#MoreGalavant interview: Kat Likkel and John Hoberg share BTS stories of how they ‘find the funny’ and all the feels on ‘Galavant’

Galavant- I super believe in you Tad Cooper
We super believe in #MoreGalavant!

The “Galavant” lovefest continues! Over the past few months, I’ve had the honor and absolute joy of speaking with Team Galavant. If you’ve been following along with our entertaining and enlightening interviews (ICYMI, they’re all HERE), then you’ve probably noticed a pattern. These artists genuinely love, respect, and appreciate each other. The people who have tirelessly and pleasurably worked hard to bring “Galavant” to life have truly worked as a team. They all inspire, support and praise each other.

When I spoke with Season 2 show runners, writers and executive producers, Kat Likkel and John Hoberg, they shared several examples of the way they have been inspired by “Galavant’s” enchanting ensemble of thespians. Our delightful and illuminating conversation takes fans on journey behind the scenes. You’ll learn more about the cast, gain insights on some of “Galavant’s” most magical moments, and laugh your booties off. (It might help to re-watch the Season 2 Gag Reel, since some of those classic gaffes come up.)

We can clearly see how much the cast loves these guys. They’re very appreciative of how well Hoberg and Likkel know them. For example, Karen David was thrilled by Isabella’s Joan of Arc storyline and Timothy Omundson loved King Richard’s complex and emotional arc. Each time I asked a member of the cast if they ever pitched an idea to the writers, they all gave the same reply: there was no need or desire to do so. In some cases, it was as though the writers were reading the actors’ minds. That’s most likely because these guys have come to know each other so well.

Hoberg excitedly explains, “This whole season, a lot of it was inspired by the people we know, the actors.” Likkel elaborates, “Any good show, any good writers will look at their actors as characters and as people and you see things in them that will inform the characters that you’re writing. When something comes together the way that ‘Galavant’ comes together, it’s a group of actors and writers coming together.”

So we break it down and flash the spotlight on the brilliant cast, beginning with the loveable King Richard, enigmatically portrayed by Omundson. Hoberg dives into the gush-fest, “Tim is so funny, but he also has such drama and he can play real.” Likkel adds, “He has a vulnerability too.” In our interview, Omundson praised the writing team for providing him with such a rich, fulfilling and colorful character. Actors don’t always have the chance to playout an arc like King Richard’s, especially when they are given so few episodes to tell their story. The dynamic duo attributes the King’s allure and nuance to Omundson’s talents.

Hoberg admits, “I think if other actors played that role King Richard would have continued to be a doofus. There was dignity in there and a good heart that Tim can’t help but portray. Even as Lassiter [on USA Network’s “Psych” (Yes, we’re still dying for a ‘Psych’ movie!)]. People fell in love with him for the same reason. We started as a group tilting towards his redemption.” Although King Richard started off as the “villain” of the story, his loyal pal, Gareth always saw the good within him. Which brings us to the big tough guy himself, Mr. Vinnie Jones.
Likkel says, “Vinnie Jones is another example. We did not know what to expect from him the first season. When we met him we all liked him and we were a little intimidated by him. But through the course of the season, through little things we threw out and that he brought, you could start to see that he was guy who really cared about King Richard and had a really fierce loyalty to the man and wanted to protect him and that’s why he didn’t like Madalena. We kept playing on it a little bit more and a little more in the stories until we finally got to the nod at the end of the first season when he sang that little lullaby [“Goodnight My Friend”]. Or at the very end when he sees King Richard and he throws King Richard into the boat for his own safety.”

Hoberg adds, “I think he is such a nice person who on the outside, when he gets in armor and you’re on set next to him, you’re kinda like ‘Thank God it’s not the Middle Ages.’ He’s intimidating, very intimidating. But once you get to know him, it’s like, ‘Yeah he’s tough, but he is protective of who he cares about.’” Awww. (Side-note: Follow the newly verified @VinnieJones65 on Twitter.) Likkel agrees that Vinnie is “sweet” and our chat smoothly shifts to “Galavant’s” other resident kickass sweetie, Miss David.

