‘Mythic Quest’ Co-Creator And Actor Rob McElhenney On Building Real Characters And Casting Epic Co-Stars

DEADLINE: Do you feel like you’ve somehow slipped into an episode of Ted Lasso?
DEADLINE: Mythic Quest is a very funny and fast-paced show, and then you can hit with episodes that are surprisingly poignant and that plumb interesting depths.
MCELHENNEY: Oh, good lord… We have our own thing going on.
And I find that when I don’t workout, or if I eat terrible foods that, big surprise, I feel terrible. And yet I think I can work a lot of that stuff off because I’m able to exercise four or five times a week. And then I wonder why I feel terrible. And I’m by no means a saint when it comes to food. People ask me, “When do you fit in the workouts?” I will go out of my way to figure out a time in which I can work out because it gives me added amounts of energy and helps me sleep at night and helps me deal with stress and anxiety. I like to drink alcohol, and I’ll have a glass of bourbon every night. And I look at what I put into my body. MCELHENNEY: It definitely works with the character and that’s the most important part of it… However, I’ll say, I do have the added benefit of feeling good.
I wonder if there’s a human being under the age of 10 who’s been exposed to the games who isn’t into video games. MCELHENNEY: They are, yes. It’s something that they enjoy and it’s something I enjoy doing with them, so that’s been a lot of fun.
I’m going to take a wild guess that they’re into gaming. DEADLINE: You have two young sons.
If you find a mega-talent like that, you can’t shoehorn them into something that you had envisioned three months earlier when you were writing the script. And you want to harness that, and you don’t want to change it. So we worked in conjunction with one another to find what that character is, and we continue to explore it to this day. I don’t want to change her. I don’t want to transmute what she can do into something that holds her back. Hopefully, we’ll keep doing it. MCELHENNEY: We’ve done that a number of times, because I’ve just learned that lesson over and over again. If somebody like that walks into the audition room and you can just feel it, you can feel the chemistry, you can feel that she’s destined for something.
DEADLINE: Do they give you notes on the series then?
DEADLINE: So, you are moving forward with the 15th season of Sunny.
Certainly, they have never seen Sunny. Well, that’s not true. I think they’ve seen a couple of episodes all the way through. They’ve seen parts of Sunny as well. They’re very much aware of Sunny, but I’ll never let them watch an entire episode at the ages that they’re at right now. But Mythic Quest is more of a family-friendly show, so I’m able to show them large sequences of Mythic Quest. MCELHENNEY: I will only allow them to watch parts of episodes.
Certainly, it shaped me into the person I am and a lot of the decisions that I make. MCELHENNEY: Possibly. It’s hard to say because I only know one experience, and that’s the one that I had growing up. I don’t know if I can point to it directly. And all the things that we’re talking about on the show and all the things we’re exploring are what people are exploring in the gaming industry. I can say that what we try to do is to present an authentic experience and to make sure that we are presenting the gaming industry in an honest light. So anything that you see in the show is definitely a product of that, first and foremost.” />
So, you’re going to have cameras in your face even more than usual. I guess. DEADLINE: Congratulations on the documentary series. That sounds exciting.
And yet we also want to present that she’s not always such a great boss. And we hope the audience is going to pick up on that, and they clearly have. “Poppy Li” [played by Australian actress Charlotte Nicdao] is a character you really root for. And we want to present her as a version of a real person struggling with that. In fact, she really struggles with the challenges of being a boss. And sometimes that’s going to come across as nuanced or maybe not so in your face.
I think most producers of shows would be like, “All right, now, Australian actress, put on your American accent, and this is the role and fit into it.” But you really changed the role to suit the actor. DEADLINE: On the series, Charlotte speaks in her Australian accent.
Whereas in Mythic Quest, we wanted to present real human beings and their trials and tribulations, certainly through the prism of a comedy, but still something that resonated as wholly human and true to the human condition. And we play with it a little bit here and there. Whereas in the other show [Sunny], those characters are not actually real human beings. They’re essentially sketches of the id. And it’s a show I love doing, and it’s a show that has a very specific tone. They’re animated characters, live-action cartoon characters, the way we think about them. And if they were, they shouldn’t have a television show made about them. MCELHENNEY: That’s what’s been so much fun for me personally, because I’ve been doing the same show for a long time [It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia]. And I think the central reason for that is because we’re creating real human beings. But there are just certain things that are anathema to an episode of Sunny that we really dive head first into on Mythic Quest.
Murray to come aboard? Murray Abraham. DEADLINE: One Mythic Quest actor that stands out because of his long career and Oscar pedigree is F. In season 2 you got two more Oscar winners to join you, Anthony Hopkins and William Hurt. How were you able initially to get F.
Because of course I know their story—I lived it with them, or at least one aspect of it with them, but only seeing it through my own point of view. So any opportunity that I get to celebrate them and their love for each other and their love for their family I try to take advantage of. And, of course, I have a tremendous amount of empathy and compassion for what they had to go through, but I can’t truly understand or feel what that must’ve felt like. And regardless of how much I asked them about it or we talk about it, it’s still hard for me to truly understand the challenges that they faced. MCELHENNEY: That video, it was really emotionally impactful for me, that’s for sure.
