Actress Karen David. Photo: John P. Fleenor.

Actress Karen David. Photo: John P. Fleenor.

You’re doing eight shows a week, sometimes twice a day, and you really have to make it look as if it’s your first time doing it. You have to keep bringing something new to the plate and just being in that moment. There are a lot of things that happen when you do live theatre — it’s all about spontaneity, that’s where the magic happens.

I think doing a musical, and also doing a comedy — working with the likes of someone like Dan and his amazing team of comedy writers — you have to be so quick-witted and on the tips of your toes, otherwise it’ll fly right over your head. It almost seems like a tragedy to miss out on some of the cheekiness that Dan and the writers bring in front of you. Sometimes we’d be on set and we’d do a couple of takes of what’s written, and after that Dan and some of the writers and execs would start throwing a few lines at us like, “Try this!” or “What about doing something like this and this?” It’s all last minute but it’s fun because that’s where a lot of the spontaneity and the magic happens, and some of the laughs that you get. So I’m really grateful, be it for musical theatre or Mamma Mia! or some of the live theater that I’ve done, because it’s such an important foundation for thinking quickly on your feet.

GALO: Galavant himself is charming but also kind of a knucklehead — in my opinion anyway — and Isabella is no damsel in distress, given what she’s had to take on to save her kingdom. How do you feel personally about what seems to be an inevitable romance between the two, and what people on Twitter have now called #Galabella. 

KD: I saw one Tweet that said: “It’s not Brangelina, it’s Galabella,” and I started laughing. That’s when you know a show is doing really well and is so beloved by fans, when they start amalgamating names [laughs]. I was very tickled at the whole “Galabella” thing. They’re using this slang — I just learned about this — they’ll say, “I’m shipping…”

GALO: Oh yes. Shipping!

KD: And I go, “Shipping, what’s that? Am I missing out on something here because I’m from Canada and England?” And so, I just learned about shipping and the whole “Galabella” thing. But Galavant and Isabella — they come from opposite worlds and opposite backgrounds, and there’s such a stark contrast between the other. They bring the absolute worst out of each other, but at the same time, they bring the absolute best out of each other. It’s really nice to see how their relationship progresses.

And without giving away too much to everyone, there’s a moment where people thought and might still be thinking that there might be something between Sid and Isabella. But it’s more about this journey that the three of them are on. Isabella learns so much about Galavant, why he’s on this journey and where he needs to go. And because of that big heart that I was telling you about that she has, there are moments where she does embrace Galavant. She starts to feel really guilty about what she’s doing. She’s in a really tough catch-22 situation, to say the least, because she’s lying to him and leading him to his demise — or else her parents get killed and her kingdom falls to its knees. So it’s not a fun situation to be in and she’s really torn, but that’s what makes for exciting stories [laughs]!

GALO: Do you think Isabella’s deception will hurt Galavant even more than Madalena’s betrayal? 

KD: Absolutely. At least with Madalena you see who she is, what she’s become. What you see is what you get. But with Isabella, it’s because she is a good person — it’s because of that, I imagine, it would be a huge disappointment and hurt him a lot. Because, I mean, when you’re stuck together on this journey for months on end, you really get to learn a lot about each other. You see how our trio bonds and how they don’t bond and how they have moments, and now Galavant can sort of defend Izzie’s snoring and having a deviated septum, which for the record, I don’t [laughs]. I just want to say that because everyone’s like, “Do you snore in real life? Where did you learn to snore like that?” And I said, “From my husband, because he snores big time!” He’s going to kill me for saying that. I’ve had inspiration firsthand!

But that’s Izzie for you and it’s so nice to see a princess who’s not perfect, it’s nice to see that she’s a people’s princess — someone who’s relatable and not unattainable; someone who can talk to the common people. At the end of the day, she’s just another young girl who loves her family like anyone else and will do anything to help her kingdom.

GALO: And she can sword fight, which I believe you have some experience with?

