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Saturday September 25th

UNC student Jim Curry participated in "Quest" reality show

<p>Photo courtesy of Jim Curry</p>
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Photo courtesy of Jim Curry

Growing up in Arkansas, the UNC graduate student was known as the “Harry Potter guy.”

So when he was browsing a Harry Potter fansite and saw a vague casting call for a new reality television program, “The Quest,” he knew he had to apply.

“I just remember seeing a big ad on the Harry Potter site saying, ‘If you love fantasy and want to be part of a new television experience, you should write to us,’” Curry said. “My first instinct was, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re doing a Harry Potter TV show. I have to be part of this.’”

Still unsure as to what the show actually was, Curry applied. In July, he got a call saying he’d been cast.

Soon after, he left to start filming.

He did not know his final destination until he checked into the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

“My mother was probably a wreck,” Curry said. “My parents and my brother were really the only ones I could tell. Otherwise, no one knew where I was going or what I was doing. They just knew I was away for an extended period of time.”

The reality show turned out to be an ABC series called “The Quest” which was filmed in Vienna, Austria, in the summer of 2013 and aired in the summer of 2014.

The brainchild of the executive producers of “The Amazing Race” and “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Quest” wasn’t an ordinary reality show.

Producers created their own fantasy world, delving into a genre called “immersive reality.”

The 12 contestants, called “paladins” or “knights” — were then thrown into that world to live out the fantasy.

Curry said producers were set on creating an illusion of reality.

“They wanted us to truly believe we were in a fantasy world, so they did very well to hide the cameras, hide the directors,” he said. “It’s forcing your body to shed the world that you know and accept.”

Contestants were eliminated one by one, as only one true hero could emerge in Everealm.

Curry won’t give away the ending or say if he was crowned the one true hero. He just tells people to watch it on Netflix.

Brian Farmer, a UNC Quidditch player, said he thought Curry’s speaking skills and his general amiability probably helped him land a spot on the show.

“When he says stuff, it sounds like it should have been written down ahead of time,” he said. “People are drawn to him.”

Shauna Hines, another member of the Quidditch team, said Curry is also very energetic and motivated.

“I just feel like he really embodied what that show was aiming for,” she said.

Reminiscing on the casting process, Curry said he saw a different side of himself than he saw growing up — someone braver, someone able to step outside his comfort zone.

Curry credits his passion for other fantasy stories as the driving force behind that breakout.

“My love of Harry Potter and fantasy supersedes the fear that would usually keep me from doing something like this,” he said. “I knew this was made for me, so that was my prime drive through casting.”

Curry said he has fallen in love with the storyline and the characters. He has gone back and revisited filming locations in Austria.

“I would hands down drop everything and go do it again.”

arts@dailytarheel.com



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