Matthew Lillard and Bill Rehor, two of the co-founders of Beadle and Grimm’s, are launching Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! on the new Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures streaming channel on Freevee and Plex. The liveplay comedy series will have a two-episode two-hour premiere on November 16 at 6PM PST and 9PM PST.
“Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill!” is a fast and funny D&D game-meets-improv comedy show with your favorite gaming luminaries playing 1st level characters who must face off with a classic, all-powerful monster from D&D lore. By the end of the hour, the entire party will meet their tragic but hilarious demise.
Over Zoom, we discussed how their love for Dungeons & Dragons eventually led to Beadle and Grimm’s, why this new show is for everyone to enjoy, how they picked the players for the tables, and much more. Keep reading for everything they shared with me!
Fun fact for both of you, this is not only my first Dungeons & Dragons related interview, this was actually my introduction show as well. So, I want to ask, what made you a fan when you first started playing, why you became passionate about the game, and how did it eventually lead to this series?
Matthew Lillard: Well, I mean, both of us grew up in the era that the game was launched.
Bill Rehor: We’re very old, so we grew up when D&D was both huge in its launch and then sort of quickly vilified. We went through the whole satanic panic era where people were afraid that it would turn us all into Satan worshippers — 100% correct, by the way. I played with my older brother Charlie, who’s one of the co-founders of Beadle and Grimm’s, and so we’ve been playing together all our lives, then four of the five of us went to acting school together when we were in our twenties. I think with the exception of John, all of us had not been playing for a few years, and one night, we were all just kind of hanging out after watching the Buffalo Bills win or lose one of the 18 Super Bowl during that era and we realized we all had this thing in common in our past, and John offered to run us in a game that night. He just kind of threw us in it and we all started playing together again, and all of our sort of inner 12-year-olds came out and had a fantastic time together, and that’s what sort of cemented our friendship and led to us creating this company much further down the line.
That’s a really interesting origin story, I love it. Matthew, anything to add?
Lillard: Just the fact that we played D&D for the next 20 years and then finally, you know, we all had kids, we all had marriages and were sort of trudging through life and we literally had this lovely little midlife crisis, this idea of like, “What else can we do together? How can we build something creatively together that’s gonna be fun and inspirational?” And I don’t think any of us in our wildest dreams would have anticipated releasing 20 episodes of TV, less than five years later but that’s where we’re at and I think that speaks to sort of the power of the collection of us and really chasing something that we’re inspired by and that we love, and putting all this effort and time into it has been so incredibly rewarding that I think that we all feel really lucky to be here.
Yeah, I think this is the definition of a passion project. It must be so exciting to get ready to share it with the world, especially when it’s something that was part of your childhood and you got to grow up and turn it into something like this.
Lillard: Absolutely, no doubt.
This new streaming channel is bound to bring in a bunch of new fans and I’m curious for both of you, what would you would recommend that audiences look into to get familiar with the game before or after they watch if they want to learn more about D&D?
Lillard: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, if you’re looking to get into this world, one of the great things, I think, about Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! is that we are built to give somebody a really joyful introduction. We are a gateway drug; I mean, we are the gateway drug for Dungeons & Dragons. We’re a little bit of a love letter, right? We have a completely diverse sets of tables. There’s 20 episodes, and each episode is a stand-alone episode so you don’t have to watch one to the next, you can come in at any time and they’re fun. I mean, they’re great storytelling, great performers, and the whole show is super funny and it’s sort of a love fest. So I would say, grab your soda pop, grab your adult beverage, grab your popcorn, and sit down and if it’s something that sparks to you, you can always go to beadleandgrimms.com and you can start to purchase t-shirts, dice, or collector boxes of premium Dungeons & Dragons releases, for example. So, I mean, to me, I think that that’s one of the great things about the show is that it is a great place to start on a journey of Dungeons & Dragons.
I definitely felt that.
Rehor: Oh, good. I would add that if you watch some of the episodes, we have a really interesting mix of people who are big celebrities in the D&D space and who play D&D for a living or design games for a living, and then we have people in there who have literally never played before and you can see how much fun that they have with their very first experience, and how easy and accessible the game can be if you realize that you don’t have to take it seriously, that it’s not a test. Nobody’s judging you, you’re there to have fun, they’re there to have fun, and you all have fun together and that’s really all there is to it.
Well, you actually just led me into my next question perfectly because I loved seeing all of the different players and their reactions to everything. How did you go about picking who was gonna be involved? What was it like seeing the reactions of those who were playing for the first time, especially compared to who had already been familiar with the game and were fans?
