Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back for its 13th season, and ComingSoon spoke to star Felicia Day about his return. New episodes are now streaming online via the Gizmoplex website.
“For the first time, not one, but three people are subjected to the bittersweet agony of watching the world’s cheesiest movies as returning test subject Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) shares hosting duties with the latest kidnapped Gizmonic tech, Emily Connor (Emily Marsh) and original host Joel Robinson (show creator Joel Hodgson),” reads the official synopsis. “Along with hilarious robot friends Crow T. Robot (Hampton Yount/Kelsey Ann Brady), Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn/Conor McGiffin) and GPC (Rebecca Hanson/Yvonne Freese), our heroes must survive 13 new movies, 12 new shorts and the Revealing Kinga’s latest plan for world domination: The Gizmoplex, the First Cineplex on the Moon.”
Tyler Treese: Felicia, it’s such a pleasure talking to you. I know you were a fan of MST3K growing up, but what really drew you to the show?
Felicia day: Well, my brother and I argued a lot, and we only had one TV. And the one thing we literally didn’t want to tear our hair out over was MST3K. My brother and I think this show really shaped our sense of humor. And I mean, I think maybe it’s underrated, but seeing Kinderbriefe in the episode was really super exciting. I have a five year old now and I’ll wait a few more years but I can’t wait to watch the old episodes with her and introduce her to the MST3K world. So when I took part in the show, it was a dream come true. I was able to write a few episodes with my brother. So this is my third season and I just can’t thank Joel enough for keeping me in the family.
When you come to a project and you obviously have so much admiration for Joel, is it almost intimidating in a way? how do you navigate this
It was certainly intimidating at first, whenever I heard him talking behind me I thought he was on TV. As if he had such an unmistakable voice. But eventually we’ve been working together for years. And this season I didn’t really work one on one with Joel because it was COVID. He was on the east coast. I was on the west coast. So my friendship with Jonah Ray got me through it. Not only was he the primary writer for the episodes I wrote, but he also directed half of the episodes. And it was just like getting the band back together with me, Patton and Jonah. And we had such a good time. This season is really something special.
So what is the writing process like when it comes to riffs? Is it a lot of iteration and fine-tuning of the jokes?
Certainly. There are a lot. And a lot of what happens after a writer like me would be involved. The chief writer…there were two different writing rooms this season. Tim Ryder, who directed the other half of the episodes, was the lead writer for one room. And then I was in Jonas room. He was the head writer there and we just did sections, like 10 minutes long, we riffled, we pitched, yelled jokes, we laughed at other people’s jokes, we laughed at our own. And at the end of the day, everyone sort of picks the best that comes in. And then it all goes to Elliot Kalan and Joel and Matt McGinnis and all the people at the top. And they can choose what the last finale is. And that’s it, it’s a long process but one that I think is being carried out with a lot of joy and thank god Joel at the helm who always makes sure MST3K is consistent for over 30 years.
That really impressed me because as a fan you’re always happy when a show comes back, but there’s always this tinge of concern like, ‘Is this going to stay like this? Will that magic still be there?” But it really is, thanks Joel and everyone else, but it really feels the same. It has the same sense of humor. So, as a fan, how great was it to see that it just worked that way and that the fans were also so supportive that they did not one Kickstarter but two?
I know it’s really fantastic. No, it’s just overwhelming. It was once again that you are part of a legacy. As if this were a legacy, it’s an institution to belong to war of stars or star trek. It really is that level of institutional nerddom. And yes, it’s wonderful. And what I love about this season is that Netflix didn’t pick us up and the fans showed up and made … I think that’s going to be the best season of the ones I’ve been in just because the scale is smaller. Everything is more spontaneous. Joel and the crew have complete creative control. When Jonah, me and Pat were on set, we would just say, “Hey, I think we have a funnier joke here,” or “Let’s do that instead.” And we had the flexibility, and the spontaneity was just, it was easy so much more fun working at this scale. Because I think it actually fits MST3K better than having big shiny sets and all that stuff. So I really have a feeling fans will feel like coming home for this season and meeting a lot of new cast members who are wonderful.
TIED TOGETHER: Interview: Joel Hodgson talks about MST3K Season 13, The Gizmoplex
I wanted to ask you about Patton Oswalt because this is your third season working together. How has your chemistry grown over time? They talked about spontaneity and working through each other. How did that develop?
