Omar Baroud on Wedding Season, Cabaret and Trusting Your Instinct
With a new TV show, a stage gig and his very own musical on the go, it's been a busy year for the British actor
We’ve seen him in dramas like Baptiste and The Innocents, but Omar Baroud is delving into new territory with his latest project, Wedding Season. Just launched on Disney+, it’s a genre-bending series which follows two lovers on the run after being accused of a murder they didn’t commit – think rom-com mixed with thriller. Not only that, but Baroud is currently starring in the award-winning revival of Cabaret at the Playhouse Theatre. He tells us more below.
Omar Baroud on Wedding Season and Trusting Your Instinct
What can you tell us about Wedding Season?
It’s unlike anything on at the moment. It’s a murder mystery, it’s a rom-com, it’s an action-thriller, it’s got twists upon twists. And at its core, while you’re on the edge of your seat, it showcases love in every form possible. It’s so beautiful. I really hope people can sense the joy that went into making this.
Any funny stories from rehearsals?
There was one wedding, episode three, where we couldn’t stop laughing. I think some of it made it into the episode. The set designers had done such an amazing job of this wedding, but at one point I had to hide behind a pink metallic heart balloon to keep from laughing so much. The sound department would come up to me and go ‘the balloons are making a really squeaky noise, can you just sit still’. It was hard, let me tell you. I think the hardest challenge this whole season has been trying not to laugh.
Favourite person you’ve worked with on Wedding Season?
Why are you doing this to me? I see what’s happening. No, no I’m not gonna fall for this but it was definitely Lewis and Amaan in the crew. They would hook me up with all the goods, the muffins, the gossip, what to avoid at lunch. The crew work so tirelessly every day and honestly, I wish people could see how much work they put into these shows. Your favourite actors and their performances would be nothing if not for the 100 people standing behind them making sure that performance comes across in a good way.
Favourite role to date and why?
I’m in Cabaret currently playing Cliff Bradshaw, and even though he is so different to Jackson, what I find about these two characters is that so much of myself has been revealed by playing them. I thought I’d be bringing myself to play them, but what has happened with both, and them coming into my life at the same time, is actually highlighting parts of myself that I didn’t see clear enough until now.
Role you’d cut your right arm off to get?
Anything by Dennis Villeneuve. I love the format of fantasy and sci-fi, but most of all, when it’s done in a minimal way. I think I’ve seen Arrival about ten times. I adore his aesthetic taste but also his way of storytelling. It always feels like the movie is alive, breathing and pulsing. Even in the quietest moments, there’s such an intense beautiful energy. I really appreciate his craft.
You have also written your own musical, After Elijah. How did that come about?
I really wanted to showcase a modern Middle Eastern family on stage. Every aspect of writing it has been informed by trying to subvert stereotypes of what people think this family of characters might look and talk like. It all started by me growing up and having people tell me what my family was like, when I knew that my own experience was so far removed from their strange othering notion. I really wanted to just show that we are a multitude of people, and boiling any set of humans down to a few stereotypes is so detrimental to not just them but also your own understanding of the world we live in. There’s this persisting lie that people can be boxed into categories based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, race, when really we have been fed these boxes for generations to ensure that our economic systems can keep their hierarchy intact. Yes, our specific ways of doing things are beautiful, our specific way of eating, of singing, of dancing, of mourning, of screaming, they are different. But the lie that any of those things come from any other place than love, the same love that any human strives for and contains, that’s what I want to break down with this story.
What demands do you have during rehearsals?
No egos. Lots of falafel.
What qualities do you think have made you successful?
I think I’m quite easy-going. I love being by myself, it’s taught me a lot about the world around me. I absolutely adore the people in my life but having the time to myself to process this rollercoaster of a life, has allowed me to love them in a more authentic way.
Film you think everyone in the world should see?
Capernaum. Every time I watch it, I think it’s more perfect. It’s my go to recommendation. If you are looking for something that will fill your heart with every emotion, it’s Capernaum.
What’s your relationship with social media like?
Much like everyone else’s I assume. Bit of a love/hate. Love being informed, hate being influenced.
What did you want to be when you were a little boy?
A dog. They are so precious. I think I am a bit of a dog. But yeah I definitely wanted to be a dog.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
Trust your instincts. Follow them. They will always lead you to the right thing.
Three books you’d take to a desert island and why?
- Silence by Shusaku Endo – the most gorgeous cerebral peaceful reflection on life.
- Less by Andrew Sean Greer – hilarious, laugh out-loud, makes the butterflies swirl all around inside.
- Angels in America by Tony Kushner – my absolute favourite play, a triumph.
The most challenging moment of your life?
Dealing with the grief of the loss my cousin, she was really a sister to me. She passed away when she was 18. That moment has informed every single decision after.
How can we all live a little bit better?
Trust your instincts. Honestly. I found if my instincts lead me to closing a door, it’s because there was a bigger door hidden behind it. But I had to take that step to go in that direction. There’s a reason we feel we have a voice, that ‘gut’ feeling. Trust it.
What’s your interior design style?
Very minimal. Japanese minimalist – lots of white sandy stoneware and big green leafy plants. My life is so hectic, when I get home all I want is a blank slate to process everything. The calmer the exterior, the calmer the interior.
What is your current beauty regime?
I’ve only recently started getting into a regime, realizing I’m gonna be on screen more. I use a BHA liquid exfoliator in the evening and a regular night cream. In the morning I wash my face with a pore normalizing cleanser, then exfoliate with a daily exfoliator and put on a cream. I’m just hearing myself back and thinking of 15-year-old me going: ‘Sorry, what? Come again? Cerawho?’
What are your indulgences?
Fries. The god tier of food. Golden strings of heaven. They’re not good for me, but they are from heaven, so we must respect them.
What would your best friend say about you?
Can you please stop wiggling on the floor.
How do you relax?
Put on movie scores, light a neroli candle and just stare out at my courtyard for a bit. Might pick up my guitar and write a little tune. This sounds so contrived, but I promise it’s not that corny when I’m alone.
If we’re coming to your area for a visit, what should we do?
I’m close to the river, and the walk along the river is the absolute best way to see London. It fills me with so much energy.
Are you a rule breaker or a rule taker?
I love to learn the rules, so that I know exactly how to break them in a measured way.
Wedding Season is now available on Disney+ globally, Star+ in Latin America and Hulu in the U.S.
- Photographer: David Reiss @davidreissphotography
- Grooming: Kieron Lavine @kieronlavine
- Clothing Credits: Gucci trousers and Dr. Martens shoes
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