We love The Orville and when the opportunity to interview Kai Wener came up we jumped at the chance. Kai has had roles on Nickelodeon’s hit show Game Shakers and Days of Our Lives as well as appearing in many different commercials and print campaigns, but we were introduced to his acting skills via The Orville.
Kai can currently be seen as fan-favorite Ty Finn, the youngest son of Dr. Claire Finn, played by Penny Johnson-Jerald on the award-winning series. Kai shares the screen with creator and AcaArcade award-winning actor Seth MacFarlane along with an all-star ensemble which also includes Halston Sage, Adrianne Palicki, Peter Macon and Scott Grimes to name a few. Kai’s performance as Ty has made the industry take notice of his talent, and earned him a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a TV Series.
BSCKids: Kai, tell us a bit about your character on The Orville.
Kai Wener: I play a character named “Ty Finn” the youngest son of “The Orville’s” head Doctor, Dr. Claire Finn, played by Penny Johnson-Jerald. Ty’s older brother, Marcus Finn, played by BJ Tanner, and looks up to an artificial life-form named Isaac, played by Mark Jackson. Ty is known as a brave kid, that has been through more dangerous adventures than most adults!
BSCKids: The show is both funny and dramatic all in one episode, how do you get prepared for your scenes?
Kai Wener: We like to use the word, “Drama-edy” to describe the show, due to the mixture of comedy and dramatic scenes. Getting prepared for my scenes is always a process that starts as soon as I get the script. First, I would read the entire script with either one of my parents to be prepared of what to expect in the next episode. Followed by breaking down my lines to figure out the best way to deliver them and start to form memorization . Next, a table read at the studio with the entire cast and production team, which is fun, because I get to hear everything come to life. Speaking out loud gives me the ability to adjust the way I say any of my lines. Then on the day of filming , we’ll rehearse a couple of times before starting the film. This is where I’m able to get any notes from Mr. Seth MacFarlane, Mr. Jon Cassar, or whoever is directing the episode. Sometimes, if the scene is really emotional, Miss Penny will also pull me aside and help me get into character.
BSCKids: Speaking of funny, we can only imagine how much fun it is with Seth MacFarlane and the rest of the cast on set. Anything funny that has happened behind the scenes you can tell about?
Kai Wener: Yes, of course! Mr. Seth is such a hard worker, and also fun to work with! While filming one of the scenes from “Into the Fold” for season one, we were in the middle of this forest in Frazier Park and our energy was kind of dropping because it was the end of the day. Then out of nowhere, I hear “Peter Griffin” from “Family Guy”start to give BJ and I directions for the scene. It was so hilarious at the time, and it gave me so much energy to finish out the day. When you work with Mr. Seth, he works so hard and seems so serious because he’s making sure the scenes are looking their best! You forget just how funny he is, but, he knows just when to pull out the“Peter Griffin” or “Stewie” voices to give me that extra push!
BSCKids: You got a great bit of focus in Identity Part I and Part II, how was it filming those episodes?
Kai Wener: Filming Identity part I and II was a lot of work, and also my favorite episodes to film! I had fun working with Mr. Jon Cassar, who directed the episode. In addition I was able to learn a lot from him as well. Just in these two episodes, I had to use a safety harness to do my own stunts three stories high, I had different scenes that had the backgrounds digitally added, and I did a scene with “Yaphit,” who is a CGI character voiced by Norm MacDonald. Mr. Jon was there for every step of the way and explained everything thoroughly. When Mr. Jon Cassar takes the time to do that for someone my age, you appreciate it so much. Valuable information I can use throughout my acting journey and maybe even when directing one day!
BSCKids: Tell us how you felt being a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a TV Series?
Kai Wener: It’s a great feeling being nominated for something you work hard doing and enjoy. I think its really special to be highlighted amongst other young artists who love doing what they do!
BSCKids: If you could guest star on any television show, which one would it be and why?
Kai Wener: There is this show called “Gotham” that is also on FOX that I would die to guest star on before it completes its last season! My Dad and I watch it all the time! I think its pretty cool to see how all of the Batman characters started. I like David Mazouz’s character. He has been a great child actor who was able to grow up on the show and it would be really neat to do a scene with him!
BSCKids: What is your favorite post of yours on your Instagram account?
Kai Wener: I have TONS of behind the scenes videos and pictures that I havent had the time to post of me filming “The Orville”. But i recently posted a favorite one of mine that my Mom captured from filming “Identity”. This was a big episode for the season and also for myself. I explain how great Mr. Seth MacFarlane and Mr. Jon Cassar are to work with, how much they teach me, and how much they guide me, and you can actually see that in this clip. It’s usually either one of them giving me notes, but this time, they were both there and it’s pretty rare to see these two geniuses at work!
BSCKids: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Kai Wener: I think people would be surprised to learn that I am a straight “A” student and have made the “Principal’s Honor Roll” since the first grade! I also love math and I am on my schools “Math-letes” team!
BSCKids: Anything you have coming up in the future you can tell us about?
Kai Wener: Well of course, I’m hoping that there will be a Season 3 of The Orville, but I’ve also been reading for some really cool projects for TV and for some Feature Films. My fingers are crossed that you’ll be seeing me in something new real soon! In the meantime, I have a new national commercial that should be airing real soon and have been working with Disney print!
Thanks go out to Kai for taking the time to talk with us about his career and we are all hoping for a Season 3 of The Orville to happen!