In my previous conversation with him, I learned this man loves DeGrassi, Jim Henson, and birthing twisted worlds from his imagination. Just as the topics were shifting to a new level of interesting, the call was dropped, ever so abruptly. So I called back and soon answered a lovely voice, a woman named Elizabeth who quickly reconnected me with the sentient entity known as…
Elizabeth Goldsby, (Justin’s assistant): Hello?
David Luna: Hi, Elizabeth. I was talking to Justin, and I don’t know if his phone died, but the call dropped.
EG: Oh! What the hell? Okay, give me one second. He’s probably still talking [laughs]. Hold on one sec.
Thirty seconds go by.
Justin Roiland: Hello?
David Luna: Hey, how ya doin’?
JR: Hey, sorry. I don’t know what happened there.
DL: You were saying you have all these different theories, almost combining aspects of different religions, and that you don’t subscribe to any traditional religions that are oppressive in some way or another. So, what are some of these ideas? And have you ever had any experiences with psychedelics, and is that another thing that ties into these ideas?
JR: Yeah, that’s probably one of the reasons why I’m so skittish about the larger, mainstream religions. I haven’t had a ton of experiences with psychedelics, but it’s definitely influenced my perspective of reality and it’s hard to buy into [mainstream religions] after experiencing some of that.
Different theories I could give you. They’re all weird. Like the idea that you live every single life that will ever live. So, there’s two timelines: There’s chronological time, which is just time marching forward, and then there’s a completely different timeline that’s non-chronological, where you’re being born, going through life, and dying, and doing that almost an infinite number of times. So, you’re technically inhabiting every living person on the planet. You’re me, I’m you, we’re all the same. So when you kill somebody, you will also be killed by yourself. If you do something good for someone, that’s you doing something good for yourself. But it’s all masked and separated by the cycle of life and birth, and these two timelines working independently, but also being interwoven. It’s crazy. I mean, obviously I don’t truly believe that, but those are the kind of thought exercises. And it’s like, who’s to say it isn’t true? Is that any crazier than what some legitimate religions believe? I have another one. A lot of it has to do with reincarnation, different spins on that. The concept of coming back. You basically live a human life, die, then you come back as an animal—a pig, for example. I have a whole thing where I believe that pigs are people, so when we die we come back as a pig, and then when we die as a pig we come back as a person, and it’s this cycle that just keeps going and going. And again, there’s two different timelines. There’s chronological time and the lives that you’ve lived sequentially. And in the sequential timeline, when you come back as a pig after you’ve died as a human, you can come back within a 1000 year window forward and backward. Or 2000 years. I can’t remember exactly what it was. So, you could come back as a pig in the year 1200 if you died today, and then when you die as a pig in the year 1200 you can come back as a human, again within a 2000 year window, forward or backward.
The other idea is what animal you ate the most is what you’ll come back as in your next life. There’s all kinds of karmic versions of it. Because really, for all we know, it could just be one big, giant game. Who knows what this is. There’s a lot of crazy theories as to what is this life really, what’s really going on, and the fact that we all inevitably have to face death. And then we will all experience it. It’s kind of terrifying.
A lot of the Eastern religions are just focused on being, being present and not focusing so much on rituals. Like Christianity, and Muslims, there’s a lot of rituals, being disciplined and punishing yourself. There’s Lent and sacrifices and all this. The other school of thought is just more of a spiritual connection with being, and existing, and trying to be in the moment, and being present.
But I don’t practice any of it. It’s hard for me to because I’m so anticipatory. I’m very anxious. I’m always worrying about what’s coming up. I find it hard to live in the moment.
DL: That’s very fascinating. There are a lot of people, I realize, and not just my circle of friends, this generation seems to have a lot more unifying ideas, where we’re all part of one larger thing, as opposed to separate. Although we are individuals, we’re more inclined to work together and to look past our differences. Race is almost not a big deal at all for anyone born after 1980.
