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Voicing the Villain’s Sidekick: Interview with Broken Road’s Ian Paget

Fans of BROKEN ROAD, the audio drama, have enjoyed getting to know the cast of characters behind the story—among them the sidekick to the show’s bad guy, Arlin Frey. Yes, we’re talking about the earnest, humorous enforcer-in-training Roy McGee, played to comedic perfection by actor Ian Paget (Reasonable Doubt, Mozart in the Jungle, Katy Keene, Broadway’s Mamma Mia!)

From his appearances on TikTok starting in April 2020, Ian quickly gained a mass following making comedic videos about relationships and dance videos. He was nominated for TikTok and GLAAD’s first ever Queer Advocate of the Year Award in 2021 and was named one of E! News‘ New Faces of Pride 2021.

Recently, Ian joined RECURSOR to chat about his career, his role in BROKEN ROAD, how Roy reminds him of Beauty and the Beast’s LeFou, the new sequel to Willow, and more.

RECURSOR: How did you get into performing?

IAN PAGET: I grew up in a family where my dad is in the entertainment business. He worked in OG stuff on TV, like The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and appeared on shows like the Dick Cavett show. So he put that in our lives at an early age. 

I went through a phase where I didn’t want to do it anymore, when we moved from the UK to Miami. It was a huge change culturally; and I just got to that age where I wanted to do what the other kids were doing, because I already felt a little “othered” at that time. But freshman year of high school was coming up and my father found New World School of the Arts in Miami. I auditioned and got in, and that brought me back to acting and dancing again. 

Tell us about your early roles.

In high school, I got into musical theater, started taking dance again, and remembered, “I’m good at this thing.” I was finding community and acceptance and people who more like me and who liked what I liked. In my freshmen or sophomore year of college (at Marymount), I booked Dreamgirls at Theatre Under the Stars in Texas.

After graduating from Marymount, I was lucky enough right to book the role of A-rab in the London-European tour of West Side Story. It was really cool to have a job for six months that took me back to Europe. I got to perform in the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, the first theater I’d ever seen a show at when I was a kid.

After that, on the last leg of the tour, I found out I had booked Mamma Mia on Broadway. From then on, I’ve been doing what I love and lucky enough to be doing it.

Ian Paget recording Broken Road

What was it like being in a hit Broadway show like Mamma Mia?

I loved Mamma Mia. That was my “Broadway college,” because I learned a lot. You know, getting the job is one thing. And then, I was doing eight shows a week for a long time. So, I learned a lot about discipline and the everyday, how to keep your job as fresh as possible when you’ve been doing it for over six months.

That consistency felt nice, but eventually I was craving excitement and newness, and I wanted to be in new shows. So I went back to auditioning. But I was lucky enough to pay off my student loans with the consistency Mamma Mia brought me.

What led you to performing in Broken Road?

As a sci-fi audio drama, it’s a completely different medium and genre from something like Mamma Mia, but Broken Road was one of those moments where I luckily knew Jacob Pinion (executive producer and writer of Broken Road, along with E.J. Kavounas). 

What intrigued you about the character you play, Roy McGee?

Well, I love anything sci-fi. And I loved being able to bring to life a character who, in a sci-fi audio drama, is the comedic relief. Roy is like the LeFou character (the comedic sidekick of Gaston) in Beauty & the Beast. He’s got the one-liners. 

It’s fun to play in that kind of comedic role. I really, really love doing this. Broken Road was fun, because comedic roles like Roy are some of the hardest to do—so if you’re lucky enough to be doing one and having fun, it is really rewarding.

How did you bring Roy’s character to life? What was your process?

When Jacob sent me the script and we started working on it, I saw Roy’s name and just thought about who he was and where he was living. I thought, “He has a twang.” There’s something fun about him literally being so “not me” and who lives and comes from a different place. I leaned into that, and how funny that could be.

At heart, Roy is just someone who wants Arlin (the lead antagonist) to choose and accept him. Roy wants to do a good job for Arlin and make him proud. It’s, “I want my dad to tell me, ‘I’m proud of you, son.’” And there’s a lot of that in the script. 

There’s a childlike sense about Roy; he is a kiss-ass because he just wants love. I found fun in the way he shows off to get attention. It felt pretty natural. 

What was it like performing the role of Roy in the studio?

It felt very new to me because I don’t do voice acting all the time. But it was really, really fun for me. I felt comfortable, and there was just this collaborative effort with the producers (EJ and Jacob) and the sound engineer. There’s just something about giving three different takes, and none of them are wrong, it’s all just exploration—and in the moment, you can hear it back. 

The beauty of listening to your track again is that you hear something—you’re going over your script, and you think, “I hear something,” while you’re stepping away from the performance. And you think, “Oh, I know where that sing-song-iness is supposed to live. Let’s try it.” It was a collaborative effort, but overall the role of Roy was just fun to play around with.

Working with EJ was really great. I loved those moments when we would do a couple of takes, move on to the next scene, and I was still thinking about the scene we had just left. So, I would ask, “Can we go back? I want to try something.” EJ would say, “Yeah, totally.” That kind of collaboration was really nice. 

I even made a TikTok about how much I like voice acting. EJ as a producer made me feel like nothing was a mistake, and I just felt really confident. It was really fun. 

So, voice acting in a sci-fi or fantasy role is something you’d do again?

Oh, absolutely! My favorite auditions are when I get a cartoon voiceover audition. I love sci-fi. I love cartoons. It’s what I grew up on! I love Lord of the Rings. I grew up watching movies like Legend with Tom Cruise and Tim Curry. And then, obviously, Star Wars, Harry Potter, anything with magic. Willow was huge for me growing up. 

Anything in that world, plus cartoons—they’re such a larger-than-life fantasy world that you can be who you want to be. You can try anything out. And so, that’s what I love about it.

Is there a role you’d love to play?

Since we’re on the voiceover train, I would love to play an evil supervillain in a superhero show—a role with a Pacific Northwest or British accent, something where I get to really chew my words. You never know!

Let’s talk about your podcast, “It’s Giving Share!” What’s it about? What can listeners expect?

We’ve got three episodes up now of It’s Giving Share!, and the fourth one drops soon. It came about because I’d blown up and gotten a lot of eyes on me during Covid-19 through Tiktok with my partner at the time. Then, we went through a pretty public breakup. It left me out of sorts, and I was isolating, grieving, and processing.

My friend Sloane (Steel) said, “I think a podcast with you talking like you normally do about life and sharing your insights and stories would be helpful and beneficial with your audience. They just love you so much that I think we should do something.”

I had already done some shows with Sloan and our friend Zach Mellen on their podcast, Mummy Dearest. We already had a rapport, and we decided it would be fun if all three of this did a podcast together

It’s Giving Share is essentially about sharing our stories and experiences in hopes of creating meaningful connections and conversation around the day-to-day of our lives. Episode three, for example, was about time—and we discussed how people think about it, whether we have too much time, being aware of mortality, whatever. We just cover all these things, and hopefully people laugh along the way, and they feel seen and heard.

The show is still figuring itself out. That’s what is fun about the beginning stages of a podcast or any kind of project. You can have an idea to begin with, but it’s going to morph and find its voice as we do more.

I’m excited. It’s my new little passion project, and hopefully people connect with it. Ultimately, I just want to entertain. I want to “Robin Williams it” to the world if I can.

To connect with Ian and learn more:

Check out the It’s Giving Share podcast on Buzzsprout and Apple Podcasts

Follow Ian on TikTok: @ianpaget_ and Instagram: @ianpaget