KD: That’s the tomboy in me. Now being 5’3”, in drama college everyone would say to me, “Karen you’re tiny but mighty,” or they’d call me Sprinkle Toes or Stardust, which would annoy me! My sword fighting instructor at drama college would call me Sparky, because I’d hit the sword so hard there would be sparks coming out. I don’t know what it is! I just love my rapier and dagger and holding a sword. I love all that. I never thought I’d be doing a period piece. I grew up on a lot of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. So really, in my heart of hearts, I am Elizabeth Bennett. I don’t look like the conventional Jane Austen character and I never really thought I’d get a chance to use those skills. And when the Color of Magic came up and the Scorpion King 2 came up, I was so delighted that I could do that. I was so excited when I found out they were going to make me be this sword woman and get her to train Galavant. That made me…I can’t even express to you how excited I was.

GALO: It does look like you’re having a really great time on set, especially with all the guests. What’s been your favorite moment to shoot that has aired thus far, or if you can get into it, coming up? 

KD: So, we’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to moments, because there are many special moments that happen. And I know a lot of the fans have been asking me more about the whole “Galabella” thing, and you do have to tune in to find out [what happens] — whether or not they get on or they don’t. There are more funny special moments between them and their friendship and with Sid as well.

But we’re so blessed to have these amazing guest stars. Weird Al and Ricky Gervais, having Hugh Bonneville and John Stamos is a dream. Weird Al playing a singing monk was hilarious. There were moments in this past episode where I had all the tongue twister lines, and they’d go on and on and on and on. And I thought, ‘oh my gosh, how am I going to get my head around this?’ There was a moment when Al gave me my line and I’d say it and then I’d muck up, and he’d just go right back into it and I’d muck up again. And all of a sudden, you’d hear Lukey — Luke Youngblood (Sid) — in the background trying desperately not to wet himself laughing. And I’m like,”I’m going to kill you Luke.”

There are moments when we’re having so much fun, and all of us realize we’re part of something so unique and so special that’s never been done on TV. I cannot even begin to tell you how much it warmed our hearts that everyone can see how much fun we’re having. And I’m hoping that they’re going to put a blooper gag [out real soon] because, trust me, we’ve had more gag reel than actual tape. One of my favorite moments is when we were dancing with horses — how do you dance with a horse, right? And there was this one moment, in a behind the scenes making of Galavant, they show a blooper where Josh fell, and his sword got caught on my dress and I literally fell on him. And I sat on his face, basically!

GALO: He broke your fall…with his face!

KD: So we’re spoiled for choice, we’ve had too much fun with this.

GALO: There are only two more episodes left. Is there going to be a season two or a spin-off? Would you want to come back for that?

KD: [Sarcastically] Well, let me think about that…hmm! We’d just love to keep this adventure going forward. It is a ratings rat-race and we’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of rave reviews from the critics and, most of all, the fans — the fans who love the likes of Robin Hood: Men in Tights or The Princess Bride and Monty Python. They all love this, so we would love to go for more. Right now, we’ve done eight episodes. Let’s see what happens in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to come back for more. I guess, as they say, it’s the fans that decide on that. But it’s really heartwarming to see on social media just how much support and love there is for the show, and for each of our characters. It’s really amazing.

GALO: Is there anything you’d like to add?

KD: You know what, I’d just like to thank all the new Galavant fans who have been coming on, the support that they’ve been showing is just so overwhelming. I can honestly say from all of us, no matter what happens, we’re just so happy that it happened. We’re happy that this amazing gem of a show happened. It’s so wonderful to see something so creatively different on television. And it is a big risk, but anything worthwhile is always going to be a risk. I stand by that even with my journey — my life, my career. My parents always said, “Stick by your dreams. If this is what you really want to do, you’ve got to go through the thousands of rejections, the ups and downs, the twists and turns.” I know it sounds cliché, but I’m so grateful for all of that because it just meant that it led me up to doing such an amazing, wonderful show, and as an actor, to be given this wonderful gift of a role.

You can catch Karen David as Isabella on”Galavant” this Sunday at 8 ET/PT on ABC. And if you’ve missed an episode, don’t worry, you can catch up on those online or on Hulu (or if you’re simply like us, in denial that the show is coming to an end, and want to watch them again). || Featured image courtesy of © ABC/Nick Ray.