“You’ve never seen anything like this before.”
That is how Alex Hirsch, the creator and star of Disney’s Emmy-winning animated supernatural mystery Gravity Falls, describes the upcoming multi-episode arc “Weirdmageddon,” which premieres its first part on Monday.
Gravity Falls has been pushing the boundaries of what anyone assumes a kid’s cartoon can do since its 2012 premiere. It has crafted quality sci-fi plot lines, snagged compelling guest stars, and most of all, the supernatural lore and mythology created by Gravity Falls has inspired a rabid fandom dedicated to uncovering clues and learning as much as they can about this mysterious town. Now, reaching the climax of its second season, the show is about to unleash all of the supernatural weirdness that has only been trickling out for so long — the demonic chaos god Bill Cipher has broken into Dipper and Mabel’s dimension and is wreaking havoc on Gravity Falls.
In a converstion with the voice of Dipper Pines himself, Jason Ritter, and the show’s creator, Alex Hirsch, the pair tease details from the apocalyptic new story, the show’s penchant for incorportating hidden messages, and the surprising new monster voiced by Louis C.K.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: At New York Comic Con recently, you teased that Bill has friends. We learn that in a big way in “Weirdmageddon.”
ALEX HIRSCH: This is definitely a unique episode. Gravity Falls normally follows very particular rules: we start out in reality close to the world as we know it, usually one magical element presents itself, and then it’s essentially vanished or hidden back to where it came from by the end of the 20 minutes. “Weirdmageddon” completely upends those rules. “Weirdmageddon” throws us into an episode essentially directed by Bill — a trickster, maniac demigod, who only wants to create as much surprise, confusion, and chaos as possible. So that’s allowed the artists to unleash their inner Bill and make something completely insane and off-the-walls.
Louis C.K. voices a paticularly bizarre monster in this episode. How did you get such a huge comic to do the show?
One of the interesting things about making a kids TV show is that you are in living rooms all across the world and you never know who’s watching. You always know about the kids who are watching, but you sometimes forget that kids all have parents. I found out that Louis was a fan of the show and that he watches it with his daughters, and that was incredibly exciting to me — I’m a huge fan of his. So I reached out to him and said “Would you be interested in being one of the weirdest things Dipper has ever seen in one for our episodes?” The whole thing was just a personal and professional honor. I often love the idea of using a big-name guest cameo for a really stupid, strange role, and Louis was definitely game for what we threw at him.
You guys have gotten so many great guest stars to come on. Nathan Fillion, Neil deGrasse Tyson, John Oliver, Lance Bass, and now Louis C.K. just to name a few notables. Do you have a dream guest star?
JASON RITTER: There is another guest star coming up that’s very exciting — he would be the one.
HIRSCH: I would say that my top two guest stars that I would want to have happen in the world on the show have happened. One of them is Louis and one of them is coming up. You’ll see when that star arrives.
This show is well-known for including hidden messages and clues to help solve the mysteries of the town. The Internet is quick to find and dissect every minute detail that may seem important. How aware are you, Jason, of these subtle clues?
RITTER: When I first got involved I had no idea about any of that kind of stuff. The first thing that blew my mind was the little sneak peek of Blendin Blandin in the background of episodes 1–3, and that all coming to fruition. That’s when I was like “Wait a second. There’s some stuff going on that I’m not aware of.” There were lots of things like that. I had no idea who wrote the journal, and I had no idea Grunkle Stan had a twin. As far as all the codes go, that hits a part of me that just loves that so much. There’ve been times where I’ll write down the code at the end of the episode and try to decode it.
HIRSCH: I would add that the lines separating Jason Ritter and Dipper Pines are very thin. Jason is a very Dipper-like character, albeit with much broader shoulders and a much manlier vibe. Jason loves games and puzzles, and has the same enthusiasm for decoding and discovering that Dipper does. Jason is both in the show and a fan of the show which makes it even more fun to work with him, because we can talk about this stuff.
RITTER: It also gives me a unique mission, because for all the people that are as big of a fan of the show as I am, to be able to go in and record and see Alex and be like “Sooo, what’s up with McGucket?” – like, trying to figure it out. Alex has been very good at not telling me everything. I’ve been discovering things along with everybody else, and it’s been a really exciting journey for me.
Alex, you’ve voiced a character on the Adult Swim series Rick and Morty and that show creator Justin Roiland voices Blendin on your show. People have also noticed tiny references between the shows, like a tiny Bill Cipher image hidden in a Rick and Morty episode. Was that just for fun or could these shows exist in the same universe?
HIRSCH: There was a time when Justin and I were both working in the same tiny office for the Disney Channel. We both dreamed one day of having our own weird TV shows, and we would talk about ways in which we would childishly abuse this power. For some reason, the universe has blessed us with our mad wishes, and it occurred to us — let’s start doing things that nobody else does, that maybe you’re not supposed to do. We started putting little easter eggs in our shows that sort of connected the two. Our motivation for that is primarily to freak people out and blow their minds. The impression of a grand brilliant design is probably more something that the fans have invented.
Could there ever be a Gravity Falls/Rick and Morty crossover episode?
HIRSCH: I remember when I was a kid, whenever you’d see cartoons cross over with each other, it always ranged from a delightful, magical surprise to a cynical, annoying cash grab. So far, we’ve found that these little winking nods between our shows strike the right balance. I can’t say whether or not there will be more, but I can say that we like to confuse and amuse people so who the hell knows.
Is there anything else you want the fans to know about “Weirdmageddon” before it airs on Monday?
HIRSCH: This is one giant, epic, multi-part story; we’ve never done anything like this on Gravity Falls before. The stakes are going to be higher, the situations are going to be stranger, the magic is going to be bigger, and we will see every character again in some fashion having to deal with this completely unusual situation. If you’re a fan of Gravity Falls, grab your friends and have a “Weirdmageddon” party, because you’ve never seen anything like this before.