One of the biggest TV surprises in recent memory is the delightfully silly and often brilliantly nuts comedy-musical Galavant on ABC, with music from the award-winning duo of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater. On the series, actor Vinnie Jones plays the rough and tough Gareth, King Richard’s (Timothy Omundson) right-hand henchman who does all of the king’s fighting for him while also instructing the king on how to be more manly in his ways.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, Vinnie Jones talked about immediately seeing the humor of Galavant, its similarity in tone to Monty Python, playing practical jokes and breaking people’s balls on set, how he sees the relationship between Gareth and King Richard, how much more screen time Gareth will get in the finale, his favorite performance moment, being blown away by the talent of this cast, and who he’d love to see on the show for a musical number, if they get to do more episodes, in the future. Check out what he had to say about it.
VINNIE JONES: All of my shows now involve men in tights. It’s a bit bizarre, really. To get on in Hollywood, you’ve gotta be a bit gay and a bit Jewish, and I’m saving up to be Jewish.
When you heard about the concept for Galavant, did you think it sounded totally crazy, or did you immediately get the humor of it?
JONES: Oh, I immediately got the humor. I just grabbed Dan Fogelman by the neck, threw him up against the wall and said, “Cast me!” And he said, “Okay, fine.”
When you started out in your acting career, could you ever have imagined a scenario where you would be a part of a medieval musical comedy like this?
JONES: Well, I grew up doing Monty Python and it’s not far-fetched from Monty Python. There’s a lot of Monty Python there. The producers are very funny people. They love goofing around. They love playing practical jokes. It’s just like being in the dressing room again, really, for me. It’s good fun. I break people’s balls. Josh [Sasse], me and Tim [Omundson] were having such a good laugh, breaking each other’s balls and messing with each other’s trailers, and shit like that. We really did have a good laugh, off screen, as well. I know everyone says that, but we did. It was like, “Oh, that was a really nice little holiday that we just had in England,” but we were filming.
Knowing that TV musicals haven’t always gone well, what was it about this one that really spoke to you and ultimately made you want to be a part of it?
JONES: The comedy. I made a conscious effort to get cast for some comedy roles. Guy Ritchie put me in my first ever movie, which was a comedy called Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and we knew that Snatch was on the back-burner. I went into my acting career in comedy and was brought up in a dressing room with 30 or 40 guys, every week, so it was ball-breaking, every minute of every day. That’s how I grew up. So, this kind of comedy is right up my street.
JONES: It’s great, isn’t it?! They’re all doing their dancing and singing, and I’m off playing golf. We’re all on the same emails, so the emails go around that say, “Oh, we’re doing this. Oh, this will be fab!” So, every now and then, I say, “Oh, shut up, you idiots!,” and they all respond to the email. I love goofing around, and I love breaking people’s balls. We do it off camera, as well as on camera.
How do you view the relationship between Gareth and King Richard?
JONES: I think he’s my man. Yeah, he is goofy, and he plays it like that. Me and Tim spoke about it a lot. He’s gotta be the eccentric, goofy guy, which he plays fantastic, and it’s very easy for me to just play off that. It is very easy to just roll my eyes at what he’s saying, and pick up the pieces.
Do you think Gareth enjoys his job, or does he secretly think he would be a better king himself?
JONES: I think Gareth just enjoys getting his paycheck and picking up the pieces. Gareth thinks he rules, anyway. If the king says, “I want everyone to do this,” Gareth then goes up to him and says, “No, you’re not going to do that. Do it like this.”
When you do a job that is as outrageously silly as this, do you ever break into laughter, or do you stay the straight guy while everybody else breaks?
JONES: I was breaking balls on the set, so I would make a lot of the laughs. One day, it was hilarious. Tim was rehearsing and we were blocking the scene, and I saw the funny side of it. I said, “Tim, stop fucking trying to be an actor, will you?! We’re blocking. You should have rehearsed this all week. You shouldn’t be learning your lines, two minutes before we’re supposed to go on.” The crew were absolutely split down their sides. I play it like that, off camera, as well. I bring everybody down to earth a bit. There was one scene that was the last scene of the whole shoot, where we were freezing cold and losing the light and the tide was going out, and everybody was getting a bit panicky. Josh was off-camera, breaking our balls, and we were in fits of giggles. We were in silly little giggles, and the director got in a bit of a panic. I said, “We’re doing a comedy here, so don’t get upset about us laughing.” He walked away, and then came back, pulled his trousers down, bent over and said, “Okay, you can all kick me in the ass.” It was hilarious! Dan Fogelman and Alan Menken are really funny, off camera. You break their balls, and they break your balls. It’s like a little ball-breaking holiday.
What can viewers expect from the finale of Galavant, and what Gareth is up to?
JONES: I get a lot more screen time. The show has had a lot of the king and a lot of Madalena (Mallory Jansen), and a lot of the other characters have come into it, more and more, like Chef and Izzy. On Sunday, it’s more of the Gareth episode. You’ll see a lot more of Gareth come into it.
JONES: Well, I’m constantly breaking his balls because Andrew Lloyd Weber is a good friend of mine, and I keep telling him that Andrew Lloyd Weber is the king of musicals. He just can’t cope with that. He hates it.
You’ve been involved in a few of the performance numbers this season. Do you have a favorite performance moment?
JONES: I really enjoyed when I was in the dungeon. It was really funny and everybody was cracking up while I was doing it. That gives you more confidence, so I really played it up and enjoyed doing that. On Sunday, you’ll see me really get to do what I’ve been waiting to do for the last three episodes. Gareth really comes into it.
There have been so many fun moments on this show and there have been so many great guest stars. Is this a character that you’re hoping to return to and get to play some more, if there are more episodes of the show?
JONES: Yeah, I’d love to see the king and Gareth and the chef really develop into something and have their own little plot. It’s brick building, at the moment, with these episodes. It was originally going to be eight half-hour shows, and now it’s four one-hour shows, which I think was a great decision. So, it’s just about developing the whole plot. We’re very humbly saying, “Do you like our little show?” And everyone is saying, “This is fantastic! It’s goofy! It’s funny! It’s Monty Python.” I’m really not a musical guy. I don’t watch Glee, or anything like that. I think the songs are great, and it really expresses the characters. Everybody has a great time rehearsing, and some of them have just blown me away – Mallory [Jansen] and Karen [David], especially. And Tim and Josh are great. They’re very talented, these people. They’ve blown me away, when I’ve watched the shows.
Is there anyone you’d love to have on the show and get to do a musical number with?
JONES: Yeah, I would love to see someone like Billy Crystal or Brad Pitt, or someone like that come on. If the show gets really popular, and there’s a really, really good buzz about it right now, it’s like Friends. When Friends started out, they had their characters, but then the A-list guest stars were absolutely phenomenal, at the end of the show. Hopefully, we can gain momentum and do that. I think the bigger the stars are that come on the show, it pays testament to Galavant. As long as we keep enjoying it and keep having a laugh, off camera, I think it will remain successful. We’re all just trying to be very humble about it and enjoy it and take in the moment. I’ve been to a lot of premieres, and all the rest of it, and I’ve said to some of the cast, “Really take this in because we might be done. There might not be a Season 2. Enjoy it. It’s your moment. You’ve worked hard for this. It’s been a year in the making, so just enjoy it.” And they are. I feel like the Papa John of it. I’ve had some great success and some great movies, and this is a great chance for the other to really shine. I like taking a back step and pushing them to the front because they deserve it.
The Galavant season finale airs on ABC on Sunday, January 25th, and you can find out more about the show here.