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Justin Roiland [Part 2]

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…
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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.

Roiland Continue reading Justin Roiland [Part 2]

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Justin Roiland [Part 1]

On the first evening our conversation was scheduled for, I was scrambling to get organized. Let’s not make this a pattern, David. This man has created one of the most outstanding and exceptional animated series of the year, so let’s show some respect.

To my luck and disappointment, I discovered I was not alone in my lack of preparedness. The gentleman I was set to speak with needed to reschedule.

A week passed. I was greeted by a familiar voice. Perhaps I had heard it before on Gravity Falls, Adventure Time, or most recently on Rick and Morty, or perhaps it was familiar because he and I are merely aspects of a single, timeless organism made up of all the motion and energy in the multiverse. No matter. The host of this temporary flesh vessel was none other than the great…

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David Luna: How often do you draw?

Justin Roiland: Not as much as I used to. I always say I need to be drawing more than I do. I go through periods where I’ll spend full days drawing for weeks at a time, and then I just won’t draw for months and months and months. When I’m working on Rick and Morty, the drawing is mainly characters or scenarios that I’m drawing on the dry erase board to illustrate or reinforce a pitch or an idea or a character or whatever. The thing I don’t do often enough is comics—just freestyle, freeform, even if they’re bad. I used to keep idea/sketchbooks constantly. It’s kind of sad because the digital world has sort of completely taken over that. Like now I have Evernote on my phone, and then I’ve got my Cintique, and I’ve been just drawing stuff on the dry erase board and then taking pictures of it on my phone.

DL: A lot of people involved with Farscape have had guest appearances on Rick and Morty. Are there people you’ve tried to get on the show but couldn’t? And if you could have absolutely anybody’s voice to your disposal, who would you want on your show?

JR: Season 1, we tried to get David Bowie. It was a very pie in the sky, very unlikely thing, but we were like, “You can never be told no if you don’t ask.” And that didn’t happen, obviously. We got very lucky with Season 1. For the most part, everybody we really wanted ended up coming through and happening. Going into Season 2, again David Bowie; we’re going to try again. I would love to have him do a voice.

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Now that we’ve aired and people are familiar with the show, it’s going to be really interesting to see what kind of leverage that gives us when it comes to casting guest voices in Season 2. The thing that’s always cool to think about is what people am I a fan of that I could get to meet as a result of casting. There’s a lot of musicians that I would love to meet. That world has always been the most distant to me. I don’t go to concerts a lot, so I have all these bands I love, but that musicians’ world just seems so foreign and far away. I’m probably going cast some people from Battlestar; I love the idea of casting people from like awesome sci-fi shows, or just TV shows in general that I love, and, if possible, doing them in pairs. We have an episode coming up with Virginia Hey and Claudia Black, and they literally talk to each other and they’re together as characters in this episode, and it’s just so cool because I’m the biggest Farscape fan.

And in regard to the high school kids, I love casting Degrassi kids. As we continue to expand and develop other high school-centric characters, I’m going to keep going back to Degrassi because I love that show so much. Like, I love it ironically. It’s so bad, but I just love how bad it is. And it’s like one of my favorite things ever. It’s just appalling how one-dimensional some of the shit is on that show. I love that no one is calling them out or giving them notes. They just fucking write their scripts and shoot it—who gives a shit—and it does well, thank God. I want to be 70 years old and still see that show going. If they cancel that show I’m going to be so heartbroken. There’s such a sea of talent that has come out of that—good, bad and otherwise.

Continue reading Justin Roiland [Part 1]

Justin Roiland on Jim Henson [Interview Excerpt]

Last month, David Luna had the pleasure of speaking to Justin Roiland (co-creator of Rick and Morty), the interview lasted for almost an hour and is featured in The Annual #8. Below is a brief excerpt from that conversation, but to read the entire piece be sure to purchase the latest issue of The Annual!

Read more in The Annual #8!

Interview Conducted by David Luna, Puppet & Video by Kevin Cole

Interview Artwork by Buddy Purucker, Parker Benbow, David Luna, and Kevin Cole