■ The singer, 37, talks Queen, the supernatural and voicing Emperor Maximus in Playmobil: The Movie
What do you love most about your Playmobil character?
Emperor Maximus reminded me of being in theatre when I was a kid. He’s a very theatrical character, a loveable villain, bad but hilarious.
How did you perfect your evil laugh?
I worked for two days in the studio and each time I lost my voice. The director kept saying, ‘Bigger!’ OK — you do it! I kind of lost my mind in there. It was fun and therapeutic, in a way. Going that crazy blows off a lot of steam.
Have you always wanted to do a voice for a film?
Yes — I was so excited when I got the call for Playmobil. When I was a kid I was in a lot of productions and I would go home with the script and tape record it. I’d read everyone’s lines to learn my lines. This film is a natural extension of that.
Was drama your main hobby?
Yes, though my parents encouraged me to try different activities. I didn’t take to the soccer — or the football, rather — it didn’t work for me. I think I made one football goal. Drawing, painting, make-believe and dressing up were my things so I think I’m in the right profession!
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
For a long time I was into musicals, then at high school I listened to pop music such as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Missy Elliott. When I moved out in my early twenties, I started falling in love with soul and funk, older stuff. I fell in love with the 1970s.
Do you sometimes have to pinch yourself when thinking about where you are now?
I’ve had those moments. I’m never totally satisfied but when I stop and put things in perspective, I feel very lucky.
How about that Queen thing? You’ve performed with them since 2011.
It’s crazy, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. At first it was a one-off but it led to more and more. I’m just so honoured to help Brian [May] and Roger [Taylor] bring their legacy to the stage and to pay tribute to Freddie, who’s one of my heroes. He was such an incredible vocalist and songwriter. Freddie was such a showman, so flamboyant, and it’s that kind of performance that I love doing. I love to emulate the spirit of that, not imitate.
Rami Malek won the Oscar for playing Freddie in Bohemian Rhapsody…
I knew he was a shoo-in for the awards seasons. I’m thrilled with how it played out, he worked really hard.
What else have you been up to?
I’ve released the first single from my new album, Velvet. I worked on the album for more than three years. I took my time and discovered a new sound.
If you had to live one day over and over, as in Groundhog Day, which day would you choose?
Maybe the day of the American Idol final [he was a runner-up] to see if I could do it over again, if it would all be the same or different. I’m very proud of that day. It was such a thrill.
Do you have any recurring dreams?
There’s a house I’ve been in many times in dreams, a familiar dwelling but not my childhood home. Maybe it’s a representation of my psyche. Whenever I’m there I feel safe.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
I am fascinated by it. I’ve definitely had weird feelings, like vibes in certain spaces and rooms, a feeling that I’m not alone. I’ve even experienced sleep paralysis: your body is asleep but your mind is awake and you can’t move. Once I saw a figure leaning over me. It was very strange.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Clothes and fashion. But I have an online shopping ‘problem’. I click on something, put it in the basket, carry on shopping and then at the end it’s expensive but I convince myself I need everything.
What if you could only keep one item — or is that the point, you can’t?
That’s the whole issue! I’m overstocked. I’m recently obsessed with my Balenciaga boots — they’re boots but cut low like a shoe, very funky. That’s my current obsession but it’s going to change in a week.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a little dog and love him so much. He’s a Basenji-Chihuahua mix and he’s got a split personality.
What does that say about you?
Maybe that’s kind of like me. In some ways I can be very alpha male — driven and dominant — and at other moments I’m a total puppy dog.
Playmobil: The Movie is in cinemas from Friday