411Mania Interviews: John Barrowman
Posted by Al Norton on 05.31.2014
411's Al Norton sits down for an exclusive interview with John Barrowman to discuss the future Torchwood, his role on Arrow, and his new ABC series Sing Your Face Off.
John Barrowman is an actor, singer, dancer, and TV show host, best known for his role as Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and then the spinoff series Torchwood. He'll also reprise his role as Malcolm Merlin as a series regular when Arrow returns this fall. Barrowman's latest gig is as host of ABC's new Sing Your Face Off.
Al Norton: What was your initial reaction when you heard about the concept of Sing Your Face Off (celebrities competing by trying to visually and audibly impersonate famous singers)?
John Barrowman: I thought it was a really great concept because you're talking already established celebrities, taking them out of their comfort zone, and putting them in an area where they're a) not a singer, b) not an impressionist, and number three, some of them are not actors and actresses. You're putting them out there and their job now is to become someone else and entertain the masses. I thought, "I want to be a part of this."
Al Norton: How seriously did the celebrities take their participation?
John Barrowman: Oh my gosh, hugely seriously. Although we have a great amount of fun doing the show and we do have some laughs – sometimes we're laughing with them, sometimes we're laughing at them – the celebrities took it very seriously. A lot of them would worry that they'd come out as a singer and then that singer wouldn't talk to them because they'd done a bad rendition of them. They took it very seriously and the competition at times got a little heated, a little fiery, it was pretty good.
Al Norton: If you were going to do one of the celebrity transformations they do on the show, who would you like to become?
John Barrowman: I think I'd be someone like Madonna. I'd love to do an Elton John, possibly George Michael. A group number like Maroon 5. Something vastly different from myself. And younger (laughing).
Al Norton: This isn't really a question but NBC is doing The Music Man next year and I think you'd make a great Harold Hill.
John Barrowman: Oh, I'd love to do that but I don't think I'm famous enough (laughing).
Al Norton: Do you ever think you'll play Captain Jack again?
John Barrowman: It's not up to me, it's up to the BBC and to Russell (T. Davies, the show's creator), but if I were asked I'd do it at the drop of a hat. I don't know why an American company doesn't buy that franchise because I see how many fans there are out there, how popular it is in the US and around the world. It's sad if it doesn't get done again but I'm doing stuff with ABC, I'm on Arrow on The CW, so I am ok.
Al Norton: When you filmed the last couple of episodes of Arrow this season were you already aware you'd be a regular in season three?
John Barrowman: Yes, I've known since before Christmas. When I took the role of Malcolm Merlin in season one I was told I would always be part of the Arrow world, whether it was 5 episodes, 2 episodes, or 8 episodes of a given season. To be made a regular is a great coup because it shows the fans have taken to Malcolm Merlin and that I've brought a lot of the Doctor Who and Torchwood fans over to the Arrow world with me.
Al Norton: Not that you don't stay in good shape regularly but when you've got a role that calls for such physicality like on Arrow or where you're front and center like hosting Sing Your Face Off, do you change your routine at all?
John Barrowman: Honestly, no. I eat what I want, I have a cocktail in the evening, I try to stay fit but things happen. Sometimes you get a little bit of a roll around the middle and sometimes it goes away and you have to deal with the ups and downs. I look in the mirror at the moment and I'm happy with what I see. When I'm not happy I just wear black and a little bit bigger size to cover it up (laughing).
Al Norton: What's it like to kiss James Marsters (their characters were involved/had a history on Torchwood)?
John Barrowman: It was interesting for me because I had watched Buffy, so here was Spike. When we did it he had his girlfriend on set so he could go over and reestablish kissing her after we did our big sequence. I played a joke on him and made him do take after take after take until he was like, "Dude, how many takes do we have to do?!?!?" Do you blame me (laughing)?
Al Norton: For someone who might not think another reality competition show is what they're looking to watch, what might surprise them about the show?
John Barrowman: I don't see this as being a reality TV show, I see it as an entertainment show. We're not asking people who are not in the industry to become part of the industry, we're not asking someone who's a housewife to become a celebrity, we're taking someone who is already a celebrity and putting them in entertainment pieces.
We're not like other competition shows in that we're not asking the audience to judge anyone or go out and buy an album. We're asking you to sit back, have a cocktail or a soda, get a bowl of popcorn, sit with your family, and laugh and have a good time, enjoying some people being a little outrageous and having a good time themselves. I have a good time presenting the show, laughing so hard that I can barely talk.
Al Norton: I know you can't give anything away but was there one contestant from the show who you weren't that familiar with going in but who really opened your eyes?
John Barrowman: Landry Fields, the basketball player. I had no clue he would give over the way he gave over. Bless his heart, he gave some performances that might make it tough for him to go back into the locker room (laughing).
DON'T MISS THE SERIES PREMIERE OF SING YOUR FACE OFF, TONIGHT AT 9PM ON ABC
For more info on the show visit http://abc.go.com/shows/sing-your-face-off