BWW Interviews: Barrett Foa
Barrett Foa has starred in two of the decade's most popular Broadway shows, Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and was in the original Broadway cast of Mamma Mia!. Foa moved to Los Angeles nearly two years ago, kicking his television career into high gear with guest starring roles on "Entourage," "The Closer," and "Numb3rs." He can currently be seen on the CBS drama "NCIS: Los Angeles," where he plays tech genius Eric Beale.
Broadway World Reporter Nick Orlando spoke with Foa about the new season of his hit television series and his life on Broadway.
How is Los Angeles treating you?
It's great. We had such a cool summer in LA, and then fall comes and it is so hot.
What was the deciding factor on moving to LA?
I was doing a lot of musicals in New York, then a lot of plays. I was being super picky back home in NY. I was trying to find something exciting to me, and something that would advance my career and give me the next steps needed for my resume. I figured I would go to LA for a few months and come back to New York, but then I started booking solid guest star roles.
How did "NCIS: Los Angeles" come about?
I went in and auditioned for a different role. It was between me and another guy, and I did not get it. About two weeks later, I got a call and was told that they created a role for me. My audition was good and they created this role. I couldn't believe it. That usually does not happen in television. I was a recurring guest star for 12 episodes and then they made me a series regular. We were the number one new show on television. Our numbers are so great. It's all about numbers in Hollywood.
What can you tell us about your character, Eric Beale?
Eric is a tech guru. He basically can access any camera and unlock any code that exists on Planet Earth. So, attention bad guys: if you're out there, Eric Beale will find you. It is really fun to have this access. He has eyes all over the city - actually, the world. He is a surfer, and that is great. He has never been seen in pants.
Are you a tech guru?
I am an Apple guy. I got the iPhone 4 the day it came out. I have a MacBook. I am not going to crack a code or hack into an ATM camera. I want an iPad. A few of the actors have it on set.
How is it working with the rest of the cast?
Linda Hunt is so good and so sweet. She is a Tony Award nominee and won an Oscar. Pearls just come out of her mouth. I just watched her recently in "Kindergarten Cop." LL Cool J is a huge presence. He is a music mogul. He brings that experience and that life into the room. Chris O'Donnell is our cool cucumber. Everyone is really humble and excited to be there. It's an exciting group. I am so lucky to be here.
What can fans expect from the second season?
The exciting thing is in episode four, which airs on October 5th. This is a big Eric episode. There is an addition of a new character named Nell, who is played by Renée Felice Smith. She is a theatre girl, and went to NYU. We have a ton in common. Nell is the new information analyst. There also might be a love interest going on between us. We have a blast. We also have a new series regular, Eric Christian Olsen. We get to learn more about Linda Hunt's character. I would love to learn more about LL Cool J's character. By the way, "NCIS: Los Angeles" airs on CBS, Tuesday nights, 9p ET/PT.
What have been your most memorable moments on set?
Pauley Perrette came and guest starred on our show. She is one of the leads on "NCIS." "NCIS" is in its eighth season, and is the number one show on television. I bet Broadway World fans didn't know that! It is huge. Her character, Abby, has a lot of fans. She is a goth girl.
What do you miss most about New York City?
I was born and raised in Manhattan. I love to come back. I miss Broadway: the Broadway community and the Broadway shows. I went back to NYC in June and saw 13 shows in three weeks. One of my favorites was American Idiot. I'm such a huge fan. I also miss my family and my nephew. I moved a few months after he was born. I miss the seasons, especially fall. Central Park is a biggie. I have friends that have moved to Brooklyn, so I like to hang out there. I like Prospect Park. There is a show on HBO called "How to Make It in America." It takes place in New York: the Lower East Side, downtown NYC in clubs and bars. It is very "New Yorky." I can't wait for season two.
Which has been your favorite Broadway show to be involved with?
My favorite Broadway show day-to-day, just for the experience, was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The people were so much fun. It was a great show. Compared to Avenue Q, it was an easy show. It was the best job ever. Avenue Q is such an amazing piece. It is so unique and special. Actually, both pieces were unique. Avenue Q had a lot to say. The story is so focused, even though they are telling many stories. There is a ton of energy and concentration. It is exhausting.
Did you have any experience with puppetry prior to Avenue Q?
I did not. I was the guinea pig. They exhausted the puppeteer community in New York, so they taught performers how to be puppeteers. I was the first actor in the show to go to puppet camp and then take over for John Tartaglia.
Have you seen the show since you left?
Yes, I have seen it many times. I actually saw it in Las Vegas while I was doing the Broadway show. My favorite place seeing Avenue Q was on tour. I saw it in Orange County. I didn't know how people would respond. I was impressed. It went over well.
Are you thinking about returning to Broadway?
Oh my gosh, I would love to. We have a two month hiatus with "NCIS: Los Angeles," which is May and June. I would love to use my hiatus to do stage work. If someone out there wants me to come back....
Which current Broadway show would you be interested in landing a role?
I know it just ended, but Max in Lend Me a Tenor. I played Max during my senior year in high school, so I would love to do it again. I like comedies; I would love to do another musical. I would love to be in the ensemble of American Idiot.
Maybe the producers of American Idiot are reading this!
I hope so! I like Billy Elliot, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Book of Mormon. I was going to be in one of the workshops for The Book of Mormon, but then I got "NCIS: Los Angeles." I was considering still doing the workshop, but I couldn't.
Which is your favorite NYC restaurant?
In Hell's Kitchen, there is a place called Georgio's Country Grill. They have the best salads and the best sandwiches. It is not fancy by any means. It is like an upscale diner. I didn't become a foodie until I arrived in LA. I don't have to eat at 5:30pm here, since I am not doing a show. No early bird specials anymore. When I was in New York, if I wasn't working, my friends were, so we had to do dinner very early or very late. Now, I am enjoying my nights and weekends. I really like the cuisine here in Los Angeles. Also, in New York, I always liked Lupa, Mario Batali's restaurant. My mom always picks amazing places.
What about LA?
I like Hatfield's, Gjelina, Cube. I could go on and on.
Have your parents been to LA to visit?
No, can you believe it? I've been here for two years. They are coming for Thanksgiving and will stay for a week. I will take them to the Getty Museum and show them around Los Angeles. I want to show them the set and introduce them to LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell. We will take a tour of the Paramount lot. I haven't done that yet. We shoot "NCIS: Los Angeles" on the stages where "Sunset Boulevard" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" were shot. We shoot next door to all of the "Glee" kids. I see Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele all of the time. It's fun to have them there.