Jessica Szohr & Anne Winters Interview: The Orville Season 3

Jessica Szohr & Anne Winters Interview: The Orville Season 3

It’s time to plot a course to space for The Orville season 3. Seth MacFarlane leads the cast of his sci-fi dramedy as Ed Mercer, captain of the titular starship, as they venture through space exploring new worlds and battling various threats.

The series has been out of orbit for far too long, despite Fox renewing The Orville for season 3 back in May 2019. After veering off track and setting the course once more, the show is back in a new form, as The Orville: New Horizons on Hulu.

Related: What To Expect From The Orville Season 3

Ahead of the show’s return, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with The Orville stars Jessica Szohr and Anne Winters to discuss the latter being a newcomer, how Szohr welcomed her new co-star to the cast and what’s to come from season 3.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

The Orville New Horizons

Screen Rant: This season of The Orville is quite the exciting venture with Hulu and its new tone leaning a little more serious than before. Anne, your character really is an interesting new addition to the crew. I don’t want to say she’s bad, because she is very sympathetic, but what has that been like for you really walking that fine line for such a complex character?

Anne Winters: I think I really found a place of where she was coming from. In my mind, it felt very genuine at the beginning, which made for her arc to be just really significant. I’m excited for you guys to see what I’m talking about.

She’s definitely coming off of that Kaylon battle being the only survivor of her ship, so she has a big chip on her shoulder. I think that was definitely her mindset going into this new crew, and then her conversations and everything she has with Isaac. She doesn’t like him, clearly, but I think she ends up learning a lot with this new cast on the Orville that kind of maybe make her a little different towards the end.

Even though she is very hostile with Isaac, what was it like for you working with Mark and sort of finding a rapport off camera before coming into each scene?

Anne Winters: I love Mark. It’s always like a funny thing with actors too, because you love someone off screen and then you have to really hate them and kind of feel bad that you’re being so mean and then be like, “Oh, sorry, don’t take it personal.”

Also, it was weird working for the first time with a robot, because it genuinely is about eye connection with somebody as an actor. It’s so weird to look into two blue eyes and really find a person in there to hate. But without having that eye connection it’s strange, so that was challenging, for sure. But Mark is great. I love everybody on the cast, it was really nice walking into this new crew.

 

Jessica Szohr in The Orville

Jessica, this is only your second season. What was it like for you coming back no longer as a new character?

Jessica Szohr: I was excited with the way these scripts are, and the storylines and the topics that we get to play with and do in this space world. I feel like we get to dive in even more, and then we kind of leave it to the audience to come up with their own conclusions to what we’re talking about and exploring and touching on. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. I’m so happy that we got to come back and work with everyone and be on these amazingly beautiful sets and play with these awesome actors.

Then having Annie come on and what she brought to the table – to the ship, to the role – was just the flavor. And the layers were so yummy to play off of and watch, and I’m so excited for everyone to just go on this journey with us this season. They’re all like mini movies, there’s so many of us with the ship. The ship [itself] has evolved, all of our storylines and characters are evolving so much and it’s magnificent. I was watching these, and I don’t know of another word other than magnificent. It brings you in.

There’s moments — and this is gonna sound super weird because I play an alien and I’m watching myself as an alien — where it’s a sci-fi show, but then all of a sudden we’re in the middle of the forest and we’re at this high school and it takes me out that we live on this spaceship for a second. So I always think that that’s the most beautiful thing about being an actor and being able to do a show on Hulu with the creator of Seth MacFarlane, because we get to dabble and do all these things.

Anne Winters: They can write whatever and everything can make sense or be written in space, because there’s really no limits.

Jessica Szohr: And I think that’s, amazing and beautiful. That was also very challenging too, some of the dialogue and having the eyelines of looking at a green screen and I’m talking to John, but I’m really talking to a bright red X halfway across the room. So to really figure out that pattern and that beat to make it still seem organic like I’m talking to another human or actor or alien could be challenging at times.

But all in all, when you see the finished product, everyone really brought their A-game, it’s been such a beautiful experience. The only thing that was a bummer was that it took so long to come out, but that was because we didn’t know that the world was going to shut down and all that. So I’m happy it’s worth the wait, I’m very excited for everyone and that we got to do it in as safe a way as we could.

From what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s certainly worth the wait. Since you do mention the evolution of characters and storylines, I’m curious for Keyali. Last season we saw her become connected to Locar for that one episode and since then, we haven’t really seen any kind of partnership for her. Do we get to explore that a little bit more in the season?

Jessica Szohr: Yes, there’s some fun storylines with Talla. [Laughs] I know that we can only talk about certain things. Her experience with her career, there’s a lot of ups and downs and Ed finds more trust and gives her a lot more responsibility. But between her personal life and work, it’s a fun journey with Talla this year. I’m excited for everyone to see it, I can’t say much more.

That was also so fun to work with them and go back to New York, where we are now, back in the day. That set was beautiful. That’s what I mean about this show, I’ve gotten to go to New York, I’ve gotten to take dance lessons. It’s just been such a great, great ride.

