Karen David: “Galavant is and was an amazing magical adventure”

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15jan_karendavid-08It may be hard to believe but, we here at BollySpice, do watch other shows created outside of our beloved Bollywood and we recently came across a fabulous show on ABC. For the last 4 weeks, audiences have been treated to the madcap, medieval, magical, musical comedy adventure Galavant. The hysterically funny, fall off your chair show was a big hit! Created by Dan Fogelman, the series featured music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. The incredible and very eclectic cast included Joshua Sasse as the hero of the tale Galavant, Karen David as the wronged Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia, Luke Youngblood as Sid the Squire, Vinnie Jones as Gareth the faithful guard, Mallory Jansen as scheming queen Madalena and Timothy Omundson as ruthless (and sense of humorless) King Richard. The show also boasted guest spots by stars like John Stamos, Hugh Bonneville, ”Weird Al” Yankovic, Ricky Gervais, and Rutger Hauer.

To truly give you the feel and flavor of Galavant you can check out videos and watch episodes here.

Starring as Isabella is the Indian, Chinese, British, Canadian, American (the lyric from Galavant of “ethically hard to pin down” reads true) actress/singer Karen David, whose work has been seen on the UK cult hit Bollywood Queen, BBC’s Waterloo Road, Pixelface, Provoked, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Castle and the British Independent film Amar, Akbar and Tony.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Karen last week and had a fabulous, fun, laughter-filled conversation. In this exclusive and special interview, Karen talks about the magical adventure, about Galabella and everything Galavant! Enjoy!

Karen began our conversation by sharing that, “Today is actually a very special day because it was one year ago that we all met together as a cast, I was just talking to Luke, the guy who plays Sid, a few minutes ago and he reminded me of that. We remembered so fondly when we were sitting at the dinner table and Dan saying, ‘Get ready guys, this is going to be a real life changing experience.’ He could not have been more right. Because it has been that and so much more.”

15jan_karendavid-01 So what were her initial thoughts when she first read the script of Galavant? “I saw that this show was something that was so uniquely different. I mean, it is not every day that you come across a musical comedy set in the medieval times with Disney kings Alan Menken and Glenn Slater penning the music. Then working with Dan Fogelman (creator and executive producer) the man behind big hits like Cars and Tangled and Crazy Stupid Love.”

Adding, “When I read the first episode it was 22 minutes of pure sheer delight and laughter. This little kid in me was coming out while I was reading it. I was so excited.”

Apparently Dan Fogelman had someone else in mind for the role of Isabella. “Dan originally was hoping for his dream list wish girl, which was Jennifer Lawrence. When I saw that in the description, I laughed because I thought, ‘well, I don’t look anything like her’.”

But after reading the script she really wanted to play this part and be a part of this adventure. “I did feel like a bit of an underdog going in for it, but not in a bad way, in a really good way. I have no pressure on me. I thought, you know what, I do love this script, I do love this character Isabella so much… I’ve got nothing to lose. What the heck, I might as well have fun with it.”

She reveals that her husband helped her prepare for the audition, “He went through the whole process with me. He would run the lines with me every day until it was set and I felt comfortable. It was eat, sleep, breathe Galavant before I tested for the role.”

We then moved on to talk about the audition process, “My first meeting went well. Then I got a call back and I met Dan right away. It was such a special moment when I met him because, trust me, I have been to hundred and hundreds of auditions. And, especially during pilot season, people are rushed because there are a lot of actors out for roles and time is of the essence. You really don’t have that much time to really get to know someone in these auditions, but Dan took the time. He was so fascinated by my background. He wanted to know more about me. I felt like we were two friends going to lunch together. He was so kind and so supportive. His enthusiasm and passion was so infectious. You could see the love that he has for this project and that excited not only myself but all of us.”

15jan_karendavid-03She also told us the story of how she found out she got the part of Isabella, which seems as if it came directly out of the script. “It is really funny because we were on pins and needles waiting to hear. Now this is Friday, December 13th, 2013, when I found out. Yes, in fact Friday the 13th! Apparently 13 is very lucky for me! My agent called me and he said, ‘Meet me at this cafe. We might as well wait and be on pins and needles together.’ And I thought, ‘Oh God, I don’t know what to think!’ He parked the car across the street and I am just standing there not knowing what to say. He said, ‘Yeah… I just got a call, Karen’. And he sounded so somber and I was like ‘Oh no! What?’ He said, ‘Yeah… I don’t know…’ I was like ‘WHAT?!?!?! I didn’t get it????’ I was like Okay… I was totally bummed out. He then says, ‘Yeah, I don’t know how to tell you this Karen, because you are going to have to pack your bags and go to England.’ And again I was like ‘WHAT?!?!?!’ (Laughs) ‘You Got that Part!’ I was ready to kill him because for a second I thought I hadn’t got the role. He then gave me this big hug.”

