Exclusive Interview! Ron Mustafaa on His “Fricking Ridiculous” Skins Audition
WP: How did you feel about playing the Dev Patel part? RM: It's kinda weird. I was looking up to Dev Patel, this Indian-English actor who made it really big from Skins to Slumdog. I’m not saying I'm in the same position but it's really surreal and humbling that I get to relive the role that he portrayed on the UK's Skins. I thought the whole cast of Skins UK was unbelievably amazing.
WP: You play Abbud — how do you feel about your character? RM: Abbud is quite the character. He’s this really confused individual who has really religious parents who are really conservative but he also has really crazy friends — he's always trapped between two worlds. You see him trying to do both. He almost has this split personality — this good Indian kid who prays five times a day and then he goes out with his friends. He has really few chances for going out so when he does, he goes berserk.
WP: How did you prep for the role? RM: I didn't go out to the mosque and I didn't go out and go nuts with my friends. Prep was quite simple — you just read the script and you discover yourself, see the trajectory of the character building. I talked to (series creator) Brian Elsley and he’d be like, "I see Abbud this way—what do you think?" And I'd be like, "I see him this way" and he'd be like, "that’s a cool idea." He's really open about interactions between actors and writers.
WP: You have a lot of young writers on Skins — how is that working out? RM: If you meet these writers, they're all like 20, 21. We might have one 30 year old. They're all new and so fresh with some help from the head writers who are guiding them. On top of that, we have Skins contributors who are kids from New York — coming in, reading the scripts, and saying, I don’t know if this is right, I don't think kids from New York would act like this — you should change this up a bit.
In the upcoming US adaption of the hit British teen drama Skins, Ron Mustafaa plays Abbud, a teenager torn between uber-religious parents and a serious need to party. In real life, Ron's an enthusiastic, hard-working young actor who balances Skins with college and credits his mom as his rock — cute!
When we chatted with him this week, he could not have been more excited about the show he calls "raw, real, and fresh." Read on for Ron’s take on why you should watch Skins and the "hopefully good-looking actor-dudes" you’ll be seeing on the show!
Wetpaint: Hi Ron, welcome to Wetpaint! Ron Mustafaa: Funny story — I actually just ran into one of the Vampire Diaries cast members (Michael Trevino). We just did a GQ shoot and then I saw his interview up on Wetpaint yesterday. It was kinda surreal.
WP: That's awesome. You were both at the GQ shoot? RM: Yeah, it was wicked.
WP: Was it with several shows or was it just Skins? RM: Yeah, lots of shows. Every year they have new emerging designers in their March issue and so they put the clothes on different casts. We put on this new clothing line was called Warriors of Radness. It was really cool. We were there. Mad Men was there. Vampire Diaries, Treme, and us.
WP: Nice company! R: Yeah, it was so surreal and humbling.
WP: So tell us about the infamous Skins casting process. RM: The call was hell. It took hours — fricking ridiculous. First, it was freezing, like minus 30. My mom and I went and they gave me a number like American Idol. I was number 625 or something. You went in with like 40 other kids and they gave you an improv scene. My scene was, your best friend just hooked up with your girlfriend, and you have to confront him. I went up to the casting director and I was like, this is Skins — am I allowed to swear?
WP: Seems like Skins would be okay with the swears. RM: Yeah, she said, "Do what you need to do — you have thirty seconds to prove yourself." So I was like, okay, this is my chance and I went all out. Then they were like, we want you to come in tomorrow and read for Tony. I knew I wasn’t going to be Tony cause Tony's a different type of character. So we all read for Tony and then they were like, okay, we want you to read for Abbud who's kinda like Anwar from the UK show and I was like, sweet.
WP: Were you familiar with the UK show before you auditioned? RM: I actually was. My mom was a huge fan of Slumdog Millionaire. When she saw Dev Patel, she was like, "Ron, that could have been you — you speak to your agent and be like, send me out to a Danny Boyle film!" And I was like, "Mom, they're not going to make Slumdog Millionaire II." But we knew Dev Patel was on Skins because in each interview he did, he'd be like, "I was on this show called Skins." I started checking it out and I just thought it was so real and raw — much different than all the other teen dramas out there. I watched the whole first season.
WP: The anticipation for this show is crazy — the first episode of the show won't air for another month and you already have fans. What should they look forward to? RM: We know the people who you see on Skins — maybe it's heightened reality because it's television but you know people who may have messed up in their lives and might not have learned from it but then they messed up again and they paid the price. That's what I like about Skins — it doesn't really beat around the bush. It tells you straight forward what it means to be a teenager in America and in the UK.
WP: At the same time, you've got a lot of detractors. RM: People are going to say, oh my God, Skins is all about sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll but if you really look into it, it's about friendship and the relationships you have with your parents and your teachers — growing up and discovering who you are.
WP: How would you sell this show to someone who has never heard of it? RM: I honestly think nothing is better than the writing in this show. And many of the actors are the same age; we’re all like 17, 18, 19. I’m the oldest one, being 20. It has new fresh faces with a script you can relate to. Even the directors have this cool, fresh vision for laying it all out. It’s just innovative — raw and almost sexy.
WP: It sounds like it's going to be very sexy. RM: It's going to be sexy. We have some good-looking actresses and hopefully good-looking actor-dudes.
Want more Ron Mustafaa goodness? Stick around for Part 2 of our interview with the ridiculously adorable Ron!