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Avatar: Braving The Elements Interview: Dante Basco & Janet Varney

Avatar: The Last Airbender remains one of the most beloved Nickelodeon shows ever created, which its performance on Netflix after being added in the summer of 2020 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have also returned to the franchise with the newly formed Avatar Studios, which currently has numerous Avatar-based projects in the works. If there was ever a time to launch an Avatar-centric podcast, it’s now, and fans of the franchise can finally look forward to exactly that with the upcoming Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast.

The show will bring together cast members Dante Basco and Janet Varney as hosts, Basco well known as the voice of Prince Zuko on Avatar and Varney the voice of the titular heroine in the follow-up series The Legend of Korra (Basco also having voiced Zuko’s grandson General Iroh on Korra). The podcast will see Basco and Varney go through a retrospective of each episode of the franchise, with other cast and crew members from the show to appear as guests. Braving the Elements will debut on June 22, and for lovers Avatar and Korra, it’s sure to be an adventure back to the Four Nations that they won’t want to miss.

RELATED: If Aang Didn’t Freeze Himself, Could Katara Have Been The Avatar?

Screen Rant speaks to Basco and Varney about their involvement in Braving the Elements, what fans can expect from the podcast, and some of their favorite episodes from the franchise that they’re looking forward to revisiting.

Janet, Dante, how you doing?

Dante: I’m great!

Yeah, so why don’t we just go ahead and start off with how the Avatar podcast first got started and how you guys became involved with it.

Janet: Sure, yeah. Well, I have been doing podcasts for many, many years. I’ve had my own podcast for about 9 years, and I have another podcast where I do a sort of space-improvised comedy adventure on, and I love podcasts, I am a hug podcast listener. And I did feel the absence of an official Avatar podcast, and as it happened, I keenly felt the absence and that happened to line up with the keenly felt absence that Nickelodeon also had. And so, I feel really really lucky because that was a real kismet situation where I was like ‘Can we, uh…”, and they were like “Can we…”, and we said “Can we, uh, and then what about Dante?’ And everyone was like ‘Yes, that is the missing ingredient!’ And Dante had been doing a bit of a recap on his Twitch channel, and I remember when I reached out to him, I was like ‘Hey, we really want you to do this, and you’ve been kind of recapping. Do you feel like you’ve been there, done that?’ And he was like ‘Varney, I got a lot of homework to do if we’re going to do a recap podcast and have separate deep dive episodes with people from the show. Trust me, the Twitch was not, I did not cover this territory.’ And I was like, ‘Whew!’

Dante: But, like you said, I think it’s all just kind of serendipitous of these things were all happening at the same time, and kind of just, we were all at the right place at the right time thinking the same kind of things. What we were doing on my Honor Society Twitch channel was totally different than the podcast, but I’m also a big fan of podcasting, and I was on Janet’s podcast JV Club, and I literally listen to a dozen podcasts a week. So getting a chance to do a podcast with an old pro at podcasting, an ‘OG podcaster’…

Janet: Before these newbies like Michelle Obama came on the scene!

Dante: I know!

Janet: I mean, who is this Michelle Obama?

Dante: I can’t even – you just said you’ve been doing it for 9 years. That sounds so crazy! And podcasts…

Janet: Yeah.

And you’re going to be going through each episode of Avatar one-by-one, and you’ll be having different guests on. Can you say anything yet about who will be making an appearance? I mean, people from the show, obviously, but is that still under wraps right now?

Janet: Yeah. I think we, we figured that we could, we didn’t want to keep everyone a surprise, because then it might sound like we were hedging, we had no one.

Dante: No one’s coming onto this podcast because it’s me and Varney talking about paint drying in the Avatar world!

Janet: That’s right, that’s right! But there’s a bunch of stuff planned or confirmed that we are really excited about but that we are also, that we want the fans to find out about right before it happens so that they can have these rolling waves of excitement instead of just one big excitement. But, we definitely can say that we’ve had Mike and Bryan, Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of the show on, who are super excited about the podcast. And I feel certain will be answering yet more questions, because I feel like we just dipped a toe in the ‘Questions from fans and from us pool’ with them. Dante, who else?

Dante: Well, can we say my old pal Sokka? The voice of Sokka, Jack DeSena joins us for an episode, and we really kind of get to catch up, which I loved and he’s so funny. Janet and Jack are part of the improv family. They’re very, very funny. I was just kind of like ‘Look at these guys riffing right now!’

Janet: Did you listen to any Brad, did you get to listen to a couple?

