By Richard Crouse
Alan Cumming’s new character was years in the making. In Strange Magic, a new musical fantasy from the mind of George Lucas, he plays the villainous leader of The Dark Forest, the Bog King.
“Some years you only do three days on it,” he said. “The gaps between when you perform it are so huge. You’re coming back to it with some familiarity but not that much because you might have recorded a song in a couple of hours that you’ve never known before and never hear again and six months go by and you have to go back and sing it again. It is a very interesting, drastic process doing a film like this.”
The toughest part, however, was not spilling the beans on what he was up to.
“You have to sign a confidentiality clause and it was very hush hush. I’d suddenly be going to LA and I’d see friends who’d ask, ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘I’m working on a top secret George Lucas project.’ ‘What is it?’ “I can’t say. It’s top secret.’ Early on I didn’t even know the proper story so I couldn’t have told it. It was quite nice having a secret.”
Inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Strange Magic is an animated jukebox musical set in a fairy world where you can never judge a book by its cover. Cumming’s character, with his glowing eyes and a skeleton that is more exo than endo, certainly embodies the movie’s message that beauty is only skin deep.
“You have to scare people but ultimately show that he has a nicer side to him.”
The release of the movie caps a busy period for the Scottish born actor. He’s currently on Broadway starring in the revival of Cabaret and can be seen on television in the Golden Globe nominated role of crisis manager Eli Gold on The Good Wife. Off stage, his memoir, Not My Father’s Son, was a recent New York Times bestseller.
“I don’t have many moments right now,” he says. “It’s been a very hectic time but I’m really enjoying stuff. I still am able to have fun. I have Club Cumming in my dressing room. I actually relax and have fun with friends there. It’s not ideal. I would love to have more days to do nothing but I think it is really important when you are really busy in your day to put some hours aside for revelry and relaxation.”