Rehor: So the first question first, we felt we had a serious obligation to have a really wide range of voices in these shows and part of that is through the DMs because they’re the ones who come up with the stories, the settings, and sort of set the tone for how the game will go. I think if you watch the 20 episodes, you’ll find that no two episodes are really alike and people have very different approaches to how to tell a story, and all of them are valid and they’re personal, specific and we talked about it a lot internally, there are stories in there that we never would be able to tell, we’d never be able to come up with it, we’d never be able to do it justice but the people we brought in could. And so, it was really rewarding that we got such a diversity of storytelling styles and contributions, and then that also carried over into the casting of the players as well. Everybody brings their own thing and by allowing it to be this sort of very loose format where people can feel free to be as serious or as silly as they want to, they end up bringing a lot of their own ideas, imagination, and personality into it without any filters from us about “No, you have to do this, you have to play this, you have to be this way.” So anyway, Matt, anything to add on that?
Lillard: Yeah, I mean, I think we’re really proud of the casting specifically. We really do try to represent what I call the tapestry of this industry, right? I mean, we made a real effort to be representative, which we’re really proud of. Then, yeah, look, it’s easy to call Skeet Ulrich, who’s a dear friend, or Deborah Ann Woll, who we know as a company really well. I mean, we have some great people on there. We have some incredible professional gamers. At the end of the day, every person to a man came back and said, “I’ll do this anytime you ask,” because it’s super fast, it was very easy, and every game has this sense of play and this sense of joy, which I think translates really powerfully into the show.
Rehor: I would suggest that anybody who thinks that, “Oh, I can’t enjoy that because I don’t know the rules or I’ve never done that before,” watch the episode that Michael Irby is in. He does not play D&D and he has the best effing time doing it. He is a joy to watch. He does it perfectly. He has a fantastic time, and he has no idea what he’s doing and it’s totally okay.
I love that. I’m a big fan of improv and love finding out that some of my favorite scenes in films or TV are improv. It just makes everything so much more enjoyable. Was there an improv moment in particular that has a funny behind the scenes story, something you were impressed by, or made you laugh?
Rehor: There’s a lot of improv in there. We are definitely flying by the seat of our pants.
Lillard: So, just so you understand, every single aspect of every single minute of every single show is 100% made up on the spot. There is nothing decided. Dungeons & Dragons is just an ongoing group storytelling exercise, right? And so in this show, every single piece of it is in the moment, is in the game, is in live play.
Rehor: The DM has a story, but the best DMs will always come up with a story that is malleable to whatever it is that the players end up doing, so everything changes. Things almost never work out exactly the way that anybody expects. One of the things that I realized as the host very early on, because, I think when you see the show, you’ll see that oftentimes the DM will ask me as the host to jump in on some kind of part of the game, to play a character or to have an interaction with somebody and the temptation was to try to prepare those moments because that makes you feel safer, to say, “Listen, let’s just talk about this, let’s plan exactly what I’m gonna do,” and what we realized pretty quickly is that really, I’m better off not knowing all that much because it allows those moments to be inspired by what’s going on and not to be terribly preplanned, and just let them be whatever they are. I think in the first episode, there’s a moment where I ask Seth Green to play a second character as well as the character he’s brought in, and I had no idea where that was gonna go. It was just a fun thing to throw out there and boy, did he take that thing and run with it. We’re all big football fans and the football analogy is just, you know, get the ball in the hands of your best players and let them do their thing, and that’s sort of our focus there is if you’re lucky enough to get Seth Green at the table, just give him a chance to do his thing.
Lillard: Yeah, I mean, look even down to, which I think is one of the most incredible achievements in the shows, is we have live accompaniment that happens, a guy by the name of Scott Passarella came on board. We played with him for a couple of live shows in pre-production and every single time as we go through, you hear him playing as the game plays through and as you’re watching the show, and none of that’s recorded afterward, none of it’s sweetened afterward, it’s all just a live play on the show. And so, for me, every now and then you catch magic, right? I think that I’ve been parts of that in my career, in my day job, certainly Scream. I mean, Scream was one of those movies like, nobody expected and it’s still relevant today, that’s magic. The idea that this show was sort of, we did three shows a day, we put it together pretty quickly, we found this guy that somebody else recommended and he was a homerun. The cast, every single one of the players was incredible and there’s a little piece of magic in the show that we are excited to share with the world. One of the things I do want to say that I think is important and the reason we’re doing press is, yeah, we want the show to be a hit, we want people to find it and see it, but more to the point, we think that this is an opportunity for our community, for the TTRPG community, if you want to see content made for you, then we as a community have to come out and support it. And so, our plead today is like, hey, give it a shot. Freevee you gotta go find it, it’s on Amazon, it’s not that hard. Plex is out there as well. But our hope is that people take the opportunity to seek it out, read this if you’re interested and curious, find it and our belief is that you’ll love it because it’s not about D&D, it’s really about a group of incredible performers getting around telling a story, an improv story for 48 minutes.