Yeah, they sent the first two over, and I was able to listen. It was really fun kind of going down memory lane, having followed the show for so long! Also, because you’re going chronologically, so is it also going to be going into Legend of Korra?

Janet: Yeah, yeah. I think we’ve been living so long just in Book One that it’s amazing to think that we have found a way to secure ourselves right next to Mike and Bryan, who are like our dads.

Dante: My two dads!

Janet: Our show character dads that we have somehow found a way to weasel our way back into their lives into the Avatarverse because we’re such huge fans. So kind of coming at it from a meta way in talking about all of this stuff and learning so much about it and celebrating it has really already been so amazing, but I can’t wait to get deeper and deeper in and start into Korra. But that feels so far away, because we are so deep into Avatar right now!

Dante: We feel like we’re freshmen, that’s like senior year.

Janet: That’s right, that’s right, that might be grad school, I don’t know!

Dante: But, you know Brad, we’re going all the way, all the way!

Janet: Brad, we’re in it, we are in it, Brad!

Dante: We are in it Brad!

Yeah, so kind of going off of that, for each of you personally, because you’re going one episode at a time, what are maybe your personal favorite episodes that you’re looking forward to diving into?

Janet: Oh my gosh, there’s a lot.

Dante: There’s a lot. I’m personally, we haven’t gotten there yet and I really can’t wait to get to ‘The Beach’.

Janet: Oh, ‘The Beach’ is so good! It’s so far away!

Dante: It’s so far away, but I can’t wait to get to ‘The Beach’.

Janet: It’s so far away. It’s so, so, so good! Even, like, within Book One, I can’t wait for the moment when you see the Northern Water Tribe for the first time. I can’t wait to dig into the mechanics and the design of that place. I mean, all of the stuff that you can just hardcore nerd-out on that isn’t just about the voice actors, that isn’t just about the legacy or the lore of certain character arcs or what have you, just getting into the inspiration behind stuff and some of the science behind it. I mean, we’re going to find out, apparently Sokka invented just about everything there is, including like, uh, natural gas.

Dante: He’s a brilliant, brilliant guy, there’s statues. There’s statues of Sokka around during the Korra time, because there needs to be some statues of Sokka, he’s a brilliant guy!

Janet: He’s a brilliant guy, he’s got his problems, but he’s a brilliant guy.

And Dante, because you’d been in The Legend of Korra too, though not as extensively as Avatarwhat’s the experience and the difference between Avatar and Legend of Korra and revisiting those two side-by-side?

Dante: So great. I mean, I’m so excited to get into Korra and I was grateful to continue to be a part of the Avatar family and hang out with the new gang, Janet and her crew trying to save the world, even though we know we did it already. It’s kind of like the elder statesman coming back down to the younger classmen going like ‘We did that, but I’m here to help you out again.’

Janet: It’s true. I feel it, I feel it, I acknowledge it, and I embrace it! I agree with you!

Dante: Yeah, feel the Fire Nation! And then, it’s kind of cool just to come back and play your grandson. That was pretty fun. You know, in the Fire Nation, sometimes the voice gets passed down a generation and then it can kind of continue on. But to go back, I’m really excited, because, you know, Korra‘s a whole different world, and although I’ve watched a lot of the episodes throughout the years, especially the episodes I was in, I’ve not gone into a deep dive into Korra, so I’m very excited to go into Korra and see everything Varney did. Varney, what’d you do, what happened over there?

Janet: Listen, I can’t even – I can barely remember, I can barely remember. I just live in The Last Airbender now, I live in The Last Airbender! No, I mean, similar to you, when I was doing it, I was steeped so deep into doing it and into being that character, and then I watched the episodes when they came out, and it’s such an intense… Korra‘s so intense that when people say they just got through Korra the first time, I’m like ‘How do you feel? Do you need to take a like a two-hour nap?’ Because that’s like intense stuff that happens, it goes places that it’s unbelievable that a Nickelodeon show got to go. So, I’m going to need some serious help talking about Korra. Glad you’ll be with me buddy!

Dante: Yeah, I can’t wait.

Awesome! Yeah, Dante, Janet, thank you so much for your time today, and yeah, I look forward to seeing the podcast unfolding, and I’ll be following it very closely.

Janet: Oh, awesome, Brad! Thanks for putting up with us, thanks for listening to those episodes, and I’m glad that you still wanted to talk to us after you listened to them! You’re one of the first people to hear them, so that’s a good sign for us!

Awesome, take care!

Dante: Bye!

Janet: You too!

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