Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire premiered recently on Comedy Central Thursday nights and is most likely the most expensive show that network has ever aired. And, perhaps, one of the most expensive comedy television series ever produced for any network. It's quite a risk considering, as series star Sean Maguire even admits in this interview, it will take an audience some time to wrap their head around what this show is trying to do. Sean discusses the intricacies of a show like Kröd Mändoon and looks back on the start of his career starring opposite of, yes, the king of gods himself, Zeus.

Mike: How did Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire come about?

Sean: I got a call from my manager who told me the title and then I passed -- because I thought it sounded ridiculous. Then he said, "No, don't be an idiot. Read it." I read it and I just thought it was brilliant, original and funny. There is nothing like it on TV at the moment which is a hard thing to find right now. After meeting the producers I was convinced that if we got the right cast we could make a decent show.

Mike: Did you, at first, think it was like one of those old Sam Raimi Hercules or Xena type shows before you realized it was a comedy?

Sean: I knew it was a comedy but I'd recently made a movie that was, at least I thought, in a similar vein (Meet the Spartans) I thought I should try to do something different. The difference [from Meet the Spartans] is that we don't break the fourth wall in this. We ground it in its own sense of reality. There's no anachronistic people walking around with cell phones or motorcycles in the background; it's true to its own world -- which is different than a spoof like Meet the Spartans.

Mike: So someone pretending to be Paris Hilton is not going to show up.

Sean: No, no. I promise you that! We will never have Paris Hilton.

Mike: I find the accents in the show interesting. Most of the characters are doing the 'old world fantasy' type accents but your character, Kröd Mändoon, seems to have a straight forward American accent. I find that funny because it's almost like he just stepped out of 2009.

Sean: You hit the nail on the head. We wanted to achieve a couple of things with Kröd. When I first read it I thought that I would do [the accent] British. So, we tried it English and tried it American and, to be honest, we wanted Kröd to be a throwback to the old 50's serials -- Flash Gordon and Zorro -- you know, the sort of things that Indiana Jones was derived from. We wanted him to be a kind of Indiana Jones type: the guy that was sort of together, who could get the job done but for his bumbling gang of buffoons.

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For me, personally, I grew up watching American heroes and American movies and TV. We wanted to be like the Star Wars cantina: everyone's from different places. Having tired it both ways -- and now I'm going to get a lot of flack from the British press for making him American -- but we just felt Kröd should be like an all-American hero ... a hero but also the all-American typical male in this 21st century post feminist sort of time.

Mike: One of your first jobs was with Sir Lawrence Olivier?

Sean: That's correct. As fantastic as it sounds it was really just one of those great omens where I was fortunate enough to get my start playing Lord Olivier's grandson.

Mike: I'm assuming at that age you couldn't grasp who that was.

Sean: Oh, absolutely not. One of my earliest memories is my father telling me to behave because I'm about to meet and work with the greatest actor of all time. then this old guy comes out and I was like: pfff, he doesn't look anything like Luke Skywalker, I don't know what my dad is trying to tell me here.

Mike: So you would haven been happier if Mark Hamil had walked in.

Sean: Oh, infinitely! What five year old wouldn't?

Mike: You and I are about the same age, and I don't know if growing up where you did you feel the same way, but Sir Lawrence Olivier, even after all of these great movies -- Othello, Wuthering Heights, Spartacus -- to me he's always going to be Zeus in Clash of the Titans. I'm not sure that's fair to him.

Sean: Oh, of course. It's the same way that Alec Guinness is one of the greatest actors of all time but speak to somebody who is our age and they'll go: Obi-Wan Kenobi. If you're in your 50's or 60's you'll think of The Bridge on the River Kwai. I think, with Olivier, as I got older I realized how important he was to what we do and the significance of him as an actor. Only then do you realize: Wow, I got to work with him on one of his last ever jobs on my first ever job.

Mike: It has to be nice to have that in your back pocket. If you're ever on set and someone starts getting full of themselves as 'Mr. Big Shot' you can always say, "Look, I've worked with Olivier."

Sean: I've been so fortunate. Olivier was an incredible star but I've also been able to work, albeit briefly, with Pacino and Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hanks. The thing I realize about those guys is that they really lead by example by being very gracious and treating everyone with a lot of professionalism and respect. As a young actor it's important to see how the greatest in the industry work ... diva behavior is never it.

Mike: You were also in a Monty Python film, too.

Sean: I was, yeah, I was in The Meaning of Life. It was great, I was about seven or eight years old and there were lots of women walking around in skateboard gear and no bras. That had another profound effect on my young life.

Mike: (Laughs) I could imagine. Do you have a favorite episode of Kröd Mändoon?

Sean: I think episode five is the funniest. But they work as kind of a six part movie in my mind, that's how I approached it.

Mike: Where do you guys film?

Sean: Budapest in Hungary.

Mike: Wow... you know, when you think of Comedy Central and what Viacom gives them for a budget, you don't envision this show. It looks like it has some money behind it.

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Sean: Well that's why we needed three investors on this project; it was almost too big for one network to take on. They really did sink a lot of money into it and that money, I'm happy to say, was put up on the screen. I'm so pleased with the production values, it kind of looks like a movie to me.

Mike: I'm glad they gave it a big budget because, with what it's trying to do, I don't know if that works on a small scale. If you're going to mock those type of films, it kind of has to look like those films.

Sean: It would just look cheap and campy if it was wobbly sets and painted backdrops ... the jokes are not Kröd looking silly or inaccurate ... the comedy comes out of modern sensibilities set against that medieval backdrop.

Mike: I think Keven Hart is quite hilarious as Zezelryck.

Sean: He's brilliant. I think him and Marques Ray are a really great double act in the making. I also feel the same way about Alex MacQueen and Matt Lucas together. You have to remember this is a tough one for a new audience to digest and get their head around ... I just think the best is yet to come.

Mike: It's funny you said that: I was at the New York premiere in the East Village and for the first 20 minutes the crowd is trying to just figure out what the show is about. What's the angle? I remember the crowd enjoying the second half.

Sean: I was the same way. When I watched it I was like: I'm not sure I get this yet. In the second half of the hour premiere you start to get a sense of flavor, tone and a sense of: Ah, I get what they're doing here now.

Mike: I like some of the reoccurring jokes. Like the one where Loquasto accidentally shoots Kröd with a crossbow every time he fires the weapon. By the fourth time I found that really funny. It went over really well with the crowd, too, but to be fair, there were free drinks at this event and those may have been kicking in.

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Sean: (Laughs) Yeah, you realize: Oh, he's just an idiot. Yeah, there are a couple of little threads that find their way though. The best that we can hope for is that enough people like it that we get to make a second [season]. With a second season we would have 16 episodes and that's enough to get a real flavor of what the show is and hopefully leave you wanting some more.

"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at
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