“I Feel A Bit Sorry For Him” – James Gillan on Lord Farquaad as Shrek The Musical Returns to Wales Millennium Centre

Shrek the Musical returns to Wales Millennium Centre from 20 – 25 November 2023. Based on the Oscar winning DreamWorks film, the Broadway and West End smash hit Shrek the Musical is a fun filled and hilarious musical comedy with a cast of vibrant characters and a ‘shrektackular’ score.

Leading the stellar cast as the legendary Shrek is Theatre extraordinaire Antony Lawrence (The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Matilda the Musical, We Will Rock You), Strictly Come Dancing and leading lady Joanne Clifton (Strictly Come Dancing, The Addams Family) as the beloved Princess Fiona, Olivier-Award nominated James Gillan (Everybody’s Talking about Jamie) as the evil Lord Farquaad, and Theatre favourite Brandon Lee Sears (Dreamgirls, Come From Away, Motown) as the loveable Donkey.

James Gillan plays Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical. Picture: Maidwell Marketing

James Gillan recently spoke about playing Lord Farquaad.

Were you a fan of the original Shrek movie?

I loved the movie. I thought it was very funny, very fresh.

Did you ever imagine you’d be doing Shrek the Musical?

When you say you’re in Shrek, everyone goes, ‘Oh my god, amazing!”

What attracted you the role of Lord Farquaad?

I picked up the script and instantly thought, ‘Oh, this is fun!’ I feel like I got Lord Farquaad quite quickly. It’s nice to play someone who goes hot and cold, a bit of a manic villain.

The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4 Photography Credit Marc Brenner

What was the audition like?

For my second and final audition, I popped out from my little skincare job that I do (we actors all have other jobs; very few of us just act). It was very chilled, and the team were very kind. I know Sam Holmes, who’s co-directing the show with co-director and choreographer Nick Winston and he was his usual funny self and put me at ease. So, it was nice.

Where were you when you found out you’d got the part?

I was sitting having a cosmopolitan at home with my partner. So it was glass in hand all ready!

How does it feel to be stepping into such a well-loved show?

There’s always an element of pressure but it’s usually unfounded. You put this pressure on yourself really. You can second guess yourself a lot and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. When I was younger, I think I had a bit of a thicker skin really. You just have to trust your instincts.

The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4 Photography Credit Marc Brenner

How will you make the role your own?

I’ve always said about the way I perform that I’m 90 per cent myself and 10 per cent costume and direction. Of course, there’s accent and stuff like that as well: the costume will do a hell of a lot of work and the script is funny. But unless you’re really reacting as you would react, I think it lacks a bit of honesty. So, if you think, how would I react in this situation, then you’re usually spot on. All actors must bring themselves – without that essence of knowing who you are then you can’t really move forward with honesty with a character.

What is the message of Shrek the Musical?

It’s about how it doesn’t really matter what you look like because it’s about who you are inside. There was that same message in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie too, in fact.

You can see that Lord Farquaad is a product of what’s happened to him as a child: he feels abandoned by his father, and his mother fell off 20 mattresses and killed herself. So, he’s a bit damaged. I feel a bit sorry for him. But most villains you really should, shouldn’t you?

For ticket availability visit Wales Millennium Centre’s website.

Look out for our interview with Joanne Clifton – coming soon!

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