Kumail, take the wheel? On Fox’s “Bless the Harts,” one of the funniest gags is that Jesus Christ is a character, and the show has recruited a major comedy star to voice him — “The Big Sick” and “Stuber” star Kumail Nanjiani.
The casting was revealed — earlier than Fox wanted — during the show’s Comic-Con 2019 panel on Friday that featured series creator Emily Spivey, executive producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, plus voice cast members Jillian Bell and Ike Barinholtz.
The panel showed a short unfinished clip from the “Bless the Harts” pilot, in which the Jesus character appears prominently. When it ended, Miller let the cat out of the bag, confirming that it was Nanjiani — prompting some performative nervousness from the other panelists. At which point Barinholtz hastily joked that he couldn’t quite place the voice actor who had “a sort of half-Chicago, half-Pakistani accent,” but that he “realized it was the great Chicago actor ‘Kumail Stevenson.’”
That “Kumail Stevenson” joke was later repeated by Spivey when referencing Jesus.
As for the clip, it was mainly storyboard motion graphics with occasional finished animation that included a cold open, the title sequence (which makes it clear Jesus is a full-on member of the cast of characters), and five minutes or so of an episode. The plot saw Jenny Hart (Kristen Wiig) discover that her mother, Betty (Maya Rudolph) has been siphoning off the family’s money to pay for a secret storage facility, which left the family without enough money to pay the electric bill. But, when Jenny confronts Betty, she learns Betty has been using the storage for her complete collection of collectible dolls from the 1990s (inspired by the Beanie Babies craze).
Convinced they’re sitting on a gold mine, Jenny agrees with Betty that they should sell the dolls and make a considerable profit. But Betty won’t let Jenny sell just a couple now to pay off the electric bill, because she’s worried the collection won’t be as valuable if it’s incomplete. Jenny subsequently becomes tempted to remove one of the dolls and sell it herself. It’s at that point when Nanjiani’s Jesus shows up to have a cute little chat about morality.
And that’s it!
“Bless the Harts” stars Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph as well as Bell and Barinholtz. The series is produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Lord Miller. The 13-episode first season premieres September 29.
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