Jonathan Groff revisits 'Looking' season one and the surprise success of 'Frozen'
Jonathan Groff is an amazingly nice guy. No, really. It's not just an act. There are many actors who would blow off an interview after a scheduling mishap, but not Groff. Either he was raised by saints or he really believes in his new HBO series "Looking."
Or, maybe it's a combination of both.
It's been something of a breakout year for the still 28-year-old actor best known to many for his time on "Glee." Not only has he earned critical kudos for playing the somewhat naive Patrick on "Looking," but he was the voice of Kristoff in Disney's Oscar-winning blockbuster "Frozen."
Groff patiently took sometime on Friday to revisit the entire season of "Looking" and talk about who he hopes Patrick ends up with in season two (granted, that was something of a tease). The conversation was so in-depth we didn't even get to chat about his role in another upcoming HBO production, Ryan Murphy's adaptation of "The Normal Heart." Yep, it's not bad to be Mr. Groff at the moment.
HitFix: Before I ask you about "Looking," were you in L.A. for the Oscars for "Frozen" last weekend?
Jonathan Groff: I was. I was there sort of all weekend out and about. It was so fun. It was so exciting.
What has that experience been like? Beyond the fact it's 180 degrees from "Looking," the reception could not have been what you expected.
Yeah, I mean I think everybody thought like we did like a cast screening of the movie in October before we did press for it. We were all like kind of blown away by how great we all thought it was and how powerful it was and how good the music was. It felt like an old school Disney movie that we hadn't seen in a long time. But you don't know how it's actually going to do because you don't know what people are into or if that sort of model would still work. Would [it appeal] maybe just to girls, but not to boys or what the audience would be for it. And I think even like the executives at Disney were completely shocked when it started doing the numbers that it did. It was like a total surprise.
Do you find mothers of girls under the age of ten introducing you now as your character?
Yes, absolutely and I get a lot of videos of "This is my daughter singing 'Let It Go.'" I get a lot of those, which I love.
That's amazing. And I hear there might be a sequel?
Oh my God I hope so. I hope so. That would be awesome.
Well, let's talk about "Looking" because that's the one thing I really did want to chat with you about. Did you get the scripts as the filming was going along or did you get them beforehand?
We knew sort of where the story was going, where the sort of broad story was going. We knew that there would be a wedding. I knew that I was going to have sex with my boss in the final episode. So, we knew kind of where it was all heading to, but we didn't get the scripts until we were finishing the current show we were working on.
So, you knew by the end that this love triangle would be set up between Patrick, Richie and Kevin?
Yes, I was aware. I didn't know how specifically it would all play out but I knew that that was kind of their vision for [the end of the] season.
When you were doing certain scenes were you always cognizant of that? For example, I've had a lot of debates with my friends about the scenes in episode four where Patrick and Kevin are hanging out at work. Kevin asks Patrick to go out to dinner and Patrick says no. I felt that was a distinct choice of his to say, "No I'm not going down that road." But, by the end of the season he somehow is seduced by Kevin. Is that how you wanted it to be seen?
Yeah. I mean, I love that moment. And it's funny that you speak of that specifically. That's one of my favorite moments for Patrick in the season. That scene was written in the final hour of shooting that episode by one of our writers, John Hoffman, who really felt like in order for Patrick to go to that club and really be open to Richie he had to say no to Kevin. And he had to say no to sort of an "unavailable man" in order to find himself in the position to except one that was available. And so that scene was not in the original script for episode four before then. It got added while we were shooting it. And we were talking about the character development and how we wanted to go into episode five, which is the episode where it's just me and Raúl [Patrick and Richie]. And in order for that to kind of play we needed a moment where Patrick says no. This guy is clearly just like sort of using me on the side when he's got a boyfriend. And it was a really sort of empowering. I think it's a really empowering moment for Patrick. And I feel like he starts to grow a sack in the scene and I really liked that.