Rick And Morty’s Chris Parnell On The Complicated Relationship Between Rick And Jerry
Hold on to your eyeholes everyone, because the most popular show this side of the multiverse, Rick and Morty, is finally back on UK screens tonight, May 7.
So to celebrate the show’s return, we sat down with Rick and Morty’s very own Chris Parnell, who voices the idiotic splinter in Rick’s backside, Jerry.
Along the way, we discovered how Chris really feels about a man so pathetic the wind once dubbed him a loser, what exactly Jerry might have seen when he was exposed to a talking cat, and that Chris has a truly shocking memory when it comes to upcoming episodes.
UNILAD: For right or for wrong, everyone in Rick and Morty holds Jerry in some degree of contempt, but I was wondering – after playing the character for so long – how you felt about him?
Chris Parnell: I have a little contempt for Jerry as well you know, but also not really. He’s a sad sack, he’s a bit of a loser but he can come through [laughs]. He’s mostly incapable of most things, but he does find moments to shine, and I love playing him. I guess whether for better or worse I can relate to him.
UNILAD: And what makes him relatable to you?
Chris Parnell: Well he embodies that part of all of us that’s not the winner and not the most successful guy out there. You know he fails a lot and he’s a little lost but he’s content with what little he has, and I think for most of us we can relate to that on some level.
UNILAD: Do you think he’s as dumb as Rick thinks he is?
Chris Parnell: No, I don’t think he’s as dumb as Rick thinks he is, but also everyone’s dumb compared to Rick, let’s be honest. But no, I doubt he’s as dumb Rick thinks he is, or at least I hope he’s not [laughs].
UNILAD: There’s definitely a degree of cunning that I think Rick underestimates in Jerry. For example, in The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy, Jerry conspires to have Rick killed, which almost blindsides the most intelligent man in the universe. What do you think of the relationship between Rick and Jerry?
Chris Parnell: Well it’s obviously complicated, I think he does hate Rick at moments but it’s obviously complicated because Rick is a threat to Jerry’s manhood, and he’s a threat to Jerry’s everything really. [Jerry] obviously doesn’t like that challenge.
But at the same time, [Jerry] knows that Rick’s got some benevolence in him and he knows deep down Rick doesn’t want him dead. I actually like that episode too, where we see Jerry’s cunning and his temptation to off Rick before deciding that’s not what he wants to do. I like that episode a lot.
UNILAD: It’s interesting isn’t it? the episode almost suggests there was the potential for Rick and Jerry to be friends if Jerry hadn’t got Beth pregnant. Do you think they could have been friends?
Chris Parnell: You know, in its own weird way, yeah, I like to think they have a begrudging respect for each other. I certainly believe Jerry does for Rick, not that Rick necessarily feels the same way, and I think that episode does show a connection we hadn’t seen previously, and it’s sweet.
I enjoyed seeing two characters who are usually so vicious to each other, and capable of being so vicious to each other having a moment of real connection. For me, it’s always rewarding to see that, especially in the context of such a dark show.
UNILAD: And can we expect any more solo Rick and Jerry adventures?
Chris Parnell: I don’t think there are any in the next five, but that being said I have such a terrible memory and it’s been so long since we recorded them that I don’t really remember.
UNILAD: It may be difficult to answer this question then if your memory is a bit spotty, but do you have a favourite episode in the upcoming half-season, or even the whole show?
Chris Parnell: Like I said I don’t remember the next five episodes very well but [The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy] with the conversation at the bar and then later on the roller coaster [that was] my favourite episode. That one, or the one with the talking cat? I like it when Jerry decides to go along with ‘letting go’ and follows a talking cat to Florida, those are always fun.
UNILAD: You’ve kind of preempted my next question there a bit, Chris. When Jerry went on the adventure with the talking cat and later Rick and Jerry find out it did something horrific? The audience never discovers what exactly it did that disgusted Rick and Jerry so much. What do you think it did?
Chris Parnell: That’s a good question! I don’t know if we saw him being a Hitler-like dictator, orchestrating the deaths of millions or what kind of grotesque slaughter it got up to while also indulging in some Caligula-esque sexual stuff, but it was obviously something so horrific it’s best left to the viewer’s imagination.
UNILAD: So Justin or Dan didn’t have something in mind when they wrote it?
Chris Parnell: No, no they never did but that’s a good question, I’ll have to ask them when I next see them.
UNILAD: On a similar note, when you’re recording dialogue how much freedom do you have to improvise?
Chris Parnell: Not a lot, there’s some freedom to play about but when you’ve got a show that’s as well written as Rick and Morty and they put so much thought, craft and structure into each episode, that the idea I’m going to come up with some witty line off the top of my head that’s better than what they wrote and fit into the larger context of the show is kind of unrealistic.
UNILAD: So you wouldn’t fancy writing your own episode?
Chris Parnell: I would not. I’m not smart or skilled enough as a writer to write one [laughs].
UNILAD: Haven’t Adult Swim just commissioned something like 70-plus episodes of the show? Are you planning on sticking around for every season?
Chris Parnell: I hope so, if they’ll have me. I won’t be walking away from the show. I just feel so lucky and thankful that they picked me to play Jerry, so as long as they want me I’ll be around.
UNILAD: Finally Chris, NASA announced last year that Pluto is once again a planet, vindicating Jerry all the way back in season one, how do you think he’d react to the news?
Chris Parnell: [Laughs] The first thing he’d say is ‘told you so’, he’d revel in it and feel exceedingly smug about it.
Rick and Morty series 4 returns on E4 tonight, May 7, at 10.00pm.