There was a collective sigh of relief when the leading women of Mythic Quest realized that this interview was, in fact, not a podcast. “Should we say on the record that I was very nervous that we were recording an hour-long podcast?” Jessie Ennis, the actress who plays Jo, asks with a laugh. This revelation followed right after Ashly Burch (writer and co-star, as Rachel) wowed us all with her impression of Lisa Simpson.
This is the kind of delightful chaos you can expect when you put TV co-stars—and real-life best friends—Ennis, Burch, Charlotte Nicdao (Poppy), and Imani Hakim (Dana) in the same Zoom room. On the Apple TV+ comedy, all four women play employees of the video game development studio Mythic Quest, run by Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney).
Three seasons in, the best pals spend just as much time together off-set as they do on-set, if not more. They have the magic of casting to thank for bringing them together, as they tell The Daily Beast’s Obsessed. “We were made in a lab,” quips Burch.
Now, the four actresses are inseparable. Even the pandemic, which halted production on the show one month after its first season premiered, couldn’t stop these fast friends from growing closer.
“I feel like the four of us just really understood what was going on in everyone else’s mind beyond just the absolute horror of this pandemic that no one could wrap their heads around,” said Nicdao. “And we were getting drunk on Zoom most nights.”
In fact, during the pandemic, the foursome spun their friendship into an entire podcast—Questie Besties, which also includes fellow castmate and bestie David Hornsby. (Yes, this is how close they have become.) On the podcast, they recap episodes of the show while sharing behind-the-scenes stories and tea. Everyone is eager to hype up one another and tell a wild story, but it’s their love for each other—and Mythic Quest—that is most infectious.
In one of the greatest Zoom interviews to ever occur, I chatted with the friends about their incredible relationship, the terror of chemistry reads, and what they would most like to see their characters do next (hint: singing is involved).
How did you all first become friends?
Jessie Ennis: It started with [casting director] Jeanie McCarthy. We have made so many jokes about this, because we keep being like, “Gosh, look at this friend group. How lucky are we?” And then I’m like, we were developed.
Charlotte Nicdao: We were literally cast.
Ennis: Jeanie really found the actors who were best suited for this show and for these characters. And then we lucked out, because she knows who has a solid heart. She happened to put together a really dope friend group in the process.
Ashly Burch: But, it was Jessie’s idea to go to dinner all of us together for the first time.
Nicdao: For context, [the audition] was a chemistry mix-and-match. So there were a bunch of actors in a room waiting to read different roles in the series.
A chemistry mix-and-match! Walk me through that, because it sounds like a nightmare.
Burch: Oh, it is. I also felt like doubly a fraud, because I came from the writer’s room and I didn’t want to let anyone know. I didn’t know what the protocol was. So I was sitting there, and people were talking about the script, and I was like, “Yes, I have also just seen this for the first time.”[laughs]
Nicdao: You really kept that close to your chest. I had no idea until after we started.
Ennis: No clue whatsoever. But I do remember, and this was with all of us, [that] Ashly had a moment where she was like, “I have something that needs to be said and it’s weird it hasn’t already been said, but I must say that I’m a writer on this show.” And we’re like “Cool!” [laughs]
Nicdao: One thing that I will say about that mix-and-match chemistry read is that I’ve done those before when they’re for a heterosexual couple on-screen, and it’s always the worst. It’s men and women that all, at some point in that day, are maybe gonna have to kiss. … It was just very nice to be in a room that was just women, and none of them had to kiss.
Ennis: I’ve got a story— just a quick one. I had to do one of those, and the person I had the chemistry read with was someone I had very recently broken up with.
Everyone: Oh no.
Ennis: And so the two of us had to go in and try to get a job as a couple that has chemistry after he and I, in our own lives, had agreed that we did not have chemistry.
Burch: Did you have to kiss?
Ennis: No, we just had to play a young awkward couple at a party, who’s kind of into each other.
Nicdao: At least you would’ve had the awkward part down. [laughs]
You all had to develop your chemistry then COVID hit—what was that like?
Ennis: Our friendship was very organic. It just came from all of us living the same life all of a sudden. And then Covid really bonded us.
Nicdao: Season 1 came out February 2020. And then we shot one week of Season 2 and then the world went into lockdown. I feel like we were all very much at the beginning of this wave that our show was in the world and we were starting work on a season that we’d waited like a year to start filming and we were all very excited. And then it was like, okay, you’re locked in your houses.
Ennis: This foursome had a special hope. We had this fun little secret to hope about and be like, when do we get to go back to our favorite job ever and get to shoot this thing again and be these fun characters. And so we would go into our little closets and get wasted.
I feel like so many friendships grew closer during COVID, because you had to think of new and inventive ways to stay in contact and connect with others.
Nicdao: We were constantly speculating on how and when we might be able to go back to work. No one knew what was going to happen. No one in the world, not no one on the show, but like, no one in the world knew how anyone was gonna go back to work. But I seemed to think that I had some kind of logic or rationale.
Ennis: But the things [she was predicting] were like ‘ we are moving to Ireland.’ ‘We’re all gonna live on the lot in the houses from Leave it to Beaver.’ ‘The four of us are going to have a surrogate baby.’
