Andrew Rannells Interview - JustJared.com Exclusive
The Broadway actor is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his work in the hit show, The Book of Mormon. We hope he takes home the big prize on Sunday!
Click inside to read Andrew’s fun interview!
JJ: The Tony Awards are only a couple days away, how are you feeling?
AR: It’s exciting. I’m nervous. [I've performed at the Tony's before] with the Jersey Boys but there was no pressure. We performed after the show had already won, so it feels a little different. We’re nominated 14 times this year, it’s nuts. It’s crazy ’cause it was a very very competitive season which is cool to be a part of. There were a lot of new shows that opened.
JJ: How did you hear about the show?
AR: I heard about the show a couple of years ago but it was after they did the workshops. The first time I heard about it, Cheyenne Jackson was playing my part. I would always hear about it [after they casted] so it never seemed like a real thing. Then last year, I got a message that they were recasting and I would be auditioning.
JJ: Did you parents encourage you to perform when you were younger?
AR: We lived close to this children’s theatre in Omaha and my parents were always really good about taking me to see stuff and I asked my mom, “can I audition for one of these shows?” So I took a class and auditioned. They didn’t really push me into doing it. I took my first class when I was 9 and 11 was my first show.
JJ: How many Broadway musicals have you done in the past? And would you ever want to do plays?
AR: I’ve done two on Broadway. Jersey Boys and Hairspray and regional stuff but I started Hairspray in 2005. The past six years have been busy. And I have done plays. I would love to do plays. As a non-famous working actor, there’s more opportunities to work in musicals, I found. Like when I was in college and stuff. You had to be able to sing to get work. I’m hoping in the future I can do more plays.
JJ: Do you want to eventually transition to film or TV?
AR: I think I will always like to do Broadway but I’ve been getting to do a little bit offstage. I get to be a part of a few episodes on Girls for HBO with Judd Apatow producing. Doing that was a lot of fun. It stars Lena Dunham and it’s a very funny show. I’m hoping while doing The Book of Mormon, I can be a part of a couple of shows here in New York. Diversity needs to be key and I’m hoping to be a part of it.
JJ: What’s your character in Girls?
AR: I play an ex-boyfriend of Lena’s. They’ve arranged for me to magically appear in some episodes.
JJ: Are you a TV junkie?
AR: Toddlers in Tiaras, I’m obsessed with that show. I like Intervention, I really like Quarters, I like Obsessed. They’re off-air right now but they’ll be back.
JJ: What TV shows would you like to be on?
AR: I would love to be on 30 Rock. That will be amazing. I love Tina Fey and I don’t know if she has seen The Book of Mormon yet. I hope that she will. The shows that film in New York, there’s some good ones. Boardwalk Empire? I think that would be an amazing show to be a part of. I don’t know what else is out there filming in NY. [NBC's new show with Katharine McPhee] Smash. That would be exciting.
JJ: Meet at fun celebs backstage of Mormon?
AR: A handful of people. Chevy Chase came back so that was cool. It’s so random to be talking to Chevy Chase ’cause I grew up watching him so it was intimidating. Will Ferrell came back, he’s very very nice. We saw Goldie Hawn in the audience and we actually ran out and got her backstage. A who’s who spotting over the weekend was John Stamos with an Olsen twin. We don’t know which one but they were together watching the show.
JJ: What celebs would you want to see watching the show?
AR: Jim Carrey already came and that was a big one for me. Jack Nicholson. Mike Nichols came a couple of times. It’s been a real cavalcade of stars. People I never thought would come. Michelle Pfeiffer which I thought was so random. I would love it if Jon Hamm came. Matthew Weiner who created Mad Men came awhile back. If any of the Mad Men people came, I would love it. Christina Hendricks is in town- I should harass her to come in.
JJ: What other Broadway shows have you seen?
AR: We don’t get to see a lot of other shows, unfortunately. I have a lot of friends who aren’t Broadway actors and they forget and they call me and ask, “can you have dinner?” I can never have dinner, brunch, normal things that normal people do. It’s fun to go have drunken brunch and I can’t do that anymore.
JJ: Mormons can’t drink caffeine, do you drink coffee?
AR: Can’t live without it. I mean, I could but it would be very difficult to not.
JJ: What other Broadway parts would you love to play?
AR: I am really loving this idea of new shows now after The Book of Mormon. The idea of getting to be a part of something brand new. I don’t know if that’s happening but I heard Duncan Sheik is going to put on American Psycho and I want to be in it. I don’t know if he saw this show if he would think I could be Patrick Bateman but I definitely could.
JJ: Who do you relate to more, Elder Price or Elder Cunningham?
AR: Elder Price definitely. I feel like I am Elder Price in some respects. I was always trying to be an overachieving kid. And then moving to New York and going, “I want to be a star.” New York kind of beats you up a little bit.
JJ: If you could voice a South Park character, which character would you voice?
AR: I enjoy Kyle a lot. Can I be a cousin? Can I be Kyle’s drunken cousin?
JJ: Have you ever been to Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Salt Lake City)?
AR: No but I hear it’s lovely.
JJ: Do you personally know any Mormons?
AR: I do, we have one in our cast. I don’t know any practicing Mormons but I know people who were raised Mormon.
JJ: Do you know what Mormons think of the show?
AR: The church actually released a statement saying they wished us well and it’s not indicative of the entire church and if people were really interested in learning about the Book of Mormon they should contact the Church of Latter Day Saints. It was a pretty tame statement and the Mormons that come see it, I think they come to see it with the right spirit. It’s not just 2.5 hrs of making fun of the Mormons. We’re telling a story about religion in general.
JJ: Where’s your favorite place to hang out in New York?
AR: With my theatre friends, after a show we like to go to Ariba Ariba. They have huge margaritas to get trashed with. The staff is very nice and cool and that’s where we all meet.
JJ: Do you have a favorite Broadway musical?
AR: I’ve always really liked Sweeney Todd. There’s not really a role for me so I watch it and go, “That’s fun.” It’s classic, it’s just classic.
Tune in to the 2011 Tony Awards LIVE this Sunday (June 12) @ 8PM ET/PT on CBS!