The New Normal’s Andrew Rannells on How He Got His Start and Pitching Himself to Series Creator, Ryan Murphy

andrew-rannells-the-new-normalThere has already been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Andrew Rannells’ new show, The New NormalRyan Murphy’s (American Horror Story, Glee) NBC comedy is about a gay couple who decide to have a baby via a surrogate mother.  A Utah syndicate already decided to ban the show from airing because of the content.  So Rannells feels a certain responsibility to represent the show’s positive qualities.

“It’s a rather serious and loving subject matter, so I didn’t want to dumb it down with stereotypical over-the-top gay flash and sass,” Rannells told NPR.  “I certainly didn’t want to be a gay clown on this, you know, because the subject matter is actually a very sweet one, and I think a very lovely one about these people who are so in love and so committed to each other that they realize that what’s missing in their life is to share that love with a child.”

Rannells was convinced he wouldn’t get the role after pitching himself as the lead to Murphy, who didn’t call the actor back for over a month.  “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve completely overstepped—I’ve over-Oprah-ed this,’” he said.  “I’ve ruined my chances of working with this man because I was too bold.”

But Murphy decided Rannells was perfect to star alongside Justin Bartha in the series.  The actor was glad he was able to play a gay character who isn’t a typical portrayal of a gay man.  “So luckily, the writing—coming from Ryan Murphy and [Allison] Adler and all of our writers—really allows me to play a little bit of that, but I think the more straightforward you play all those jokes, particularly the flamboyant ones, the more it becomes a character trait and not a joke, if that makes any sense.  It just becomes something ingrained in this guy and not a put-on idea to get a laugh.  And I’ve been really lucky, particularly moving forward with these scripts, that there’s just been more and more of that.  And I feel like the characters get richer and more human as we go along.”

Rannells’ path to this show hasn’t always been an easy one.  He recently appeared as Elijah on Girls and won a Tony nomination for Book of Mormon, but he still faced his share of rejection before hitting it big.

“At a certain point, I realized I’m going into great debt to get a [bachelor of fine arts] in acting,” he said.  “And I was like, ‘What is that?  What is that even going to be when I’m finished?’  So I just started auditioning and I got a couple jobs and got an equity card and joined the union and dropped out of school.  And I thought, ‘Well, let’s just do it.’  Like if I had been really passionate about studying anything else, I completely would have stayed in college and I would have gotten that degree.

“But the fact that my passion was acting, and I was paying for college myself, I was just like, ‘I can’t justify going this deep into debt for something that might not mean anything.  So I want to just try it.  I want to try and see if I’m good enough to do this before I invest anymore financially in this.’  Luckily I was given the proper encouragement via jobs that I kept going.  But my career, definitely, the early years were a little scattershot, in terms of—it was a little regional theater, it was a lot of voiceovers, it was a lot of random day jobs.  I mean, it was hard.  It was hard to scrap around, and once Hairspray happened, then it all kind of clicked into place.”

The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Chris-Evans-Captain-America.jpg
Chris Evans on the Challenges of Being Captain America Outside of Acting
"It's part of the job, I've got to sell this thing. But it's just a gross feeling. It makes me insecure."
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/julia-louis-dreyfus-veep.jpg
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: “Opportunity for women in television has increased. It’s because the landscape has widened”
"I did not come out of SNL as any kind of name. I didn’t do anything particularly great when I was there. I didn’t. It’s fine. But I learned a tremendous amount."
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Tituss-Burgess-Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt.jpg
Tituss Burgess on How He Landed His ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Role
Burgess reveals how his role on 30 Rock led to 'Kimmy Schmidt' and whether or not he'd consider returning to Broadway.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Christine-Baranski-The-Good-Wife.jpg
Christine Baranski on the End of ‘The Good Wife’ and Going Back to Theatre
The final episode of The Good Wife airs on May 8, and it’s been several weeks since series star Christine Baranski shot the final episode with her co-stars. She spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the end of the series she has spent the last seven years working on and what she plans to do […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/jake-gyllenhaal-demolition.jpg
Jake Gyllenhaal on ‘Demolition’, Working with Chris Cooper and Directors Who Want Nothing to Do With Him
"I think storytelling is the most important part of movie-making over performance." - Jake Gyllenhaal