Disney’s latest new original series is “The Quest”, which is an innovative reality competition that takes place in the fantasy world of Everealm. A handful of eager contestants were embedded in a fully immersive, 360-degree world complete with seamless technology, creature design, practical effects and scripted characters who interact dynamically with them.
Recently, I got to speak with British actor Elliott Ross, who stars as Prince Cederic in the series and got to ask him about what it was like making this unique series.
Could you give us an introduction to “The Quest”?
in a nutshell, it’s this epic fantasy series, which is produced by the producers of Lord of the Rings, and The Amazing Race, and Queer Eye. So it’s this amazing hybrid of scripted fantasy drama with a reality element and a competition element, all in one show. So we have this epic fancy world on grand scale, and then eight real people who are teenagers, get dropped into the world. And their mission is to help us complete our quest. And I’m an actor in the show. All my stuff is scripted like a normal TV show, and then when I interact with the contestants, that’s all improvised. So it’s an immersive television experience for them, and for me as well.
Could you explain your character, Prince Cedric?
So the character is a really fun character. There’s a big arc. So I think the trajectory was something that I really took interest in obviously, and just really, really enjoyed diving into. He starts at the beginning of the series as this combative, aggressive, angry boy, arrogant, doesn’t view others as equals, and just wants to fight everyone. And ultimately, he is grieving the loss of his father, but he also is vying for the throne, and he’s got these expectations for himself. And I think through a series of humbling failures throughout the series, he learns how to be less of a jerk basically, and learns collaboration, and ultimately, becomes a better man. So for me, it was a journey of masculinity where it’s like a boy learning how to be a man. And I really enjoyed that.
You had to improvise a lot on this series, how did that all work with all the actors and contestants?
I mean, it was pretty authentic, the reality elements. I mean, there were lots of cameras. They knew they were being filmed. There were cameras everywhere, but I think the world was so… The attention to detail was so extreme, so thorough that it was very easy to get lost in it. And credit to the contestants they just bought into it 100%. They weren’t points where they were questioning that we were actors or anything, they were just there. So the reactions you see are real, and they’re in real time. And equally, the relationships that you see forming between the contestants and with the actors, that was all happening over real time as well, because they never met us as real people. We only ever met on set when we were in character. And those guys never met me as myself, even after shooting finished. And I think that was a really cool thing about the shoot, and it was quite experimental, and it felt like we were trying something.
What was the biggest challenge in working on “The Quest”?
I mean, I guess the obvious thing for me is the improvisational element, that was challenging, but I guess it just forced me to do my work. We all did our work. We knew our characters inside out, and we knew how to deal with situations as they arose. And we knew how to respond in character, which was a really fun exercise as an actor in the end. So I guess that was challenging and it was… So it’s a different kind of format for a show, isn’t it? Because it was scripted and improvised at the same time, and switching between styles sometimes, was good, but we got used to it.
I mean, in an oddly manner, I was cast in a big fantasy series playing a prince, and I was living a dream. And I guess, no one prepares you for how that’s going to feel. And I guess, that was overwhelming at times. And I felt a bit of pressure going into it. And I wanted to do a good job, so that was challenging as well.
How did the pandemic impact on creating “The Quest”?
Well, it was meant to be filmed in Austria, and then it got moved to Napa Valley, which is fine with me.
I booked the job when I was in London. Everyone in London last year from January to March, they were locked down in London. And London is notoriously gray that time of year. So the timing was fantastic for me to get out of the UK and just be in the sunshine, running around dressed like a prince. It was fun.
How many of your scenes were improvised?
Yeah, I’ve done more experimental short films where it’s not scripted. I did one really cool short film with a close friend of mine and he was trying to emulate Mike Lee and we did lots of hot seating and character development work. And then just ran with it and made a really cool short film. So I’ve done it on screen before. I’ve improvised in the theater before. I’ve done a handful of improvised theater and I’ve done immersive theater a couple of times where the audience is in your world and you take them through your world. So I guess I had a small amount of experience in all departments, but no, I’ve never been in a TV series that is part improvised. So that was a new challenge.
The series ended on a cliffhanger, would you like to return for a second season?
Oh, yeah. I mean, I’d love there to be a second season, of course. Those decisions are out of my hands, I’m afraid. And I also, I have absolutely no information. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Now that the series is out, are you keeping an eye on social media, or are you trying to stay away from feedback?
Well, I think I’m trying to stay away from feedback. I think I’ve learned in my career, feedback on the work isn’t always helpful for the people involved. All I can do is do my job. I do my work and I do it the best I can, and then I hopefully move on to the next thing. But I am going to keep an eye on social media. I want to use my platform and I want to keep people in the loop with what I’m doing and I want to follow people that I am interested in and who I think are talented or interesting. So I think there’s going to be a balance there. And I just think social media can be what you want it to be. And hopefully, I’ll keep myself protected from the stuff I don’t want to engage in.
And finally, what’s been your favourite Disney+ original so far?
I loved it. It was so good, man. It was just joyous. I watched it. I actually, I was staying with a couple of friends in Texas, a couple of really close friends of mine, and we binge watched it in the month leading up to The Quest. We watched both series back-to-back and it was just so much fun. It’s kind of… It was nostalgic for my childhood and also, I feel very warmly about that time in general. So yeah, that one.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.