BWW Exclusive: On the Set of SMASH- Krysta Rodriguez on Joining the Family, How She Got the Part & More; Plus New Photos!
SMASH makes its long-awaited return to the NBC lineup for a second season on Tuesday, February 5 (9-10 p.m. ET) and will continue in its regular time slot on Tuesday, February 12 (10-11 p.m. ET). Season two will feature a slew of new talent, including Jennifer Hudson, Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, Sean Hayes, Jesse L. Martin, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Nikki Blonski, and more.
BroadwayWorld's own Richard Ridge was invited to the SMASH set where he got to chat with new costar and Broadway veteran Krysta Rodriguez about the upcoming season. Check out what she had to say about joining the world of television, how she earned the role, and more, below!
How exciting is to be working on television? You're a Broadway baby, tell me about the TV world?
It's awesome! I really didn't expect to love the work so much. I really enjoy it, particularly because I get to do a musical, so it's like getting to do what I know in a genre that I'm not as familiar with so it was a little easier transition. Everyone's so awesome and we get to do so many cool things on the show that I haven't gotten to do yet.
How did the old cast members welcome the new kids?
Oh, it was really easy, it was a really nice transition. I had known Kat sort of before, and I knew Jeremy and Andy, peripherally from Broadway, so we all were new kids. And there were some new people that came in at all the same time so it didn't feel like one new person in a group of people that were already established. Everyone was really game to start afresh.
What's the backstory to your character? We see her kind of appear in the first episode. What's behind her? No one knew how you guys met.
I know! Well, they did if they hadn't cut the scene. We were about six minutes over in the episode so they cut it out. I am a performer; I am a dancer-singer-actress and Kat and I knew each other from before, from our waitressing days. But I was on tour last season, which is why I wasn't around. And then when she breaks up with her boyfriend, I have a room open because my roommate goes on the Disney cruise as I mention in the episode. I was on the West Side Story tour, I was playing Rosalita. There was a whole thing where I give her shoes from the show because I stole them from wardrobe--there was all this insider stuff that got cut. The casualty of not doing a live show! Yeah, so we've been friends and then she moves in with me and we just sort of navigate theater together and I end up being in HitList which is the new show this season. So I work my way through that.
Can you tell us a little bit about HitList and who you're playing?
Well, I'm going to hold back some things but I want to tell you who I'm playing. It starts off as a show with these two young writers whom Jeremy and Andy play, called Kyle and Jimmy, and they're these people who are really talented but don't really know how to get their stuff out there. And then they meet Karen and she introduces them to this world of Broadway that she's become a part of. And it starts off as a Fringe show, gets a lot of traction, it moves off-Broadway very quickly, gets a lot of traction, and then we're hoping that it will move to Broadway and give Bombshell a run for its money in the season this year. So that's what the show is, it's a very--you know, in the genre of Rent or Spring Awakening, it's very hip, it's very young. It's being written by current pop Broadway writers right now, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Joe Iconis, Drew Gasparini, and Andrew McMann. They're all young writers so it's got that authentic feel. It's essentially about fame and what people will do to achieve it, in this sort of era of Lady Gaga and Madonna and people who reinvent themselves to become famous so that's sort of the over-reaching theme. It's got some darker themes about love and death--all those sorts of things that those young hip musicals have!
How did this show happen for you in the first place, were you a big fan of Smash?
Yes, I was a big fan of Smash, my old co-star Wesley Taylor from The Addams Family was in it so I watched it religiously and enjoyed it immensely. And just kind of loved seeing what we do represented, now people everywhere can see what goes into putting on a show. And then it happened very quickly for me--I had one audition and then three days later they called and said you start work on Monday. Which has never happened in the history of the world! [laughs] It has never happened for me, it's usually like six auditions later and a test and a network thing but they really had to pull the trigger quickly. So it started very quickly and instantly my life changed.
What was your audition?
I did some dummy sides because they never give actual sides. They don't want to give away anything. But it was just me and Bernie Telsey and Tiffany at Telsey's office, and Josh the new showrunner. I had done an episode of Gossip Girl that he had written before he became the showrunner of Gossip Girl back in 2008. And so when I came in he said, "I wrote your episode of Gossip Girl!" and I said, "That's right, thanks for writing in that make out scene with Chace Crawford!" [laughs] And he was like, "Absolutely!" So we bonded over that a little bit. He knew me from some concerts that I'd done, he was a fan of Joe Iconis before which is why he's on the show now, he knows his music and had seen me in that. We just had a nice conversation and I did the sides and I sang a little bit and then left and then didn't hear anything for a few days and then started work the next week.
On the first episode we see you take that guy home, so you like to have a good time. Does that ever--because you know, loose Girls around Karen kind of tend to become a problem, does that ever cause trouble on the show?
I get in a little bit of trouble. You'll see me take home a couple--I have a thing for musicians and you'll see that kind of happen. Yeah, there's a little twist that kind of causes a little bit of problems, but--yeah, that's all I can say.
You're a Broadway veteran--when you come on the show you know how it represents theater. Season one we all saw the good--what's the most realistic part of it, what's the most silly ridiculous...because I'm sure it goes both ways.
Yes, it does go both ways. But I always say that the most ridiculous stuff is the most realistic stuff [laughs]. Because putting on a Broadway show is crazy, and weird things happen, and reasons why shows go or last or don't last. One thing that I love about this season--first of all I love the new writers, I love that that's real, it keeps a very current, very exciting vibe to the show. But also, we do a gypsy robe ceremony which I think is really great, it's very authentic, we have the head of Equity going there and doing a gypsy robe ceremony. I am a gypsy robe recipient so that was very special to me, I got very emotional when she did that.
Who receives it?
I can't tell you [laughs]. I don't mean within the show... I received it for Spring Awakening. There are many shows opening in SMASH this season, we have several musicals so...
Are we going to see the season start to heat up the awards shows?...
You'll see the race to the Tonys. I can't say necessarily if we are going to the Tonys, who's going to the Tonys--we don't know. They keep all that under wraps but there is definitely Tony conversation. There are Tony war rooms where the producers of the different shows are deciding how do we get there, who's going to be nominated, so yeah, you'll see that.
So the title at the end of the season was "Chase Your Dreams, Watch Your Back." So who are you watching, who's coming at your back?
Who's coming at my back? A lot of things are coming at my back but not necessarily in a malicious way. My character you'll see has to fight a lot for what she wants.Things are not really handed to her. She knows what she wants and she's aggressive about it, but she gets setbacks. Directors not believing in her, not being a star, wanting to show people what she can do. There also becomes a little bit of tension between her and Karen because they're friends and they're both performers. I love that it shows a realistic view of not being rivals, but being friends and also competing against each other and how you kind of maneuver this delicate relationship that way. So no one really comes after me they just get in my way, I have to knock them out!