Ahead of his tour, Schmuck for a Night, Omid Djalili comes clean about being "shot by a Rolling Stone", and his decision to give dancing a rest.
I like the word schmuck. It means fool or buffoon. You have to be a schmuck to do comedy in today’s climate. I’m embracing the schmuck in me to take on the big issues of our day. Plus, it’s a word that ends with ‘uck’ which can only be a good thing.
Is it fair to say this show is mellower?
I've become less frenetic. I used to dance every two minutes in between the stand-up. I can’t even remember why. It was mentioned to me that when I danced audiences were laughing at me not with me. So it was either stop dancing or ban my manager from the gigs.
You’ve just been cast in The Nutcracker with Morgan Freeman and Keira Knightley. How is that going to feel filming and then showing up at a theatre to do stand up?
You’d think it’d be weird but it has never phased me. Once in Barnet years ago I was late so didn’t change and came straight to the theatre from the set of The Mummy at Shepperton Studios and walked straight on stage in my film costume. I went on stage in full 1930s Egyptian prison warden garb. I even heard a crowd member say “well at least he’s making an effort.”
Away from stand-up, you have an impressive acting CV and have worked with Russell Crowe, Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Mike Myers, Sarah Jessica Parker… Who’s been most fun to work with?
That’s a tough one… I’d say, and anyone who’s worked with him as an actor would agree, Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, was probably the most extraordinary. He played the father of Capt. Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean 3. His character shoots and kills my character for no reason. This seemed to bother him. In fact, he shot me about 14 times and after each take he’d come up to me and say, 'Listen, you do know I don't mean this?' After every take. It was almost like a joke but it wasn’t. Bang! and he’d shuffle up and say, 'Nothing personal mate, I hope you realise'. Then after another take, with the same sincerity and intensity, 'It’s all acting. You know that. You’re not upset with me, are you?' Once he shot me and just said, 'Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do'. The final time he shot me he just stood over me and mumbled, 'We’ve all got issues… it’s all about mummy, innit?' How right he was.