This week, Deadline’s Production Value video series continues its space exploration with Seth MacFarlane sci-fi series The Orville, as Emmy-nominated production designer Stephen Lineweaver takes us behind the scenes and into the Fox show’s titular space vessel.
Beginning his career in the art department in 1984—with credits over the years including Tommy Boy, Jerry Maguire and Role Models—Lineweaver has over the past seven years found a strong collaborative relationship with The Orville creator-star MacFarlane, with whom he’s worked on two Ted films and MacFarlane’s original comedic Western A Million Ways to Die in the West.
When The Orville came along, Lineweaver saw yet another opportunity he couldn’t pass up: the rare opportunity to design a cohesive, two-story spaceship sitting on a stage at the Fox lot, a space that would provide a totally immersive experience for the series’ actors.
“The actors can physically walk from one space to another. It gives them a sense of a real place, and I think it really makes a difference,” Lineweaver told Deadline. “In real time, you can go to the briefing room from the bridge, you can go to your quarters, you can go to the cafeteria, you can walk and talk for five or 10 minutes.”
Whether he’s operating in the Wild West or in space, the fundamentals of Lineweaver’s design process are always the same, beginning with illustration.
“I do everything through illustration—you have to, for the future. It doesn’t exist. You have to draw it, and that’s the way we’ve worked together for a long time,” the production designer explains of his collaborative relationship with MacFarlane. “[The Orville is] a very aspirational show, so it wanted to be a very aspirational design. [The ship] has big, sweeping curves, and it has organic textures and colors that mix with silver and blue light, and it opens epically.”
Lineweaver ccredits his decades of experience working in the feature world with his preparation for the Fox series. “We almost do a feature a week here. It’s a very ambitious show, and you cannot go out and shop for it,” he said. “It’s created down to the toothpick. That’s what’s exciting, and what’s challenging about it.”
Check out our conversation above.