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How Mark Jackson Evokes Emotion As A Robot In The Orville - Exclusive

No space adventure would be complete without at least one species of semi-robotic beings. In "Star Trek," we have Vulcans, Androids, and the Borg. In "Star Wars," there's a seemingly endless variety of droids, most prominently represented by R2-D2 and C-3PO. Similarly, in Seth MacFarlane's Hulu series "The Orville," we have the Kaylon, a technology-based species of lifeforms known equally for their devotion to logic and universal sense of superiority. 

Although we meet more than a few different Kaylon throughout the first three seasons of the series, Isaac (Mark Jackson) is the Kaylon emissary with whom viewers are the most familiar. When he first appears in "The Orville" Season 1, Episode 1 ("Old Wounds"), Isaac speaks at great length about the supremacy of his species. But in the time since his introduction, Isaac has undergone a unique evolution. Although he remains Kaylon at heart and is never afraid to tell others that he is better than them, he also develops a genuine appreciation for his fellow Planetary Union officers. In fact, Isaac eventually grows particularly close to Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald), whom he begins dating in Season 2 and marries at the end of Season 3.

Only a few weeks before the Season 3 finale aired, the cast of "The Orville" met up with fans and members of the press at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 to talk about the most recent season of the series and to reflect on how far the show has come since Season 1. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Jackson detailed the difficulties associated with playing Isaac, a character who often presents a distinct challenge. He also took time to talk about how he approached playing a very different version of Isaac toward the end of "The Orville: New Horizons." 

Isaac doesn't actually have emotions ... most of the time

For those of us who work outside the profession of acting, it may seem that the toughest roles involve a heavy amount of emotion. Whether it's sadness, anger, or joy, such strong feelings have to be the most difficult to accurately portray, right? While we're still pretty sure those are no walk in the park, Mark Jackson pointed out that the opposite can also be true.

According to Jackson, it can sometimes be challenging to remember that Isaac doesn't have emotions. "He thinks logically. He only does anything because it makes sense to him, and he is not emotionally driven," Jackson said. "To take the emotional heart out of a performance is very difficult because we're all humans, and we want to communicate in the most efficient way possible."

Notably, Jackson also recently enjoyed the opportunity to portray a uniquely emotional iteration of Isaac. In "The Orville" Season 3, Episode 7 ("From Unknown Graves"), Isaac is gifted an emotion chip, a technological advancement that allows him to feel, rather than just think. This is a great relief to Claire, who revels in the brief opportunity to enjoy a true heart-to-heart moment with Isaac. 

Jackson was also thrilled, as the abrupt alteration to the character allowed him to tackle something quite different. "He was experiencing everything for the first time — love, fear, loneliness and shame ... it was intense," Jackson said. "It was a great challenge as an actor, but also, I got to take my safety breaks off as an actor and go for it. That was great fun."

You can catch all three seasons of "The Orville," including the Season 3 finale, on Hulu. The entire series will also be available on Disney+ starting on August 10.