‘Girls’ Finale Preview: Andrew Rannells on Elijah Growing Up & ‘Falsettos’ on Broadway

Dill (Corey Stoll) and Elijah (Andrew Rannells) have to figure out their relationship if it's going to last. (HBO)

Dill (Corey Stoll) and Elijah (Andrew Rannells) have to figure out their relationship if it's going to last. (HBO)

If you haven’t noticed, the current fifth season of HBO’s comedy, Girls,” may have to adjust its title since Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Soshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) have all taken steps to growing up. And the same can be said for the guys. Adam (Adam Driver) is working through a different kind of relationship with Jessa, Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is trying to save his business and Elijah (Andrew Rannells) has entered into a much more adult relationship with popular newsman Dill Harcourt (Corey Stoll) but, of course, there are obstacles there, too.

If Elijah were okay with an open relationship with Dill, who he now knows has a penchant for having more than one guy around him at any given time, there wouldn’t be a problem but the truth is that Elijah is looking for more and he thought he’d found it with Dill.

As we move into the final two episodes of the solid season, I grabbed a little time to talk to Rannells about where Elijah is at this point and teased what he’s going to do to try to keep Dill in his life.

This whole season has felt like Elijah's kind of growing up story in a way. Do you see it that way?

Andrew Rannells: Absolutely. It was a really nice surprise to get the scripts last year because it felt like this with, I think, all the characters. Everybody is trying in their way to sort of better themselves and actually make some moves forward and it was nice that Elijah was included that. I think the addition of this relationship and to have Dill become a part of his world for a second was really exciting. On another level, we were so, so lucky and I’m so thrilled that Corey was available and game to come play with us because he was fantastic and it was so much fun to get to do that with him.

Andrew Rannells in 'Hedwig' on Broadway.

Andrew Rannells in ‘Hedwig’ on Broadway.

Do you and Lena talk about the character and where you kind of want things to go or is it all coming from her? She's a writing machine but do you get to weigh in?

AR: I mean, that is very true. She has a very clear vision for this show, which I think we all really trust. So I’ve never really felt lead astray by her anyway. I think that she just has such a great, clear vision of the whole world of this show and these characters.

That said, she and Jenni Konner, our co-producer, are very generous with asking for input and listening to stories and all of those things, so I felt I got a little bit of input in this last story line, just in terms of emotionally where [Elijah] is and how he might react to things. And it was nice to get to play him as more of a fully flushed out human this year. Not that he hasn't been, you know, hilarious in the past or a mess-up in the past but it was nice to actually have some sort of grown-up scenes with him.

Elijah's definitely been hitting the gym because you had a lot of shirtless scenes. You were out of your clothes a lot!

AR: I was out of my clothes a lot on this show. Thanks for saying that because sometimes I look at those episodes and all I see is what I ate the night before.

I feel like, especially in the whole characterization of Dill, that there is like a subtle message about celebrities being out or not being out or how far out are they. What's your opinion on that? You've always been out as long as I've known you.

AR: I didn’t think I really had a choice. I was 32 when I started doing “The Book of Mormon” and I had been living my life very out and not self-conscious about that at all in New York City working in theater. And then, after that, well, there’s no going back. I mean, even if I wanted to, there was not a world in which I was going to say all of a sudden ‘oh, no. I’m not gay.’

So I felt like the decision was sort of made for me in the best of ways because I had always felt confident about who I was and I'm extremely lucky that professionally, moving forward, I've never been put in a position where I felt like I needed to downplay that. I'm sure I don't get certain jobs or don't get certain auditions because of it and I have no doubt about that. But I feel lucky that the right jobs have continued to find me. I don't know. It's a personal decision for everybody. I wouldn't want to force anybody out of the closet but certainly I think the more honest you can be, probably the better off you're going to be in the long run.

Tell me about “Falsettos” and your role in it.

AR: It’s a show that I think had a huge following in New York when it initially opened in the ‘90s and it’s not a show that’s revived very often. It’s never been revived on Broadway so I’m very, very excited. And with James Lapine as the director, it’s very exciting. It tackles a lot of issues. And it was sort of a really cutting edge show when it came out about this man who, when we first meet him, he has just left his wife and child to be with another man and he’s in the process of trying to figure out how they’re all going to live and sort of be in each other’s lives.

So, you’ve got the ex-wife and the 13-year-old son and I play the new boyfriend. Christian Borle will play Marvin, who’s trying to make this all work. And it’s a storyline that I think that we’ve seen a lot, obviously, since the ‘90s but when it came out initially and even when William Finn starting writing the early drafts for this show for off-Broadway in the ‘80s, this was not subject matter that was really discussed.

And as we continue, this second act sort of came together at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, so we do deal with that quite a bit as well. And I think that particular aspect of the show is going to be very timely and very important…I feel like it's something that doesn't necessarily translate to young people today and the understanding of how dangerous everything felt and how scary it was. It somehow lost a little bit and I just think it's an important reminder, particularly with new infection rates sort of on the rise, particularly with young gay men in this country, that it's not a done deal.

It’s not cured, it’s not an easy life to live with that disease and I think this is coming at a good time and I hope that it acts as a good reminder that, first of all, we lost a lot of people and also the fight continues.

Is it set in the ‘90s or is it set in present day?

AR: It is. It’s set in the ‘90s and, as far as my understanding is, we’ll be keeping it there. So, yes. You’ll be seeing some ‘90s fashion…we start rehearsals in August and then we’ll officially open in October, which I’m super excited about. And it’s a limited run through at Lincoln Center, so we’ll just go through January but I’m just so thrilled. And Stephanie Block is a friend of mine. Christian Borle and I have been friends for a long time, so it’s also very fun to get to do this with people I know.

"Girls" airs Sundays at 10pm on HBO. "Falsettos" is set to open later this year in New York City.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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