Did you ever go away for the summer and find yourself in the midst of a few new adventures? Actor Jason Ritter did and now he’s venturing back to his childhood by voicing the character of Dipper Pines in Disney’s latest animated comedy series “Gravity Falls” premiering Friday, June 29 at 9:30 PM.
Perhaps best known for his current role in “Parenthood” or previous roles in “Joan of Arcadia” and “The Event,” Ritter, who has done theatre, film and TV, is not alone in his summer pastimes. But his character Dipper, the more rational and sensible Pines sibling, is in a bit of a different situation than just going away to summer camp.
Dipper and his twin sister Mabel (voiced by Kristen Schaal, “Toy Story 3,” “30 Rock”) are two city kids sent to spend the summer with their rather eccentric Great Uncle Stan – aka Grunkle Stan – who runs a tourist trap called The Mystery Shack in Gravity Falls, a remote northwestern town where nothing is what it seems. There are creatures in the forest, monsters in the lake and even time traveling adventures, ensuring that Gravity Falls is just west of weird, slightly east of eerie and always north of normal.
You may have already caught the special preview of this new series when it aired Friday, June 15, but this coming weekend will bring plenty of opportunities (check the end of this post for full airing details) to fall in love with Gravity Falls – both the town and the show – and the characters we’re all about to meet. I’ve caught an episode already and, I admit, I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud! It’s a show that will appeal to many age groups, so be sure to check it out.
In anticipation of the big premiere, I had the opportunity to talk to the one and only Jason Ritter himself who was more than excited to share his world of “Gravity Falls” with us. We talked everything from the series itself, the types of cartoons he grew up watching, his own summer adventures, whether he considered himself more a Dipper or Mabel back in the day and much, much more! Check out everything he had to share below!
Now it’s no secret you’re a busy man these days, tons of projects coming up or in the works. So what was it about Gravity Falls and about Dipper that got you hooked and made you really want to be a part of it?
It was a couple things. It appealed to me on a lot of different levels. You know, I grew up watching three subsets of cartoons. [laughs] There was the sort of Rocky & Bullwinkle, really hilarious, bizarre, off-the-wall humor cartoon; I loved those. I loved the Scooby-Doo, sort of mystery, spooky cartoons and then I also loved all of the Disney cartoons and things like that. And this was sort of all three of those [laughs] things rolled into one, it felt like.
It was amazing to be reading a script and laughing out loud at things that I could easily show my 8-year-old cousin [laughs] and not feel like I was being a bad uncle.
It’s an animated show, so obviously you’re voice acting and most of your lines are going back and forth with the character Mabel. So, when you’re recording, are you and Kristen together? Do you get to interact like that?
We have! It’s not all the time. She lives in New York most of the time, so there have been times when she has been patched through to me and I have been patched through to her and we can hear each other on headphones and that’s really fun to kind of get to work together. But there was one glorious session [laughs] where she was in LA for a little period of time and so we got to actually be in the same room and that was a lot of fun! I would love to have that happen again, but she just won’t move to Los Angeles for me!
Oh, that stinking Kristen!
Well, when you are in the booth by yourself, is it challenging? It is a very interactive show between the characters, so how is that process for you?
You know, what’s nice is the creator Alex Hirsch does a lot of the voices. He does the voice of Grunkle Stan and he does the voice of Soos, so there are times when I’m interacting with those characters where he’ll just do his lines and I’ll respond to him. That part is really nice.
Instead of just focusing on one line at a time and going through, you know, not really having a flow to a scene, I actually get to go back and forth with him a couple of times and make sure [laughs] it sounds like we’re actually responding to each other and talking. I think you can begin to be able to tell the difference when each line is its own separate planet. [laughs]
Mhm. Have you gotten to see any of the final episodes, or almost final products, to gauge how it’s going?
I did see the [premiere] episode, which I’m really excited about. Maybe I haven’t even seen the final version, but I did see a rougher cut of it and it was exactly how I imagined it and how I felt the script was. It was one of those things were – every time you read a script, no matter what it’s for, animated or feature or television, you’re like, “Oh, gosh, I hope that it turns out as good as I envisioned.” [laughs] And I felt like the animators and everybody just did such a great job with it.
I imagine, maybe even more so with voice acting, you really need to have a handle on who the character is and what makes them tick. I don’t want to make you feel old here, but it has been a little bit since you could play a kid in a non-animated show.
[laughs] That is true! That is true!
So, how did you try to convey that or bring that child back and into Dipper?
Well, there is a lot of me that still – you know, I kind of decided that as I became an adult I would try not to lose my sense of wonder at the world. [laughs] Dipper is an enthusiastic person and I am as well, and it’s kind of funny because when I put my voice a little bit higher than mine, it still kind of cracks, [laughs] something like that a young boy like Dipper’s voice would do that, too! So it sort of all kind of worked out with my awkward voice anyway. [laughs]
But, yeah, I think generally he’s excited, he’s annoyed by his sister, he’s excited about the mystery around him and he’s trying to solve it and, you know, he’s a passionate little guy and I know what that’s like.
Definitely! So, when you were younger, did you ever go away for the summer and have some adventures of your own?
Oh yeah! I would go away to camp every year from when I was about 11 to 17 and, oh yeah, we would be camping in the woods and I would get totally creeped out and look for monsters coming to get me. [laughs] Yeah, and I think at that age that Dipper and Mabel are at, your imagination is so powerful that you can create these fantastical things. The only difference is for Dipper and Mabel, [laughs] all of the monsters and scary things seem to be real at this point.
I think I went through a Mabel period of time. [laughs] I think maybe from when I was about 1 to 6 or 7, it was this sort of blissfully unaware, goofy, [laughs] just sort of jumping around through life [mentality], and then I think when I was 6, 7, 8, my Dipper phase started setting in and I began to become weary of the world around me. [laughs]
Well, you know, you are always really great at getting people to laugh, but what is making you laugh these days?
Oh, boy. What is making me laugh these days? I mean, really, my greatest source of laughter always, since I was like 13 or 14, has been my little group of friends and we will all get together on any given night and not even plan anything. [laughs] We’ll sit around and entertain each other with our brains and our stupid jokes. [laughs] And that is one of my favorite things in the whole entire world.
Hey, you can’t get better than that!
[laughs] You can’t get better than that, that’s true!
Thank you so much for speaking with me today! It’s been a real pleasure and I can’t wait to see what Gravity Falls has in store for us all. Do you have a final message for your fans and the visitors of Pop Culture Madness?
Well, thank you for reading all the way through this interview. [laughs] If they’re reading this message then that means they finished the entire thing, so thank you for being interested in me [laughs] and this article!
Gravity Falls Premieres Friday, June 29 at 9:30 PM ET on Disney Channel.
To catch the re-airing of the special preview episode from the 15th
– which was the actual series premiere episode –
be sure to tune in Friday, June 29 at 9:00 PM ET.
Like what you see on Friday?
Be sure to tune in Saturday, June 30 at 9:25 PM ET for another new episode
featuring guest stars Larry King and Coolio.
Missed any of the above episodes?
Tune in Sunday, July 1 when encores of all three episodes air
on the Disney Channel, beginning at 9 PM ET.
The regular timeslot for new episodes of Gravity Falls is
Fridays at 9:30 PM ET on Disney Channel.