Ahead of the upcoming premiere of the third season of Apple TV+’s workplace comedy series Mythic Quest, Nerds & Beyond caught up with series stars Ashly Burch and Jessie Ennis, who portray Rachel and Jo, respectively.
Mythic Quest follows a group of video game developers tasked with building worlds, molding heroes, and creating legends, but the most hard-fought battles don’t occur in the game — they happen in the office. For Ennis, season 3 will see Jo return as David’s assistant, more loyal and militant than ever as her boss settles into his new role as the head of the company. Meanwhile, while attending Berkeley, Burch’s Rachel struggles to balance her morals with capitalism.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Nerds & Beyond: Ashly, you had your directorial debut this season with an awesome episode. You’d already been working on some other production aspects of the show, but what was it like stepping into the director’s chair?
Ashly Burch: It was so fun. It was definitely intimidating, but it says so much about our crew, our cast, and our executive producers that I never once felt like, “Oh, I’m totally gonna fall on my face.” I really felt like, “I have support here.” People were invested in me succeeding, doing a good job, feeling empowered. I really felt that from the first moment on set as a director.
Also, because I come from the writers room, I feel like I have a good sense of where the season was going and where we were coming from. So it really felt like, “Just do service to the story, the characters.” Having an incredible cast and crew around me was just the best. Also, I love all of these characters, and I love all of the people that play them, and it was just a joy to be able to think of ways to direct them that I would want to see the characters do. I just had too much power, really, is what it was, [laughs] but I enjoyed it.
Jessie Ennis: I enjoyed it, too. I must say, I’ve been listening to her answer these questions all day long. She’s super humble about the whole thing. She came so prepared; she’s the valedictorian of the show. She did all of her homework. It was incredible to get to work with Ashly as a director, and I hope to get to do it many more times.
Nerds & Beyond: Jessie, I know this is all a part of acting, but Jo is exceptionally intense on-screen with your co-stars. Is it jarring for you to switch back and forth between this persona in between takes on set when you’re working with everyone?
Ennis: I think it’s more jarring for the crew. I think the cast has gotten a little more comfortable with it. My fiancé is on our crew — he’s a camera guy. The number of times that people look over at him like, “Are you safe?” There have been so many times when they’re like, “Blink twice if you’re okay. You go home with this monster?”
I remember coming back for season 2, and we were all in our masks. It was very easy to notice who had been there for season 1, and who was new to our crew, because the people who were new would avoid me at all costs. And I was like, “Oh, people are scared of me. Like, me?” I’ve never before been feared, so it was — to be honest — a little fun.
Nerds & Beyond: If you could take any character from the show out to for lunch to pick their brain, who would it be?
Burch: I feel like I would really want to pick Brad’s brain. Not for my own purposes, but just out of a sick curiosity. Like, what must he know? What knowledge must he be hiding in that brain of his? I think I’d want to know as much as I could about Brad, probably.
Nerds & Beyond: That’s exactly what Charlotte [Nicdao] and Imani [Hakim] said.
Ennis: I don’t wanna go to lunch with any of these freaks, are you kidding me? They’re all either jerks or nerds.
Burch: [Laughs] Or both!
Ennis: I spend too much time as Jo with these characters, why would I want to do it in my own time? [Laughs] I’m just joking … I’m just joking. But … I am joking. Brad’s a great answer. I really love all of the characters. I love Sue. I just think going to lunch with Sue would be so bizarre, and she would probably say weird things to the waiter, and that could be fun.
Nerds & Beyond: I love how many strong female characters there are in this show. I love Dana and Rachel’s storyline. But I think the thing I love about it the most for the two of them in particular is that they both still have their own meaningful storylines this season that don’t have to do with their relationship. Was that something that was discussed behind the scenes to make sure that you did that?
Burch: Thank you for saying that! Yes, it was discussed a lot. This is a victory I will happily give Rob [McElhenney], because we thought about this in the season 2 writers room. He was like, “We need to just get them together so that can stop being the story.” Because when you have a will-they-won’t-they, it just feels like that’s what every storyline has to be about. That’s what we have to do. At first I was like, “No, we haven’t spent enough time with them. It won’t be satisfying enough when they finally get together.” And he was right. Which is that, when you get that out of the way, and they get to be in a relationship, then you get to know who they are outside of that connection.
That was a huge goal of this season — who are these people when it’s not just them making googly eyes at each other? What do they want? What are they after? I think that’s why it’s so cool. I’m excited, because I was nowhere near them, filming-wise, to see all of the Ian and Dana scenes. That’s a pairing that I never would have imagined, from the first season, would happen. Because we started exploring her character more, it makes a ton of sense, and it’s a really fun mash-up. That’s been such a huge benefit of this season, getting to see them as individuals.
Nerds & Beyond: The last thing I wanted to say is, Ashly, I love that your character is just letting her grey come in. As someone who’s 30 and constantly dying their greys, it makes me feel really good about myself. Like alright, maybe I can rock it, maybe I can stop dyeing my hair.
Burch: Oh, good! I will say, I get a lot of compliments on having grey in my hair.
Ennis: It’s so cute.
Burch: So if you did it, I think you would be surprised how many people would be like, “Oh my god!” You already have amazing hair, but you could just add to it. Or like dye it pink after that, and then all the grey will catch the pink … it’ll be great.
Ennis: Come to think of it, we don’t have any botox on our show, either.
Burch: No, we’re au naturel, baby!
Ennis: It’s a very natural cast.