In my years working at GeekDad I’ve had the chance to talk to many wonderful and talented people involved in all manner of interesting projects. Still, I’ve never been more excited than last week when I got to speak to actress, comedian, voice artist and all-around funny woman Kristen Schaal. Kristen is one of those rare personalities that seems to pop up in all my favorite television series at some point – a phenomenon I have come to call my Unified Theory of Schaal – and she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to help psych us up for her triumphant return to Disney Channel as Mabel Pines in season two of the massively successful animated series Gravity Falls.
GeekDad: Older viewers likely know you from your standup comedy, your stint on the Daily Show, as Louise Belcher on Bob’s Burgers or as 30 Rock‘s Hazel Wassername, but to kids – especially my kids – you are Mabel Pines. Has that role, not to mention voice work in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Toy Story 3, served to make your fanbase skew a little younger than it once did?
Kristen Schaal: I think so, yeah. I know now that, more than usual, I’m having adults come up to me who say that their kids love me, which is really nice.
GD: Gravity Falls has been really well received by both critics and fans. Were you surprised at all by the show’s popularity?
KS: No, I wasn’t surprised – well, I guess I was. I’m always surprised. I never know whether what I do is going to hit or not hit. You just never know what’s going to please people, but I knew that I loved reading all the scripts. So, I guess I should’ve been less surprised. I didn’t think it would be as big as it is. I just really didn’t know, but I’m happy that it’s touched so many people in such a positive way.
GD: Mabel is based on Alex Hirsch‘s real-life twin Ariel, but how much of yourself, especially your younger self, do you see in the character?
KS: Well, Z, I see a lot of myself in Mabel. I’ve said before, I think that out of all the characters that I’ve played Mabel is probably closest to who I really am. It’s very easy to play her. I was a goofy little girl with braces and long brown hair, and I know I just would’ve had a ball at the Mystery Shack in Gravity Falls. So, I would say that if there was to be an autobiography film of my life, we could probably cast Mabel to play the younger Kristen Schaal.
GD: So you’d say you were more of a Mabel Pines than a Louise Belcher?
KS: Yeah, I was. I adore Louise – Louise is a channel for me to vent. I wish I was more of a Louise, but I was definitely a softer, sweeter Mabel.
GD: I think everyone can agree that both those shows (Gravity Falls and Bob’s Burgers) have such amazing voice casts. For me as a fan it’s just great to hear all that talent come together for the finished product.
KS: Yes, it’s really been fun. Bob’s Burgers is sort of all my friends from the New York comedy scene, and Gravity Falls has just been a pleasure to work with Jason Ritter – who’s just the most delightful human being you’ll ever meet – and Alex, you know, is also a really special genius… and he’s really nice.
GD: When she was named an official U.S. congresswoman Mabel stated she was “legalizing everything.” What would be her first act if she were, say, elected president?
KS: Well, she would appoint Waddles her Vice President, and Dipper would probably be her Secretary of State. And Stan? Grunkle Stan would be her Secretary of Defense. I think every Monday would be Glitter Monday – National Glitter Monday!
GD: I can honestly say I have never supported a presumptive candidate as much as I support Mabel right now.
KS: Thank you!
GD: Kristen, what’s your favorite Mabel moment from Gravity Falls‘ first season?
KS: Oh, my favorite Mabel moment… Boy, that’s a tough one! She’s been through so much… I guess it would have to be the boy band episode. I was really into New Kids on the Block, so I could relate to that one.
GD: Let’s talk about the other citizens of Gravity Falls, Oregon; who’s your favorite non-Mabel character?
KS: Probably Dipper; just ’cause, y’know, he’s my brother. Stan’s really interesting too. Stan’s someone I wanna, like, wear down – well, Mabel wants to wear him down. Oh, and I love Lazy Susan too, played by Jennifer Coolidge; she’s awesome! There are so many that it’s hard to pick, but I’d have to pick Dipper – y’know, out of blood.
GD: Gravity Falls is all about secrets, and while I can’t expect you to divulge any of those I do have to ask, has Mabel changed any between seasons one and two? Is she still as optimistic, outspoken and boy-crazy as ever?
KS: I’m happy to say that she is still all those things. I think it’d be sad to see Mabel change. She’s so perfect the way is. Yeah, Mabel’s arc doesn’t fall far from just being adorable.
GD: I think that’s what we all wanted to hear! One more question: season 2 of Gravity Falls kicks off at 9:00 PM on August 1st. What other upcoming projects can we look forward to seeing (or hearing) you in?
KS: Let’s see… Bob’s Burgers is coming back, though I don’t know when that premieres. I think you’ll just have to enjoy Gravity Falls. Oh, and I just remembered something; I shot a movie with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte called A Walk in the Woods!
GD: Yeah, I think a Robert Redford movie qualifies as a serious upcoming project. That’s wonderful!
KS: I know. I just forgot.
GD: It’s okay; you’re a very busy woman and we understand.
KS: Thanks, Z!
GD: Oh, and before I forget, Grandma wanted me to tell you that you were the best thing about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. She said you were wonderful, and that you were the real hero.
KS: Oh, bless her!
GD: Grandma Di, that’s for you!
KS: You just put another checkmark in another demographic. All right! I got everybody now!
Gravity Falls‘ second season will premiere on Friday, August 1 (9:00 PM, ET/PT) on Disney Channel and Monday, August 4 (9:00 PM, ET/PT) on Disney XD with an episode entitled “Scary-oke.” The fun continues with episode two, “Into the Bunker,” premiering Monday, August 4 (9:30 PM, ET/PT) on Disney XD.
Special thanks to Disney Channels Worldwide’s Cecilia Nguyen for arranging this interview, and to Kristen Schaal for making time to talk to us!