Timothy Omundson is singing a most happy tune.
Even though ABC’s Galavant is wrapping its sophomore staging this Sunday at 8/7c, the veteran actor cannot say enough about the ambitious musical-comedy, which this season pumped in a lot of heart on top of hummable tunes and anachronistic humor.
As deposed King Richard and his bestie Galavant ready to lead a zombie army into war with Madalena and Gareth’s kingdom of Valencia, the Psych alum shared with TVLine the story of the months-long journey that led him to revisit his love of musical-theater. (Now if only Omundson’s missus could warm up to his king-like beard….)
TVLINE | I saw you at TCA and you were really rocking the beard. How much are you digging the facial hair thing?
Love the facial hair. My wife is not as crazy about it. She doesn’t like it when I go hobo chic. The funny thing is that when I was doing Pysch I was such a clean-cut character and the second we would go on hiatus I would start growing what became known as “the hiatus beard,” and I would literally tweet out pictures. And some of the tweeter kids would hope that I would get a job where [a beard] was appropriate, because I’ve always found that they tend to be more fun. They’re either bad guys, or the guys with guns that are psychopaths. When Psych ended, I just kept growing it, and lo and behold — one of the things I was hoping for was a period piece where I could keep my beard.
TVLINE | Galavant came along at the right time, dovetailing with the whole hipster/lumbersexual craze. I just hope you’re not taking any jobs from John Glover.
No, he’s very good with that too, so I think it’ll be okay. In fact, when I went into the [Galavant] audition…it took me five months to get the job, from my first audition to actually getting the call.
TVLINE | Wow.
Yeah, like with any network TV role like this, they wanted a movie star, so there was an offer out to a very big British movie star, and they were just kind of waiting. But they had a few people come in as backups, and I have to say, it was one of the greatest auditions in my life. It just couldn’t have gone better. And [Galavant creator] Dan Fogelman, God bless him, basically called my agents and said, “He’s the guy, but I have to do this kabuki dance [waiting on the movie star]. But he’s my guy, and he’s going to be the guy.”
Eventually that movie star passed, and then they had me come in to test, and they said, “He’s great… but where’s my big movie star?” So they went to another big movie star, so that’s why it took so many months. Again, Dan’s my savior, because he kept reassuring me, “You’re my guy,” and he eventually we wore them down.
TVLINE | And now we can’t imagine anybody else playing Richard.
That’s an incredibly kind thing to say, but the good news is I got to grow my beard throughout that process, so by the time I finally did get the job, Chris Koch, who is our directing producer and executive producer, commented as I was leaving the room, “You know, that’s not just a beard. That’s a king’s beard,” and so, history was made.
TVLINE | Now that Richard knows the touch of a woman, did that come as a relief to you as an actor?
[Laughs] Well, it was certainly fun to play. I’m really amazed at the character development that they gave him this year, it’s the best arc I have ever gotten to play, and we do it in 10 episodes, which is madness, but it’s just spectacular. So yeah, once our writers pitched me the season, I was so excited. It has been so fun to play falling in love, and that awkwardness, and I haven’t got to do that in a long time. And I’ve never gotten to do it, certainly, as a guy starting at zero, starting at never having been in love. It was great to go back to that world, to that time in your life.
TVLINE | I had forgotten that his “innocence” was established last season.
I think it’s the last episode of Season 1, where Galavant and I are in a bar, planning to kill my brother and talking about Madalena, and I say, “I’ve never walked in her garden. In fact, I’ve never walked in anyone’s garden,” and he’s like, “But you’re the king,” and I said, “Well, look…” — and it was one of my favorite lines — “I may kidnap a woman and force her to marry me, but no means no, man. I’m a modern 13th-century man. I’m not a monster.”
TVLINE | Does Richard now have a little confidence boost to help lead the zombie army?
You would think, but unfortunately he’s still petrified out of his mind, and now that he doesn’t have Roberta because she’s had to break up with him in that amazing scene we got to do last week…. That’s the thing I love about this crazy, silly, goofy, fun show — this season it has given me some of the most emotional and deep work I’ve ever had to do. You would never get something like that on a regular half-hour comedy.
That scene I did with Clare Foster, who is one of the best actresses I’ve ever worked with…. It was a really tough day, full of tears, and drama, and pain, and we had to keep refining to find that delicate balance that still was “our show” but true to the emotion. That was the theme this year, love and redemption, and the credit goes to John Hoberg and Kat Likkel, our showrunners who were on set every day for everything. They really were charged with threading that needle between what was our show, which was this silly, wonderful thing, yet have heart, without it ever going saccharine or too over the top. As I was saying, we like to keep you laughing and then punch you right in the feels when you’re not expecting it.
TVLINE | I must suspect that we’ll see Roberta again.
Well, it wouldn’t be a fairy tale if there weren’t some sort of happy ending there.