Anne, I know that you really bond with Scott Grimes’ Gordon in that first episode. What was that like for you working with him, especially since he is someone who is such a Seth MacFarlane vet at this point?

Anne Winters: I loved sitting next to him, that was so fun, although sometimes quite dangerous, because he makes you laugh at the most unwarranted times if you are on camera and you are doing something serious. There’s a lot of days when a lot of us don’t even have a line to say, but we’re in battle or we’re doing something and we have to have these serious faces. I swear it would be on those days where you kind of feel a bit stupid, but you know that it’ll all come together. He just will crack a joke, and I just can’t keep a straight face.

That was challenging, honestly, but fun-wise and buddy-wise, we definitely have a good bond in the show and off the show.

Anne Winters in The Orville

Did you find that intimidating, though, at all since he had had that relationship with Jay in season one and for most of season two?

Anne Winters: I don’t know. I guess, but I also saw it as an opportunity to come in and make something new. People ask about the intimidation; I feel like as an actor you are constantly acting with different people who you’ve seen or looked up to and it’s intimidating until you get there. Once I put on a uniform and once I’m in character, that’s out of my head. I am like, “This is me, this is who I am, I’m sitting next to you for a reason. It took me a long time to get here, audition after audition after meeting. I am here.”

Jessica Szohr: I also think with that, if there is any – I don’t know if intimidating is the word -you just bring that into the scene and make it be like, “I’m not gonna let that affect what I got going on here.” Because it’s like you said, you worked too hard to finally have an opportunity to work with amazing actors. There’s definitely nerves and all those things, but I think when you have any type of those feelings, my thing is just to try to bring it to the scene.

Anne Winters: Also, going back, Scott made it very comfortable. It was very easy to get on that set and feel at home.

Jessica Szohr: I was you the year before coming in and everyone was just very welcoming, very great. But she also, which I hope that I did the same, you really got to come in and be ready to go knowing the the dialogue. Obviously you have to know the dialogue as an actor on anything you go on, but this is so specific.

We have a mini dictionary in the beginning of our [scripts], there’s different layers to this, the eyelines, the green screen, this isn’t like you’re going on a set and having dinner with your friends. You’re in space, you’re in battle, you’re having different eyelines, there’s so much going on, so you got to be ready, and she came on ready to go. So if there was any intimidation, you definitely didn’t see it.

Anne Winters: My talent as Charly is being able to see things four dimensionally and bringing in a really smart mathematic element to this. I watched so many YouTube videos, I was like, “I’m gonna just go to physics class or try to learn just a smidge of what Charly knows.” I’m telling you, this Charly girl is so smart. I hope one day that I can really understand even the tip of the iceberg of what she does. But I think I think I really played it off well.

Since this is such a fun environment, as you both have said, with the cast and crew, is there any room to improvise in those scenes with everybody? Or is it really kind of just all on the page right there?

Jessica Szohr: I think it’s situational. I think most of the time, it’s on the page, because it’s so specific to what we’re talking about. And not just as Talla being a Xelayan there, when we’re in battle and all this – there’s certain ways that you have to talk and certain terms that you have to use because it’s what we’re doing.

I feel like I was always very married to what was on the page unless Seth and I spoke before, if we heard it at the table read and didn’t like it or spoke before a scene and were like, “Hey, let’s change it this way.” Then you go into the little video village and change it for them. For me, I think I was pretty much married to it, but also Talla just has a very specific tone and what she was talking about. There wasn’t a lot of room for me, I don’t believe, to ad-lib. You know what I’m saying?

Anne Winters: Yeah, me either, but I could see maybe in those conversations that are a little bit lighthearted or in the mess hall. You can maybe throw around a conversation, but I would say I’m pretty married to the page. The first season – I would just guess; I wasn’t there – I would assume that there was probably a lot more improvisation.

The Orville: New Horizons Synopsis

Seth MacFarlane The Orville

Set 400 years in the future, The Orville: New Horizons finds the crew of the USS Orville continuing their mission of exploration, as they navigate both the mysteries of the universe and the complexities of their interpersonal relationships.

Check out our other interviews with Orville: New Horizons stars Scott Grimes & J. Lee as well as Adrianne Palicki & Penny Johnson Jerald.

More: 5 Ways The Orville Is Actually Better Than Star Trek (& 5 Ways Star Trek Is Best)

The Orville: New Horizons premieres on Hulu on June 2.

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About The Author

Grant Hermanns
(1767 Articles Published)

Grant Hermanns is a News Writer, Interviewer and Hiring Manager for Screen Rant, having joined the team in early 2021. Way back in 2015 while still in his college days, Grant got his start in the entertainment journalism industry with creator-friendly site Moviepilot until it shuttered nearly three years later. From there he joined the staff at ComingSoon.net and was its Associate Editor prior to coming over to Screen Rant.

To say he’s a lover of film and television would be an understatement and when he’s not mass consuming either you can find him exploring the world of Dungeons & Dragons with friends or slowly making his way through his gaming backlog.

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