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Ramin Karimloo Shares How He Sees Theater Differently

18 December 2017 by Ramin Karimloo
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Photographed by Jenny Anderson

I’m a bit of a black sheep in the theater community. I’ve still never seen The Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music. I’ve never heard Judy Garland sing. I don’t know what Liza Minnelli sounds like. I love what I do, but my path here was unconventional. My first musical was The Phantom of the Opera. I was in seventh grade, and my class was going into the city to see the show. It was a day off of school, so I signed up to go.

As soon as the lights went down, I was enamored. When Colm Wilkinson sang “The Mirror,” I was like, who’s that? His voice could take your soul out. Then he walked through a mirror, and so for a 12-year-old, how cool is that? At the end of the show, I had a lump in my throat. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t because I was the tough guy hockey player. I just want to remember thinking, I want to sign up for that.

I waited for him after the show. He was so kind. I said, “How do you do what you do?” He told me he was in rock bands, so I joined a band. Even to this day, when I think of careers I want to parallel, I try to find out what they did to get where they are. I would read interviews in GQ and Esquire with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Daniel Day-Lewis. They would talk about Uta Hagen, so I went to the library and checked out her books.

I remember saying to my buddy Scott: “I’m going to be the youngest Phantom.” I wanted to do for other people what Colm did for me. I didn’t really comprehend that it wasn’t an easy goal because I was like, why not? Next thing I know, I’m 26 and putting on the makeup. I remember looking in the mirror and laughing at myself because I thought, It’s happening. This is your dream come true.

I love the creative process. You’re a blank piece of paper, and you’re the one holding the pen. Take in all your research and draw the picture you want for the character. But it has to start with you.

You can’t be lazy. You can’t wait for someone to give you the answer. You have to go get it. My whole life had been about instincts. Career choices, investments, life, my marriage. My wife and I got married so quickly. I hardly knew her, but I knew I didn’t want to be without her. To this day, we’re still together — ups and downs and all.

If you have a dream, you have to go out and get it. Find mentors and people whose careers you admire and ask them how they got to be where they are. Don’t let anybody tell you it isn’t possible.

Styled by Drew Jessup
Grooming by Austin Thornton

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