The power couple explains how they watched David in “The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior” and they instantly knew she’d have to wield a sword as Princess Isabella. In true girl power form, Likkel boasts, “She’s a super badass!” Hoberg adds, “She’s so good with a sword and she looks good doing it.” As David said earlier in our interview, playing Isabella’s wide range (from spunky princess to brokenhearted dumpee to bewitched bridezilla) was a dream come true. Speaking of Galabella, it seems Izzie’s other half, played by Joshua Sasse, took himself seriously for a reason. Hoberg says, “With Josh, he’s a very serious guy in a comedy…Galavant thinks he’s in ‘Lord of the Rings.’” Looks like it took the love of lady and loyal friendship of the One True King to help lighten the Knight up a bit.

Now that we’ve learned a bit more about how the cast has influenced their roles, we must turn our attention towards the other aspect of “Galavant’s” greatness: the music! Is there a musical genre Likkel and Hoberg would love to cover on the show that hasn’t been done yet? Perhaps the gang saunters into an old timey Western saloon and belts out a classic country tune? Hoberg confesses, “I’m ‘Hamilton’ obsessed right now. We’ve done a rap battle [“I Don’t Like You”], but we could do something with spoken word. But a Western is kind of a funny idea.”

Likkel explains, “Alan [Menken] and Glenn [Slater] are so fantastic. Like “Dragon Pal and Me”. It was a real sad down moment for Richard, we expected a ballad and instead got this peppy tune. We’re still new to the musical genre and having Glenn and Alan explain to us how it’s like the 60’s TV show theme…that plucky person like Mary Tyler Moore, she’s gonna fight back no matter what…even though it’s kind of a dark and sad time. It’s brilliant. Those two guys are brilliant.”

Hoberg reveals, “A lot of these songs come from an emotional beat in the story. Like the Dwarves and Giants ‘West Side Story’ thing [“Dwarves vs Giants”] actually came from Glenn actually pitching this idea of very short Giants and super tall Dwarves who hate each other. [laughs] The concept is so funny. Then we kinda work it into the arc, and then when we all got together…Alan and Glenn would come out for a week and sit with the writers and we would talk through, ‘So these are the episodes for the season.’ We all started talking about ‘West Side Story’ and within seconds Glenn and Alan sort of figured that one out and it became such an homage to ‘West Side Story.’ But the actual Dwarves and Giants fighting really didn’t start with ‘Let’s do ‘West Side Story.’’ It’s such a back and forth. So now we’re doing ‘West Side Story’ so let’s give a Maria moment to Roberta. Now Roberta gets that in the script. It goes back and forth. It’s really interesting.”

That was an excellent episode. It had so much awesomeness crammed into it. Even “Maybe You Won’t Die Alone” was fantastic. When I mention this number, which is such a fun wink at ‘The Little Mermaid’s’ “Kiss the Girl” and one of my favorite scenes from Season 2, Hoberg laughs and launches on a new story about a hysterical deleted scene which thankfully made into the gag reel. Something ridiculously cheeky happens right after this song ends. He shares, “That’s one thing where we lost something that was so funny. Richard and Roberta lost their undershirts. […] It made us laugh so hard that Galavant shaved them both…” Likkel interjects with a laugh, “In their sleep!”

In the gag reel, it’s the moment where Richard says with a giggle, “I’m shaven from the navel down!” Omundson even said it was one of his favorite funny moments from the show during his press tour for “Galavant.” Luckily, Likkel gives us a little bit more behind-the-scenes scoop on that hilarious outtake. She says, “One of the beautiful things about Tim is that he can visualize. He knows his sweet spot, and he can visualize how funny it’s gonna be. Cuz he’s thought of something that’s just perfect to bring to it and he’ll just, occasionally, just crack himself up so hard that he can’t get it out.” That is just too cute! (Mr. Omundson, if you’re reading this, by “cute” I mean super manly, talented and clever.)

These guys have so much fun on set and it certainly shows in every episode. It’s a big part of the reason why we have so much fun watching them. You can see how much of themselves they put into their work and how much it means to them. One of the things I love hearing about are the little magical moments that are improvised on set. “Galavant” seems to excel at that because the cast, writers and directors are so in-sync. Since this is such a talented group, you can’t help but wonder: What kind of moments did they improvise on set together that were particularly surprising or memorable?

