Christian Borle on his ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ and ‘Smash’ Roles and Concerns About Overexposure

Let’s be honest: the only way you can pull off playing a pirate is by camping it up.  Everybody loves pirates, but nobody has taken them seriously in decades. Christian Borle, who stars as the pirate who one day will be Captain Hook in the Peter Pan origin musical Peter and the Starcatcher, tells the San Francisco Chronicle that a lot of his character is swiped from some of the best known villains in history.

Borle says, “I think I just stole a little bit from all kinds of different places,” and the interviewer gives comic book villains, Indiana Jones villains, Darth Vader, and Dr. Evil as Borle’s reference points.  As liberally as Borle has taken from other sources, he confesses that he has deliberately avoided plundering the attributes of the twenty-first century’s most famous pirate, Johnny Depp

However, Borle also admits his inability to totally avoid Jack Sparrow, pointing out, “That was the only thing I was trying to avoid. But I think I failed. I think there is some subconscious Johnny Depp in there, too.  But, in my defense, when you think of Captain Hook, you don’t think of a restrained id.”

Pulling off that unrestrained id must be a lot of fun for Borle, who says acting in the play is “an adventure every night.”  Yet though the show was a success at the New York Theater Workshop last year, Borle reveals that even though its the same production the show plays different in its current home on Broadway.  He says, “Some jokes literally don’t land the way they did downtown. And some things that didn’t necessarily take off downtown are killing uptown.  It’s the strangest dynamic shift. It’s been fun to see.”

Borle also stars in the NBC behind-the-scenes of Broadway drama, Smash.  While the show is currently wrapping up its first season, Borle knows that he is lined up for the second season — although he has little knowledge of what that season will be about.  He claims, “The only thing I know for sure is that it will still be about musicals. Beyond that, I think we’re all excited to see where it’s going to go.”

He finds it exciting that he is now well-known for two high-profile roles, one on Broadway and one on television, but still thinks the most exciting part is sharing that gift with his mother.  He explains, “The greatest gift and excitement of all of this sudden ubiquity – Smash and this show and everything – is being able, at the end of the day, to call my mother and say, ‘So this is what happened today.  She’s so over the moon and so ecstatic. So it’s fun to be able to share every little tidbit.”
So is Borle worried about becoming too ubiquitous?  When asked if he is worried about becoming overexposed, he replies with a smile, “That just seems like a really high-class problem.  It’s a nice question to be asked as an actor. My goal was to just work.”
Peter and the Starcatcher is now running at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre

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