Talk Nerdy With Us recently chatted with actor Muzz Khan. Khan is currently portraying Barry on ABC’s hit musical comedy Galavant. Khan is also making his US feature debut as Syed in Me Before You (based on the 2012 Best selling novel by Jojo Moyes) this year. In addition to acting, Kahn has been a successful London DJ since 2007. He’s performed at venues all across Europe including: Ministry of Sound, O2 Academy, Proud Camden, Space and Es Paradis in Ibiza. Keep reading to find out what Muzz had to say about Galavant, Barry and being a DJ.
Did you watch Galavant prior to auditioning for the role of Barry?
“In a word, no! I hadn’t even HEARD of Galavant before I auditioned for it. (Oh, the shame!!!). So, prior to my audition I tried to hunt it down and grab a copy on DVD. No joy. It only aired Stateside. Whaaaaat?! I checked Amazon Prime, UK iTunes and Netflix. Nope, still nothing. So, in my desperation I had to resort to just watching the trailers and getting a feel of the vibe, bones and essence of the show. Really annoying, actually, because it’s our job to get under the skin of a project as much as possible when we undertake auditions. Knowing that Galavant was around and had a STRONG British presence, yet not being able to touch it, was maddening! Now I know what you’re gonna say. I could’ve streamed it through ‘online sources’. I just can’t go there, man. So many people do it (and it probably destroys their computers!) but it’s something that sits uncomfortably with me. Ever since I’d found out that some mates of mine had ripped off a copy of a film I did for Channel 4 here in the UK and not just gone out and bought a DVD of it made me realize that I’d lost out on a few dollars because of piracy. It really hit home. People tend to rip off movies and music thinking they’re just hitting the millionaire big guns’ pockets. Alas, no. We all suffer.”
Can you describe your character Barry? What can fans look forward to this season?
“Barry is a sort of stroppy intern – slash – assistant to the newly-installed wedding planner, Wormwood (played by Robert Lindsay). He’s not the sharpest tool in the box at the best of times and feels Wormwood’s wrath often. He’s the kind of guy who would make an absolutely crap cup of tea or coffee. And he wouldn’t know why you found it so disgusting, y’know? He would have thought that he had done an excellent job(!) And what can fans look forward to? More of the same as per Season 1 but even better! Ha! Plenty of laughs, plenty of numbers and plenty of new characters to get immersed with. And Robert Lindsay is a wonder. I’m not sure how familiar Americans are with Rob’s body of work – but he’s a barrel of laughs and a bit of a British institution.”
What was your audition like for Galavant?
“It very nearly didn’t happen. My audition was in early August on a day where I had three auditions (the other two were Catastrophe and a BBC drama). But at the last-minute, I had to go to hospital. (My wife was heavily-pregnant). That meant I had to self-tape Catastrophe (which I ended up booking) and re-arranging Galavant for the end of the day. When I looked at the breakdown, I was like “Why are they seeing ME for THIS?!”. He’s called Barry (in England I tend to go up for race-specific stuff), it’s a musical comedy series (something I don’t have a proven track record in) and it’s for ABC. I LITERALLY thought I didn’t have a cat-in-hell’s-chance. But I went to the audition and read with Kate Dowd (the casting director). We each did a scene twice without the script (we learn scripts off-by-heart here) and that was it. I went home.
I didn’t give it a second thought. Most actors do auditions and then forget about them. It’s the best way…otherwise you fixate, you obsess and it drives you crazy when you don’t hear back. A week later my UK agent phoned and said ‘You’ve got it! You’re contracted to be a regular in the next series of Galavant. Congratulations!’ Acting’s a funny ol’ game. It’s quite often the auditions that you think went terrible are the ones you book and the ones you think you aced, you don’t hear a peep out of. The mind boggles.”
With Alan Menken being the composer of Galavant, what Disney song would best describe the character of Barry?
“Wow. Oh my God. That’s a really good question. Gosh, let me have a think and blow away some of the cobwebs in my brain. Erm….. Ah! Got it! The ‘Heigh Ho (It’s Off To Work We Go)’ song from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. What dwarf would I be? Easy. I’d have to be ‘Dopey’ wouldn’t I?!?!?!”
If you weren’t playing Barry, is there any other character you think you could have played?
“Haha! I hope Ben Presley isn’t reading this! I would have liked his part, The Jester. When I saw the clips and saw that they had a Jester, I knew that THAT was exactly the kinda part I would have wanted. I like playing buffoons and have a history of playing them on stage after having trained in the art of the bouffon with French comedy teacher, Philippe Gaulier. Maybe in season 3, the King and Queen could have TWO Jesters? Hmmmmm…. I’m gonna get on the phone with my manager!!!”
Has there been any scene you’ve played on Galvant that stands out in your mind?
