Warning: Mild spoilers for The Quest series premiere
The great Tina Turner once sang the words, “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” Well, ABC’s The Quest begs to differ. The new reality competition series is looking for one courageous soul. And they’ve created a magical land where contestants will have to indulge their imaginations and their love of cosplay and LARPing. They’ll have to dig deep physically, mentally and emotionally, to figure out if they have what it takes to become the One True Hero of this game.
Series Synopsis: In a thrilling race against time, fantasy, reality and scripted drama will collide as good vs. evil on The Quest, a new reality based competition series unlike anything else on television. The show takes 12 unsuspecting contestants to an imaginative realm, where ogres run free in the forest, dragons stir, agents of a dark lord infiltrate the keep, and the only thing standing between peace and chaos are one dozen very unlikely heroes.
Douglas Tait is one of the actors that helps bring this new universe to life. In Everrealm, he plays three characters including Verlox, the show’s main villain. Tait is no stranger to scaring people. He says when he was young, he worked in the haunted houses at Universal Studios. He went on to embody Jason Voorhees at the end of Freddy vs. Jason. Plus, he’s worn costumes and donned heavy makeup/prosthetics for roles in everything from Star Trek to Thor to FOX’s Sleepy Hollow.
I talked exclusively with Tait who compared the otherworldly set of The Quest to the movies he’s worked on over the years; he revealed one of his skills that came in handy during production; and he managed to give us a couple of set secrets.
TV GOODNESS: Why is this show perfect for this moment in time?
Douglas Tait: I don’t know if it’s just me because I do conventions and things and I see a lot of cosplayers and now maybe with Instagram and all these things, I’m seeing this huge influx of cosplayers and LARPers. And I just feel like the rise in the last couple of years maybe because they’ve gotten exposure through social media…like I’ll see people that are cosplayers and they’ll have 300,000 followers and I’ll go, ‘Who is this? Are they an actor?’ And I’ll realize, they’re just a cosplayer that goes around to all these conventions and I’ve seen some of them before and I’ll go, ‘OMG they have a following? And people are fans of them?’ And I think that our show plays into that…that whole world of wow I can actually be on this show in dress and play this fantasy character that I dreamed about playing and I go to conventions. And I think it appeals to people like that. And also it offers so much more than that, you know, the whole cinematic Lord of the Rings world. It’s like a movie in itself. And then you have that reality side which is also neat. I think it really does have a lot more to offer than most reality shows. And the creatures, of course, are awesome.
TV GOODNESS: Does it feel like a movie when you’re on the set?
Douglas: I’ve done some pretty cool movies and I felt like it was on par if not better as far as set design and quality than any movie I’ve been on, to be honest with you. Literally, like the sets that they built…and also being in real castles in Vienna and Austria…it was a movie to me.
TV GOODNESS: How did you hear about the show?Â
Douglas: I was recommended by Spectral Motion — I had worked with them before. And since I’ve done a lot of characters in makeup they looked at my stuff and we talked. And it was more of a meeting thing. You know, seeing my past work and seeing what I thought of the characters and what I thought I could bring to it. And we all agreed on stuff and then I was hired.
TV GOODNESS: What are you playing?
Douglas: I ended up playing three characters on the show. I play the ogre, the Rana Chief and Verlox. And it was really an amazing experience because as an actor, you do a movie and it’s exciting. And you play a character and you do a scene and they yell cut and it’s great. But on this, you never knew what was going to happen. Because my stuff was scripted but it never went as planned. I never knew how [the Paladins] were going to react. It never went like it was suppose to, but you got to improv and you got to really listen and engage yourself and it kept me on my toes as an actor. It was such a thrilling experience.
TV GOODNESS: Was that the challenge to this?