“It was such a moment because we are standing on the streets of West Hollywood. Then I got really teary eyed because I was relieved! (Laughs!) It was out of sheer relief that finally we had an answer and that answer was going to change my life! I couldn’t take it all in. It was so overwhelming.”

Reflectively she added, “I have been through this process before since, as I said, I have tested for quite a few shows before. I have come so close to getting parts that didn’t happen. But in hindsight all that makes sense now, because if it meant leading up to this moment, to get a role like Isabella, it was all worth it.”

Of course she was ecstatic, but more for the people that had been such a support to her over the years during her career. “I obviously had to call my husband. I had to call my mom and dad! They were all very emotional on the phone. I was so happy that this happened, not so much for me, but more for the people around me my whole life that have been so supportive! My agents who stuck by me for five years, my managers too. My husband. Then my parents who have watched me go through this journey for such a long time. The ups and downs. The twists and turns. The good times, the struggles. I was just so happy for them because of everything they have sacrificed to support me in my journey was all of sudden so worth it.”

15jan_karendavid-05“Honestly this really is a dream role,” she went on to say. “I have been very fortunate and very blessed to come this far in my career because of people like Dan who are not afraid to think outside the box and take chances. It is a testament to Dan’s amazing comedic genius and his writing that he does make the choices he does. Hats off to him and ABC for casting people like me, I mean I play a Spanish princess when actually I am such a mishmash of things with my heritage.”

Karen says she really loved the character of Isabella. “Isabella is really feisty, she speaks her mind, she is not afraid of telling it like it is. She really is a refreshing take on what you would normally see on the clichés of what a princess or a Disney princess would be. I love that fact that this show takes the mick out of those clichés that we are all so used to seeing. You just expect the unexpected with this show.”

To find Isabella in her and to create the character, she went back to her heritage, “I was born in Shillong and it is a matrilineal society. The women are all very feisty! It is all about the women, the strength, the charisma. I thought I have got to infuse what is in my genetics, right? I have got to celebrate that now! Now is my opportunity to really celebrate that with Isabella. To make her this strong girl.”

But more than that, she wanted Isabella to be someone girls could look up to, “Someone hopefully that a lot of younger girls out there can be inspired by to be themselves, to love themselves, to be proud of who they are! No matter where they come from! That was something that was really important to me in creating the role of Isabella!”

As she said the show does take a new look at what a hero, a king, a princess and others can be and that is what makes it so special, “To see a hero like Galavant … this sort of anti-hero. It is very much flipped on its head where you see a hero who has fallen to his knees, who needs to come back to life again. This is something I think, especially in today’s times, that this story really is a story that we all can sort of relate too. It is about picking ourselves up and going onwards and upwards again. That is what is so wonderful with the story line and the character on the show. That is a testament to the creatives and the writing team and Dan, Alan Menken and Glen Slater. It really is a dream team!”

15jan_karendavid-02The chat then turned to the cast that shared the most of her adventure on Galavant including Luke Youngblood who plays the squire Sid and Joshua Sasse who plays the hero Galavant. “You know we really felt like we were on this big crazy adventure right from the beginning. The three of us just enjoyed every minute of it! ”

About Luke she says, “Luke’s character was supposed to be a scrawny Jewish boy. But I can’t picture anyone but Luke to play that part.”

“Luke is such an angel”, she adds with a smile, “He really is like the brother I never had. So supportive, so encouraging.”

“Josh IS Galavant,” she explains with a laugh, “He is the hero, he definitely has that hero vibe about him. He is so cheeky; he is naturally cheeky and funny. You know, we were literally together day and night. We spent a lot of time together. Especially filming away from home and our families, all of us got really close. We bonded while we were on this crazy adventure together. Acting alongside Josh, we really do bring out the best in each other. He really is such a perfect Galavant. The dynamic between the two when Galavant and Isabella were just not getting along was just so funny. It really was fun to bicker with each other, to nitpick and all that. It was just too much fun. Then when we fall in love that was so wonderful too.”

