As the NBC musical-drama Smash comes to DVD over here in Britain this coming Monday 29th October – The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape caught up with starring role Raza Jaffrey to discuss the show that has taken American by storm.
Set in New York and covering the build up to a Broadway production of Marilyn Monroe: The Music, we follow the lives of those in the play, to those behind it – and Jaffrey takes on the role of Dev, the politician boyfriend of Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) who is vying for the prestigious role of Monroe.
British born Jaffrey – who has appeared in a number of films and TV shows such as Sex and the City, as well as Harry Brown and Eastern Promises, discusses with us what it takes to break the States, his big musical number in the show and also what it's like to work alongside Steven Spielberg, an executive producer of the show.
So tell us about Smash...
It's about Marilyn Monroe the musical, and a group of people coming together to make this show on Broadway, and it tells the story of these characters so you're involved in their lives from the performers through to the producers and directors and you get a little glimpse into the world of Broadway, with original music from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who brought us Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can, and the team behind it, I'm sure you know, but we've got the wonderful Steven Spielberg and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron who did Chicago and lots in between, so it's from a real Broadway pedigree and it's been so well received in the States and we just hope that it happens over here too.
As a British actor, big success in the States is important, but do you value success in Britain more as it's your home crowd, so to speak?
You always want your home country to get behind the show in that way, you always hope for that. Although LA has been my home for the past couple of years, I'm still back and forth to the UK an awful lot and my family and friends are there and also to have a show do well in Britain, you're just in such great company, we still produce some of the best television in the world so to be in that company and given a voice and liked by that audience, it's really important to me.
As for yourself, despite appearing in a host of films such as Harry Brown and Eastern Promises, for example, it seems you do keep coming back to television series – is there a medium you prefer? And what are the key differences for you?
For me in the last few years, to be honest, it's been about where the right roles have come up. I started by doing musicals, and then moved into theatre and then television and film and while I've been able to chop around in all of those mediums, I've been really happy to not have one medium I love more than the other, I just start to miss another one as soon as I get involved in another, I've been to some decent West End shows since being back in England and I miss being on stage as well, but at the same I love television and film as well, but as long as I keep getting work, I'll be happy.
As a British actor it's never easy to break America, but you seem to have managed it with relative ease – you've really come into your element in American productions. Was that something you've always wanted to do – and were you ever worried it might be too difficult a task?
Oh, thank you for saying that. I've spent a lot of time in the States from when I was a kid, and have some great family friends over there and when I went there originally, I think like a lot of British actors who go over there you have to treat it more than the work as to whether it's somewhere you'd be prepared to live for a period of your life, because you're investing your life in being in another country, and I'm happy to say that I have been made to feel so welcome in the States what with the work I've been able to do since going over there. American's are always so lovely to Brits whether you're in LA or New York and anywhere in between, and it's been a real pleasure to be there, I've been really lucky in that I've got to meet some extraordinary people and work on on some extraordinary projects.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Smash is released on DVD on 29 October by Universal Pictures (UK)