The conclusion of Psych, the USA series on which he starred for eight seasons, put Timothy Omundson on the market again and a little bit at sea over what his next step would be. Psych” co-star and good friend Maggie Lawson stepped in to lend an ear.
“She was really encouraging, getting me to think about what I wanted to do,” recalls Omundson, a 1991 BFA graduate. “So I made a list. If I could write my own ticket, what would that ticket look like?”
By going off to England and going Galavant-ing, Omundson filled out that ticket, and then some.
The Omundson ticket included a role on a network show that could potentially attract more audiences than a cable series. He wanted a role which would allow him to grow and keep his beard and he coveted a period piece that might help him get reacquainted with some of his theatre training muscles.
“And I said I wanted to sing,” Omundson says. “You look at Galavant and you can practically check off the boxes. “But boy, be careful what you wish for. Here I am singing Alan Menken songs while I have friends on Broadway seething with rage and jealousy that someone who was initially a non-singer would get this job.”
A half-hour musical comedy fairy tale which aired on ABC in January, Galavant casts Omundson as King Richard, the villainous monarch who steals away the true love of the hero Galavant (played by Joshua Sasse). An admitting Chris Koch, who directed several of the episodes, calls Omundson “the breakout star of the show.”
Omundson won the role after a series of auditions spanning nearly five months. He is the only American cast among the principal cast. And checked resolution boxes or otherwise, the actor is proud of his work, and credits his SDA experiences with helping him nail the role.
“It uses all my theatre training. This is why I went to school, to have a job like this and be able to do it,” says Omundson. “I sent a trailer of the series to Jack Rowe, and said, ‘Tell your students this is why you go to Shakespeare class.’”
Omundson was active in his youth theatre in his native Washington, performed in high school plays and spent the summer of his junior year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He chose USC — the only school he applied to — for proximity to L.A. and to the film and TV industry. His family drove him down in the 1969 Ford Country Squire and dropped him off, setting him up in his dorm and then leaving him in the big city.
“I remember sitting around that first week of school, looking at all the other BFAs and thinking, ‘These are the people I’m going to be with for the next four years,’” Omundson says. “I’m still close with some of the people, and I’ve been able to reconnect with a lot of old classmates through social media this last year. It’s been great.”
Omundson earned agency representation immediately out of school, earned his SAG card on Seinfeld, was promptly dropped by his management and found himself back at Johnny Rockets flipping burgers. He did not book another acting job for a year.
Still in his 20s, Omundsun gave himself until age 25 to “become an actor,” although he says he had no intention of quitting even if he didn’t reach his age/success goal. Shuttling between a series of his jobs — sometimes alongside his wife Alison Rowe who helped cover the bills — Omundson worked in bars, waited tables, did roofing, catering and, ultimately, moved furniture into the homes of wealthy people.
That last job served as a sort of revelation for Omundson.
“I thought, ‘OK. I’m back to physical labor. Fine.’ Something happened, and within two days, I had an audition for Xena: Warrior Princess,” Omundson says. “I got the job and it was several months of work, and it was the last time I worked a regular job. And I swear it’s because I humbled myself to the universe.”
From there, the gigs became steady with guest roles and the occasional movie interspersed with recurring roles on Deadwood, Judging Amy, Jericho and ultimately Psych.
Those eight seasons on Psych and the accompanying financial stability were welcome for the father of two daughters. The self-described “let’s see what’s over this next ridge kind of person” was only too happy knowing that a return to burger flipping or furniture moving was not in the cards.
“There’s been lots of having to remind myself that my career is going in the right direction,” he says. “You always think your last job is going to be your last job. I don’t think that ever changes.”