JR: Yeah, to me the idea of racism and prejudice based off of skin color or ethnicity is so comical. Both of my parents taught me and my sister that everyone’s equal and it didn’t even factor in to my upbringing. It’s so foreign an idea; it’s almost comical to me. I have a really dark sense of humor that comes from that. Because the idea of being actually for-real racist is so foreign and comical and hilarious. But that’s also bad because my experience with it is so far removed from the reality of how horrible it would be to actually be persecuted because of it. I grew up just knowing that [racism] existed and just thinking, “That’s fucking stupid. That’s just weird.” It’s kind of nice to see that hopefully, within a few generations, that whole concept of racism will be so minimalized in society. Hopefully. I think it’s going to be more about classism, if anything. It’s going to be poor people versus rich people.
JR: There’s definitely more that I hope to achieve. I’ve got all these other TV show ideas, and there are things that I would really love to do. A lot of it has to do with just being able to create. It’s weird to hang my hat on this as something that would determine a life well-lived, or a fulfilled life, but the first thing that comes to mind is (and now I’m thinking, this is crazy, why would this be the thing) just more of these TV show ideas, more of these worlds that I’ve created. I would love to be able to do something similar to what Jim Henson did in terms of the medium of practical effects. I’m very conflicted, because at the same time I’d love to just have enough money to be able to just relax, and just enjoy existing, and not have this constant business that I’ve been now doing for a little while.
And then the other thing is I would love, more than anything, to have toys. To be able to make toys. I would love some Rick and Morty toys. That would be the crowning achievement. I feel like if I was able to create a really awesome toy line that was successful, that would be it. I’d be like, “All right, I did it. I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted to do.” But what’s conflicting about that is at the same time is seeing how horrible the world is and the realities of mass producing little pieces of plastic and shit. I love toys. My office is covered in toys. I’m one of the biggest toy people. But at the same time I understand that it’s like, “Fuck, man. If I make a bunch of tchotchkes and shit, what am I really doing? I’m just helping pollute the planet a little bit more.” I don’t want to say “tree hugger.” But I feel like humanity is a virus, and we’re going to do what we’re going to do. You can try to fight it with all your might, but unless we go Borg and we all just connect and unify, there’s really not much we’re going to be able to do, because there’s always going to be bad people actively working to fuck the environment over.
DM: Do you think it’s possible that we’ll do that? That we’ll unify through some technological singularity?
JR: I’ll tell you what it will be. It will either be that the singularity will happen—it sounds like Google’s pushing towards that. With these businesses that they’re acquiring, for what other means? It’s totally that. And that’s fucking rad. Good for them. I mean, even though it’s going usher in the end of mankind and humanity as we know it, it will be for the betterment, hopefully, of the planet. But we’ll be enslaved. I mean, it’s going be the Matrix. We’re going to be batteries, basically.
But the other thing that it would take, to unify mankind and bring us together, hopefully for the betterment of the planet and our species, is some sort of outside life coming, like aliens. We’re all sitting here on this planet, fighting with each other when there’s those dudes from over there that are not from our planet that exist. I think the second we can confirm that there is life outside of the planet Earth, intelligent life, I really think that will be the day that everything just kind of stops. A lot of the things that are motivating all the bullshit is just money, greed; it’s unnecessary, just acquiring. You don’t need that much to be happy and live a good life. And these people have billions and billions and they need more. It’s just absurd. This greed is just killing the fucking planet and other people. And I think as soon as fucking aliens show up, it’s like, “Oh, fuck! What the fuck am I doing? I don’t need all this shit, it doesn’t even matter!” There’s no connection to the reality that we’re all going to die. It’s the elephant in the room that’s got a bunch of blankets laid over it. We all know it, but no one really connects with that. Like the Donald Trumps of the world. They’re so unaware of the fact that they’re going to die. I mean, they know it, but they don’t.
I’m not advocating this, but if Donald Trump were to take a really strong hit of salvia or ayahuasca or one of those psychedelics that’s just incredibly potent and earthy and you come out of that and you’re like, “Okay, what the fuck?” It just kind of makes you realize that there’s something bigger going on, and me getting a billion dollars so I can buy an island and just hoard money, it’s kind of… pointless. Because I’m going to die anyway, and then what? Who cares? Hopefully it’s just not painful, that’s all.