TVLINE | How is it going to go with the zombie army? Are they a good crew?
They’re awful. They’re awful. Although we have figured out the secret weapon with them, which is love. Unfortunately whenever you’re dealing with a zombie army they don’t always follow direction well. And add to that the power of magic that Madalena acquires… Well, war is hell, let’s just say that.
TVLINE | How wicked is the D’DEW going to make her?
Pretty damned wicked. Mallory Jansen just absolutely kills it this year Everybody does, but Mallory in particular. She is just doing such wonderful work. The character development for everybody this season is through the roof.
TVLINE | I love the catfight she and Isabella had last week.
They’re great, those two together. They have a fight scene coming up that is just straight out of Kill Bill, totally badass. You’re going to love it. Karen David has become quite the swordsman. Swordswoman?
TVLINE | Swordsperson?
TVLINE | No, she doesn’t make swords.
Well, that’s true. We’ll say swordsperson. I would see her around town or something, and she was carrying two rehearsal swords at all times. It was the funniest thing. She takes it hardcore this year, Karen does. She’s doing doublehanded sword stuff that is just great.
TVLINE | Do you have a favorite number this season?
It’s all so good. “Dragon Power” is delightful, but I have to say there is a song coming up in the final episode, the opener, called “Will My Day Ever Come,” which is me singing a duet with my inner child, and it is funny, and beautiful, and it ends up being absolutely lovely. It’s Richard singing to a young version of himself, played by Alfie Simmons, who realizes on that playground that people aren’t his friends because they like him but because he’s the king. I show up in his song, and he’s asking me these questions of, “Will I be a good king,” and I’m like, “No, not really,” and start explaining to myself…. It’s a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful classic [Alan] Menken song that I will forever be grateful that I got to sing.
TVLINE | Does Tad Cooper get any heroic moments?
Tad’s got some stuff coming up. You will not be disappointed with Tad.
TVLINE | Does the season end with a cliffhanger? Are they going to shuffle the deck again?
We are not going to kick everyone in the head like we did last year, but it does wrap nicely. However, it’s very obvious where two storylines could go. I really hope we get to do this again, because there’s a lot more story to tell.
TVLINE | This show is the perfect wintertime folly.
It really is, and I love how these producers and writers were smart enough to switch up all the relationships, and I don’t…I think that’ll happen a bit again next year, I don’t know, I’m not privy to any of that, but I know they’ve already been talking, mapping out, where the stories could go, and they’re fantastic. I hope the world gets to see it. It would just be a damn shame if I never got to play this guy again.
TVLINE | When you fold in the Psych musical, this is the third winter in a row that you’ve been on TV singing. Do you think you’ve gotten better?
God yes, I hope so. Otherwise these singing classes I’ve been taking have just been an absolute waste of time. No, that’s the crazy thing about that Psych musical — it rekindled a love of musical theater that I had really put to the wayside for my career. Yeah, I did musicals in high school, and I loved them, but when I got to theater school I was a very “pretentious, serious young actor” who was doing Shakespeare and Chekov, and that was what I was going to do. But I’d always sung. In fact, when I was on Judging Amy — I forgot this — I sang twice on that show.
TVLINE | Really?
Whenever Amy Brenneman would do a Christmas party I’d do karaoke, and I can kill some karaoke, so the writers were like, “We’ve got to get this kid singing on the show,” so I sang, I think, Sinatra twice. I sang at Amy’s TV wedding. But when we did the Psych musical it was the real deal. We recorded it at Columbia Records, in Sinatra’s old studio…. It’s kind of weird, my New Year’s resolution that year was to sing more, and I just can’t believe that the first job out of the gate, after Psych, was not just a musical but an Alan Menken Disney musical.
TVLINE | Seriously. That’s fantastic.
And to go in, frankly, as an untrained singer! I went to [Psych co-star] Dule Hill, because he did a lot of Broadway over his various hiatuses, like, “Dude, I need a music coach now,” and they all said the same thing: “You have a lovely voice, you have a lovely instrument. You have no technique whatsoever,” so I started a crash course. Again, that five-month [Galavant] audition process helped. The first time I sang a song from Les Miz, because I’ve always wanted to play Javert. The next time I went in, months later, they said, “You’ve got to sing again, but the music is now written so we need you to sing Richard’s song from the pilot.” That was utterly terrifying. And frankly, I got really pissed off, like, “Nobody else had to sing a song for the show! I’m going to be measured with a different yard stick than everyone else!” That lasted about 12 hours, then I said to myself, “Shut up. If you want to do a big boy musical, put your big boy pants on and go learn the damn song.” It was all just fear talking, and I got over it, I learned the song, and gosh darn it, a few weeks later I’m in a studio in England with Alan Menken standing there on the other side of the glass listening to me.
TVLINE | And it was you instead of, I dunno, Kenneth Branagh.
Yes. You know what, it could’ve been Kenneth Branagh.