We had to talk about the love song of Galavant -‘Love is Strange’ and she told me, “Of course it is my favorite song. I just thought was so wonderful because it is so funny, but it is such a realistic portrayal of what real love is. Real love is not perfect. There are going to be times when you don’t get along. There are going to be times when you want to kill each other. But you love each other so much and you stick by each other. It is just so refreshing to portray love in that manner. It is so refreshing to see that.”

Galavant and Isabella aka Galabella’s “will they/won’t they” relationship has been part of many a post, a tweet, pictures, videos and more! “It has been amazing. It has been amazing how the fans have just totally embraced this whole Galabella thing. It’s so wonderful to see. (Spoiler alert ahead!) At the same time I felt so bad because everyone was so upset when they were separated. They just want them together. It is kind of like the Ross-Rachel thing in Friends. I have a feeling we are going to see more about Isabella and Galavant being reunited and being torn apart and being reunited. Let’s see what happens. They really bring out the best in each other and at the same time they bring out the absolute worst in each other. Yet, they balance each other so well. Who would have thought at the beginning of Season 1 that these two would grow together and fall in love? Now you see it in the end that they really are just so perfect for each other. Hopefully we will find out in Season 2.”

15jan_karendavid-07She says the entire cast, crew, director, everyone loved doing this show, “It has just been an adventure. An amazing magical adventure. We, all of us in the cast, have had the time of our lives. We know that it such an anomaly of a show and that it doesn’t happen every day. So everyday we were on set we all brought that enthusiasm and love… everyday. That just doesn’t happen. Especially everyday. We knew we were creating something really wonderful.”

I wondered, with the material being the hysterical laugh-inducing lines and songs that it was, they had to have cracked up a time or two… “We never could stop laughing on set. I actually think there is more gag reel than normal takes. I really hope they put out a gag reel for the fans because they are going to love it. I think what is just so heartwarming to all of us is that everyone can see how much fun we really are having on set.”

Karen says even now that it has aired, she still doesn’t think it has hit her that she starred on a show on ABC and this unique magical type of show, “I am still like who is that girl? WOW!”

For someone who has not seen it yet, how would Karen describe Galavant? Her answer, “Oh wow, that is a great question! Galavant is a medieval comedy musical. It is something that does not happen everyday. It may not make sense to you initially, but this is when the real opportunity comes. You have to use your imagination, trust, have faith and jump into this journey along with us. If you love Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Men in Tights, Disney, and if you just love a good laugh and to be silly, I think you are going to love this show because it has just got that MAGIC!”

Also, she says, “It is a flashback to a childhood in a way with all the music that Alan Menken and Glen Slater bring to it. It is taping into that childhood innocence in all of us. Hopefully, you will be singing along too. Be warned the tunes are so catchy! They are earworms – they just stick inside your head!”

15jan_karendavid-06Talking passionately, she ends with, “It is escaping for 4 hours to another place, another time, another world but having such a good laugh. There is something in it for everyone for the big kids, the little kids. It is that wonderful joyride and an adventure of imagination that you will be taken on. As I said, Expect the Unexpected! There are a lot of cliffhangers and a lot of twists and turns, not necessarily Happy Endings… Let’s see what happens in round two… hopefully!”

Karen also gave a special shout-out to the fans! “This needs a proper shout-out because it has been such a pleasure to talk to my long-term fans who have been there from day one and have been on this journey with me. They have been so excited about Isabella and about the show. All the new Galavant fans… they are so lovely! I feel SO lucky! I keep saying this and I will never tire of saying it, but I am so proud of the fan base that I have, the show has, they are really wonderful people and amazing human beings. They take time out of their lives too tune into our show, to embrace our characters and their storylines. They are so supportive. I mean we really do, and I know I am biased, but we really do have the best cheering squad in the world! They just adore the show and we adore them too. I just hope and pray that we can have many more adventures together on this show because they have been an absolute treasure to get to know on social media! I am looking forward to meeting more of them and getting to know more of them.”

We say Huzzah to Karen for her performance as Isabella! We look forward to seeing her and the entire cast back on our tv screens… when Season Two’s adventure begins!

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