JR: I haven’t done a ton of stuff. I tried acid a few times in high school. That didn’t leave as much of an impression as the shrooms; I’ve done shrooms. The last time I did them was like 2000, maybe. And I had a really, really horrible time. But it left an impression. I was convinced I had died. I was convinced that I was dead and my friend was a demon, and it was horrifying.
But honestly, far and away, the most mind-fucking hallucinogenic that I’ve ever done is salvia, believe it or not. It seems so innocent, you smoke it, hold it in, it’s over in three minutes. I bought some from Oregon. There was a website called “Freshsalvia”. I don’t know if it’s still around. They had it at headshops and stuff in California. I started doing research about it and I’m like, “Oh, this is shitty, this is weak, I’m going to buy this 50x stuff from this website in Oregon.” This mom and pop business makes it and refines it. And to this day I still have it because it’s so horrifying, and there is a complete disconnect from your ego. You’re completely severed from who you are, all your memories, everything you’ve come to know about yourself and the way you interact with the world, the people around you, all your memories you’ve built up. All that stuff is just unhooked for a second, and you’re just purely being, and it’s horrifying. It’s absolutely, utterly horrifying. And I feel like it’s the same kind of sever that you get when you die. There has to be that kind of a disconnect. There has to be that kind of a cord that’s cut. It just makes sense to me on some level. Hopefully it isn’t as horrifying.
DL: There are better avenues to a kind of psychedelic that will disassociate you in such a way.
JR: Honestly, I really think that it should be a punishment. Like, you get a really, really refined dose of salivia and people have to do it.
DL: Like for murderers or just dicks who are sent to prison, give them salvia so they don’t have so much of an ego.
JR: Yeah, or like, again, I’m not trying to single out Donald Trump or whatever, but like that mentality of “Acquire. Acquire. Acquire.” Someone that, I feel like, if they were to experience it, would severely augment their perception of this life and who they are and what they’re doing.
DL: It would help the world if people became more enlightened.
Ugh. Obvious statement. Moving on
JR: I think that’s what Timothy Leary was trying to say back in the sixties. He was like, everyone should be doing this because there’s more to this existence. But, you know, nobody listened.
DL: Well, hopefully Google will help us in some way.
JR: [Laughs] Yeah, they’ll create the Her.
DL: This is the last question. How do you want to spend your last day living?
JR: Oh, God, I don’t know. Honestly, I guess, probably blissfully unaware that it’s my last day, would be the number one thing on the checklist. I wouldn’t want to be sitting there knowing and anticipating this monumental moment, which is the end. And then of course, infinite time. It’s horrifying. So, I think the best way to spend it would be to just not know, and then when it happens for it to happen quick and brisk and as painless as possible.
But if I knew, I’d probably just want to be on a bunch of opiates of something, whatever drug that just makes you euphoric. Either that, or I’d want to be in the most severe physical pain that a human being can be in, because I think then the prospect of dying would almost be a desirable thing. As opposed to the horror you would feel if you were just sitting there knowing in this many hours I’m going to die. That’s terrifying. You want to be in like pain or just be completely doped up the way Kurt Cobain was. He shot so much heroin that when he shot himself it was probably just nothing.
DL: Philip Seymour Hoffman was a recent death [connected to heroin].
JR: I mean, it’s horrible. That’s just addiction and that’s a whole other thing. He clearly wasn’t planning that. That was just a horrible accident. It’s interesting because, you know, going out like that, you’re so—I mean, I’ve never done or would ever do heroin. It terrifies me. But I would assume you’re so euphoric or whatever, that’s gotta be a painless death. It must be. You’re basically just going to sleep. Like when they put dogs to sleep. It’s just like a peaceful, quiet end.
DL: If only it could be like that for everybody. Well, thank you so much. You’ve really given me a lot of really, honestly, really intriguing, really interesting answers.
JR: [Laughs] What is this for again?
DL: It’s a humor magazine. It’s called The Annual.
JR: [Laughs] But it’s like a very, very very morbid [magazine]. It’s so funny.
Portraits: David Luna & Kevin Cole
Roiland Headshot courtesy of Adult Swim