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InDepth InterView: Jason Ritter & COMPLETENESS


In just a few short years since his sensational debut in Lawrence Kasdan's MUMFORD, rising star Jason Ritter has carved out an impressive indie resume - including noted standouts such as THE EDUCATION OF Charlie Banks, HAPPY ENDINGS and GOOD DICK - in addition to a successful TV career - having appeared in featured roles in JOAN OF ARCADIA and THE CLASS before his leading role on THE EVENT last season - but theatre fans are certainly aware of considerable stage skills, as well, having performed in plays for many esteemed directors and premiering works by the likes of Neil LaBute and Wendy Wasserstein. While there has been the occasional big budget vehicle, too - SWIMFAN and FREDDY VS. JASON included - it is Ritter's fierce commitment to fine storytelling and intriguing projects that make him truly one to watch. Discussing many aspects of his busy career from THE DREAMER OF OZ opposite his iconic father, John - now available on the WIZARD OF OZ Blu-ray box-set - all the way up to his forthcoming films such as THE PERFECT FAMILY co-starring two previous InDepth InterView participants, Kathleen Turner and Sharon Lawrence, plus THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF, FREE SAMPLES, an untilled Mark Webber project, I AM I and his new Disney animated series, GRAVITY FALLS. With an emphasis on his theatre background and insights into the currently running LA Theatreworks presentation of COMPLETENESS, Ritter and I shine some light on a career that, based on what we have already seen from him onstage and onscreen, clearly knows no bounds whatsoever. Some people can do it all and do it all brilliantly and Jason Ritter has clearly proven he is one of those select, special few.  And, if all of that were not enough, we have first news of his forthcoming role as Charles Manson opposite Oscar-winner Melissa Leo in THE DEAD CIRCUS and much, much more!

Be sure to catch Jason Ritter in COMPLETENESS at LA Theatre Works this weekend! More information is available at the official site here.

Career Completeness

PC: Are you an LA Theatre Works fan?

JR: Oh, yeah. I am a big fan. I think this is my third or fourth thing with them, actually. So, yeah, I love working with them. I think they are so great.

PC: What are some of the past productions you have done with them that you remember fondly?

JR: Well, I know I did MARVIN'S ROOM with them. There's another one I did - RUBY SUNRISE. And, RELATIVITY.

PC: I could imagine you having a blast in MARVIN'S ROOM. Did you have some fantastic leading ladies?

JR: Yes. It was Mary Steenburgen and RoxAnne Hart.

PC: And you and Mary Steenburgen have worked together before.

JR: [Laughs.] Yeah, yeah. That was a lot of fun.

PC: I have to tell you that HAPPY ENDINGS is one of my absolute favorite films of the last ten years and the lead role is a real Benjamin Braddock/GRADUATE-esque breakout part for you. You do an unforgettable job in it.

JR: Oh, thank you so much. I was just so excited to be cast in that movie. I was a huge fan of Don Roos' work before that. I had auditioned for that about a year before I finally heard that I got the part. So, it was just this thing of praying and hoping that it would all work out. And, I was so happy that it did. I love that movie.

PC: And Roos' THE OPPOSITE OF SEX has been turned into a musical and it seems that HAPPY ENDINGS could offer the potential possibility to do the same. What do you think?

JR: That would be incredible! I would be behind that one hundred percent.

PC: Do you sing professionally at all? Is that something you want to pursue?

JR: Well, I... as far as singing, I can carry a tune. I don't know if I have the pipes or the musical chops for a Broadway show - or any kind of musical; Broadway, Off-Broadway, someone's backyard. But, maybe if it was a rock type musical... [Laughs.] I don't know, though!

PC: Jessie Eisenberg is a frequent co-star of yours and in promoting his new play ASCUNSCION he has spoken about the musical he has written that he wants to get produced. Aren't you two good friends? Would you consider that project?

JR: Yeah. Yeah. That would be amazing! I would do anything for him. I would embarrass myself in front of any audiences if he thought I could do something. [Laughs.]

PC: You have a movie together coming out soon, FREE SAMPLES. What can you tell me about it?

JR: Yeah. I haven't seen it yet, but I am really excited about it. It was Jessie and another friend of mine, Jess Weixler - Jess and I had done this movie PETER & VANDY together...

PC: Of course.

JR: ...and Jessie and I had done EDUCATION OF Charlie Banks.

PC: Of course.

JR: So, it was nice to have all of us back in one place again. You know, it's always fun to get to work with your friends!

PC: Speaking of people you've worked with, I have a number of previous participants in this column who have sung your praises to me. First, THE PERFECT FAMILY's Kathleen Turner.
Did you enjoy working with her as much as she did with you?

JR: Oh, yeah - I loved working with her! And, I was so nervous before - just because she is so incredible. I had seen her, obviously, in so many movies, but I had also seen her onstage a couple of times.

