Cheryl Hines put up with a lot as the perpetually embarrassed (eventually ex) wife of cranky, tactless Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so she’s no stranger to dealing with exasperating men in preposterous situations.
But in the quirky sitcom Son of Zorn, a live action/animated hybrid that has its sneak preview premiere this Sunday on Fox (8/7c), she’s got a whole new set of patience-trying challenges. Hines plays Edie, whose ex is Zorn (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), a towering Conan the Barbarian-esque cartoon warrior from Zephyria, who returns to suburban California to reconnect with her and their teenage son. Wacky? Sure, but somehow it works.
Hines, whose comedic talents have previously been on display in movies including The Ugly Truth, RV, Waitress and the series Suburgatory, also has worked behind the camera, directing Meg Ryan in Serious Moonlight. Here, she discusses the tricky intricacies of Zorn (including animated sex), the return of Curb and which director tops her wish list.
“Sex scenes are always strange, but worse when it’s just you!”
How is acting opposite a cartoon?
He’s easy to work with for the most part. He’s not present! He’s the most narcissistic of all of my TV husbands. That says a lot. I’m hoping that everybody will appreciate Zorn and what’s funny about him. When I started shooting Curb Your Enthusiasm, I would be driving home thinking, “I’m not sure everyone’s going to appreciate Larry David and what’s funny about him,” and of course, they do. There are a few here and there who say, “Larry makes me uncomfortable,” and I say, “Yeah, that’s the point.” It’s the same with Zorn.
Is it difficult technically to interact with him?
It’s weird. Sex scenes are always strange, but worse when it’s just you! If I’m doing something where I touch his leg, I have to remember how big his leg is and where it would be, and make my hand land in a way that seems natural. There’s a lot to think about while you’re doing your lines and hitting your marks and making sure the lighting is right.
Does your improv background from Curb help you?
Yes, I think my improv experience makes it easier to work on a show like Son of Zorn where you’re having to use your imagination and you can’t be too attached to what you think is going to happen next. It’s being OK with the romance of the unknown. You have to roll with the punches. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you don’t know how they’re going to animate Zorn and it helps to come in with your own ideas and your own thoughts of what your relationship with this animated character is and just go for it.
We always do what’s written because our writers are extraordinary, but we do have a little room to improvise and once in a while we’ll try something. We have this actor on set with us standing in for Zorn who is a very good improviser, so if something does come up in the moment he will improvise with us. And when they go to animate it and Jason is recording, Jason has the opportunity to improvise with what we have improvised.