Pin It

Jesse Tyler Ferguson on His Newest Role, Leo Bloom in ‘The Producers': “I go for roles that scare the crap out of me”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson might have been little known until starring in ABC’s monster hit Modern Family, but he has used that fame to catapult him into the highest-profile stage role of his career: Ferguson will star as Leo Bloom in the three-night run of The Producers at the famed Hollywood Bowl.  He talks to The Los Angeles Times about his history with theater and why he’s still nervous about the upcoming shows.

It’s a long way for Ferguson from his New Mexico upbringing to his role in one of Broadway’s biggest hits in front of a nightly audience of 17,000+.  He explains, “The people I idolized I saw once a year on the Tony Awards.  I would buy the cassette tapes of the various Broadway shows and scour the photos inside the recording package. That’s how I exposed myself to the arts — New York and professional theater felt like a very distant thing.”

Luckily, when he finally made it to New York (Ferguson attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy) Broadway was moving away from the type of booming singing found in Phantom of the Opera and similar musicals.  He reveals, “I don’t have that kind of voice, the big baritone or rousing tenor sound. My wheelhouse was in the frothier pieces. So my appreciation for those older musicals and revivals grew.”

As a result, his Broadway debut — The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in 2005 — was a perfect fit, as Ferguson portrayed the timid Leaf Coneybear who even sings a song titled “I’m Not That Smart.”  He points out, “Me being a shy kid, very closed off, showing vulnerability in a character was sort of a safe space on stage.  It’s always been in my toolbox, there for me when I need it.”

But don’t assume that seven years later Ferguson has gotten over his nervousness: he admits that The Producers will be daunting, confessing, “Singing and dancing at the Bowl, in front of 18,000 people at a place where Kelly Clarkson will be singing the night after we close — my gut reaction was, this is kind of terrifying and that’s good.  Basically, I [need to] go for roles that scare the crap out of me.”

The Producers runs July 27-29 at the Hollywood Bowl

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-david-mamet-in-the-1976-sh.jpg
Watch: David Mamet in the 1976 Short Documentary ‘The Playwright Directs’
Though David Mamet is best known for his distinctive writing style in his scripts for the stage and screen, he has also directed theater and film. The 1976 short documentary titled The Playwright Directs depicts Mamet directing actors through several scenes at an almost frantic pace, dispensing pearls of wisdom throughout, like his thoughts on […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-marvels-agents-of-s-h-i-e.jpg
Watch: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Bloopers
Forgetting lines? Corpsing? Delivering lines in Spanish? Unruly props? All in a day’s work on the set of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, apparently. Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, and the rest of the cast find plenty of humor while playing super-serious secret agents in the Marvel Universe. While you’re waiting for season 2 of the series […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/audtion-tapes-robin-wright-and-h.jpg
Audition Tapes: Robin Wright and Haley Joel Osment Audition with Tom Hanks for ‘Forrest Gump’
Check out Robin Wright auditioning for the role of Jenny from Forest Gump opposite Tom Hanks. Interestingly enough, Hanks doesn’t quite have Gump’s southern drawl down just yet while the other actors audition with him. In fact, Hanks would base Gump’s voice on the voice of Michael Conner Humphreys, who played the young Forrest and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-judi-dench-sing-send-in-th.jpg
Watch Judi Dench Sing “Send In The Clowns” From Back in 1995
Dame Judi Dench has such a commanding presence as a film actress that it’s easy to forget that her big break came on stage in England with the Old Vic Company in 1957. In fact, she made her Broadway debut the very next year when the Old Vic Company performed Twelfth Night and Henry V […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/bryan-cranston-emmy-award-speech.jpg
Watch: Bryan Cranston’s Emmy Award Speech: “I love to act. It is a passion of mine and I will do it until my last breath.”
The Emmy Awards weren’t the most exciting awards show this year but with Bryan Cranston winning for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for Breaking Bad, we at least got to hear one heck of a fantastic acceptance speech. “I was a kid who always looked for the shortcut,” he said. “I did happen to stumble […]