PC: What did you see her in?

JR: THE GRADUATE and WHO'S AFRAID OF Virginia Woolf? She is just incredible. She is a powerhouse. I was just terrified that I would show up and she would go, "What is this kid doing?" [Laughs.] But, she was such a wonderful collaborator who still had the spirit of still being an actress who still loves the whole community and the whole collaboration aspect. You know, sometimes, as people become more established, they become more independent and they kind of cut themselves off from everybody else. She just jumped in and was one of all of us. It was really great and really inspiring to see.

PC: Is hers the type of career that you aspire to have - theatre and film in about equal measure?

JR: Absolutely. That would be a dream come true. You know, she just does wall-to-wall stuff. I mean, as soon as she is finished with one play... I think she came off of a play, did our movie and then started rehearsals for the next play about two days after we finished shooting.

PC: Would you consider doing WHO'S AFRAID OF Virginia Woolf? someday? You seem to be an absolutely ideal Nick.

JR: Oh, yeah - I would love to do that role. I would love to do that role, and, then, in a couple of years, I'd love to play George.

PC: That would be amazing. Are there any other Albee roles you would love to do? THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY seems just right for you, as well - especially as The Boy.

JR: Yes. He is one of my favorite playwrights - I would love to do any of his roles, you know? He's just incredible.

PC: You have an affinity for that type of writing, it seems. Do you enjoy the LA theatre scene in general?

JR: Yeah, I do. I really do. I think that it gets a bad rap because, well, compared to New York it is hard to measure up. But, I've seen some incredible theatre here - this play called EXTINCTION I saw, which was so beautiful and incredible and then eventually went to New York; and, another play I saw called SMALL ENGINE REPAIR, that I really hope will come to New York at some point. I think that one of the reasons LA also gets a bad rap is that every once in a while you will have a play full of actors who don't really like theatre and are just doing it until their huge celebrity career takes off. So, they don't really care about the theatre, so, every once in a while, you will get a bunch of actors in play who aren't working together but are just trying to, like, show off because they think there is someone in the audience - or, they are just phoning it in because they assume there is no one in the audience who can help them. So, that's sort of a shame. But, that's a very small percentage - and it is that small percentage that gives it a bad reputation. But, there is a lot of great, great theatre out here, as well.

PC: Itamar Moses is a relatively new writer and I am not familiar with the play of his you are doing at LA Theatre Works, COMPLETENESS. What can you tell me about your own interpretation of the play?

JR: I never saw it before, either. I read it before they first did it and I loved it. It was around the time the TV show I was working on got picked up [THE EVENT], though, so I couldn't even really consider it. But, it's so nice to see it come around the other end and have the chance to do it now. It's such a beautiful play and so cleverly written. I don't know, every once in a while you read something and it will sort of resonate and stick with you for a while - and that is exactly what happened with this. When I got the script again, I thought, "Oh, COMPLETENESS? That sounds familiar." So, I decided to read it again, and, on page 2, I went, "I remember this play! I want to do it as fast as possible!" So, it's this really wonderful play about human connection and science and chemistry of all different sorts.

PC: I see in the description it has a lot to do with math and algorithms and lots of technical talk. Is it challenging to learn and perform that kind of language?

JR: It is. Yes, it is a little challenging. But, it is clearly written - and, I mean, even with the very limited amount of science I know and understand. Because they each work in separate schools of science, when they are explaining things to each other they are using more laymen's terms. And, so, the audience is able to go along for the ride, as opposed to two scientists who have a common language that we are not privy to, where we would just be lost. There is a lot of sort of walking us through what they are talking about - but, not in a way that is boring or pedantic.

PC: So, is it a perilously short rehearsal schedule since it is a six performance run?

JR: Yeah, we basically rehearse all day Monday through Wednesday and rehearse a little bit on Thursday and, basically, then, perform the show on Thursday night. We get notes after every performance. But, then, it is all done on Sunday. So, it gives it a fun sense of urgency - there is no middle of the run phoning it in, you know? [Laughs.]

PC: Definitely not.

JR: You just start it and then you finish it, so you put it all on the line at every performance.

PC: And it's being recorded and broadcast, as well! I remember when LA Theatre Works first started putting up the shows online and what a great resource these audio recordings are. Do you see more radio and voiceover work in your future - perhaps even animation work?

JR: Well, I just actually started doing a cartoon for Disney called GRAVITY FALLS.

PC: What is it about?

JR: It is a really fun, bizarre kids' show. It's about this boy and his sister Mabel and they move into their great uncle's mystery shack and all sorts of crazy monsters and zombies and weird stuff like that pop up all around them and they are trying to figure it all out. It's really a lot of fun. It's with me and Kristen Schaal.

PC: You always pick such interesting and unique projects, so I am very intrigued as to what sort of kid-related entity you would choose to do.