Douglas: Yeah, it was a challenge in a sense but even with that challenge it was exciting. I come from doing a lot of improv in my early days and I’m comfortable with that world. I started at Universal Studios in high school playing characters. So I was used to that interaction with the crowd and coming up with things in the moment. I enjoy that more to be honest with you than something that’s totally scripted. I feel like I’m a better actor when I can improv a little because I feel like, as an actor, when things are totally scripted — which is fine — I’m not listening sometimes as much as when there’s improv. I feel like it keeps you on your toes more and it’s exciting but it’s also, a little nervousness comes in because you don’t know what’s going to happen but that nervousness drives you and it fuels you as an actor. Some people would be terrified by it and they can’t handle that. But, for me, it works for me, even if it’s a little nerve-wracking at times. There was a little talk — now that the first episode aired — of the Ogre, where they were like, ‘Doug. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if they’re gonna come after you. If they do, we’ll definitely try and step in or something.’ [laughter]
TV GOODNESS: That’s awesome.
Douglas: It was like, okay. We’ll see what happens. That was a little crazy. Those things are cool. It reminds me of back when I did haunted houses at Universal Studios. People are going in knowing that this is a haunted house yet the excitement of busting out and scaring them — is just so thrilling. And I loved it.
TV GOODNESS: What surprised you about the contestants on the show?
Douglas: I felt like they were very engaged in what was happening. I felt like the world that was put in front of them, they believed it a hundred percent. I didn’t have much interaction with them throughout except towards the end I got to see them more. My stuff was completely hidden. They didn’t know anything about me or what was going to happen. And I didn’t know much about them. That’s the way it had to be, which is great. I wouldn’t be hanging out at craft services, ‘Hey yeah, see you guys later when I’m playing the ogre.” So our worlds were completely separate, but they were very much into what was going on when I saw them. And when we did interact I felt like they believed that I was what I was and they were trying their best to work with the situation and speak to me and plead. It’s hard to talk about because things haven’t happened yet.
But with the ogre, for instance. Now I can go back to that because that was the first episode — when I came out and I bashed that little guy — and a lot more was shot that wasn’t in. It didn’t make it in the cut — I looked up and I saw pure terror in their faces. Like this was the very first day they got there. And they had no clue there was going to be creatures or anything like that. And this thing looked amazing. I mean you literally can go face to face with it — which was all the makeup by Spectral Motion. And you would be like, ‘what the hell?’ This was an animatronic head. Two guys were controlling it. So the eyes moved…the mouth. And they actually had speakers on me with all these snorts and growls to make it real for them. Wow. This thing…what is this thing? In post, obviously, they added some sound effects. But there were sound effects on me. And I looked up after I bashed him and, seriously, there was no acting going on their faces. They had no clue what happening, what this was. There was somebody that was crying. I don’t know why it didn’t end up in the cut. There was somebody that was crying after I dragged that guy off.
TV GOODNESS: Oh no!
Douglas: That to me is what’s so exciting because an actor in a movie, obviously, he’s playing his character. He’s away in the moment but it’s obviously acting. This…was real, man. And I felt it. It was cool.
TV GOODNESS: What do you think people are searching for by coming on to The Quest?
Like anything, people get caught up in life and they dream as a kid. And then obviously they have kids when they get older. They get caught in their nine to five jobs. They wished they did something more or they want something more in their life. And I think this is something that fulfills some of their dreams of being a superhero or being somebody that they’re not. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and some of them say that. I’ve talked to some of them after and they say that this was the best experience of their entire lives and they’re so thrilled that they got this opportunity. And I’ve seen people tweet and message me online and they’re so excited to come audition for season two. They cannot wait. It definitely fulfills something in people. And it goes back to that same thing I was saying, some of these people are the ones that go dress up and role play. I think there’s a need for that. I am very fortunate being an actor and doing what I do. I do that all the time. And it is something that I love and I crave it. When I don’t work for a couple of weeks, even I go, man, I need to act. I need a part. So I can understand that need to be somebody different. Or play out a character. Because I feel that, too. And I think this show gives people that opportunity.
The Quest airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.
Interview edited for space and content.
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