Is Quasi Based on a True Story? Was Quasimodo a Real Person?

Hulu’s ‘Quasi’ is a comedy-drama movie that follows the adventures of Quasimodo, a hapless hunchback seeking compassion who inadvertently gets drawn into the conflict between the King of France and the Pope. Quasi discovers a secret about his past as he scrambles to find a way out of the conflict. The period movie is directed by Kevin Heffernan and shows a satirical depiction of life in 13th-century Paris. Given the movie’s paper-thin narrative and an abundance of rambunctious gags, viewers must be curious to learn about the inspiration behind it. If you are wondering whether the story holds any semblance to reality, here is everything you need to know about the creation of ‘Quasi.’

Is Quasi a True Story?

No, ‘Quasi’ is not based on a true story. While the film opens with a narration that promises to tell the story of the “real” Quasimodo, it is obviously inspired by the French Gothic novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame.’ Author Victor Hugo wrote the book, which was first published in 1831. It tells the fictional story of Quasimodo, an unfortunate hunchback bell-ringer at Notre Dame who gets embroiled with Esmeralda, a Romani street dance. The book is set in the 15th century Paris and deals with themes such as Romanticism, classism, and discrimination, betrayal, scandalous affairs, among others. It was famously adapted into an animated film directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, released in 1996.

However, ‘Quasi’ is a satirical take on the literary classic. It was written by Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske. The group is collectively known as Broken Lizard and has previously collaborated on projects such as ‘Super Troopers,’ ‘Super Troopers 2,’ and ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ In an interview, Jay Chandrasekhar revealed that the idea for the movie was conceptualized nearly twenty years ago, and the team had been working on the script for years. The project only came to fruition after the team started working on the third installment in the ‘Super Troopers’ franchise produced by Searchlight Pictures. The Broken Lizard presented the studio with the script for ‘Quasi,’ which was greenlit by Searchlight Pictures.

Although the movie’s protagonist shares his name and some traits with Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s novel, the movie’s story drastically differs from the source material. Firstly, the movie takes place in the 13th century, unlike the book. Moreover, important characters such as Esmeralda and Claude Frollo are entirely absent from the story. Instead, original characters like Catherine and Duchamp are deeply connected with Quasimodo’s character arc. Thus, the movie’s narrative bears little to no resemblance to its novel counterpart.

In an interview, Steve Lemme, who plays Quasimodo in the movie and also contributed to the screenplay, spoke about the inspiration behind his character. While speaking to Slash Film, Lemme said he drew inspiration from one of his real co-workers. “The only part of it from the original person who this was based on was the mouth. I worked with a guy at a record store who spoke out of the side of his mouth like this, and he would talk about how the saxophone was the loneliest of all the instruments, and you’d play the hot, sweaty blues. This guy always complained about not having love in his life, Lemme revealed in the interview.

Lemme stated that the group decided to base the character in ancient France, leading to the connections with ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame.’ The creative team has also cited the 1975 comedy classic film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ featuring the British comedy troupe Monty Python, as an inspiration for the movie. The film’s comedic tone is also reminiscent of stoner comedy movies such as 2011’s ‘Your Highness’ starring Danny McBride, James Franco, and Natalie Portman.

All things said, ‘Quasi’ is not based on a true story. As its title suggests, the film is a tale partly reminiscent of the classic French novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ with some elements drawn from the creative team’s imagination and personal experiences. Ultimately, the film tells a fictional story of an honest man’s search for love and compassion despite his physical deformities. However, it takes a raunchy and zany approach to explore some basic themes from the source material it is loosely inspired by.

Read More: Where Was Quasi Filmed?