A few months ago, Josh Gad was best known for small parts in movies like 21 and Love and Other Drugs. Today, he’s one of the stars of Broadway’s newest hit The Book of Mormon, the blissfully blasphemous musical written by Avenue Q‘s Bobby Lopez and South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Gad plays Elder Cunningham, a misfit Mormon missionary sent to Uganda to baptize the natives. The role is already drawing rave reviews and bringing Gad, 30, the biggest publicity of his career. But as it turns out, the actor almost didn’t sign on to the musical when he was first wooed for the role by Lopez three years ago.
“I remember Bobby first sending me a demo recording of one of the show’s numbers that’s rather controversial, and I called my agent and said, ‘I don’t know if I can do this,'” Gad tells EW. “I have no ties to religion, per se, and I’m not afraid of pushing the envelope, but this seems really intense. Hearing the song out of context, I was like, ‘What the hell are we doing here?'”
Gad says he gave the show a second chance because of two simple words: South Park. “Matt and Trey have made a career of pushing the envelope. They’re so brilliant at satire. I knew that the people involved were good enough that I had to be a part of the show.”
Book of Mormon isn’t even Gad’s only gig right now. The actor also stars in the new web comedy series Gigi, about a non English-speaking foreigner living in America. “I basically created the character to make my wife laugh,” says Gad of the series, which provides him ample opportunities for slapstick and pratfalls. “I wanted to challenge myself to do something that didn’t rely on funny lines or dialogue. I want somebody in South America to be able to turn this on and say, ‘That’s funny.'”
Check out two episodes of Gigi below.