F. Murray Abraham spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the backstory of C.W. Longbottom on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, one of the definitive highlights of the new Apple TV+ series.
Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham’s ‘C.W. Longbottom’ is one of the top reasons to watch Apple TV+’s new gaming focused comedy series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. C.W. Longbottom is a writer still living off the prime of his prose, providing backstories for the show’s ‘faux’ game Mythic Quest… While laying hints to the groundwork that led to ink on paper, including a lost love that led to a lengthy stay at a hospital. If you get the drift!
F. Murray Abrahjam’s uncanny pitch-perfect comedy timing is a driving force on the show’s opening episodes. During a roundtable press interview in New York City ahead of the show’s Apple TV+ premiere, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the mysterious C.W. with F. Murray Abraham and the vital importance of a backstory.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: My favorite part of your character C.W. is the mystery surrounding your own backstory while simultaneously being the giver of backstories. Throughout Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, C.W. peppers in these hints like the girl he had a fling with in Morocco inspiring him. Poppy [Charlotte Nicdao] yells at C.W. around episode 2, “Enough with the backstory!” As an actor, have you ever picked up a script in your career and thought there was too much backstory?
F. Murray Abraham: I could be flip and say everybody else is a back story. (laughs) I’ve worked with Harold Pinter, he directed me in my first Broadway show. That was a play that he bought, we became friends. He became friendly with quite a few people, he’s a good guy. He didn’t look like he was, he was called the Sphinx but in fact he was very funny. Anyway, we had a play of his that was being done in town at the same time, and he was overseeing it. It was an off-Broadway production and there was something wrong with it. We were looking at the script and talking about it… He said, ‘I want to cut this and I want to cut this and try this. It’s not working.’ I said, “You have to try it, you really have to try it and try it and try it before you throw it out.” Because I believe that the discovery is not over until it’s absolutely impossible.
In a time crunch business like this one, you don’t have that much time. So, going into it with a good script which is what these have been so far, is really essential. My backstory, I want to examine that more and more because what he represents when I’m talking about another century, which is what it is, another century. It was kind of the heyday in the 60s and 70s for writers. There was a lot of money being thrown around. So, if I said at that time because I had won a series of awards, my character, ‘Yes, I want to write this book but I want to write it in Morocco. I want to write it in New Orleans. I want to write it there.’ I mean C.W. could do that and it was a style. It was a way of living. It was fun to travel in those days and it was possible to introduce his idea of a back story, his idea of how much it meant.
I think that he was kind of coddled at the time. And he still is coddled in a way in this current situation, he’s looked after, kind of. He’s put up with for certain things. I feel that backstory is essential. Ms. (Ashley) Burch brought this up earlier, fighting for the back story is something that she does because she understands the value of it. I think it’s essential to the success of this series, that each of us starts to reveal their backstories because it’s not enough to see how friendly we are with each other. And we are by the way! We have to start seeing the characters fleshed out a little more. I would like to see something on my character’s tragedy. I would like to touch on that. Or a love. There is much to explore!
C.W. is my favorite character on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, your comedy timing is so precise.
Thank you, I love the character! How can you not like playing this character? I’m a flamboyant actor to begin with. My favorite characters on stage have always been that kind of character. I love Opera and one of the reasons is the gesture. I think that the theatre is suffering because it’s too kitchen sink stuff. I think it’s more designed for a stage as a stepping stone to the movies and television. There’s nothing wrong with that but the essence of the theater, the size of the theater is missing. I think it’s necessary.
Circuses and Opera are fun because of that size. I live for it. But if you were to try to capture what it means to go to a Greek drama. Some Greek tragedy pick one, Oedipus. They really only lasted if you do them, the way they were supposed to be done written. It’s only about an hour long and at the end you’ve come out of this with a cathartic experience… But that can only be accomplished by the screaming and the Sturm und Drang on the sides. And I think this character still is attached to that world.
He’s funny because he’s absolutely sincere about it and I’m sincere too. But also he just has a good time, I think it’s important that he relishes this life. I think it’s one of the things that keeps him alive and keeps him functioning. What it does is keeps him youngish. I feel the same way about myself. I believe that the only way to stay young at least in your mind, in your heart, is to work with younger people and to continue to work. Some of us are not lucky enough to continue to work, to get to work.
I believe you can find the work, whether you are a famous actor or you are still struggling. As an older man in this business, there are so many theaters in New York, you will find a place to work if you put yourself out there. Even if it means reading plays. What I’m suggesting is that in this production, in this series, you have four generations of actors. I don’t think there is another show that can claim that. And it’s not just an old guy who happens to be peripheral. He really has something to say and it’s important to him, and it becomes important to the show.
But more importantly or as important, he has something to learn. And he’s not beyond learning! That’s an interesting aspect of this character, and that’s where Ashly (Burch) steps in because she takes it on herself… Without being snotty and nasty to me, to teach me how to do this. In return, I try to teach her what it’s like to work the classics into her work.
Just wanted to say, I really enjoy your work as Dar Adal on Homeland!
Oh man, those are some great scripts!
Watch Apple TV+’s new gaming development/streaming world comedy sitcom series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet now.