On Fox's new live-action/animated hybrid sitcom Son of Zorn, Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis lends his baritone voice to Zorn, a He-Man-like warrior from the island of Zephyria who moves to Orange County, Calif. to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife Edie (Cheryl Hines) and their teenage son Alangulon, a.k.a. Alan (Johnny Pemberton).
Since Sudeikis is not a bloodthirsty, culturally regressive seven-foot-tall cartoon character, it takes some work to make him into Zorn — but not as much as you may think. When TVGuide.com talked to him, he was going to go into the studio for an hour to two the next day to record some fresh jokes Son of Zorn executive producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had sent over for an upcoming episode.
Each episode takes about four or five hours for Sudeikis to record. A typical workday for Sudeikis on Son of Zorn finds him recording dialogue for one episode, then doubling back and recording new dialogue for a previously-recorded episode, a process that Sudeikis says is both luxurious for the flexibility it allows and a work-in-progress that he and the producers will find ways to improve if the show gets picked up for a second season.
"I'd love to figure out a way for me to be there for my scene partners," Sudeikis says. He records in New York, while the live actors — who are already finished filming the 13-episode first season — shoot in California. Being alone in a booth is still an odd experience for Sudeikis.
"One of the things I was drawn to when getting into acting and part of the reason I came through the world of sketch and improv was to get to bounce off other people," he says. "The most foreign thing about the gig is being isolated in the booth."
He doesn't have much contact with the rest of the Son of Zorn cast except for his friend Tim Meadows, who he says keeps him abreast of Zorn happenings. But as for team outings, "we haven't rented a Princess Cruise Line and created mayhem on the high seas," he says. "But if we get picked up for Season 2, we'll probably steal a plane or something" as a bonding experience.
Maybe then he'd get to hang out with Zorn's live-action stand-in Dan Lippert, who gives Hines and company a Zorn to talk to and look at during rehearsals before they have to recite their lines to an empty space while shooting. Lippert, at 6'6", is close to Zorn-sized, and he is a comedian and actor, "not just a giant fella," says Sudeikis. To see Lippert in action, check out this featurette.
Making Son of Zorn is a complicated process, and even Sudeikis is impressed when he sees the final product.
"It's a very fluid experience, despite the isolation," he says. "It's very joyful on my side of things, because [my co-stars] are so fun to watch. The most fun is seeing how it all comes together. It's the same thing I felt when I watched Angry Birds — 'wow, it really sounds like we're all there together!'"
Son of Zorn airs Sundays at 8:30/7:30c on Fox.