The Cast Of ‘Adventure Time’ Talks Fan Reaction, Remixes And Emotional Content [SDCC 2013]
On the off chance that you aren’t already aware of it through our near-constant coverage, Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time is one of our favorite things in the entire universe. The show’s unique combination of action, comedy and surprisingly dark content has won over a legion of fans, and raised plenty of questions. Fortunately, San Diego brought us the chance to sit down with John DiMaggio, Olivia Olson, Jeremy Shada and Tom Kinney to talk about their roles, their interaction with fans, and how they feel about fans mashing up their songs with the work of Jay-Z.
John DiMaggio (Jake the Dog) and Olivia Olson (Marceline the Vampire Queen):
On Gambit, The X-Man, Because I Thought That Would Be A Good Way To Break The Ice:
John DiMaggio: What kind of cards does Gambit throw? A preferred brand?
Olivia Olson: Pokémon cards!
JD: He throws Magic: The Gathering cards. That’s what he throws, absolutely. Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering cards. Gambit. That’s his special thing, throwing cards. What a lame… come on, now. By day, he’s a dealer at a casino, by night… Gambit. I think there’s some executives here running around, we could probably pitch something like that. Jesus. Metal boots? Probably whoever created the character was really hung over and tired, and was just like “I’ll make it weird! Let’s give him metal boots so that he can’t really be a thief and he throws cards! Aw, forget it, I’m just gonna keep drinking.”
On interacting with fans:
JD: I just did the Bacon Pancakes Song for everyone outside.
OO: Is that why they were all screaming?
JD: It’s always mind-blowing when you see the dedication of these fans. I think there’s something really different about the folks here at Comic-Con that come to see all their favorite stuff. They’re just so rabid, it’s unbelievable. They’re faithful and they just don’t stop. They keep coming back for more, and they love it. Being an actor, being able to come here and be a part of it, it’s really thrilling. It’s wonderful. You rarely ever get the chance to be a part of a project that has such a following. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been involved in a couple of different projects in a row that have garnered that kind of attention in this world, and let me tell you something: I love it. I’m a nerd from way back playing Dungeons & Dragons and all kinds of crap, so I’m down. I know what it’s all about. I’m really honored to be a part of it.
On the show’s songs and music:
JD: I love “Bacon Pancakes.”
OO: He loves “Bacon Pancakes.”
JD: I’ll probably sing it at the panel and freak everyone out. Music is the great equalizer. It just makes people happy, especially these songs.
OO: They’re so silly and fun. Jessica DiCicco and I are DJing tonight at one of the hotels, and so we were trying to find a bunch of remixes online of the different Adventure Time songs. There are so many! That’s kind of a cool part of it, that the songs are so permanent that fans take them and do whatever they want creatively with them, so it’s out there too. I think it’s awesome. We found some really cook remixes of all the songs.
JD: Did you have the “Bacon Pancakes/New York State of Mind” thing? That’s the big one. I saw that on Tumblr and was like “really?!”
OO: There’s this one crazy dubstep Lemongrab song. I think it’s cool that the fans can take the songs and make them their own. It’s really neat.
JD: She’s got a great singing voice, and she does a lot of great songs.
On approaching the emotional core of the characters:
JD: You know, that’s an interesting question. When you’re in the room reading the script, and you’ve got Jeremy sitting next to you, and you get someone in the booth that’s filling you in, you just connect to it. It’s right there in front of you. I don’t know what it is really, I can’t pinpoint it, but just knowing the history of the show, it’s easy to connect to that emotional part immediately. I think that the relationship between the boy and his dog is classic. It’s a classic storyline, and it’s a beautiful story. This show is really able to paint those pictures and paint that emotional quality. Literally. The artist is painting it. It’s easy for me to connect to it, because the boy loves his dog and the dog loves his boy.
Tom Kinney (Ice King) and Jeremy Shada (Finn the Human):
On the evolution of Finn and Ice King’s relationship:
Tom Kinney: It was pretty much standard arch-enemy stuff, and now you’ve got Ice King moving in and being a roommate.
Jeremy Shada: That’s my favorite. He just shows up.
TK: [As Ice King] “Hey guys, can I crash at your pad?” He’s like this loser that won’t leave, but he’s also a supervillain.
JS: I love their relationship now. He’s just that friend that you can’t get rid of. He’s just there, but deep down, they do like him.
TK: “I guess I’d be bummed out if he was gone, but he’s a real pain in the ass.”
JS: He’s just mooching off his friends like that.
TK: Their relationship has changed. The show has deepened as we’ve gotten more episodes, more fan involvement, more success and writers being able to get outside the formulaic box, because you have to. It starts out with Ice King being a guy who gets his ass kicked by Finn, sometimes for no reason. “I’m coming in there, Ice King!” “What? I’m just watching TV!” And now you have people saying “I like Finn, but why’s he so mean to the Ice King?” People have sympathy for the Ice King.
JS: People thought I was a total jerk, because I just go in for no reason and kick the crap out of him.
TK: [Begins singing the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” in the voice of the Ice King] There’s so many more layers of stuff going on now than when the world was being established. It’s probably a question for Pen. I guess it was always his plan, maybe?
JS: Maybe. I think it might’ve been his plan. Even in the earlier episodes, there’s a couple where it wasn’t straight up just them fighting each other. There was some gray stuff, and I think people saw that and loved it, so they built on it over time. The fan reaction to them not killing each other and just being bros was great.
TK: To me, some of the funniest stuff on Adventure Time is the characters sitting around doing banal stuff. They live in this world and they fight these giant Lovecraft monsters but they also sit around and play stupid games and make grilled cheese sandwiches. The Ice King’s picking through his granola looking for the piece he wants. To me, when the show slows down and there’s just that dumb minutiae of the banal aspects of their life, that really makes me laugh. It’s what you don’t see in those giant Hollywood blockbuster movies.
JS: Just the boredom and the mundane.
TK: Right. Doctor Octopus probably has some time on his hands where he’s just, like, doing his laundry. That s**t is funny to me. Adventure Time has the freedom to explore that. Sometimes they’re just Regular Show slackers, but when they go into action, they can fight the universal evil.
On the changes in the show from the episode “I Remember You”:
JS: That was the Ice King and Marcy episode?
TK: The post-apocalypse episode. I guess the reaction from the fans was the same that I had when I read the storyboard. The storyboard comes to your house and you’re going “wow, this is unexpected,” in a good way. There’s not very many laughs in there, by intent, it’s kind of cool. It was all the relationship between him and this little sick vampire girl. The Simon Petrikov backstory episodes are the same way, you’re just like “wow, this is really… sad.” A woman started tearing up yesterday talking to me about it — this was a middle-aged woman, by the way, not a kid. She starts to mist up talking about this episode, and then I start misting up because it’s so cool that she’s so into that episode. It’s like “[sniff] My acting really is f**king awesome…”