How ‘Artemis Fowl’ star Josh Gad became the king of COVID-19 quarantine

No, Josh Gad's wildly long hair and beard do not signify his COVID-19 quarantine has gone out of control.

The "Frozen" star is returning to Disney to portray kleptomaniac Mulch Diggums in the fantasy drama "Artemis Fowl" (streaming Friday on Disney+), who mines for laughs when he isn't digging underground tunnels or in prison for petty offenses.

Gad, 39, is slightly better shorn in real life, doing his part to buoy the spirits of a nation in lockdown. He hosts an online children's book club with live storytime readings, co-created and stars in the Apple TV+ animated series "Central Park," gave two rousing "Disney Family Singalong" performances, and hosts the YouTube series "Reunited Apart," which rejoins the casts of classic movies "The Goonies," "Back the Future," "Splash," and "The Lord of the Rings" on Zoom.

Josh Gad is tunneling specialist Mulch Diggums in

"It's my job. I'm an entertainer. Any light, any joy I can bring in times of darkness," says Gad, the father of daughters Ava, 9, and Isabella 6. "And I'm a dad. I get it. I have two little girls who've been trapped inside for almost four months. I'm really aware of the need for distraction."

Here's how Gad's epic social distancing exercise has played out:

He grunted at Judi Dench in 'Artemis Fowl,' she grunted back

"After I read the book, I said to (director Kenneth Branagh) that this character literally consumes rock and soil. That would take a toll on his voice. Ken agreed. So this earthy, gravel voice came out of that. It just felt right. I didn't know Dame Judi made the same choice until we were interacting on set with each other. I made a joke in improv, 'Listen to the two of us grunting at each other.' I think that actually made the final cut, which is hilarious."

He's the master of storytime voices, but no Olaf, please

"Literally the day that I found out we were going to be sheltering in place was the night before I was supposed to read a chapter from 'Harry Potter' to my daughter's school. I felt mad that I couldn't do it. So I just picked up a book and started reading every night. The first was 'Olivia Goes to Venice' with a little pig named Olivia. That was a voice I loved playing with. There are a lot of requests right now for Olaf's voice. People are needing any respite. I'm grateful Olaf provides that sense of joy."

The neighbors think he's nuts during those Disney singalongs

"The first singalong, I wanted to do ('Gaston'), that great song with Luke Evans from 'Beauty and the Beast.' The second time around, I had reservations when I was asked to sing 'When I Am Older' from 'Frozen 2.' Because I literally sang it outside on my patio, not friendly to the neighbors. I was like, 'I'm just going to go for it. Hopefully, they'll think it's coming from a stereo somewhere.' "

The movie reunions challenge his Zoom hosting skills

"I've had so much fun revisiting some of these iconic movies that I grew up with. I thought, maybe I could bring these brilliant casts and creative teams together, that would really bring a lot of joy to me and hopefully others. It's a thrill. It can be tough. I put a script together that allows for every single person to have their opportunity, but there's also moments where someone gets on a roll, others weigh in and people don't realize that because of the nature of video conferencing, people can't be heard. So there's a lot of brilliant editing."

Zoom fails: Tom Hanks' terrible connection, plus that time Gad's daughter interrupted a reunion

"Of all the people I've interviewed, the person with the worst internet connection was Tom Hanks. That was so hilarious to me. He was such a good sport about it. He literally dropped off seven times. It's a testament to my editors that they effortlessly managed to make it look perfect. Very nerve-wracking.

"My daughter was literally banging on the door in the middle of the 'Back to the Future' meeting. I have my finger moving at her, away from the screen. So I'm like sitting, talking with a happy face and then just such anger with my finger wagging in this circular motion."

Eddie Murphy took a hard pass, but 'Ghostbusters' is next

"Everybody thinks I get everyone I ask for. I really don't. I've been desperate to get Eddie Murphy for 'Coming to America,' one of the greatest comedies ever made. I couldn't even get past his agent. He said, 'He'll never do it.' I’m like, 'Please, please!' I've reached out to Spike Lee. It's an amazing time to revisit 'Do the Right Thing.' Any opportunity to reach out to people that I greatly admire."

He's speaking out for social change after the death of George Floyd

"It's so important to be a voice. If you have a platform, it's so important to share that voice. When you speak what you believe to be the truth, and you speak to actions that nobody in your mind should be OK with, there's just so much negativity that comes with it. That’s hard and toxic in many cases. I've said what needs to be said. My stance has been made very clear and they can take it or leave it. That's up to them."

When quarantine's done, he's shooting 'Shrunk' with Rick Moranis

" 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' was one of the most iconic films when I was growing up. It came out when I was 8, I'll never forget the influence it had on me. To play Nick Szalinski, with my icon Rick Moranis, who, frankly, we've been robbed of for so long, is such a dream come true. I spoke to Rick about two weeks ago. We're waiting for the right time, the safe time to go back to work."

Staying Apart, Together: Remember to pause and take care of yourself this week

Summer movie preview:The 10 must-see new movies to stream while stuck at home


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