You share the same name with your character, Melissa. Are there any other characteristics that you share with her?
Oh god, I hope not. [Laughs] Well … I guess I hope I share her intellect and her ambition. I would say probably a lot of the other personality traits, not so much. She’s not necessarily the kindest person. She aspires to be a supervillain, so that’s not quite in my same wheelhouse.
Melissa is kind of the polar opposite of her brother Lou — a bit more grounded, if you can say that, and focused on helping her father navigate his many issues. And there’s an underlying current of her always looking for MODOK’s approval. What’s the key to making a disgruntled, deadpan teenager funny?
Honestly, Patton and [creator] Jordan [Blum] and our writers made my job really easy because the scripts were so fire and so funny and it really was there for me in the words. I think that there are elements of her teenage personality that any of us could relate to: seeking approval, wanting to know who you are, being ambitious, and thinking of the future. Those are all sorts of things that I think we can easily tap into, but it really was there in the writing. She was really clear-cut from the beginning. I could read it, and I was like, I know this girl, I know who she is. And then it was just having fun with it and playing with the levels and finding what she sounds like exactly.
MODOK is as much of a “family show” as it is a comic book/supervillain series. What is your favorite part of the family dynamic on the show?
I love that their dynamic is obviously they care about one another and they love each other through a lot of dysfunction. They live in a different world than most people. They’re surrounded by crazy circumstances. They have a really different point of view — they’re really okay with everything that MODOK does, and they’re proud of him for being a supervillain, which is different. So it’s really fun to kind of observe a family like that and see where some of their issues could be very common. And then obviously some of their issues are not, but I feel like it’s definitely a family dynamic we haven’t necessarily seen before. So it was really fun to dive into that.
Now obviously an animated series films much differently than live action, but I have to assume that part of the appeal of the show to you was working with such an all-star cast. Did you have any particularly funny or memorable moments with Patton or Wendi or any of the other cast members?
No. I mean yes and no. We had table reads, which isn’t always common for an animated show, and they were so, so fun. I wasn’t able to go to all of them because I was shooting “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” at the same time that we were recording. But I love Patton. Obviously he played a very, very funny fire chief in a couple episodes of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” who was like our arch-nemesis. So I met him years ago and I’m a huge fan of him as a person and as a comedian, and was so stoked to be part of this with him. It was really fun to see him again.
I also have known Aimee now for a few years and it was so fun to have another Latina there to geek out and be like, “Oh my god, can you believe this is happening?” Because there aren’t a ton of Latinas in the Marvel Universe, so we were both really excited about originating two characters that were Latina. Plus, we’re friends, so it was just fun.
I didn’t get to see Wendi because I’m pretty sure she was shooting “The Goldbergs.” And I also kept missing Ben Schwartz [who plays Lou] — he and I were like ships passing in the night. He would go to a table read that I couldn’t go to and vice versa. And so I hope if we get to do more episodes that I get to spend more time with them and maybe get to record together too. Because I didn’t get to record with anyone.