It’s been a few months now since HBO decided to not renew the series “Looking” for a third season but the one bit of good news that also came out with the disheartening news is that there would be a ‘special’ to wrap up the show properly. Silver lining, right?
While filming is set for this fall in San Francisco, star Jonathan Groff has been keeping busy while he waits to step back into Patrick’s shoes. He stepped in for Brian d’Arcy James this spring in the new musical “Hamilton” starring Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Public Theater and will move with the show to Broadway in July. He also did a one night only performance last month as the lead in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” in London. Groff also recently received the Point Foundation’s Horizon Award in April as well as appeared at last month’s GLAAD Media Awards.
Despite keeping busy, Groff was more than happy to talk “Looking” a little bit more with me recently. While he didn’t have much of an idea of what the final special would entail (creator Michael Lannan, executive producer Andrew Haigh and their team of writers are currently working on the script), he was able to express what the show means and will always mean for him.
We haven’t talked since the news on “Looking” came down but even though you’ve been in the business awhile it doesn’t make that kind of news any easier, does it?
Jonathan Groff: No, not at all. It’s interesting, too, because I felt that while I was working on it and while we were waiting to find out, and even like more of it being cancelled…I’m good usually at compartmentalizing and moving on because you have to be as an actor, especially in the theatre, too. You do something and then it’s over and you have to move on and do the next thing and whatever and I’m usually really good at something ending and being like ‘okay, next thing, whatever.’
This I'm still sad about it. I'm still wishing that there was more. I'm still going through a breakup just because it was such a special experience and I don't think, it's not coming from the place of like 'oh God, will I ever work again?' and I'm so lucky to be able to immerse myself into the world of "Hamilton," which has been amazing but it's just that kind of TV show. It's an experience with those people and the stories we were telling and the way it felt so personal. It's just a very rare working experience that, God willing, I'll be working again. My sadness doesn't come from that sort of idea, it comes more from just the fact that this experience specifically, it's really hard to say goodbye to.
I think when we look back on this era, “Looking” will be one of the shows that we’ll talk about just because it did make a big splash. It didn’t have a hundred episodes or two hundred episodes but still it had a big conversation around it, so that’s a good thing.
JG: Totally. Totally. It’s amazing in New York, it’s crazy how literally every day, literally every day I get stopped on the street, people talking about “Looking,” which didn’t happen the first season and it did in the second season. People talk about it [and] it’s different than anything I’ve ever worked on before, like “Glee” or something where they’re like, ‘oh my God, I love your show’ and whatever. People were really affected by the show in a very personal way and that means so much and it makes me feel happy and proud that the show, even though it didn’t go as long as we wanted it to go, that it even existed, it makes me feel good about that.
Since you do have “Hamilton” in your life these days, when you’re busy shooting a TV show like “Looking” where you’re not singing, do you still train your voice and kind of flex that muscle even if you’re not using it at the moment?
JG: I sing a lot, Russell and I would sing “A Chorus Line” all the time but it’s not the kind of rigorous sort of disciplined singing that you have to do when you’re in the theatre and it has been a real awakening coming back to do eight shows a week…I also do not have one of those voices like Lea Michele, for example. When we did “Spring Awakening,” she sounded perfect every single show and she could be sick or tired…some people just have those kind of infallible, air-tight, rock solid voices, they’re just built with them and I am not one of those people.
It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of effort for me to be able to sing eight times a week and when I came to do Hamilton just the two and a half months that I got to be in it, I felt my muscle coming back. It was like being back in the gym and by the end of the show I started to really get back into my groove again. But it really is a very specific skill that takes a lot of focus and discipline and work and it's been great, too, because I have two months on "Hamilton" of singing and now I feel 'thank God that I'm stepping into these musicals where I'm singing a lot and I feel like it really helped. I can tell already that how "Hamilton" is sort of like getting me back into vocal shape again.
And in case you missed my red carpet with Groff last month at the N.Y. GLAAD Media Awards, check it out. (Other interviews from the event can be viewed here.)
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.