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Why Mulch Diggums From Artemis Fowl Looks So Familiar

Artemis Fowl is a young adult fantasy series with a hard edge that finally has a film adaptation thanks to Disney+. Our hero, the pre-teen Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw), is a genius who uses his smarts in the pursuit of his career as a budding criminal mastermind. When his father, Artemis Fowl I (Colin Farrell), goes missing, he enlists a crew of mythical creatures to assist with the rescue. These include an elven police officer named Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) and a foul-smelling dwarf with a penchant for theft named Mulch Diggums.

Mulch probably seems pretty familiar, even if you don't recognize him right away under all that dwarf hair. That's because he's played by Josh Gad. While Gad has a career in film and TV that stretches back nearly two decades, he shot to prominence in 2011 when he originated the role of Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon on Broadway. The musical was a huge financial success (via Forbes) and earned 14 Tony Award nominations, including a Best Actor in a Musical nod for Gad.

However, even if you missed the original run of The Book of Mormon, there are plenty of other parts you likely saw Gad play before he embodied Mulch Diggums in Artemis Fowl. Here are just a few of his most famous roles.

You're probably even more familiar with Josh Gad's voice than you are with his face

One of Gad's most well-known performances is one you might not even realize is him. He provides the voice of Olaf, the snowman who frequently steals the spotlight in Disney's FrozenĀ movies. It isn't enough that the first movie made $1.28 billion dollars at the global box office (via Box Office Mojo), it also launched an empire of merchandise, spin-offs, video games, a sequel, and a possible threequel.

Although Olaf is a sidekick in the mainline film entries, he headlines some of the other properties in the franchise. He was the star of the short filmĀ Olaf's Frozen Adventure and the video game Frozen: Olaf's Quest. Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) may be the stars of the show, but Olaf is beloved in his own right.

Gad's performance was cited as one of "The Eight Reasons Frozen is Unstoppable" by Vulture writer Bilge Ebiri. In writing about why Olaf is such an enticing character, Ebiri pointed to the snowman's boundless idealism, saying, "Gad brings just the right amount of wide-eyed enthusiasm to the voice of a character who doesn't know anything about the world, but is eager to discover it, to a fault."

Frozen isn't the only time Gad has given life to a popular sidekick in a Disney film. For his next outing with the Mouse House, the Broadway star got to put his song and dance skills to the test.

Josh Gad was at the center of controversy thanks to his role in Beauty and the Beast

For 2017's hotly anticipated live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, Gad was cast as LeFou. As the henchman to the villainous Gaston (Luke Evans), Gad exercises his Broadway trained muscles in the musical number "Gaston," wherein LeFou serenades his vain boss.

The character was also the cause of some controversy before the film even released. During an interview with Attitude, director Bill Condon revealed that in his version of the classic fairytale, Gaston not only had a crush on his boss, but would also have a "gay moment," a first for a Disney film. The revelation caused Kuwait to cancel all screenings of the movie (via BBC), while Russia and Malaysia only released it with restrictive content ratings (via The Hollywood Reporter).

On the flip side, LeFou's characterization also didn't impress many who were eager for LGBTQ+ representation in a Disney movie. At Vulture, Jackson McHenry pointed out that, despite all the hype surrounding the reveal, the "gay moment" in question (a dance between LeFou and another male character) "lasts for two seconds at the most."

Writing for Huffington Post, Brain A. Coussens admonished the way the character was handled overall. While he didn't find anything overtly offensive about Gad's performance, he argued that in the larger context of LeFou's storyline it felt like, "gay stereotypes performed for a laugh by a heterosexual man for a largely heterosexual audience."

Josh Gad plays a clueless space entrepreneur on Avenue 5

In addition to his stage and film work, Gad has an extensive list of TV credits to his name. In 2020 he starred on the HBO comedy Avenue 5, which was created by Veep's Armando Iannucci. The show takes place in the near future, when space tourism has become a reality thanks to funding from eccentric billionaires like Gad's Herman Judd. At the beginning of the first episode, we're introduced to one of Judd's space cruises, and by the end, we watch the passengers and crew realize that because of a mishap, they'll be stuck in space for three years.

Gad's character was inspired by startup entrepreneurs who talk a big talk but are unable to deliver the goods. In an interview with Collider, he cited two in particular as inspirations for his performance: "The two that I gravitated towards were Elizabeth Holmes, who created Theranos, and Billy McFarland, the mind behind Fyre Festival."

Another source of inspiration cited in the interview was President Donald Trump. Gad said that Judd is "cut from similar cloth" as Trump. He noted one particular thing they have in common: "He makes a decision and doesn't question how it will affect millions of others, and then lets other people put the fires out."

Whether he's a kleptomaniac dwarf, an excitable snowman, or a ditzy billionaire, it's clear that Gad thrives when he's given an outlandish character to play.