Adventure Time’s Olivia Olson on Marceline, Stakes and songs

We talk to Olivia Olson about why Adventure Time’s Marceline rocks

Everyone’s got a favourite Adventure Time character, but few of the inhabitants of Ooo have stolen scenes, and whole episodes, as frequently as the awesome Marceline. The vampiric songsmith has emerged as one of the show’s MVPs, in large part because her history is as heartbreaking as her sharp tongue is hilarious.

Clearly we’re not the only ones who think so, as she’s the focus of a new book and a new miniseries. The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook offers diary entries from her childhood, while Stakes is a six part miniseries which sees the character delve into her past. We got the chance to speak to the voice of Marceline and the book’s co-author Olivia Olson about what makes the character, and the show, so special.

Marceline’s back story is incredible, and the new miniseries and the book go into it in more depth. How much did you know when you joined the show?

I learn as I go. They don’t really tell us anything in advance, just when we record the episode, that’s when I know what’s going on in the crazy world of Ooo. I’m such a big fan of the show as well, so I would get so excited when I would read this script, I’ll be like “Oh my god, I cannot believe that Marceline and Simon know each other!”

I get so excited because she has such a crazy back story, and especially with Stakes coming out you really get to dive into why she is the way she is. Not a lot of kids’ shows are having these crazy complex storylines, Cartoon Network just goes above and beyond with the writing style and really making things interesting not only for kids but adults too.

It’s amazing how emotional the show can get, especially with that relationship between Marceline and The Ice King.

The writing in Adventure Time is just so good. The whole mystery of the Mushroom War, and how so much of the present storyline of Adventure Time really turns to the past, with Marceline and Simon especially, and Bubblegum too, she’s pretty old, wondering what life was like back then and it kind of shows why these characters are the way they are. Like with Simon, he starts out as this villain and then you have this emotional connection, you feel really bad for him because you start to realise “Oh my God he’s not evil, he’s just controlled by this crown that’s making him a crazy person.” When I go in and read my scripts I’m like “The fans are going to freak out because I’m freaking out!” Stakes is going to be awesome and it’s going to be a lot more of that crazy backstory and origin!

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The songs are obviously brilliant too!

Yeah, when I don’t have songs for a couple of episodes I’m like “When am I going to be able to sing again?” The music in the show is so good. We’re really lucky. And it’s so different, I’ve done music in other series and it’s such a different style of music that Adventure Time brings to the table. I went from being on a Disney show where everything was very theatrical and almost like a Broadway performance, whereas all of Marceline’s songs are personal, almost like poetry. It’s really cool.

You don’t have to understand the song structure of these things because they’re not coming from a place of “Here’s this beautiful song I wrote!” It’s like “Here’s how I’m feeling and it’s just going to come out the way it comes out and it doesn’t have to be perfect”. Which was challenging for me at first!  I went in there trying to do Beyonce runs and they were like “No no no, just make it more authentic and laid back.”

Marceline is a complex character but she’s very confident in herself and how she presents herself to the world. Have you had much feedback about that from fans?

Yeah, it’s something that I think is really cool about all of the female and male characters in the show is that they all know who they are. They’re all very sure of themselves. I’ve had young girls come up to me and say “I love Marceline just for the sheer fact that she’s not afraid to be weird and different and dark and I really relate to that and that’s made me not really care about my image too much and things like that,” and I think that’s important.

I think it’s really cool having these female characters who don’t care about what they look like and they’re confident in who they are.

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Were you surprised by how strong the reaction was to the question of the nature of Marceline and Princess Bubblegum’s past relationship?

Yeah, it was so weird because it just totally blew up from the ‘Door Lord’ episode. I asked our director and he was like “That wasn’t our intention at all,” but if people want to take it…the whole show itself is so obscure that you can kind of take any sort of relationship or any storyline how you want to. So I don’t really know.

Everyone always asks who do you ship Marceline with, with Finn? And I’m like first of all, Finn is a 13 year old boy and she’s like 1000! I don’t think Marceline should be with anyone. I think she’s on her own level, she’s seen too much to be tied down!

How did the book come about? Was it fun working with your dad in this capacity?

My dad had written The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and he plays my father on the show as well, Hunson Abadeer, so he wrote it in his voice as Hunson and I would write notes as Marceline on the side. So a similar thing happened when he was given the opportunity to write The Enchiridion. It turned into the two part book, and then it just kind of turned into me writing the whole Marceline part.

It was really cool because we got to co-author, and my dad started out as a writer but then when Adventure Time came about he became an actor as well, and I started out as an actor and through Adventure Time I am a writer now. He’s always been my creative guru in a sense. He’s always been pushing me to do my creative works and write songs, and I kind of joke that we’ve been doing it forever now we just get paid to do it!

The book that I wrote is really like a companion piece with the miniseries. The two father figures, that was something that was actually really, really close to my heart and very authentic, because I was writing it thinking about Marceline but I was kind of putting my own emotion into it, writing about being adopted and still having those feelings of wondering where I come from, but still having this emotional attachment to a different father figure. So it’s kind of funny, my dad is more like my Simon than Hunson Abadeer.

Olivia Olson plays the awesome Marceline in Adventure Time
Olivia Olson plays the awesome Marceline in Adventure Time

Finally, do you have a favourite underappreciated Adventure Time scene-stealer? It feels like Beemo should get more love.

I love Beemo, he’s so cute. It always changes, there’s so many characters, I really like Me-Mow. A little kid sent Pendleton fan art and said “This is my made up character and he’s a tiny kitten assassin.” They thought it was so funny that they actually put it into the show. But he’s such a weird character, he’s constantly trying to assassinate Wildberry Princess!

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Catch Adventure Time’s brand new miniseries “Stakes” at 5pm on Cartoon Network, starring Marceline the Vampire Queen. The Enchiridion & Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook is out now from Titan Books