Before the premiere of God’s favorite idiot This Wednesday, June 15th, we had the chance to speak to talented actor Usman Ally who plays Mohsin Raza in the comedy show. Ally stars alongside Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy, Ana Scotney, Kevin Dunn and several other talented personalities who round out the cast of this hilarious series.
God’s favorite idiot follows a mid-level tech support employee named Clark Thompson (Falcone) whose life changes after he begins to glow and realize that God has great plans for him. Unable to save the world on his own, Clark recruits his team of unlikely colleagues, including the woman he has long had a crush on, Amily (McCarthy).
This show isn’t Ally’s first Netflix series either, as he also starred as the Hook-Handed Man A chain of unfortunate events. You’ve also seen Ally in series like veep, suits, superintelligence and many other projects.
God’s Favorite Idiot Q&A with Mohsin actor Usman Ally
Netflix Life: Did you know Ben Falcone or Melissa McCarthy before getting into it? God’s favorite idiot?
Usman Ally: I actually used to work with Ben and Melissa a few times, I produced a show called No one and also I have done superintelligence with them, so I had a pre-existing relationship with them.
I think it was about six months before we started filming, Ben contacted me and said, “I have this really fun script and role that I think you would be great for, would you like to read it?” Me was like, sure! I read it and immediately felt connected to the role. I wondered if he wrote it for me. [Laughs] I’m not sure if he did but it felt so much like my own life experience and I was hooked so I jumped on board.
Netflix Life: I just saw an interview Ben did about the show and he talked about how the character reflects a bit on itself, so it’s fitting that you felt the same way. And I remember seeing you as a hook-man A chain of unfortunate eventswhich by the way was great, and by comparison Mohsin is more the “straight male” to some of the show’s more eccentric characters.
Usman Ally: I always enjoy playing this type of straight character whenever I get the chance. As you said, it’s very different from A chain of unfortunate eventsbut it’s fun because it allows you as a character and as an actor to react to what’s going on around you.
And as an actor, one of the most fundamental things to be good at is listening and reacting. The straight man absorbs everything in a lot of these scenes and then comes up with these little jokes here and there. It allowed me to really be present in the moment.
There was also something about my own sense of humour, I grew up outside of the United States in southern Africa and most of my education was British educated and so I think my humor and what I find funny is often a kind of English is this way. I find this straight-forward, understated humor very English in a way, and also how I am in life. It was nice to add a different color and texture of humor to the show.
Netflix Life: I think you get a sense of camaraderie watching the show and it becomes like an ensemble with the chemistry you guys have. There seemed to be a lot of improvisation and riffing on set, was that the case or was it all scripted?
Usman Ally: There were a lot of improvements in progress. One of the great things about working with Ben and Melissa is that they give you space to do it as long as it feels deserved. I’ve worked with shows in the past where at times it’s been, “Okay, I think we’re all going overboard a little bit, and maybe that doesn’t make sense anymore.” [Laughs] but on our show it never really felt like it because it’s all deserved.
We all start with what’s in the script and we get a few runs where we just say that, but then they’re really good at giving the actors autonomy and ownership of their roles. There are times when there’s a little bit of improvisation in one scene and then Melissa goes, “Oh, that’s better!” And actually that helps shape the next scene and so on. You really feel like you’re working together.
Netflix Life: It feels very natural, like the kind of things people actually say to each other when they’re hanging out. What do you think will surprise people the most when they watch God’s favorite idiot?
Usman Ally: I think you will be surprised how much heart and soul is put into the show. I think sometimes you see what looks like a workplace comedy and you think there might be some banter and some fooling around, and there’s certainly a lot of that, but it’s also a really touching and meaningful piece.
Honestly, given the current climate we’re in and the troubles going on in the world, this show feels like an antidote to some of that, and it’s not because it presents a perfect world , but a world of imperfection , but these are just ordinary people striving to do better. I think there’s something beautiful about seeing that, especially now.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
God’s favorite idiot comes to Netflix this Wednesday, June 15.
https://netflixlife.com/2022/06/13/interview-with-gods-favorite-idiot-star-usman-ally-q-and-a/ Interview with God’s Favorite Idiot Star Usman Ally (Q&A)