Hoberg breaks down their process and explains, “What we would always try to do as a safety thing for editing…As long as we get one take as it is written, we know we’ll have a safety for the entire show that we can use. …[Then] the actors will have something fun that’s going on and we might see something funnier and we’ll throw that in there or we’ll just let them run and say ‘Tim, just react’. And Chris Koch, the director, will often just throw out things to people just really quickly in a row so they don’t have time to think about it and we’ll get some great stuff that way.” As Omundson said, they aim to “find the funny,” which I have recently come to realize, just so happens to be my life motto. When life gets you down, just “find the funny”! Of course, sometimes humor isn’t the key and you have to take things more seriously. However much ‘Galavant” masters the art of finding the funny, they also know how to equally punch you in the feels.

Likkel elaborates on how sincerely heartfelt moments were improvised: “Sometimes you don’t just get funny stuff. You’ll get stuff that will be kind of emotional or will help the other actor in a scene. The goodbye scene between Richard and Roberta, when she’s saying ‘I can’t go with you because I can’t watch you die’ which is a really emotional scene, but it also needs to be funny at the same time. That’s a really hard thing to thread, being able to find both of those things. You can tilt it so much one way or the other way. During the course of that, you try to make kind of a light atmosphere, you try to make kind of a serious atmosphere. Clare Foster, who plays Roberta, is just such an amazing actress and to help Tim out, to really give him something to react to, she started improvising all of the horrible ways King Richard could die on the battlefield. Because you know we had a couple of things in there like ‘die horribly mutilated’ […] and she started rolling with it…”

Hoberg chimes in, “Like, ‘It can be fun, but not for you!’” Likkel continues, “And it was the perfect thing for Tim to play off of. It’s a great moment of two really fantastic actors working out something together in a scene that you, as a director or a show runner, you can only stand and watch. Watch and marvel at the talent that’s in front of you when that happens. It was the perfect thing Tim needed to be able to react off of to keep that sort of ‘Ooo, oh, well I’m not sure I like that’ kind of surprise, but still leading him into making that tough decision.”

Wow! That is an amazing story, isn’t Galavanters? It’s also a very real and important moment for the characters. Especially since we’ve seen King Richard be so cautious and fearful the entire time. Now King Richard has to face the reality of the “glory of battle” and Roberta is giving him a very rude awakening. We get some more incredible scoop on that moving scene when Hoberg reveals, “There was one thing we wish we put into that scene that we weren’t able to and it’s my only regret from the whole show. It’s that we didn’t have Roberta say, ‘I can’t watch you die and I won’t be able to protect you.’ So you know that it’s not, she’s not only running away from him, it’s that she knows she can’t protect him and that means he’ll probably die. I think it was implied. She loved him. She’s a good person.” Although it’s a shame it didn’t make the cut, Roberta’s intensions were very clear to the audience and Richerta’s happy reunion was still just as moving in the end.

This recollection triggers another memory from filming and Hoberg continues illuminating us with more insightful stories from the set. He shares this fascinating scenario with Mallory Jansen, who wonderfully portrays the villainous (for now) Madalena:

“I also remember with Mallory, there’s the scene where Richard kills Wormwood at the end and we cut back to Mallory and as it was scripted, it’s where she says, ‘He’s the One True King?! You gotta be [bleeping] kidding me.’ And she gets punched by Isabella. That was Mallory. Before we started shooting she came over and there was a joke in there about where she said something like ‘He’s the One True King?’ And then she kind of like adjusted her bra or something and started walking over and that’s when Isabella hit her. It was something slightly untrue at that moment. And I remember Mallory came over and she’s like, ‘This doesn’t feel right. It feels like she’s all about Gareth right now, she has no interest in winning someone else over.’ And she was completely right. And she was like ‘I just feel like I’d be, Are you [bleeping] kidding me?!’…These actors are so good at being in the moment that they really keep you honest emotionally and that’s when the funny comes out.”

Likkel continues to tell us more about Jansen’s influence on Madalena’s arc: “That’s also how the whole relationship between Madalena and Gareth [started]. We had seen in, towards the first season when Madalena was trying to sway Gareth to her side to sort of take over things with her, we had seen some of their interactions and there is a really interesting chemistry there between these two. They work really well off of each other. So a lot of what happened in the second season was based on their work together in the first season. I think they both really rose to it and they showed us what they could do there. And I think Mallory just did amazing work. The things she had to do that she could barely keep from cracking up. Like when Gareth got on his knee and she thought he was going to propose and she kicks him in the face and runs out. I don’t know how many times we had to do that because she was just cracking up the whole time but you can’t tell on the coverage.” Hoberg quickly affirms, “And she never cracks.” Likkel agrees, “Oh, she is such a pro!”