“I was involved in a big musical number called “Happiest Day of My Life” and it completely destroyed us. The musical numbers on Galavant are a full day affair. And they work you HARD. Singing the number, choreographing the routine, preserving the comedy and then repeating it a number of times for the variety of angles they use is exhilarating but bloody exhausting! Some of us Galavant newbies felt a real sense of completion and fulfillment that day. We got through it ALIVE. I only did one song in the series. Imagine what it’s like for those that do 10 or 20?!?! Lucky escape!”
What do you like best about working on Galavant?
“I really love the camaraderie with everyone. They are SUCH a nice bunch, I mean it. Actor friends of mine who already had small stints on the show told me that I’d love being involved in it and would have a blast. They were right. Everyone in every department was just so lovely and it really emanates through the entire workforce. They’re a friendly bunch who are – almost constantly – in high spirits and game for a laugh. Crucial when doing comedy. It means you feel freer as a human being and freer as a performer. We are one, big, Galavantian family now and we love each other to pieces! Hells yeah!!”
Were you given any advice from any cast member that has made being an actor on Galavant easier?
“Stanley Townsend (who plays the King of Valencia) gave me some nice words of wisdom at the start of the shooting process when I told him that this was my first regular role on a primetime network show. I guess he could sense that I was a little nervous at the enormity of the task ahead. He said: ‘Things move at a rapid pace on here. It’s quicker than film and a snappier turnaround. Always remember to trust your instincts and know that you are doing a great job. Your confidence will come and go but ALWAYS know that you were hired for this gig because nobody could do it better than you. Keep that with you and you’ll be grand’. And I did. And, you know what? It was.”
What’s been your favorite character to play?
“Theatre in England is huge business and internationally-acclaimed. I’ve been lucky to have worked on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company, in the West End and also at the National Theatre – in a play produced by one of your guys actually – Scott Rudin. But my biggest joy has (somewhat surprisingly) come from performing in an Off West End venue called the Bush Theatre. It’s renowned for being one the biggest powerhouses of new playwriting in Europe. I did a play called Snookered there and was the lead. My character (called Shaf) was a very aggressive, angry, heavy-drinking, alpha male who had a massive chip on his shoulder. He was raw, reckless, violent and a real loose cannon. I loved every minute. It was something I could really sink my teeth into and relish.”
Are there any new goals that you want to accomplish or get started on in the New Year?
“It’s actually the same every year. Just to keep on working as an actor and DJ. My goals are sadly as humble as that. But now, things are little bit different. My wife gave birth to our baby boy a few months ago and so now my head is COMPLETELY focused on being able to provide for him and make sure he is cared for and kept safe. I’ve recently signed with a leading Hollywood management team called Industry Entertainment and I’m hopeful for more work in the US. It’s a really exciting time and there’s so much buzz around from everyone in my team. 2016 is going to be very interesting indeed…….”
As a DJ, what has been your favorite venue to play at? What inspires you to create new set lists?
“Good question! It’s so hard to choose from as I’ve been lucky to have played at some of Europe’s best venues from Ministry of Sound in London to Space in Ibiza. But I would have to say Ministry. It’s the holy grail of clubs and is world-famous. For me, spinning there and being resident at Pacha were two things that I always dreamed of doing. It’s an insane feeling. And what inspires me to create new set lists? Simple. The ever-evolving world of music. It’s SO important as a DJ to not only read the crowd but to make them happy too. If they’re happy, you’re happy. And vice versa. I always make sure I play music that makes people really rock out and go crazy. Classics that they’ve forgotten about or tracks that I’ve just discovered from a hot, new producer that I know will work. Most important of all: Energy. When I DJ, I really lose my shit and people love it. Energy is contagious and if you’re having a great time behind the decks, your crowd will too. I’m a firm believer in that.”
What is your favorite genre of music?
“House music. Or EDM as you call it in the States! I’ve been obsessed by it ever since I was 8-years-old and as such I now have an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, spanning decades. As a DJ and music lover, I – of course – listen to everything and love hearing new genres and sub-genres but my first love is dance music. It’s in my blood and veins and always will be.”
Do you ever “nerd out” about anything in particular? Or are you a more casual fan?
“Aside of music, the main other thing I REALLY nerd out on is time-travel flicks and body-swap movies. (I know, right?!) I love the notion and concept of the “what-could-have-beens” and the “what-might-have-beens”. I find them fascinating. Maybe that’s the actor in me? And the inquisitive nature that goes with the job? What’s it like to be in somebody else’s shoes? What would life have been like in the year xxxx or yyyy? I can never get enough of Back To The Future and saw Secret Cinema’s immersive version last year in the UK. I bought extensive Hill Valley goodies and on B.T.T.F day this year, I got a friend in New York to buy me the commemorative issue of USA Today and send it over to England. Yep, major nerding and geeking out on that front! Great Scott!!”
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Galavant airs on ABC Sunday’s at 8pm/7c.