Wait, what is “CIAJ?”
Ennis: It was Thanksgiving 2020. We had been ripped from our families. None of us could eat stuffing with our sisters. And then we were together as a family. And boy, oh boy, were we drunk. We’re like, well, this is a family, and we need a baby. So what are we gonna call this baby? And then we mushed [the first letters of our names] together. I do remember a tear, I can’t remember which eye it fell out of, but someone—
Ashly: It was me. Someone said “CIAJ,” and I went [gasp], “CIAJ!” Like it was the most beautiful name I had ever heard spoken by a human tongue. I wept. And there was a large part of me in that moment that was like, well, we have to collectively adopt a child now. [laughs]
Nicdao: You were so earnest, Ashly, and all three of us were looking at you like, she’s losing it.
Burch: Please don’t publish any of this [laughs]. Just kidding, please do.
Hakim: It needs to be the headline.
Burch: The headline’s just gonna be the women of Mythic Quest have gone bonkers. They’ve completely lost it.
That’s definitely the headline. Many of you have been in other shows. Is this type of friendship rare? Or have you experienced similar types of bonds?
Nicdao: There is a very unique thing that happens when you work as artists on a TV show. If there’s a bond to be had, it’s gonna be there. But it’s unique the way that when we would shoot, even on Season 1, we would be together every day of the week. Sometimes we would stay on set to watch each other. And then at the end of the week on a Friday, we’d all be like, well, we’ve gotta go and have dinner.
Hakim: With us it was just like a never ending loop of hanging out. And it was met with zero resistance. On set, we would watch each other film even if we weren’t in the scenes. And then we would go into someone’s dressing room, hang out, then follow the next person to their scene, hang out again, and then go to someone’s house.
Ennis: It also strengthens the show when the actors are going to set and seeing scenes they’re not in, because you get more of a cohesive tone.
Hakim: You don’t really see a lot of shows that have four women. So naturally we’re like, this is exciting, this is a new opportunity. It just felt really organic but also like we were on the path to something that hasn’t really been seen before. So we just fell into it really naturally.
There’s an episode this season where Poppy, Rachel and Jo get brunch. It’s incredible. They start off feeling empowered and supportive of each other, but by the end they are sobbing. Is that what your real-life brunches are like too?
Nicdao: I just watched that episode. It really reminds me of when we were doing our press tour in New York for Season 1. And after we were finished, the four of us went to an Italian restaurant, and we ate lunch and just literally took it in turns. We basically just went around the table and each had a bit of a cry.
Ennis: Press is taxing on a person. Especially a couple of sensitive introverts.
Nicdao: Some of them were happy cries, though. Some of them were like, I can’t believe that we’re living our dreams. Then after the main course before dessert, our waiter came over and was like, is everything okay with the food? [laughs]
Ennis: We brought our own bottles of wine, and they wouldn’t let us open them at the restaurant. That was why I was crying.
Imani and Ashly, I want to ask about Dana and Rachel’s relationship. I have loved watching the evolution of your relationship, and I especially love how it isn’t bogged down by coming out tropes. What is it like for you to play that growing relationship, as your own real-life friendship grows?
Hakim: Season 1, for me, felt like such a huge responsibility that I was so happy to take, because you just want to do it right. You don’t wanna fall into those tropes. It’s also really helpful that my scene partner and my girlfriend on the show [is someone] I adore so much and she’s one of my closest friends. It just feels so easy and I feel safe with her. And that just shows through our chemistry.
Burch: Originally Rachel was kind of a predator, in a comedy way. She’s smelling her hair, etc. Dana was [originally] a lot more oblivious, and then Imani got cast, and Imani is so obviously smart and perceptive that the character would never come off as oblivious. The relationship and the characters transformed as we were filming Season 1. … I’m really so happy and grateful that we’ve landed where we have with their relationship, where it’s just very genuine and earnest and sweet.
Without revealing too much, do you know anything about Season 4? Is there anything you’d like to see happen in the next season?
Burch: Totally transparent: We have no idea. [laughs]
Nicdao: Megan [Ganz, co-creator of Mythic Quest] said at Comic-Con that apparently they know how the show’s gonna end one day. They haven’t revealed that to [us]. Have they revealed it to you, Ashly?
Burch: If it’s what I’m thinking of, then yes. But who knows?
Nicdao: Well, I can tell you what I want for season four. A musical episode. That’s what I’m gunning for.
Hakim: Us four have had a lot of preparation with our karaoke nights.
Nicdao: We do a lot of singalongs. There’s a video floating around somewhere of when we shot the pilot and went to a dive bar after, and all together sang “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.
Ennis: Charlotte, what’s our go-to song?
Nicdao: “You’re The Voice” by John Fanum. It’s an Australian classic, and I could not believe that these guys had never heard of it, because in Australia it is ubiquitous. In Australia, it’s the equivalent of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Hakim: It’s a great song. It’s just 30 minutes [long].
Ennis: I would love for the four of us to get stuck in the elevator [in an episode].
Burch: Yes, that’s a bottle episode for you.
Nicdao: You are a writer, Ashly…