After a handful of episodes only featuring his face on Zoom, C.W. Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham) is back on Mythic Quest, baby. And, in true C.W. fashion, he’s stealing the show—literally, because he nabbed two major standalone episodes leading up to the season finale. Who wouldn’t want more time dedicated to the problematic-yet-goofy C.W., hilariously played by Abraham? This season, C.W. launches into epic expeditions with Jo (Jessie Ennis) and Rachel (Ashly Burch), perfect younger foils for his madness.
“They love to laugh at him,” Abraham says over Zoom, chuckling. “It’s great.”
Hopping out of the office and into 1970s Los Angeles, Episode 6 toured us through C.W.’s much-needed backstory as a struggling author. Finally, some answers as to how this outrageous man became a game writer. “Backstory!” is a prolific episode, winding through Carl’s (C.W’s young self, played by Josh Brener) rise as a writer and fascination toward video games. Though Abraham only shows up at the very end, the final shots of the episode are unmissable. Now the most recent episode, “Peter,” continues the story 50 years after the fact, a triumphant ode to withering friendships and forgiveness.
C.W.’s been through it all in Mythic Quest, so what’s next? Love, perhaps, says Abraham. We had the chance to speak to the actor about his Zoom sequences, returning to set, and his thoughts on the two unforgettable episodes spent developing his character.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Paste: This show was one of the only ones to handle the pandemic well. What was it like to film from home?
F. Murray Abraham: It made me so proud of these people who are doing this show, because they were like, “You’re not going to stop us. This is it, baby. Let’s deal with it.” And then they did, and they did it well. I don’t know if it comes through the screen how much we all like each other. I think it does. It’s a fabulous company. I’ll tell you something—it’s the casting of the show that’s brilliant. And of course, I’m so pleased they thought of me to be someone who’s funny. Because I’m fucking funny! But also, they cast the crew very well. That’s important to know; they’re included as well. It’s an organization you just want to work with forever. Can’t say that about everybody.
Paste: I read an interview where you said you wanted to play your character as outrageous as possible, but where he’s still real. I’m wondering how that translated to online filming, how you played outrageous within the pandemic restrictions.
Abraham: It seems to work. My character’s pretty outrageous. I think that segment that Bill and I did was just wonderful. I really am so proud of it. It took a real turn, didn’t it?
Paste: I really liked that, and the backstory episode.
Abraham: Wasn’t that terrific?
Paste: I was floored!
Abraham: Me too! I learned more about my character from that actor.
Paste: He plays you so well. Did you guys ever meet?
Abraham: I called him afterwards. I didn’t know a thing about it until that day. I called him right away, said, “Listen, man. You made me look really good.” [Laughs]
Paste: Was that what you predicted the backstory of your character to be like?
Abraham: No! No, it was all new to me. I’m telling you, I discovered it when you did. But weren’t the three of them good? They’re all good.
Paste: And then going into your standalone episode, it was just so good. You got to work with Ashly Burch a lot, what was that like?
Abraham: She’s something. She is something. She’s going to be an important person in this industry. Well, she already is! A writer, director, actor, everything. I’m a big admirer of hers.
Paste: You got to work with Jessie Ennis too, two great young women. How were they as foils for C.W.?
Abraham: Oh boy. They love to laugh at him. It’s great. She’s another power, by the way. She wants to write for them, she’s been invited into the writers’ room. This place is very open, in that sense. She’s sitting with them now. She, and of course Ashly, who wrote that wonderful segment in particular. She’s written a couple. Yeah, you’re right. She and Miss Ennis, and also Miss Hakim, have become very close friends.
Paste: You were talking about the writers’ room as an open space—how much say did you put into your character? Or do you kind of take what they give you?
Abraham: No, no, no. I know good writing when I see it. I’m not a very good writer. But I do improvise! They’re very open to anything that comes up while we’re shooting. They’ll change scenes in a second.
Paste: How did it feel to return to set in-person?
Abraham: I gotta tell you, man. I’m from the theater, and I just like face-to-face contact. It’s part of the reason I’m in the business. I really need the theaters to open again, I miss being on stage. Working with the Zoom thing? Well, it served its purpose. But I was so delighted to get back on the set. Even with all the restrictions, at least we were there. It’s pretty funny to walk on a set and start a scene, and then have to stop and be reminded to take off the mask. [Laughs]
Paste: Are you expecting a potential Season 3 to be more in the office?
Abraham: Well, you saw the turn that Season 2 took. You name it. That’s kind of thrilling, isn’t it?
Paste: If you had to create your own video game, or if just C.W. had to create his own video game with no help from the Mythic Quest creators, what do you think that would look like?
Abraham: It would be a classic. I think he would base it on Greek myths, get those great mythological creatures and bring them to life. It would be fabulous, wouldn’t it? Bring Hell into it, bring Athena. Oh, the great Athena! Medusa! The flying horse, these guys that fly with the wings on his feet. What was his name? He was the messenger, Mercury. Anyhow, that would be the game.
Paste: Maybe they’ll work with your game in the next season.
Abraham: I would like it. I would like to fall in love in this series. Not necessarily have the love return, but I’d like to really be swept away by someone. Maybe I could sing to her, do a dance with her.
Paste: A musical episode of Mythic Quest?
Abraham: Why not?
Mythic Quest is currently streaming on Apple TV+. New episodes premiere weekly on Fridays.
Fletcher Peters is a New York-based journalist whose writing has appeared in Decider, Jezebel, and Film School Rejects, among other spots. You can follow her on Twitter @fietcherpeters gossiping about rom-coms, TV, and the latest celebrity drama.
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