MCELHENNEY: Aren’t they cute?
So when I send it to a fellow actor, regardless of how many awards they’ve won, I’m at least pretty confident that we’ve done a good job in conveying the story we’d like to convey. MCELHENNEY: Well, look, what I know about actors, being one myself, is that if you send them good material, they respond. And then we make them an offer they can’t refuse. We were very proud of that first episode when we sent it to Murray, and we’re certainly proud of any of the scripts that we write. And it might not line up with what they’re interested in doing, but that we’ve done our end.
Day tomorrow. MCELHENNEY: We’ve heard it, and we’ve discussed it, so that’s all I’ll say on the matter. And then I’ll see him again on Monday for our first day back in the writers’ room on Sunny. But I will be seeing Mr.
DEADLINE: Yes, the woman.
Does your experience being raised by two moms make you more sensitive to these issues than perhaps a typical guy might be? DEADLINE: There are a bunch of key roles for women on Mythic Quest, and the show gets into the challenges facing women who work in the gaming industry.
And I just couldn’t imagine a better situation, a better scenario, a better partner through all of this, because she’s the one for me. I mean, truly, she and I have been working together since day one. MCELHENNEY: My lovely spouse. I see her every single day, and I couldn’t be happier.
I miss these people dearly. MCELHENNEY: Yep. We start on Monday, in the room, and I just can’t wait.
DEADLINE: You’re not necessarily a big gamer yourself, I understand. What about that world captured you as something to mine as a workplace comedy?
DEADLINE: On the show we get to see your buff bod a number of times. How difficult is it to attend to your physical fitness so you can look your best, so to speak?
DEADLINE: They’re lovely.
For Mythic Quest, how did you create your character to be able to play it so naturally? DEADLINE: I don’t think you or Kaitlin get enough credit for your comedic skills, because you make it look so easy.
I don’t have any right now, which I’m grateful for. ROB MCELHENNEY: We already have. So, it’s a little bit disconcerting, that’s for sure. The doc crews tell me, “What? It’s so uncomfortable to have cameras around. There’s such a big difference between walking onto a stage and knowing where the camera is at all times and also knowing I have control over what goes into the show. You’re an actor. You should be used to it.” And I’m just not. And this one, I might not. We’ve been shooting for about three months.
There’s even an episode about the backstory of the building where you all work. Murray Abraham’s character. You mentioned the episode where we learn about the origins of F. I wanted to ask about your own backstory. DEADLINE: Mythic Quest is all about backstory. You tweeted a video your two moms did for GLAAD that released around Mother’s Day, talking about their love story. I was curious about your reaction to your moms doing that.
DEADLINE: How much pressure are you getting from fans for Charlie Day—one of the co-creators of Mythic Quest and your co-star on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—to show up in an episode?
When he isn’t making hit shows like MQ or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, McElhenney is busy raising two sons with wife Kaitlin Olson, his Sunny co-star. FX just announced plans to air a docuseries on McElhenney and Reynolds’s football venture. And he recently took a side job—buying a Welsh soccer club with his pal Ryan Reynolds. Rob McElhenney co-created and stars in Mythic Quest—the Apple TV+ comedy series set in the dysfunctional workplace of a fictional gaming company, playing the visionary, if narcissistic, idea man behind the titular online roleplaying game.
DEADLINE: Hopefully, at least one of them you do get to see now and again, Kaitlin Olson.
Yes. MCELHENNEY: The woman?
MCELHENNEY: We wanted to create complex human beings that are not all good nor all bad. I feel like those are the most interesting characters to write and are the most interesting characters to play, because they’re true to being a human being… We want the characters to be people that you’re rooting for, or rooting against, or that represent something to you, and yet also feel as though you could recognize something of yourself in them, maybe your best attributes, maybe your worst attributes, but they felt as though they resonated as authentic human beings.
It just reminded me so much of the experience that I have been living through for the last 15 years, and I just knew I had a lot of experience in the field, and I could draw from that. And I thought, “Wow, that just seems like a really rich environment for a comedy.” And then also I think there’s just a lot of pathos, because everybody is truly passionate about what they’re trying to do, and they truly love what they’re making, while at the same time they’re probably sacrificing something in their personal life to do so. MCELHENNEY: I realized having toured the studios of [gaming company] Ubisoft in Montreal it’s pretty much like a television show. And I thought there’s just so much comedy that can be mined from those character dynamics. There are just so many similarities, people all stuck together from different departments, all working for a common goal. And each one of them recognizing that in this collaboration, that every moving part was truly important. And that is true in television, and that is true in the gaming industry.
as a young man and as an older man. That’s why we wrote those series of episodes this year, starting with Backstory and then Peter, which is that we wanted to tell the story of C.W. But when we approached the second season we thought, Well, it is kind of a waste to have an actor of his pedigree and ability and not get into what makes him tick, what makes this character tick, especially someone that is clearly as problematic as “C.W. In the first season, Murray just crushes. Longbottom” is. I mean, he comes in, and he kills every scene comedically. And we wanted Murray to shine, which he does.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *