The Harmon and Justin Roiland-created Adult Swim series, which has twice won the Emmy for outstanding animated series — first for the Season 3 episode “Pickle Rick” and then for Season 4’s “The Vat of Acid Episode” — has offered up “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” as its Season 5 contender at next month’s Emmys.
“We just looked at it as a really nice overall success from every department on the show,” Harmon told Variety ahead of the “Rick and Morty” Season 6 premiere on Sept. 4. “There’s elements of it that were just great instincts on the part of the artists. The draft writer in question, Jeff Loveness, he really put his heart into that. The premise had kind of a Neil Gaiman-y tone to it. It was really from his heart and kind of a Valentine to sci-fi and fantasy. And then we felt it was funny and had all of the elements of ‘Rick and Morty,’ as opposed to us being like, ‘Oh, it was such an important episode,’ or ‘It’s going to do so much for humankind,’ or that there was a softer, more emotional side of ‘Rick and Morty.’ It really was about, this does represent the show at its best, in our opinion.”
In the installment, which served as the fifth season premiere, Harmon voices the underwater king Mr. Nimbus, who is the archenemies of Rick Sanchez (Roiland). While Rick is hosting Nimbus at a very awkward dinner, Morty (also Roiland) is busy screwing with the entire fabric of an alternate universe’s society through a mistake he made while trying to woo his love interest Jessica.
While Harmon isn’t a stranger to voicing characters for “Rick and Morty,” namely Birdperson and Phoenixperson, among a few others, it’s Roiland and the series voice cast regulars and guest stars who are usually carrying the episodes on screen. So what prompted Harmon to lend his amateur vocal talents for this particular episode?
“I’m not a professional actor, but I kept doing my impression of this character in the writers’ room. So inevitably, people thought, why don’t you just do it?” Harmon said. “The idea was — and it’s not good to start from a place of hatred in doing characters or stories — but growing up, I was always so confused about caring about underwater characters in pop culture, like Aquaman and Prince Namor. I always felt like it was almost like Christian rock, in that they were trying to sell 10-year-old kids something that was just inherently so uncool in the form of underwater-ness. I think that extrapolating from my impression of all underwater superheroes, then it became more like, so who is this guy? Well, this is that friend of yours who is so confident in themselves that they’re incredibly alienating and off-putting. We knew from square one that the important thing about Nimbus had to be that he could truly kick Rick’s ass at the end of the day. That it wasn’t about punching down. Rick actually does respect this guy and fears him.”
Adding to his annoyingly badass nature is the fact that Mr. Nimbus, for inexplicable reasons, can “control the police.” Harmon says he, Roiland, Loveness and co. landed on that idea simply because it weirdly made sense as what would ultimately get the best of Rick and Morty at the end of the episode when the police are called by Morty’s dad Jerry (Chris Parnell) to try to deal with the Nimbus situation.
“That was just an example of moving with it,” Harmon said. “You follow your logic and and I like to follow the threads that would make you back up, and instead of backing up, just keep moving forward. Maybe that’s laziness, but sometimes we just discover things along the way. Just walking through each step of this guy showing up, your question might be, ‘Why wouldn’t everyone just call the police? Why wouldn’t Jerry do that?’ And instead of going well, let’s not have Jerry be there, or let’s have this guy have Magneto powers that keep Jerry from calling the police, or let’s have Rick tell Jerry he can’t call the police, it was, what if there was a different answer there? What if Jerry does call the police? And then we go from there.”