Poppy Li isn’t the underdog anymore—and Charlotte Nicdao, who plays the headstrong game designer on Mythic Quest, knows it. Not only does she know it, but so does the rest of the world, now that the finale of the show’s second season has aired on Apple TV+. With the world as her digitized oyster, anything is possible for Poppy, Mythic Quest, and future games to come.
That is, of course, if she can wrap her head around being a good leader. Which, as Season 2 has continually shown us, has presented a challenge around every corner, from mentorship to grand speeches. Sure, Poppy knows her stuff, when it comes to gaming. But she lacks a certain sense of humility when it comes to instructing her inferiors, and her terse work relationship with the all-powerful Ian (Rob McElhenney). The finale left us rather open-ended: will Poppy rise to the occasion and continue to churn out stellar gaming content? Or has she hit her sophomore slump? (Note: the show sure hasn’t.)
We got to speak to the actress about filming in quarantine, her epic ideas for upcoming episodes, and what she hopes for Poppy in the potential season to come. Some very minor spoilers for the Mythic Quest Season 2 finale ahead (if a workplace comedy is spoil-able).
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Paste: Your role in Mythic Quest—and just the show in general—was probably the best portrayal of the pandemic. How was filming during that time?
Charlotte Nicdao: I imagine you’re referring to the quarantine episode. That episode, the making of that episode was the proudest moment of my career, really. As a team, the cast and crew came together in a way that I’ve never had the opportunity to work, to make that episode happen. We were in the thick of it. We were only a couple of months into the pandemic, and we were really uncertain about what was going to happen, how long that was going to last for. A lot of us were really afraid. And out of that, we managed to make something that really expressed all of those different emotions. And it was funny. Triumphant. I’ll always be extremely proud of what we managed to make with that.
I always say that there wasn’t that much acting required for that scene. [Laughs]. I was in a space that I think a lot of people were in at that time.
Paste: Did you play a role in the writing or creation of that episode?
Nicdao: No, actually. Usually, the show is very collaborative, and the writers are all so amazing. It’s not like there’s anything to ever improve on, but I’m always grateful for the fact that our characters and our storylines are always a conversation. Which is really empowering and cool. But that episode was very much Megan [Ganz] and Rob [McElhenney] and David [Hornsby], they put their heads together and wrote it before they even told us that we were even going to be doing it. They were sort of like, “Well, what if we made this episode?” The first part was a secret from everyone. Then, when we decided we were going to do it, they sent us the episode. It was mind-blowingly good—which is always such a gift when you’re an actor, to receive a script like that.
Paste: Shifting gears into Season 2—which I loved, it’s fantastic—Poppy’s struggles in Season 1 (to be seen by Ian) and in the special (against isolation) are some of the stand-out moments in the show. Now, her quest is to become a better leader. Do you think she’s reached that point, or is there still a lot of room to grow?
Nicdao: You’re absolutely right. We’re really used to seeing these stories of the hardworking underdog that doesn’t get their due finally finding the success that they’re been working for forever. And then, that’s usually where the story ends. It’s like: “They did it!” But with our show, the world keeps turning. That underdog keeps living—only, they’re not an underdog anymore. They have absolutely no experience in being a leader or having this much power. I was really excited to explore the idea of this character, Poppy, who is so good at her job as a programmer, and really not that good at being a leader. Having to discover what being a boss means for her, specifically, throughout the second season.
Paste: You get to work a lot with Imani Hakim in this season as your pseudo-mentee. What was it like to work with her, and establish that connection between two women in gaming?
Nicdao: The women on this show—Ashly Burch, Imani Hakim, Jessie Ennis, and I—are all extremely, extremely close. When we met on the pilot, we were soulmate friends from Day One. We’re the best of friends. Imani and I were so excited to get to work together, because we hadn’t really gotten to do any scenes together until Season 2. Then, we got all these amazing dynamics of me being horrible to her, and her really giving it back to me as well. She’s such a talented actress, but also amazingly funny. We had a lot of giggles on set to play with that dynamic.
Paste: A lot of your storylines are with Ian, and as you said, you got to work with Imani this season. Are there any folks you specifically want to work more with in Season 3?
Nicdao: The four of us actresses are constantly pitching a bottle episode that’s just the four of us—mainly because we want to hang out more. So, yeah, we’re hoping that if we’re lucky enough to get a third season, that they’ll take that idea and run with it.
Paste: One of my favorite episodes in this season is C.W.’s backstory. Could you see a backstory episode for Poppy at all? What might that look like, if there was one?
Nicdao: There are no plans for that at this stage—but of course. I’m so in love with the character, so I’d love to see what the writers would come up with if they were to delve back into her past. I’m particularly interested in exactly what it looked like when Poppy and Ian met, because as we mention in the show, she was a student at MIT and, I imagine, probably would’ve been the smartest kid there. To have this egomaniac come in and say, “Hey, build a game with me!” sounds like it could be full of really funny moments.
Paste: If you had to create a videogame after your experience on Mythic Quest, what do you think it would look like?
Nicdao: I have to say, since I’ve gotten into gaming—which is all courtesy of Ashly Burch, who plays Rachel on the show and is a big celebrity in the gaming world, she’s been in that community for a long time. She’s a writer on the show, so she knows a lot about that. She introduced me into the gaming world, and since then, pretty much every game that I’ve gotten obsessed with has been some version of a farming simulator. I imagine if I were to build a game, it would be all about planting crops and riding horses. I just want to play wholesome games. Relaxing stuff. Soothing.
Paste: The Season 2 finale really left everything wide open for a potential Season 3. The sky’s the limit. What do you hope is to come for Poppy, and Poppy and Ian’s gaming relationship?
Nicdao: What’s really exciting about where we leave Season 2 is that it creates an opportunity for a continuing story to become something completely new. There was a time, in television, where that was just not an option. You always wanted to go back to the same story at the beginning of the next season. Throughout the first couple of seasons, one of the things I’ve loved about this show is how surprising it is. It’s got all the comforts of a workplace comedy that are familiar. But at the same time, every couple of episodes, you’ll get something that’s totally left-of-center, and something that is completely unexpected. I’m excited to see what they come up with for the third season, if we get one. What kind of surprising things are going to happen?
I also really love the idea of getting to continue to explore the power dynamic between Ian and Poppy. Season 1, she was the underdog. Season 2, they kind of have equal power. If we went into a third season, it seems like Poppy would probably have more power than Ian. I really wonder what that would look like.
Mythic Quest is currently streaming on Apple TV+.
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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