EntertainmentInterview with God's Favorite Idiot star Usman Ally (Q&A)

Interview with God’s Favorite Idiot star Usman Ally (Q&A)

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Ahead of the premiere of God’s Favorite Idiot this Wednesday, June 15, we had the chance to talk to with talented actor Usman Ally, who plays Mohsin Raza in the comedy show. Ally stars opposite Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy, Ana Scotney, Kevin Dunn and several other talented individuals who round out the cast of this hilarious series.

God’s Favorite Idiot centers on a mid-level tech support employee named Clark Thompson (Falcone), who’s life changes after he starts glowing and realizes that God has significant plans for him. Unable to save the world by himself, Clark recruits his team of mismatched co-workers, including the woman he’s long held a crush on, Amily (McCarthy).

This show isn’t Ally’s first Netflix series either, as he also starred as the Hook-Handed Man in A Series of Unfortunate Events. You’ve also seen Ally in series like Veep, SuitsSuperintelligence and many other projects.

God’s Favorite Idiot Q&A with Mohsin actor Usman Ally

God’s Favorite Idiot. (L to R) Usman Ally as Mohsin Raza, Ana Scotney as Wendy in episode 102 of God’s Favorite Idiot. Cr. Vince Valitutti/Netflix © 2022

Gizmo Blaze: Did you know Ben Falcone or Melissa McCarthy before getting involved with God’s Favorite Idiot?

Usman Ally: I actually worked with Ben and Melissa a couple of times previously, I produced a show called Nobodies and also I’ve done Superintelligence with them, so I had a pre-existing relationship with them.

I think it was about six months before we started shooting, Ben contacted me and was like, “I have this really fun script and this role I think you would be great for, do you want to read it?” I was like, sure! I had a read and I instantly felt connected to the role. I wondered if he wrote it for me. [Laughs] I’m not sure if he did, but it just felt so much like some of my own life experience in there and I was thrilled so I jumped on board.

Gizmo Blaze: I actually just watched an interview Ben did about the show and he was talking about how the character reflected himself a little bit, so it’s fitting that you felt the same way. And I remember seeing you as the Hook-Man in A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was great, by the way, and in comparison, Mohsin is more of the “straight man” against some of the show’s more eccentric characters. 

Usman Ally: It’s always fun for me to play that sort of straight man character whenever I get a chance to. As you said, it’s very different from A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it’s fun because it allows, as a character and as an actor, to react to what is going on around you.

And as an actor, one of the most basic things you have to be good at is listening and responding. The straight man, in many of these scenes, is taking everything in and then coming up with these little quips here and there. It allowed me to be really present in the moment.

There was also something about my own sense of humor, I grew up outside of the United States in Southern Africa, and most of my education was British education and so i think oftentimes my humor, and what I find funny, is kind of English in that way. I find that straight man-ish, reserved humor, very English in some ways, and also how I am in life. It was nice to add a different color and texture of humor to the show.

God’s Favorite Idiot. Usman Ally as Mohsin Raza in episode 101 of God’s Favorite Idiot. Cr. Vince Valitutti/Netflix © 2022

Gizmo Blaze: I think you get a sense of camaraderie when you’re watching the show and it does become like an ensemble with the chemistry you guys have. It seemed like there was a lot of improv and riffing on set, was that the case or was everything scripted?

Usman Ally: There was quite a lot of improving going on. One of the great things about working with Ben and Melissa is that they give you room for it, as long as it feels earned. I’ve worked on the past with shows where sometimes it’s like, “Okay, I think we’re all going a little overboard with this and this may not actually be making sense anymore,” [Laughs] but it didn’t ever really feel like that on our show because it’s all earned.

We all start from what’s in the script and we get a couple of runs in where we just say that, but then they’re really good at giving actors autonomy and ownership of their role. There are times where there will be a little bit of improv in a scene and Melissa will then be like, “Oh, that’s better!” And actually that helps form the next scene and so on. You really feel like you’re collaborating.

Gizmo Blaze: It feels very natural, like the kind of things people actually say to each other when they hang out. What do you think is going to surprise people the most when they watch God’s Favorite Idiot?

Usman Ally: I think they’ll be surprised by how much heart and soul there is in the show. I think, sometimes, you see what looks like a workplace comedy and you think there might be some hijinks and some goofing around, and there certainly is quite a lot of that, but it’s also a really touching and meaningful piece.

Honestly, with the current climate we’re in, and the difficulties going on in the world, this show feels like a bit of an antidote to some of that, and it’s not because it’s presenting a perfect world, it’s a world full of imperfection, but these are just regular people striving to do better. I think there is something beautiful about seeing that, particularly right now.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

God’s Favorite Idiot releases this Wednesday, June 15, on Netflix.

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