David Hornsby, a white guy with a mustache, holds his hands out at his sides, palms up. He's wearing a long dark blue flannel shirt over dark pants, and sunglasses.
Courtesy of Apple

A Video Game Christmas with Mythic Quest

Though he grew up in Houston playing them, the Apple TV sitcom, now in season three, gave David Hornsby a deeper appreciation for the gaming industry.

by

David Hornsby loved playing video games as kid. 

“From the Atari 2600 to the Super Nintendo, I had them all,” said Hornsby, who grew up in Houston after moving to the city from Virginia at the age of two. 

But then, as Hornsby became older, a new hobby started to take up so much of his time that gaming had to take a back seat. “When I got into acting that love fell off.”

As a writer, executive producer, and actor in Mythic Quest, Hornsby has been able to rekindle this passion. The Apple TV+ sitcom stars Rob McElhenney as Ian Grimm, the creator of the world’s most popular multiplayer video game, who is constantly tasked with enhancing its popularity. 

“I never had the understanding of the video game industry in the way that I do now. It’s been an education.”

“I never had the understanding of the video game industry in the way that I do now. There was a lot to discover. It’s been an education. A fun one,” said Hornsby, who plays David Brittlesbee, the feeble executive producer of Mythic Quest. At the end of the second season, David became the game’s creative director after Ian (McElhenney) and lead engineer and co-creative director Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) formed GrimPop Studios. 

The Texas Observer spoke with Hornsby about Mythic Quest’s third season, what separates it from other sitcoms, and how growing up in Houston shaped his career. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 


What makes Mythic Quest season 3 different from its past seasons?

We’re always trying to evolve the show. I think that’s what’s special about it, we have a workplace comedy that’s in a very specific world. But we also want to put the characters in new situations. We want to pair different characters together. All while keeping them true to themselves and making it so that you grow to love them. We start this season in a very different place. Two of our main characters have peeled off from the namesake of the show. We are working on completely different games. We really painted ourselves into a corner by doing that.

How is Mythic Quest different from other sitcoms?

One thing is that we try to have it be both genuinely funny, but also have some pathos. We want to explore the other side of the characters dramatically, too. We also embrace the funny. There are very, very character-driven jokes. So you get a bit of both. I do think that’s unusual. There’s a lot of emotion in season three in particular. That makes us a little different from other workplace comedies. With Ian and Poppy, we also explore the difficulties of a partnership that’s not romantic. I think a lot of other shows would have gone for a will they, won’t they between our leads. Instead, we wanted to look at artistic partnerships and collaboration.

What did you want to achieve with Mythic Quest?

I think our understanding of the video game space has evolved over the past five to 10 years. Hollywood has always tried to adapt video games as movies. But the sheer size of it has been overlooked. When Ubisoft came to Rob, I think there was this realization that we really haven’t done a show about the video game space on television. So it seemed like a good setting to generate stories that were both universal and could be very specific to this industry. 

Advertisement
Advertisment

What makes the world so unique?

It’s a giant platform and a multi-billion dollar, global industry. It is bigger than Hollywood. We wanted to look at corporate stories, global impact stories, and also how to make a video game. There are real issues that come with that, though. In season one, Nazis were on the game. We looked at their responsibility. There are specific stories that you can only tell in the video game space, too. We have a Christmas episode this season. We’d been wanting to do it for some time. Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year for these characters. Everyone has a new video game console or game, so they’re using the servers and they can’t crash. People will turn on you real fast. So everyone has to work 24 hours. There’s a very specific story to tell for Mythic Quest. 

David Hornsby, a white man with a mustache, wears a red and white Santa hat and a v-neck sweater with green and black triangles over a tie. He's smiling at a coworker, seen to the right of him.
David Hornsby explained that the sixth episode of Mythic Quest’s third season explores the stresses of working through the holidays in the video game industry. Courtesy of Apple

Do you remember how you first became interested in acting?

I went to Kinkaid School, over in Memorial. There I really got into speech and debate tournaments and did forensics. Funnily enough, it’s the NFL—the National Forensic League. You’d compete at the same tournament that debaters would go to. The debate people all went on to become lawyers and would argue about important issues. We were just the obnoxious actors. I actually competed on the national level. That was very encouraging for me. It was a really influential part of my life and my high school experience.

How did it help to prepare you for life as an actor?

It prepared me for auditioning. You’d go into a science room at nine in the morning on a Saturday and find out that you’d have to perform a 10-minute comedy piece for people sitting at desks judging. It’s a cold room, in terms of the audience and the creativity factor. Back in the day, that’s exactly what auditioning was. Now you can videotape your auditions. So it actually trained me pretty well, weirdly, when I first started out.

How has being from Houston influenced your creative voice?

It’s little things. Texas has a distinct culture—cowboy boots, driving pickup trucks, etc. I was like, “Oh, I don’t really like wearing cowboy boots. I’m not into hunting. I’m more into [acting].” It helped me find my voice. It also influenced how I dress because I wear my Astros cap everywhere.

What’s it like to play The Riddler in DC Super Hero Girls?

I don’t know if you’ve heard my voice. It is already predisposed to sound very odd. I don’t get into any particular mental space. I just crank it up a notch. It already sounds weird enough. It’s something where being big and broad is celebrated. So it’s my bread and butter.

And finally, does Rob McElhenney make you watch every Wrexham game?

He doesn’t. He doesn’t cross the streams that way with that show. But I’m naturally a fan of any underdog story. I am an avid FIFA player on Xbox and so I’ve come to appreciate the game even more.