JR: Yeah, it's so much fun and it's so well-written. Especially now that there is so much kind of blue humor out there, it's nice to be reminded that things can absolutely hilarious and funny without resorting to shock tactics and crude language and stuff like that.

PC: Speaking of well-written crude language, you have worked with Neil LaBute both onstage and onscreen. How did you get involved with him on THE DISTANCE FROM HERE and, also, your fabulous cameo at the end of THE WICKER MAN?

JR: Well, I auditioned when they came to New York - Neil likes to premiere his plays out in London to see how they fare over there. And, then, he brings them back to New York. So, they wanted as many American actors as they could have in the play. And, so, I got the role and I went out there and that was one of the most fulfilling acting experience in my life, I would say. So, that's where I first met Neil. So, maybe a year or two later, I saw Neil on a plane and I said hello and he had just finished shooting WICKER MAN. They were going to shoot a new ending for it - he just wanted to end it with Nicolas Cage dying and he and the studio had a fight about that ending because they wanted him to survive or something like that - so, anyway, he said he came up with a separate, new ending and that James Franco was going to do it. So, I said, "Yeah! Sure! Absolutely!" And, that was how I ended up in that. I had never gotten the script; I didn't see any footage; I never met Nicolas Cage or any of the other people in the movie - it was just a one-afternoon separate shoot.

PC: Is James Franco as cool a guy as he seems to be?

JR: He is so cool. It is almost unnerving how cool he is. It was kind of like being back in high school for me, like, "Oh, God, what do I say to be cool?" [Laughs.]

PC: Daniel Sullivan has also done this column and I know he directed you in Wendy Wasserstein's THIRD. Was that your first major role in New York?

JR: Actually, that was my third play, funnily enough. My first play was at the Atlantic Theater Company - it was called THE BEGINNING OF AUGUST. It was a play by Tom Donaghy and Neil Pepe directed it.

PC: The great Neil Pepe.

JR: Yes, he is so great. And, that's where I went to school - the Atlantic Theater Company. Just recently, they inducted me as an official member of the Atlantic Theater Company, so I hope the next play that I do is with them. I think they are just such an incredible group of actors, directors and people.

PC: Congratulations on that! What an honor for someone so young.

JR: Thank you. So, yeah, THE DISTANCE FROM HERE was the second one - in London, with David Leveaux directing. Then, I ended up doing THIRD. That was the last full production I have done. Peppered throughout all of those were LA Theatre Works things - and I've done various other projects - but those were the big three.

PC: I really enjoyed your New York Times T-video, as well. Do you remember doing that?

JR: I do! That was a really fun thing. One year at Sundance, the director asked, I think, ten actors just to come to this lodge and improvise something. And, I wanted to do something... I think some were dark and I wanted to keep mine dark, too, but also add some humor to it. I like how he edited that, too. It turned out really great.

PC: I thought your work on THE EVENT was fantastic and the show was so well done. It seems networks refuse to put faith in new shows anymore - just look at THE PLAYBOY CLUB.

JR: Yeah, exactly. It was a frustrating thing. They are hoping, though, still - Nick Wauters, who created it, and the first producer who developed it with Nick, Steve Stark - they are still in talks with various other channels to hopefully do at least some kind of wrap-up miniseries, if not the whole thing. So, I would love to do that because I think it is frustrating to leave a story half-told.

PC: So you will be returning to PARENTHOOD full-time, then?

JR: Yes. That's what I've been doing recently - I've been in a bunch of episodes this season. Almost right when we got the news about THE EVENT being canceled, PARENTHOOD scooped me back up - which was very nice and kind of them. [Laughs.]

PC: Andrea Anders and Jon Bernthal have both done this column, so I am curious how you look back on your experience working with them on a prior TV comedy, THE CLASS?

JR: Oh, I love all of those people from THE CLASS so much. I still see them. I just went to the premiere of the first episode they did of THE WALKING DEAD in the theater. It was awesome.

PC: Did you think it was a good episode? Are you a WALKING DEAD fan?

JR: It was really great! The only thing about seeing it early is that I have to wait twice as long for the cliffhanger to be resolved! [Laughs.]

PC: You have a packed slate of new movies coming out: what can you tell me about FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF?

JR: Yes. FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF is playing at the Hamptons Film Festival very soon. There is a website for it. It was really fun and it was a really funny script. It was one of those scripts where I picked it up - it was a short film - and the first three lines were: "Hey, man, how's it going?"; "Good. Well, actually, not so good - my dad died yesterday," ; and, my character says, "Oh, sh*t! My computer totally died yesterday!" [Laughs.]

PC: That's so funny.

JR: Yeah, I was just in at that point and the rest of the script was just as bizarre, funny and cool.

PC: What else are you excited about coming out soon?

