Its been nearly a year since we last connected with Little Mosque`s Brandon Firla who plays the intolerant and self-serving yet surprisingly promising character of Reverend William Thorne.
With Little Mosque `s sixth and final season drawing to a close in the next month , we discuss his reaction to the show`s cancellation,Reverend Thorne`s developing friendship with Baber Siddiqui[ Manoj]this season as well as he actor`s experiences as a cast member on the show and the program’s impact on building bridges between the Islamic community and the Western society.
Take a read through our humorous yet insightful interview with the Brandon Firla, below.
Abbas Karimjee: Since we last connected, it was announced that Little Mosque will conclude its run on television upon the end of its current season. What is your response to the show ending and why do you think it has been decided for this show to end at this point, despite its huge success, both in Canada and worldwide?
Brandon Firla:This is the first I’m hearing of this. Wow. Are you sure? I’ll have to look over my contract again and call my agent. And my Real Estate agent. That lakeshore condo isn’t gonna pay for itself.
That said, I think it’s always best to go out on top and when you’re in peak form and still relevant. Just like Michael Jordan did. Twice. But then he came back a second time, was too old and out of shape so he retired again and tarnished his legacy. The point is, you gotta know when to pull the plug and walk away. But like Michael Jordan, I’m now gonna go play professional baseball for a season or two, then come back to the biz.
AK: What was the mood like on set during the final weeks of the show?
The cast of Little Mosque share a toast as production draws to a close[ June 2011
:It was truly bittersweet. It’s rare that you know your series is coming to an end before you shoot a single scene, so we were all able to say a proper farewell to our castmates and characters. That usually doesn’t happen.AK: You have played Thorne for three seasons. How have you related with the character?
BF:I relate to his height, his questionable hairstyle, and his limited wardrobe selection. Other than that, we couldn’t be more different.
AK: Last season we saw Thorne develop a relationship with Rose. Will we have the chance to see more of this as the season progresses? How do you think this relationship has contributed to the character’s development?
BF:We will not see anymore of Rose. In a deleted scene from last season’s finale, she was abducted by aliens from the planet Zarbax 5 in the omega quadrant. The aliens also erased any memories Thorne or the people of Mercy may have had of her. It was a powerful scene. I’m not sure why it was cut.
AK: Gradually, Thorne has transformed himself into a character that has become more likeable, from how he has connected with Amaar and various other residents of Mercy, allowing him to show that he is genuinely making a commitment to improve despite his many flaws. How did portraying this aspect of Thorne prove to be challenging? Based on the response you have heard from viewers over the past season, how has fan response towards the character changed?
BF:It was great fun to have Thorne climb out of the enormous hole he had dug for himself by the end of season It’s always better for the character, for the actor, and for the audience when your characters have to deal with new situations and challenges and relationships in every episode than it is to see them face the same problem again and again. Season 4 pretty much exhausted every angle of the Thorne vs Amaar conflict, so it was very freeing for the writers and for myself to not be bound to that as a central conflict. As for fan response, I have no idea if or how it’s changed. You can’t control what people are going to think about you or your character, so I don’t put much thought into that. Though I do cry myself to sleep some nights after reading some of the comments on IMDb. It was actually more challenging to play Thorne in the first season.
AK: This season Baber and Thorne we have connected as best friends. What was your reaction when you learnt of this storyline and could you please give is an idea of some of the excitement which is to come as we further delve into their relationship?
BF:I thought it was a great “odd couple” pairing, but more importantly a great way to exploit and explore the spiritual themes of the series. Some of the excitement to look forward to is when Babar gets abducted by aliens from the planet Zarbax 5 in the omega quadrant. Thorne builds a rocketship in his sacristy and blasts off to liberate his friend, reunite with Rose, and unleash holy hell on the evil Zarbaxians.
AK: What do you think draws the two to become great friends, in a way much different from how Thorne became friends with Amaar?
BF:Backgammon. And faith. But mainly the backgammon.
AK: With Baber and Thorne now developing a strong friendship, could you please share some insights on how Reverend Thorne’s established friendship with Ammar will be impacted?
BF:I think he’s used to being abandoned by friends by now. Think about it: Magee left. Yasir left. Even Joe left. Maybe he should try a new aftershave.
AK: Reverend Thorne replaced Reverend Magee upon the commencement of the show’s fourth season to add some challenges to the Muslim community’s relationship with their fellow Anglicans. Do you feel the character’s presence has acted as a sort of model to the show’s audience in demonstrating how even those from different backgrounds and faiths may have a chance to positively build on their relationship , despite negative preconceived notions that they have about one another?
BF:Yes. Well put. I don’t even have to answer that one.
AK: How does it feel to have been apart of a show which is the first of its kind in terms of building bridges between the Islamic community and the Western society?
BF:I think its commendable whenever television programs give funding to a long-term construction project. I look forward to driving across that bridge someday.
AK. You have had a lot of experiences from working the show over it last three seasons. What are some of your favorite moments, either on screen or off screen in production?
BF:My daughter was born 3 weeks before season 2 started shooting, so that was pretty special. The show sort of became a baby factory with a lot of crew, cast, writers, and production staff having offspring over the course of its run. I recommended to anyone with fertility issues to get a job on the Little Mosque set
AK: Is there a message of thanks which you would like to offer to fans of the show, as it draws to a close?
BF:Thank you for suffering through any scene that I was in. It shows true inner strength and a clear understanding of passing through purgatory before reaching paradise.