The Quest is a reality competition show set in the fantasy world setting of Everealm. Twelve Paladins must go through and survive training to find the one true hero and defeat the enemy, Verlox. The man who finds himself ordered to train the Paladins is Sir Ansgar. Below is an interview I had the pleasure of doing with Peter Windhofer, the man behind Sir Ansgar.
The Quest airs on ABC Thursday at 8pm until 10pm EST. This upcoming Thursday, September 11, is the finale with back-to-back episodes.
A thank you to @ for the pictures!
Tina Degenhart: I talked to you a little bit on Twitter about this but how are you handling all of the attention on Twitter?
Pete Windhofer: I’ve never been on Twitter so the first time I get in touch with Twitter, because it’s not that famous in Europe, it’s like a whole new world to me. It’s pretty good. I’m not that busy right now besides having my son. No, it’s a lot of fun it’s actually really good. We all put so much passion into this project and no one knew what really would happen and how things would go and now to see people that like it is great. And a lot of people seem to REALLY like it and show so much support. It’s very inspiring and great especially since ABC is not reacting at all.
TD: Have your family and friends acted differently now that you’re Sir Ansgar the Fierce?
PW: No, not at all. My dad still tries to convince me that I should become a teacher like the rest of my family. I think I’m in this typical artist’s situation where your family is worried about what you do. With the success it got a little easier but still. For them I think it’s hard to grasp because they can only see the show if I get it for them but here there is basically nothing for them to actually see. They don’t realize this is a huge thing so for them it’s like “Yeah, our son did something for ABC…. what is ABC??” It’s a hard concept. But yeah my friends are happy for me.
TD: Before The Quest what sort of acting have you done or are currently doing?
PW: I’ve done pretty much everything. A lot of theater work and I started out with improv theater but that was 10 or 15 years ago. A long time before I started to study acting. I have been working in tv in Germany and did a few small films and now this crazy thing.
TD: I’m guessing your background in improv has helped a lot during The Quest? How much was actual improve?
PW: For me it was nearly 80%. Nearly everything is improvised. Only the scenes with the other actors are written. Most of the time it just was improv and we would just go with it. It’s a lot of fun. For me it was a lot because very often I was with the paladins. You can’t script things with the Paladins. We had these small islands of scripted parts that you would usually work with another actor and we would rehearse before but as soon as the paladins came in it was this one take moment and you had to do it. And you did not know what would happen afterwards. There was scene A and scene B but there was nothing in between so you had to play around to get from A to B and then from B to C. We would be out there for hours, especially me.
TD: Did you have a hard time keeping them on track with plot, getting them from point A to point B?
PW: Actually no. They were really into the game and they fully accepted me and my character. I was their boss. They had to obey orders. Actually it was not difficult to move them around and it was a lot of fun. The yelling was fun in the beginning but it gets very exhausting and the challenges are NOT easy. So I was very often I was like “Dude that was pretty cool what they did!” but still started yelling.
TD: Were you friends with the other actors before The Quest?
PW: We all met on the show. But we became friends, really good friends. It was just this month was an incredible experience. It was very intense, more intense than anything else I’ve ever done before. Because the stress level was so high and no one knew really what would happen. For the producers and for us it was just a feel of “What the f*** is going to happen?” We have no idea. We had to stick together very close and we bonded. For sure we were talking a lot and asking what is your perception of the situation and how do you handle it. It was a wonderful month, it was crazy. After it was done I was finished. I think I lost about 10lbs and mentally I was not capable of doing anything for a few weeks. It was a great time.
TD: The Paladins received a little training before filming; did you also receive some training?
PW: I did a little but basically I was cast four or five days prior to shooting and I did not expect to actually be on the show. Then everything happened so quick. Just got a phone call and the next morning Rob Eric was driving over and bringing all of the scripts and it was this huge stack of lines of stuff to learn. Everything had to happen just like that. With the sword fighting as well, I didn’t really have time. I had some experience from acting school in terms of fencing and stage fight but not a lot.
The horseback riding I just went every day without a break. Great horses, great horse trainers. I said, listen get me a horse. Unfortunately I never got to shoot on a horse in the end! It was planned but we did not have time but I had a great time getting on a horse.
TD: I was just thinking Sir Ansgar needs to get on a horse!
PW: Nope, Sir Ansgar is running all of the time. Believe me it was physically crazy. I was in extraordinary shape afterwards. With all of the costuming on and running around for hours. I loved it, honestly it was amazing.
TD: Did you and the other actors also stay in the castle?
PW: No we stayed elsewhere. We basically drove home. Which most of the time we drove to the next pub and had two or three drinks to cool down and relax. I don’t know how to explain. It’s like if you’re in theater you have your opening night it’s a lot but with this project basically it’s like you’re having opening night every day. Because you’ve never did the scenes before, you don’t know what’s going to happen. So whenever we were done it was like okay we have to get a few drinks to cool down, laugh and totally turn off to go back home and learn lines for the next day.
