‘The Legend of Vox Machina’: Ashley Johnson and Travis Willingham talk Pike and Grog’s friendship

Few things in The Legend of Vox Machina are as pure as the friendship between holy cleric Pike (voiced by Ashley Johnson) and axe-wielding barbarian Grog (voiced by Travis Willingham).

On paper, the two may seem entirely different: Pike’s tiny, Grog is massive; Pike heals, Grog rages. Yet despite these differences, Pike and Grog share an unbreakable, almost sibling-like bond. They stick by each other no matter what, and in The Legend of Vox Machina‘s second season, we learn a little bit more about how they got so close.

In episode nine, “A Test of Pride,” Grog tells Pike about his life before he met her. He traveled, murdered, and pillaged with the Herd of Storms, led by his uncle Kevdak (voiced by Ralph Ineson) — a past that he is certainly not proud of.


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On one raid, Grog attempted to save a defenseless gnome from harm, which led to Kevdak banishing him from the herd and pummeling him within an inch of his life. However, that gnome was Pike’s grandfather Wilhand Trickfoot (voiced by Henry Winkler). It was a picture of Pike and Wilhand in Wilhand’s locket that initially caused Grog to go against his herd. Now, in return for saving his life, Wilhand has Pike heal Grog. The two have been fast friends ever since.

In The Legend of Vox Machina, this is a big story moment made all the more poignant by the events of prior episodes, which see Pike help Grog overcome the corrupting influence of sword Craven Edge (voiced by Matthew Mercer). However, Pike and Grog’s first meeting was never actually played out in the original Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons campaign upon which The Legend of Vox Machina is based. Instead, it was a quick piece of backstory shared between Johnson, Willingham, and Mercer, Critical Role’s Dungeon Master.

“The very first game that I sat down to play when we were just sitting around the table — I came in at the second game, I think that everybody had played — Matt gave me a sheet of paper that said, you know, ‘You had met Grog in the past. You helped him and saved him,'” Johnson told Mashable over a Zoom call. “It was just this little blurb, and Grog and Pike’s friendship and relationship grew from that.”

“It was almost 10 years ago,” added Willingham. “I remember sitting in my car, writing in my notepad a theoretical backstory for Grog and texting Ashley, and then she would text something back and we would just send it back and forth.”

Now the story created in that blurb and those texts is realized in a television show — a feeling that Johnson describes as “the best.”

“Being able to visit [Pike and Grog’s meeting] in the series was a really big full circle moment for me because this is where it all started,” said Johnson. “This was our becoming best buddies.”

“You get to see how intimate their bond is and how much they rely on each other and how much of a family they are,” Willingham said.

“Oh, it’s so good,” Johnson added. “Best pals!”

New episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina are streaming every Friday on Prime Video.(opens in a new tab)

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