When last seen, he looked like he was done for. Gregethor, the scene-stealing bearded shopkeeper from the enormously successful parody Skyrim 2012, was getting blasted in the stomach by his own Staff of Lightning. It appeared to be a fatal blow. I was so distraught I re-rolled a Breton in Gregethor's honor.
Well, the Grosjean Brothers, the twins who star in, wrote and produced Skyrim 2012, have good news. Gregethor is returning in their next episode, among many other big plans they have now that Justin Grosjean has graduated from Michigan State's film studies program and can put a lot more time on what was already a well-made project.
"There's something about Gregethor that makes you smile," Justin Grosjean told me. "We talked about killing him off because people loved him so much, they care more."
Portrayed by the Grosjeans' high school friend Greg Davis, Gregethor embodies many of the quirks and limitations of interactions in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where a homeowner will discover an intruder and simply—but still firmly—ask him to leave. The robbery of a disgruntled, cigarette-smoking courier (played with perfect deadpan by Matt Smith) was hilariously familiar to Skyrim fans.
"I happen to be an absurdly obsessed video game man," Davis told Kotaku, "and Skyrim was already many hours underway before this project came to my attention." So his pitch-perfect impersonation of the sleazy merchant Belethor, encountered early in Whiterun, comes from a great deal of exposure to the game. Davis, a student in music education at Oakland University, has been involved in theater and the performing arts in some form since second grade, rounding out the foundation of his performance.
"Seeing my likeness next to Belethor was thoroughly entertaining. I have always wanted to meet my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great," he says, stealing a joke from Skyrim 2012, "grandfather."
Neither he nor the Grosjeans say how Gregethor will return, but it's one feature of an elaborate sequel project they kicked off earlier this week. "We want this episode to be much grander and to blow people's socks off," Justin said. They're hiring on more actors to bring more characters to their reimagining of Skyrim, which looks a lot like their home of Clarkston, Mich.
A dragon character is the biggest ambition. They've picked out a voice actor from Justin's class, but need to give the thing a head. Designing that will take some time and effort, so the brothers are trying to raise $5,000 to deliver the fourth episode of project that's already gathered more than 3 million views on YouTube.
They've made other videos, but Skyrim 2012 is far and away the biggest hit. A full cut of all three episodes has been entered at the Phoenix Comic-Con Film Festival later this month. (The Grosjeans will be attending.)
"I think the reason that Skyrim 2012 was so well received is because it captures a world that is beloved by many and portrays it in a setting where people can not only relate to it on a personal but also relate the the rich world Bethesda created," Justin said. "I think it's easy for fans to enjoy because it's a joke that only they and the Bethesda community are in on."
That may be selling its appeal a little short. Davis—with his striking blond beard and looks he does not mind if you compared to Jeff Bridges'—said he's been recognized around Clarkston as much as he has been on Oakland's campus. "The best part of having played Gregethor has been getting recognized by people in everyday encounters," Davis said.
And if Davis and his fans are glad he's coming back, well, so are the Grosjeans. "He's so willing to commit to any line you give him, it was hard sometimes not to laugh on the set," Justin said.
"We knew deep down we were bringing Gregethor back," he said. "He's just too awesome."