Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures has a myriad of weird and wonderful beings setting foot through its doors. TenEighty speaks exclusively to cast members Chris Kendall, Mitchell Davis, Jack Howard, Anna Akana and Olan Rogers about the characters they play, their experience on set and what they make of PJ Liguori’s magnificent yet crazy universe.
“When I arrived I thought the taxi had dropped me off in the wrong place!” admits Jack Howard about his first day of filming. “I was so sure it was someone else’s set.
“Then I saw Mitchell and Chris and PJ,” he continues. “I immediately felt proud. We’ve all been growing and developing together, it was nice to see PJ in charge of something more substantial.”
“The scope of the worlds that were explored in the series was something I couldn’t even imagine when we shot the short,” says Mitchell Davis. “Just watching an idea move from being a little baby to being this real deal, big project, was magical.”
Mitchell will be teaming up once more with Chris Kendall, a.k.a Crabstickz, as the duo reprise their roles as Red and Oliver respectively – whereas Jack, along with Olan Rogers and Anna Akana, will be joining the cast in brand new roles.
“I play Box Death,” says Olan. “A cardboard grim reaper whose life is now filled with piles of paperwork. He’s grumpster and hates his job.”
“The White Spirit enjoys apples, long walks in Artlandia, and destruction,” says Anna of her character. “She’s not inherently evil per se, but she’s definitely a predator!”
“Maus is a bit manic,” says Jack. “For me, he’s a cross between Sid the Sloth from Ice Age and the Joker.”
Other characters in the show will be voiced by fellow YouTube heavyweights, including Phil Lester, Dan Howell, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg and Marzia Bisognin, who together form the Tribe of Lost and Forgotten Food Creatures.
So what has become of Red and Oliver since the short film?
“I still have Red’s taxi service, which the guests use to come to and from the hotel,” says Mitchell. “But I have also been kind of revamped and given additional hotel duties when Oscar hired me as the concierge.
“Red does not stop rambling,” he laughs. “He loves to talk when nobody is even there, so it was just natural that I would take over that!”
“There was a lot of stuff that we added into [Oliver’s] character as we went along,” says Chris. “Even if it was just a joke, adding in backstory of things he could have got up to in the past and where he’s coming from. It was good to add backstory stuff to that. We sort of gave him a full life!
“He doesn’t even know how to communicate with some of the creatures, so it reminded me a little bit of Faulty Towers, it’s just chaos as soon as it starts. ” he continues. ”He comes around a little bit towards the end though.”
“Oh, and my horns got way bigger!” Mitchell exclaims. “You know what they say about guys with big horns… you got to get a new hat! So, Red got a new hat as well.”
When we previously spoke with the creative team behind Oscar’s Hotel – Sophie Newton, Jamie Swarbrick and Louis Grant – they all agreed that Chris was the only man for the lead role of Oliver.
Sophie said: “Writing Oliver, knowing Chris would play him, meant we could push the character and play a lot more with his story and be reassured that Chris would know exactly what to do.”
“Chris is such a naturally funny guy,” adds Louis. “He helped find the humour in Oliver trying to have everyday interactions with fantastical creatures on human terms, trying to apply human logic where there is none.”
And when we spoke to Chris, it didn’t seem to take much persuasion on his side either. “PJ just kind of shot me an email,” he grins. “It was a no-brainer.”
Despite his close friendship with PJ and the team, the duo have managed to establish a level of professionalism while working together. “I can tell the difference between when we’re just mucking around or getting it done,” says Chris. “Even in the pilot it was like that. We’re both SUPER professional.”
“PJ is a good director because he really embraces collaboration,” adds Jack. “He allowed me to do whatever I wanted with the character. Whenever I wanted to try a bit of improv or change something, he wouldn’t even hesitate to give it a go.”
This was Olan’s first time working with PJ and his team, and the group’s fun mentality was something that he clearly enjoyed. “They are fantastic!” he exclaims. “They’re an extremely creative and tight team. I’m envious!”
“It got out that it was my birthday on set,” recalls Olan. “Everyone sang happy birthday and made me a cardboard Box Death birthday cake.”
For a lot of the cast, it was not only their first time working together, but also meeting each other. In particular, Chris, despite being well-known within the YouTube community, hadn’t worked in the US before this shoot, so had the opportunity to finally meet people he had been associated with for years.
“It feels like you already know them,” Chris explains. “So it’s very weird trying to introduce yourself for the first time to someone that is subscribed to you, and you’re subscribed to them, and you don’t know if they know you enough or like maybe they just subscribed years ago and they don’t even watch you anymore…”
He offers his first interaction with co-star Mamrie Hart as an example. “She was dressed in a giant, purple head!” says Chris.
“That was so much fun to watch!” adds Mitchell. “Just Mamrie inside an octopus being like “I’ve never even met you!” and wrapping her tentacles around you.”
“Yeah, we tried to hug. It didn’t really happen,” admits Chris.
Becoming a Jim Henson character was a dream come true for Anna. “The furry pink headpiece with white spikes is by far my favourite part of that costume,” she says. “I’ve never seen anything like it!”
And Jack’s highlight? “It felt [so good] to take that makeup off, ” he laughs. “It was like I was being reborn.”
Reflecting on the series as a whole, Chris feels like they’ve only just scratched the surface. “In a hotel there are so many doors to open. It definitely feels like a second series would be very natural,” he says.
“I think if we get a big second series and everyone loves the first, that’s when we can start pulling in some big celebrity names. I want Jeff Goldblum,” Chris continues.
“You want the Tom Cruise feature…,” adds Mitchell.
“Yeah! A little Tom Cruise frog comes to the hotel one day,” explains Chris. “We’ll be dealing with some big characters I think if we get Season 2.”
A new Oscar’s Hotel episode is available for streaming via Vimeo on Demand every Tuesday. Click here for more information.
Photos by Embry Lopez and Mark Williams, Courtesy of New Form Digital.
Want More Oscar’s Hotel?
PJ has a few things to say to those who are illegally uploading Oscar’s Hotel, find out what here. Alternatively check out the following:
- Meet The Team: Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures
- Vimeo On Demand: Beyond Oscar’s Hotel
- 10 Things You Need To Know About Oscar’s Hotel
- PJ Liguori’s Guide to Getting Creative
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