I mean, Patton really set the standard. He is so experienced and so wonderful. And I was super intimidated when I first got on set and he really was. Our chemistry really got me through and now this season there was just a lack of care, not care but inhibition. And we just went to silly, wild places. And I have to tell you, it was just such a joy. He really is an unsung hero of comedy and he’s everywhere and yet not enough places. I just love him to death.
What I find so interesting about your character is that she tries to live up to her family’s evil standards. It’s not really a path she’s really chosen for herself. So how do you really see Kinga and that element of her?
Yes. I mean she really is. She’s trying to live something she’s not, and I don’t even know if anyone is actually putting that pressure on her. It seems to come from an inner place. And so that kind of manic emotional rollercoaster that everyone around her goes through… She’s kind of a mad heiress, in a way, from the 1930s. And I love these characters so much. I think I’m definitely infusing some of that Carole Lombard energy into her. So yes, she’s someone who will never get what she wants because she doesn’t even know what she wants that will make her happy inside, but she’ll try and give everything, ringing everyone to get there to get
During Netflix seasons, we had a little reunion with Dr. Horrible, which got you singing with Neil Patrick Harris. How surreal was this scene?
It was wonderful. Bobby Lopez who wrote this Frozen Songs and many, many other songs with his wife, like Dream Team. It was really incredible. There were a lot of great cameos this season. Again I worked with Mary Jo Pehl what is so what?! There is a lot of old and new coming together. We have Emily the new hostess and it all blended together in a really great way. And I think it just kind of reinforces the family aspect of MST3K. There will be three different presenters, but Kinga is responsible for forcing them to watch these films. I love it. The more the better.
I haven’t seen the Emily episodes yet, but how great was it that we had our first female lead?
I think it’s great. I find it amazing. And she was on the tour with the other crew, so they’re a whole whole… They’ve been touring the US. They did the longest tour of all time. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to work with her alone yet, but I really hope that this opportunity will arise in the future.
What did it really mean to you to be hugged by the fans like that? You had many big shoes to fill in as the big bad mad scientist here.
Yes. I can only hope that the fans like Kinga or at least hate her in a good way. I definitely feel like there was a long line of evil from Forrester that I really needed to nestle under, and working with Mary Jo like this season is actually bringing that kind of family aspect to the show. And for me as a performer, it’s really cool to somehow integrate with the Forester line. And I can say that we had to shoot under COVID circumstances. It was a smaller scale, and I really feel like the show benefited from that in a lot of ways. And I think fans are going to see that kind of organic weirdness, spontaneous weirdness that they’re even more used to than the last two seasons
Despite the smaller scale, this is such an ambitious endeavor with the Gizmoplex that’s so cool that it’s both an on-screen piece of this story and the real-world implementation of this live theatrical experience that fans can join How excited are you, at attend these events at the Gizmoplex?
I think it’s going to be great. Can’t wait to do one of the livestream events for sure. When Joel introduced it to me, I thought, “This isn’t going to work,” and then to see it come together and it’s so awesome. It’s like going to the cinema and buying a ticket and having an experience. And I think it’s so much more important to the spirit of the show than just dumping all the episodes at once. That’s how it works on some shows, Mystery Science Theater, we already have an hour and a half episodes, right? Every episode is an event and I’m excited that they will be releasing the first three, and new content and stuff every two weeks thereafter. And I really hope that the community is a real community that forms around the GizmoPlex. And yes, it’s really cool. It’s a great concept executed well. I was skeptical and now I’m in awe.
The series has covered so many great bad movies. Are there any similar movies you would like to see in the future given the MST3K treatment or your own favorite bad movie?
There’s a Charlie Sheen movie where he’s a car and I can’t remember if it’s called Revant or the Charlie Sheen car movie. I mean it’s one of the worst movies… The Wraith! It’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen. The Wraith is so bad. I saw it on late night TV a few years ago and I was like, “Joel, you have to do this.” Well I would love that just because it’s so crazy I just can’t help but think, that it would be pretty awesome to ripple it. So that would be my vote but again I don’t get to choose the films, Joel and Matt McGinnis and the crew do that and I’m just happy to write and perform whatever they give me.
That sounds amazing.
Yes, you must see this film. It is very bad!