‘Mythic Quest’ — Danny Pudi and Megan Ganz discuss returning to work after “Quarantine”

Danny Pudi in Mythic Quest
Danny Pudi in Mythic Quest (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Mythic Quest set a high remote filming bar in 2020 when the pandemic halted production on Season 2. The innovative special “Quarantine” explored how the characters were handling working from home in isolation and the struggles of exiting a creative office environment. In reality, the turnaround from conception to landing on Apple TV+ was only three weeks and ended on a Rube Goldberg machine hopeful reminder of the shared bond even through screens. Before the second season kicks off on May 7, another special outing is welcoming the Mythic Quest employees back to the office with a LARP event called “Everlight.” 

What to Watch recently sat down (virtually) with co-creator, writer, and director Megan Ganz and actor Danny Pudi to discuss the making of the Mythic Quest episode “Everlight.” From how they scored an Academy Award-winning special guest star to the transformation Pudi undertook to become the personification of the darkness during this episode. As the show antagonist, his role as Brad Bakshi in Mythic Quest is the polar opposite of his turn as Community favorite Abed Nadir. Ganz and Pudi worked together on the NBC college sitcom and they discussed similarities in the comedy dynamics, as well as the forthcoming bottle episode that marks Ganz’s directorial debut. Plus, what we can expect from Brad in Season 2, which of the cast member would win a game of Everlight, and the collaborative atmosphere on set.

You had already started shooting Season 2 of Mythic Quest when lockdown came about so did you have to change much of what you'd planned out? Did you have to rewrite episodes?

Ganz: So our first episode of Season 2 was supposed to be the gang going to E3, but then that never happened. Yes, we had to reconceive the season. We want our show to feel very authentic to not only the gaming industry but to workplaces in general. I think that they [audiences] connect with the characters because they see themselves, their workplaces and they recognize the dynamics from their own life. It would have felt very inauthentic for us to just be like "Well in our world E3 did happen." So luckily, we didn't have to change the entire season because we did a standalone quarantine episode during the pandemic, which dealt directly with what people were feeling and going through. We have bookended that with a special episode called "Everlight ” that talks about what it's going to feel like to return to the office, the joy and the release people will feel getting to go back into their workplaces and see their friends and co-workers. 

Because of those two episodes we took the bet that people won't want to be hearing about COVID all the time. We rewrote part of the second season, certainly that first episode to be a world that is post-COVID (and definitely exists in our world as we know it) but didn't focus on that anymore. So those two standalone episodes gave us that bridge we needed into what I think will be a fun season of mostly hijinks.

I think it is interesting to see which shows are doing things with masks and COVID, but at the same time, you don't want to be experiencing it and also watching it all the time. And with Mythic Quest's "Everlight" the tone is more hopeful than "Quarantine," which was very emotional.  I love that you cast Sir Anthony Hopkins as the narrator. How did that come about and was it a dream casting situation?

Ganz: Yes. One of the benefits — and there are very few — of the pandemic has been that people realize you can do almost anything remotely. Through Craig Mazin, who is one of our writers — he wrote a brilliant episode this year called "Backstory" — and also plays Lou on the show. He knows Anthony Hopkins and Rob [McElhenney] reached out to him and said “Do you think that he would possibly do this voiceover?” He agreed, we took an iPhone to his house, dropped it off, it stayed in his garage for a day so it was sanitized, he picked it up the next morning took half an hour to record his voiceover, popped it back in the box, [and] someone came and picked it up. And there you go. I think you're able to get a higher quality of actor than you might otherwise get because it's just so convenient for them.

Danny, you've got a really fun role in "Everlight." You're not dressed in a specific costume at first because Brad's like whatever, and then you get to play the Big Bad. What was it like when you read that script and saw you were going to be doing the big fight?

Pudi: I was very excited. I was like, how are we going to do this? There were a lot of “hows?” and they made it happened, the whole world was transformed. So it was super exciting just to be back creating again and then for this episode, it's bigger and the world expands even more. We had all the departments I was in touch with; I had to go for a lifecast, I had to get my eyes measured for color contacts, I had to get fake teeth and I had a horn measurement. I had to sit in the makeup chair for two hours and for me that was so exciting because as an actor, it's all you want to do is completely transform where no one can recognize you. It was thrilling. Especially to come back to work and then also be like, we're not only going to come back but now you're going to completely transform to darkness. They had to lift me up on this crane, there were wind machines all around me. It was everything I've ever dreamed of and I got to be even eviler — that's not a word, I'm making it up — than Brad was in Season 1. It was another place to go and how everyone came together and really transformed the world, I thought was so special.

Quarantine Special of Mythic Quest

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

How do Community fans respond to Mythic Quest's Brad because he is so different from Abed?

Pudi: It's interesting, it's a different character, right? 

[At this moment, Pudi’s child enters the room to ask a question] 

It's lunchtime for the kids, they’re remote learning. 

There a likeability with Abed and with Brad too, we're sort of peeling away the layers a little bit more, and so it's been fun to learn a little bit more as we've gone on. It's also so different because Season 1 of Community we had 25 episodes and went through way more in one season. In Season 2, we get to see a little bit more about Brad's affinity for fencing. We're discovering that Brad loves human hair, he's got weird likes too. He likes to say "piece of shit" a lot, which my kids are definitely tuning into. I think there's still this mutual appreciation for these two shows that have ultimately these weird families. Also the pairings, there's a lot of wonderful two-person comedy in this show too. Especially in Season 2, I get to do some fun stuff with Jessie [Ennis] that I think fans of both shows will love.

If you were to play a LARP game like Mythic Quest's Everlight with the cast and writers, who would win, and who would you like to be paired up with?

Ganz: Ashly (Burch) was really good at fighting. I know she plays a lot of role-playing games so she would get into both elements of that so I would pick her for my team. Rob's (McElhenney) really competitive so he would make sure he won regardless of the game.

Pudi: As the character, I think Sue (Caitlin McGee). Brad would be like “I'm going down the basement first thing I'm grabbing Sue.”

Ganz: She's got a lot of deep anger that feels like it needs an outlet so I feel like she can really tap into that.

Pudi: I think Ashly as well because we did a Twitch stream with her and she definitely knows her video games too. She'd definitely be up there as well.

Mythic Quest "Everlight" special

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

What was it like shooting the first episode of Mythic Quest with Rob McElhenney as the director? Obviously, he directed "Quarantine," which is a very different situation, and the standalone episode in Season 1. But what was it like coming back with Rob at the helm?

Pudi: It was great. It was just so good to be on set with everyone creating again. I was so thankful we had already built this rapport as a cast and like a family coming into Season 2. We already started filming Season 2 when the pandemic hit. So I remember at the end of the first week, being like everything is starting to get weird. It was early March and then initially we were gonna shut down for two weeks. And then obviously the whole world changed, everything changed. But coming back, I think there's just this like, we love each other. Rob and Megan created such a welcoming [environment], it's very easy to collaborate on our set. So it doesn't feel weird at all. 

Then also Megan directed an episode this year. Which is a bottle episode, which was phenomenal and it's so exciting to be part of that. My second bottle episode with Megan [Ganz wrote the iconic Community bottle episode "Cooperative Calligraphy"]. But it really is like a family, so it's very easy. It's a natural communication with everyone, it's very easy to chip in ideas and work with each other.

Emma Fraser

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.