For its recent live-action Rick and Morty shorts, Adult Swim easily could have opted to drop Christopher Lloyd and Jaeden Martel in front of a green screen, made the actors read their lines, and built out a completely digital set around them in post production, and viewers probably wouldn’t have batted an eye.
Simply shooting the shorts in an actual garage was also an option that was likely considered, but in the end, the network decided to go with the whole “Hollywood is built on illusions” route by constructing Rick’s garage on a set over the course of a few days. After receiving a number of questions about how much of the set was real, director Paul B. Cummings uploaded a time-lapse video of the construction to his personal YouTube page, where you can see the structure come together in a minute. Though the live-action garage doesn’t feel quite as lived-in as its animated counterpart, part of why it works is Rick and Morty’s established canon of some of its realities just having wildly different aesthetics.
The more tidbits that come out about the live-action shorts, the more it seems like the sort of project that Adult Swim might have been stewing on for a while before deciding to give it a go in this format.
Translating the whole of Rick and Morty to meatspace would be a gargantuan effort that might not really do the characters justice, but it would be very interesting to see chunks of the show’s multiverse spotlighted this way in the franchise’s future.
Rick and Morty is now streaming on Netflix.