BWW Exclusive: On the Set of SMASH - Jeremy Jordan on Being the New Bad Boy, His Transition to TV & 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 Jeremy Jordan about the upcoming season. Check out what he had to say about joining the cast as the new bad boy character, balancing SMASH with NEWSIES and more, below!
Welcome to the world of Smash. What has it been like?
Welcome to you! I've been here for awhile. It's great, it couldn't be more different than theater, except for doing singing and dancing.
Do you like the world of TV?
Oh, I love it. Like I said, it's a complete departure for me. It's scenes out of order, it's waiting months and months to see the results of all your hard work, it's prerecording songs and then singing along with yourself. No, it's great, it's a totally new experience for me. I'd done a little bit when I did the film Joyful Noise, I had a little bit of experience doing a musical on film so I at least knew what to expect. It's just a lot of fun, the people are fun--it's cool to get to play a character that evolves. When you're doing a play, for instance, or even a movie, you play one character grows over 2-2 and 1/2 hours, and that's the end of that. With this, with every episode, there's something new that you learn, some new development with your character, and you get to sing new songs and you get to have different experiences that change and evolve and grow. So that's really interesting to me, I really enjoy that.
Let's talk about your character--where does his anger come from?
[laughs] I can't tell you where it comes from...he's very angry, he's a very angry young man. He's very passionate as well and he doesn't trust anybody except for maybe his best friend Kyle, played by Andy Mientus, until Karen comes in, Kat McPhee's character, and she sort of starts to open him up a little bit. But it's very very hard work on her part and he doesn't let it come easily. He's had a lot of really bad things happen to him in his life, but just recently things have been good. And that's when he started writing this musical with Kyle and so the idea of sharing this very personal thing to him, which is his music, he's never had to share with anybody except for maybe his best friend. And the only reason he does that is because his best friend is obsessed with musicals and sort of secretly in love with him. But it's very difficult for him to let go of anything or release control or trust anybody with his stuff. And so you see a lot of contention with some of the characters--he doesn't really get along with anybody, at all. He's a tough one to sort of like; hopefully you'll get to see glimpses into why he's that way and you'll see glimpses of how good he can be even though he isn't very good at--he may not get there very easily or at all.
Talk about the songs, it's all young songwriters, really fascinating. Were you a big fan for Season one, did you watch it?
Of course, I feel like everyone in the Broadway Community watched it--I mean, it's a show about us and while it is a bit dramatized and glamorized, and you may be embellished a bit here and there...if there's any target audience for Smash, it's people who live and work in our community. So of course I watched it, I laughed and cried and yelled at the screen just like everybody else. But yeah, I watched it, I was very dedicated in my watching it, and because of that and because of being in the community, joining the cast and feeling like I could lend my voice to help make the show better and to help the rest of the world and America get a better understanding and appreciation for our industry, I jumped at the chance.
You want to make it as realistic as it could possibly be, you know how it is, what it's like--how was that? What's the most realistic it gets?
Honestly, it's very realistic--the non realistic thing that I think people get hung up on is when we'll streamline something, or something will go seemingly too fast even though there are precedents for pretty much any weird storyline that we've thrown out. There is at least one precedent that we can think of, that's how we justify it. And it's sort of like--we take these interesting things that have happened to other shows, we make them happen to our show. Because it makes for good television, it makes for good drama. Because the fact is that a lot of good shows on the way to Broadway have a nice. normal, boring route and there's excitement here and there. So we have to create our own drama in certain aspects. But in terms of the logistics of how everything works out--for instance with our show we start out with just me and my friend writing this show, somebody catches wind of it and somebody big gets their hands on it and says, "That's cool, let's try to put this out somewhere." Suddenly it gets out and the New York Community embraces it immediately and suddenly it's on this fast track to the top. Which is complete plausible although it may not happen normally. You don't want to make a show about things that normally happen, you want to make a show about extraordinary circumstances and something that's exciting and new and fresh. They always say in acting--this is totally a generalization in acting school, one of the best pieces of advice I got was that the scene happens on the day everything changes. Because that's the most exciting point, you have to enter in to this world in a moment of excitement, otherwise it's not gonna be nearly as entertaining.
How 'bad boy' is your character? Because I remember that one moment when Andy Mientus is like, "What do you mean?" and your character's like, "Scotch, coke, I don't know"--what does he do? He's high the first time he kisses Kat McPhee, what kind of drugs is he doing, what can you spill?
I think that Jimmy has had a history with drugs and it's sort of his go-to when something--when he doesn't understand or know how to deal with things. And so while I wouldn't say he's a drug addict by any means, maybe he was at one point, I don't know. I mean, there's lots of things I don't know about Jimmy that I'm still learning because I didn't write him. But he definitely has that sort of crutch. It sort of is what gets him through tough times, it's sort of his denial. Whenever he doesn't understand how to deal with something, doesn't understand a situation or doesn't want to face it, that's where he goes. It's less of a bad boy in that "oh, I'm too cool for this," it's literally like a fear-driven thing, he doesn't want to face reality so that's where he'll turn. And yeah, he can definitely be seen as a bad boy, he's kind of a womanizer, at least at the top, he doesn't give a shit about what anybody thinks about him. I think he cares about what people think about his work, but he doesn't have much to worry about, because everybody loves his work. But I think he doesn't give a shit what people think about him. But he meets Karen, he finally for the first time starts to care about what people think.
We were gonna ask you--is TV easier because Josh the choreographer was sitting here saying you guys--you record stuff, you're in the makeup chair early, you're memorizing lines, you get in front of the camera, then you gotta go and do a dance rehearsal...
It's so much easier. It's easier physically and it's easier mentally, I think. Again you go to a recording studio, you record a song--you do it once and then you sing it maybe 20 times in a day and then you don't have to do it anymore. So like, vocal stamina as opposed to a musical is nothing--you get weekends off which is fantastic, and you know every once in a while you get a tough scene where you have to memorize a bunch of lines but you do your homework, you do that every once in a while. But most of the time when you come in here, you have a few lines here and there and reactions, and the rest of the time you sit around--you do the lines so many times, even if you have trouble memorizing you'll get it after the first few takes. It's easy and it's--you don't have to carry a whole show all the way through, you're just doing little bits and pieces at a time. I mean, it's difficult to put yourself in the right kind of mind frame, for where exactly, what exact point you are in the story, especially when you're filming four episodes at a time. Like, "What happened just now?" But, I guess I'm just used to the Broadway musical theater grind, which is just--this is nothing compared to that. I was always tired, I was always dead, I had to live like a nun, I couldn't go out, I couldn't be in loud places now, I wouldn't Touch a sip of alcohol ever. And now it's just like I can live a normal person life.