Ramin Karimloo is one of those insanely talented actors who not only made it on Broadway, but became a star. The Iranian-Canadian 38-year-old was nominated for a Tony Award as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, and just made a return to the stage as General Gleb Vaganov (Gleb) in Anastasia. Though he’s worked all over the world from Toronto to Tokyo, we caught up with him in between shows and prepping for his bluegrass concert at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in July to find out what he loves most about New York City.
First things first. How is it performing in Anastasia? RAMIN KARIMLOO: The crowds are crazy! It’s great to play this new character that they sort of wrote with me in mind and wasn’t in the film or the cartoon.
What’s that like taking on a character in a story so many people are familiar with? RK: I always love challenges. Especially as actors, you’re always looking for that new thing to create. So, the idea of playing a supernatural villain is cool.
Do you have a favorite moment from the show in particular? RK: I love the big book scenes when [Gleb] first sits down with Anya because you see so many different shades to him. So that’s fun to kind of play every night, and it’s quite malleable so each night it is slightly different and has its own unique energy per show, per audience.
What are some of the must-have things in your dressing room? RK: I am not fussy. Water, my guitar, a little bit of Don Julio from time to time, and I will be a happy actor.
You’ve performed all over the world. What is it about performing in NYC on Broadway that is so special? RK: What is great about Broadway, which is like no other, is the community here—and not just within those who are a part of the shows, whether it is on or off stage, below or above, but the community that the audience creates as well. You walk down the street in between shows, matinees—the stage doors are heaving and people are interested in who is who and what is what and they celebrate what you do here. It’s part of the culture of New York City, which I love and I have never experienced anywhere.
What are some of your favorite spots in New York City? RK: When it's warmer, just taking the bike out and cycling the highway by the Hudson—that is one of my favorite activities that I love to do. When I lived up in Washington Heights, Fort Tryon; it’s gorgeous just to walk around there. I just got into Seamore’s from Michael Chernow. And Sugarfish, I will never say no to going there. Gallow Green is a great rooftop, which I always hesitate to promote because I want to keep it under the radar. My wife and I went to The Top of The Standard last week or two weeks ago and that was quite dope—you will always have a good time there.
The Tonys are coming up soon. What are your picks? RK:Come from Away I thought was really clever. I wish the whole cast could be up for just a unanimous award because I don't know how you single them out. I thought that was pretty incredible.
You’ve been nominated for a Tony in the past. What did that feel like for you when you got that phone call? RK: I am not one of those to get crazy-excited about that. I didn't even know it happened; I didn't know the nominations were coming out. I promise you I was sleeping and my friend from England, I read his texts first. He was like ‘Congratulations.’ I said, ‘For what?’ He said, ‘You got nominated for a Tony.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ And I went back to bed. I was just so tired because Jean Valjean was such a tough role, and I am like I just need to sleep. It is one of those things now, when I look back and when I see ‘Tony-nominated’ next to my name, that feels cool.