It makes sense, Madalena is very serious. Even when she says something wickedly funny, it is always with a straight face. That is a very hard feat to achieve. Hoberg elaborates on Jansen’s skillful restraint in the face of utter goofiness: “She never misses a line. And then Vinnie would make her laugh. He would get a kick out of making her laugh. … The only place where I saw her have a hard time holding it together was when she was with Vinnie and when she worked with Robert [Lindsay who played] Wormwood…Something about him, I think the absurdity of this evil character, would give her the giggles. It was so funny to see because she is so professional.”

Likkel gives us a specific example from the finale: “Well, on the killing babies scene when she had to walk into the tent and she thought that she had to kill a baby to get the evil magic and she’s sort of like, ‘Well, alright.’ So she walks into the tent and we pitched to her that she goes, ‘Well, hello Wormy.’ And she opened the tent door and she could not get it out. We finally had to drop it. And it was so hilarious.” Likkel continues to praise Jansen’s professionalism with another interesting and fun-filled anecdote from Season 2.

She gushes, “But the last thing I want to say about Mallory, on what a fine actress she is, is that on her very first day on set for the second season was the day we had to film the evil sisters just roasting her like crazy and she had just three lines that entire day. And she just had to come in and sit there and almost say not a word. And I think it was a little surreal for her to be back in the costume, back on set, putting those characters back on again. And she brought such amazing life to that scene with doing nothing but sit ting there and reacting. And she brought it all.”

I’m really glad she mentioned this scene because the two sisters she’s referring to are from one of my favorite comedies, BBC’s “Miranda.” Sarah Hadland and Sally Phillips are awesome and it was a blast to see a mini “Miranda” reunion on “Galavant.” Likkel shares her experience of working with a couple of Britain’s funniest ladies and we learn some fascinating behind the scenes facts. She reveals, “Oh they were so fun to work with. Well, here’s a little aside. We had written the entire scene, we had written the roast, and when we asked if they’d come and play these roles for us…they do a lot of improv and their own writing…and they said, ‘Would be allowed to improv?’ And we said, ‘Of course! We would like over that. That would be amazing.’ So I got to set that day and somebody pulled me aside and said, ‘Kat, they just rewrote the entire the entire scene and handed me some pages.’ And we thought ‘Oh no, this could be a disaster.’ And I was like ‘Alright, well hand them to me.’ And it was brilliant, so we used that. The final scene is a combination of what we wrote and what they wrote with an emphasis kind of on what they wrote. It was hilarious. They were fantastic.” Seriously, if you love “Galavant,” then you’ll really enjoy “Miranda” (available on Hulu and Acorn TV). Maybe Hadland and Phillips could convince their co-star Miranda Hart to guest start on “Galavant” in the future. She would be another phenomenal UK talent to showcase on this stellar series. Which brings us to another mind-boggling point that all of Team Galavant agrees with…

There are so many British stars on “Galavant,” so why the [bleep] is this magnificent show not airing on British television already?! Hoberg understands and shares the fans’ frustration, “We’ve been trying to do what we can to get some interest over there. I think there is such a market for it. It is a who’s who of comic actors and dramatic actors. It’s incredible. Between Robert and Hugh [Bonneville] and Reece Shearsmith…Yeah, maybe there’s a world where we could half find a co-production in England to shoulder half of the money on UK TV…It would be the perfect co-production.”

Let’s hope the UK TV powers that be wake-up soon and do something to change this baffling situation. If British networks aired “Galavant” and UK production companies came in to help save our show then there would be no more worry or doubt about having #MoreGalavant. We still haven’t given up and we have not lost hope. We are thrilled to see how members of Team Galavant are working on new projects, while remaining loyal to the #MoreGalavant cause.

If there is will, there is always a way. Keep on fighting, Galavanters. Our day will come, we may not know when or where, but as sure as we are that Tad Cooper is a dragon, we can be sure that “Galavant” will return to us someday, somehow, somewhere…

UPDATE: “Galavant” Seasons 1 & 2 will be on Netflix beginning September 7, 2016. Huzzah! 

Galavant- I have a dragon

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