Danny Pudi’s Brad Bakshi, the manipulative head of monetization for Mythic Quest, is about to meet his ultimate match in this week’s episode of Season 2.
That would be Zack Bakshi, Brad’s seemingly lovable brother, played by Pudi’s decades-long friend, Parvesh Cheena (Mira, Royal Detective, NBC’s Connecting). Zack may seem cute and cuddly on the outside, but Brad knows better: his brother is a ruthless corporate assassin…or is he? That’s what Episode 4 attempts to figure out.
Zack’s appearance on the show will allow viewers “to learn a little bit more about where” Brad’s “villainous exterior” comes from, Pudi teases to Forbes Entertainment during a virtual junket interview for the new season.
Executive producer and fellow cast member David Hornsby (David Brittlesbee) echoes that sentiment. “We get to meet Brad’s brother and really learn about what makes Brad tick a bit more,” he says.
Ironically, though, it was not Pudi who recommended Cheena for the role of Zack. “He didn’t!” Cheena admits with a laugh. “Honestly, because I was like, ‘Did you do this?’ He was like, ‘No, it was Megan.’ [Series co-creator/executive producer] Megan Ganz, who Danny’s known from Community, of course. She mentioned it and it was great.”
At the time of our genial Zoom conversation, Cheena is fresh off his second COVID-19 shot and feeling great, raring to discuss his newfound love of oat milk or his social activism on behalf of the AAPI community (currently celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month). The latter topic is more important than ever in light of recent acts of violence against the Asian-American community.
“It doesn’t feel like we have a lot of privilege, especially with a lot of the hate attacks because of Trump and his administration using derogatory terms for the coronavirus,” Cheena says. “It made me think of 9/11 again.”
As an openly gay Indian-American man working in modern day Hollywood, Cheena doesn’t believe in keeping silent in a time when facts are under attack. “I just have to live in a world of facts where 2+2 is 4, not 5 — no matter what the minority group in power thinks,” he explains. “How can I not? ‘Oh, you’re gay and Indian-American and working in the media industry. Do you have any opinions?’ … ‘No comment.’ I can’t do that. It’s not in my wheelhouse.”
After months of lockdown and political unrest, a frustrated Cheena got a much-needed break from the woes of the world when he began filming his Mythic Quest scenes late last year.
“This was my on-camera out-of-house job this pandemic,” he recalls. “Each week, I get to come in [and] it’s like, ‘Oh, what are you doing today?’ ‘I’m gonna go have lunch with Danny and I’m gonna shoot an episode of Mythic Quest,’ but having lunch with Danny is the highlight. It was my social time for the fall. Other than my partner and dog, during that time, pre-vaccination, it really felt like social time among other people who had been tested 2 or 3 times before we even got to set. I actually kind of felt safer on set than I did going to the grocery. It was such a controlled environment.”
While Brad seems to know the truth of his brother’s deceptive nature, the rest of the office isn’t so convinced, immediately taking a shine to Zack. “We totally did a misdirect for some stuff,” Cheena says. “I play this cuddly [guy], especially when I’m bearded like this … I’m aware that my physicality is very cute. It’s very cute, cuddly bear for people. So we totally played into it. We played the charm, the charisma for Zack to really drive home this knife jab that he does to his own brother.”
“Parvesh is such a great actor,” adds co-star Jessie Ennis (Jo). “He brought so much to it and he and Danny go way back. They kind of are like brothers. They have a comedy duo and they’ve grown up together in so many ways. It was really fun watching their dynamic and seeing them play off each other because they already had such shorthand. They were able to immediately run with it. That was a thrill. I think he brings a lot to our show and makes it better.”
In Pudi’s own words, the season “doesn’t really end well for Brad, but he has this great journey … where you get to see a little bit more about the human side of Brad and that’s been really fun with this show. We have these elements that are very much workplace comedy … and then we have some really honest moments between characters. I think you’ll see that this year, for sure.”
And Cheena won’t be the only special guest star you’ll see in Episode 4. Snoop Dogg is also making an appearance, playing himself on the Mythic Quest motion capture stage.
“That hip-hop/Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg world was my high school [years],” Cheena says. I was more nervous about Snoop Dogg liking me and he was great. What a professional and talk about someone who knows his place in pop culture. Not to be too meta about it, but he knows that yes, he has his rap career, but he’s also the cannabis guy and he’s also the Martha Stewart bestie. So, he was just game for everything.”
Episode 4 of Mythic Quest — aptly titled “Breaking Brad” — premieres on Apple TV+ tomorrow (Friday, May 21).