09: Actor Scott Grimes poses with the Stanley Cup on the set of ‘E.R’ at Warner Bros. Studios on May 9, 2008 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images for the NHL)

Hidden Remote: Yeah. You said you loved hockey, and I wanted to bring it back to Mystery, Alaska. Great movie, by the way.

Grimes: Oh, I love it too. I’m still best friends with everybody on that movie. And to this day, it was the greatest time I ever had on a film.

As for the question, I’m going to have to say Joe Swanson because it winded up being…in that scenario, it’s unforgivable. However, Burt Reynolds might have been mad at me for not passing the puck.

Hidden Remote: That’s great. By the way, I can quote Smokey and the Bandit, too.

Grimes: I’m a huge Burt Reynolds fan.

Hidden Remote: Every once in a while I’ll ask my wife to get me a Diablo Sandwich and a Dr. Pepper. She rolls her eyes at me and calls me an idiot.

Grimes: [laughing] Yes!

Hidden Remote: Here’s the hardest one. Which of the three MacFarlane projects – Family Guy, American Dad, The Orville – have you enjoyed the most?

Grimes: [long whistle] Enjoy in which way? With the The Orville I’ve helped put something on its feet, which has been incredible. American Dad has put my kids through [expletive] college. And I enjoy the process of making American Dad, a lot, but here’s how I can answer that. I feel like The Orville and American Dad are kind of the same thing for me.

You can quote me on this, but I have to say American Dad because I love the staff, and the writers, and the creator Matt Weitzman. In parenthesis I’d say The Orville is my real answer because I have a great time doing it.

Hidden Remote: Fair enough. What do you and Seth have cooked up for the future?

Grimes: We talked about this. All we want to do is The Orville. That’s really all I want to do. Hopefully we get picked up. Assuming we get picked up, and we get to do it again, we’re just making mini-movies every week. We keep playing two different characters in different ways, and it’s almost a perfect job. [Hidden Remote note: The series has since been picked up for a second season.]

I’m pretending to be in space. I’m pretending to drive the ship. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I want to continue to do The Orville. Don’t get me wrong; in the future we want to do The Orville as a feature movie. That’s what we’re going for here. We want the show to be good enough so, in the Summer, you guys get to go to a movie theater and see a feature, two-hour movie about The Orville.

Hidden Remote: Yeah! How else are we going to get Samuel L. Jackson and Fran Drescher in on it?

Grimes: Ha! These ideas cost money! Exactly.

Next: Dry humping a statue on The Orville

Hidden Remote: Before we finish up, is there anything you’d like to throw in? Anything funny that has happened behind the scenes at The Orville recently?

Grimes: [laughing] Well, anything funny is dirty. J. Lee and I, well [redacted]…Any stories I may tell would implicate me in some way. Mine are probably all too R-Rated.

The Orville airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Fox!