TD: Did anyone play any sort of pranks or jokes while they were filming?
PW: I mean we were all in character so we couldn’t really play around. But we had a few running jokes going, especially with Crio, me and the Paladins. It was constantly about the size of the sword. Crio had a small dagger and I would make fun of him than Patrick would make fun of me because his sword was HUGE. And there were a few inside jokes between the Paladins and us actors. It was nice, a lot of fun.
TD: In the previous episodes what was a favorite moment of yours?
PW: Sir Ansgar the fierce! It was amazing. Probably the sad thing about the show there were so many great moments, we would be together with the Paladins for hours and you could not squeeze all of these things into one episode. Which is a real pity. There were some wonderful and intimate moments and I just recall it was the first time I heard Bonnie sing the Ballad of Everealm and we were alone, there were no cameras around for nearly an hour because we had to wait until something was prepared and we were to play around and buy time basically. So we were in this chapel sitting and we were talking about our lives, Sir Ansgar’s life and the Paladin’s lives. And suddenly Bonnie would start to sing the Ballad of Everealm. Oh my god it was just a very amazing and great moments.
So many things really became real in the situation. I’ll never forget it and with all of the paladins as I experienced it, it was very nice. They were a special breed and I mean there was a little intrigue as you could see but overall, despite Christian, I think the others were in the game. Sure they wanted to win the show but it was the one true hero and what values we believe in. A very sincere community of people.
TD: I like how the Paladins really acted like heroes and worked on getting the strongest person to the end. Usually shows kick off the strongest people first. Not so with The Quest.
PW: What fascinated me the most is it’s the only show that really pushes different values. Usually it’s about making fun of someone or bringing out the worst. And there is like this one rule, find the one true hero and all of the values to go with it. I think it must have been very difficult for them to a certain degree because they want to win, they want to stay in there. They want to be on the one true hero, it’s a competition but still you cannot play without the rules.
TD: In the show did you trust the Grand Vizier? He’s pretty shady!
PW: *Laughs* He’s shady but he’s the Grand Vizier. I think Viziers always have to be shady to a certain degree. He’s a politician. There’s a reason why he’s been a grand vizier for so many years.
TD: Twitter asks: if he could teach you one spell what would it be?
PW: I read this one! If he were to teach me a spell? I have no idea… Give me a bigger sword so I can actually beat Patrick!!
TD: Also on Twitter you mentioned you were in the army. What did you pull from there to put towards your character?
PW: Yeah in Austria everyone has to go into the army. It’s mandatory. If you don’t want to you can do civil service. What I originally wanted to do was go to New York and work for the United Nations but that didn’t work out so I had to go to the army. I did not like the army. I’m not very good at obeying orders.
What I learned in the army is camaraderie. That’s something I learned to worship and people would stick together and go through a lot of shit together and have each other’s backs. And for me I like those offices the most. They were tough on us, smart, but we knew that whatever would happen they would have our back. When I did this part I was like okay I can be tough on them because it will make them grow together more and that’s my job. But from the first moment I felt very responsible for them and I think that’s what they felt and feeling that responsibility. More and more it was just not about my character but it was about me too after awhile and that as very important to me. That social thing working between us. It worked out surprisingly well.
I don’t know if I can tell this, but yeah sure I can. When we sat down for the conversation up in the tower where I was telling them about my wife and all of these things were improvised and I promised them I’d get them wine. It was this huge discussion [with the producers] going on about how it’s a TV show, we didn’t know if we could get them wine, it could be dangerous afterwards. “But listen,” with a lot of talks, “I promised them wine. So I’m Sir Ansgar and I will not break my word!” It took me a very, very long time to get the wine and I got it in the end. I was like, “You get wine to my people!” It was not a lot but it was a little and they grew on me. It was a weird psychological thing to experience and to obey it was weird. Because this social thing was real for me. Every day you see that they are trying, so a lot of respect.
TD: I can tell there was a lot of respect and love between the cast and Paladins. It comes off that way in the show. There were some moments I found myself forgetting it was a competition and not a movie.
PW: For me that was the only way I could have possibly done it. Every day before I actually went on set I would think don’t break, don’t hold back. Don’t think about it too much just be there for 100% and take it as serious as possible.
TD: Finally is there anything else that you want fans to know about the show?
PW: I just want them all to know I’m very happy and very grateful. All of the other people all of the other actors; Marcello, Jan, Susanne, we are all blown away by what you are doing, what the Quest Army is doing and this is a huge reward. For me it’s something very special. So that’s great and keep on eating waffles!!!