Talking with David Hornsby, Creator/Executive Producer and voice of Joel
FX has a new animated series created by David Hornsby who is doing triple duty as executive producer and the voice of Joel. When he’s not working with UNSUPERVISED, he is also serving as executive producer and writer of another FX hit show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and starring as Rickety Cricket.
Now I get a chance to sit down, if it’s possible with all his energy, and ask some questions about the new show following my beloved ARCHER.
Hi David, it’s a pleasure to get to talk to you today!
So what is the best part of unveiling your new series?
I think we’re just all excited. I work with Rob Rosell and Scott Marder. We all worked on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and branched off to do this project. I think we’re just excited. We feel like this how has a really unique point of view, coupled with the type of humor that I think people enjoy from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, but different enough to where it feels like this has a real unique point of view to the show.
So we’re all excited to show it’s about two kids, these high school kids who are very optimistic and earnest freshmen in a very bleak world. They have a very bleak living situation in the sense that neither of them have parents. My character has, he’s the kid that’s a 15-year-old with 65-year-old parents and I feel like everyone has that person from their high school. Justin Long’s character Gary, his father ran off and left with a step-mom who does not want a child.
They have these very bleak circumstances and yet, they’re very optimistic, so that point of view in the show paired with a very bleak world, we just think it makes for a great show. We’re really excited, I think, for people to see that because it does feel different to us.
So its original based on the dynamics of family situations today, that’s pretty cool.
Thanks. We see them as the children left behind and there are unfortunately plenty of those. So we feel like we’re trying to reflect as much as we can; not only the real high school experience, but also the reality of what the world is like and how people have to navigate it on their own, even if you’re 14 or 15.
Are you excited that it’s animated?
It’s really fun. It’s a completely new thing for all of us. I actually draw the characters as well, so that for me is really exciting in terms of having them in a show. It’s something that I’ve always done, but never been able to share because I’m not a professional artist. So for me it makes it even more exciting to – I basically designed the characters, all the characters and then send them to Floyd Country, who does the production. They’re in Georgia and they do ARCHER as well.
It has its own set of limitations as well. You think it’s animated, we can’t do whatever we want, but you still have to worry about sets and all that adds up – budget. But it’s really exciting for all of us and I have to say it’s mostly been a learning curve, as it’s our first animated show.
I would say in terms of the animation side of it, we write it just like we write “Sunny” in that we approach it like it’s not animated. WE just approach it as breaking good stories and writing the best comedy. It’s a very character driven comedy.
You and FX seem perfect together; did you shop it around or stay with FX?
Well, actually, we didn’t really shop it around. Myself and Rob Rosell and Scott Marder, again who work with “Sunny”, this show came out of, in a sense, a room bit where the three of us were always joking around about these sort of characters. So we started realizing like we have these characters with very strong points of view and whenever you have that feeling of strong point of view from a character in the back of your mind, that is a flag of this could be something!
And so we went to FX, who know us very well at this point, we haven’t done much more with my career at this point. I’ve just been there for so long that we said we have this idea for a show. What do you guys think? They said ‘that’s almost exactly what we’re looking for’. We want something that feels like it could appeal to that “Sunny” crowd, but almost even skew younger if we want, almost like a “Superbad” in a way, for whatever reason, and that’s what it is.
Have you always enjoyed animation?
Not necessarily. I’ve always drawn, for example, and I did consider when I was younger, it was either do I become an actor or do I become an animator cartoonist at that point. Do I work at Disneyworld or something and do animated cells or something? But I’ve always loved animation and it’s not like it’s been a priority of mine and I’ve always said I wanted to make a animated comedy some day. I think you’re always trying to challenge yourself to do new things and not repeat yourself. And so this is a way to be able to do something different and see how that went.
I think maybe at first we thought it’s going to be fun. It’s a cartoon, it’s going to be a little bit easier and it’s not. It’s just as much work and you approach it like a live action, but it’s been really rewarding.
It sounds like you’re enjoying yourself.
So what inspired your characters and are they from personal experience?
There’s not usually one specific person we’re talking about, but the three of us with our combined high school experiences have different stories and they are funny. We try to find that universality between all three of us because we had very different high school experiences in a sense. We have different background, but there’s something that’s true to all of it.
There’s always the slut in school or people who they consider the slut, there’s always the druggie kid, the drug dealer whose also super nice. There’s the ‘Joel’ character, there’s that kid that has super old parents. There’s a kid that Rob Rosell plays, Russell, that always seems to have a broken limb. He always seems to be in a cast.
So we were just trying to find what is true and we have to do that. We have to put that in because that totally happens in high school where you almost kill yourself doing something, throwing a party even if it’s that simple. We do open the yearbooks and we do talk about maybe different people or experience and they can inspire, but nothing like particularly based on one person.
Like the little kid eating cereal?
That joke was initially that – and it got cut away in the pilot, but that’s how our character just eats cereal everyday for dinner because that’s what he’s left with. He doesn’t have a mom that’s making him food and he feels like it fortifies him with a daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
Thanks Dave for taking the time to talk with us today.
You can see UNSUPERVISED on Thursdays, 10:30 p.m. on FX!