When Nick Offerman was approached to voice Beef Tobin in Fox animated comedy series The Great North, he responded immediately to its style of storytelling.
“We’re arriving at this point where you can fuel your stories with empathy and inspiring humanism, [and] it’s still funny,” the actor said during a recent panel discussion, as part of Deadline’s Virtual Screening Series. “We still talk about butts and farting and have a great time, as we should with a cartoon family. But I love the way that it’s forward thinking, and I love to be a part of that.”
Co-created and executive produced by Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, who also serve as showrunners, The Great North chronicles the adventures of a single father and his weird Alaskan family.
Like Offerman, Jenny Slate was cast after working on Fox’s popular animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers, alongside Molyneux, Molyneux-Logelin and executive producer Loren Bouchard. She, too, immediately responded to its stories, which were told in a very particular way, coming to voice the part of Beef’s daughter, Judy. “The script was so funny, in this specific style that Bob’s and Wendy and Lizzie and Loren all have,” she said, “which is that it’s super-duper sweet. It’s a kind show, and the comedy is just so, so strong.”
Also appearing on the panel was Dulcé Sloan, who voices Beef’s daughter-in-law, Honeybee. The actress recalled receiving the first script for the series, when she was just a year into her work as a correspondent for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. “When I was looking at the writing for the audition, it was like, ‘Oh, ok. [Honeybee] speaks how I would speak,’” Sloan recalled. “A lot of times when you see Black characters, you can tell that they’re written by someone who’s never spoken to a Black person before…So, I was really excited about [the character] because she felt like a real person, like if this was live-action, I could actually play her.”
In conversation with their three cast members, Molyneux and Molyneux-Logelin broke down the inspiration for The Great North, explaining how it came to them while working as writers and executive producers on Bob’s Burgers. Then, there was Bob’s creator Bouchard, who expressed his admiration for the Emmy-winning sisters, and talked about the nature of his collaboration with them.
The Great North returns for its second season on September 26 and has already been renewed for a third. Check out our entire conversation with the team behind the show above.