JR: Well, I also got to do a music video with one of my best friends who I've known since kindergarten - this guy named Jeremy Konnor, who did DRUNK HISTORIES.

PC: With Jack Black, etc.

JR: Yes, exactly. He did the episode before. Jack Black was in Episode 2 and I did an episode with Danny McBride that was right afterwards.

PC: So what is this new project?

JR: Jeremy and I got to do this music video called "Ode To Janis Melt" by this band Army Navy. Basically, since we've known each other for so long, he had been asked to do this video for the band, so he came up to me and said, "The band totally trusts me, so do you want to do that stupid idea we had in high school about the guy who falls in love with his hand while his girlfriend is away?" And, I said, "How long is the song? Can we sustain it for that long?" [Laughs.] So, we sat down and came up with a bunch of ideas for a short relationship with this one absurd element that is the hand instead of an actual other person.


JR: Yes, it's exactly like that! It was really fun. And, you know, it's fun to be able to do things like that - you know, if you have a couple days free and you get together with friends. Like with FREE SAMPLES that we were talking about. Or, Mark Webber - a friend of mine who was in A DISTANCE FROM HERE with me.

PC: Tell me about his new film. Shannyn Sossaman is the lead in that, correct? She's one of my favorite rising actresses.

JR: She is amazing. I didn't get a chance to work with her - my scenes were just with Mark and his son Isaac.

PC: What is the title?

JR: Yeah, I think it still might be called THE UNTITLED Mark Webber PROJECT. [Laughs.]


JR: Yeah, that's another film that I have a cameo in - it was just in the Toronto Film Festival. My friend, Ryan, and I did this film together called THE DRY LAND and he wrote and was going to star in and direct this film and there was this funny little part at the very beginning for a person and he asked me to do it. Also, this movie A BAG OF HAMMERS is coming out soon.

PC: What is A BAG OF HAMMERS about?

JR: BAG OF HAMMERS is about two guys who, basically, have not accepted responsibility for themselves and they have questionable moral compasses. Essentially, they are left stuck with this ten-year-old kid who doesn't have any parents all of a sudden. So, one of them takes this new responsibility as a sign that they need to grow up and the other one - me - just wants to turn him over to the authorities. So, it's about these guys who like to have fun and steal cars on the side, and, all of a sudden, they are faced with this new thing.

PC: Did you get to do any stunt driving?

JR: Yeah. You know, when I read the script it was interesting because there were scenes that were absolutely supposed to be funny and absurd, but there is a character who commits suicide halfway through the film, and, I thought, "What balance are we going to have to strike in order for this horribly tragic thing to occur in the middle of this comedy?" So, it was a challenge. But, that's sort of what it is: to these guys, their lives are sort of a silly light-hearted thing and, then, suddenly, they are sucker-punched by this dark reality.

PC: Who is in it with you?

JR: Jack Sandvig wrote it with the director, Brian Crano, and Carrie Preston is in it, too. And, Rebecca Hall and Amanda Seyfried.

PC: Rebecca Hall is phenomenal.

JR: She is so great. She's wonderful.

PC: Are there any actresses you would like to work with soon?

JR: Oh, gosh. Yeah, there are a bunch.

PC: Sharon Lawrence spoke so favorably of your work when she did this column. THE PERFECT FAMILY?

JR: I have seen the film and they are both - Sharon and Kathleen - amazing in it. So great.

PC: Will it be out soon?

JR: I think it is still on the festival circuit. But, most of the time, I am usually the last to know.

PC: THE DREAMER OF OZ, your first film, is finally on Blu-ray in the WIZARD OF OZ box-set.

JR: Oh, my gosh! I didn't know that. How fantastic.

PC: Do you have any memories of filming it? How old were you? Nine?

JR: Yeah, I think I was probably about nine. It was a lot of fun for me and I think that it may have given me the wrong incentive - because I wanted to do it, essentially, because I got to miss school. I was like, [Kid Voice.] "This is such a great job! I get to miss school and I don't get in trouble!" But, it was a really great time. And, since it was done before I was a teenanger and self-aware, I remember a scene where we eat tapioca pudding and I never had tapioca pudding before - there was a scene where we had to eat it and I remember being so involved with the experience. I just loved it. To be able to go back and do a scene and go, "Wow, I am not paying attention to anything else except the experience of this pudding."

PC: It's a perfect complement to the actual OZ film, as well, seeing as it gives the backstory.

JR: Exactly. Exactly.

PC: Define collaboration. Is it give and take?

JR: I think it is give and take, but it is also understanding that - and this is almost always true - the idea of the whole can be more powerful than the idea of one person. I think that the nice thing about collaboration and this whole business is that if you a director - we're just talking about the collaboration about the actor and director now; not the writer and lighting designer and everyone else - to understand that the director is focusing on every single aspect of the play and what is going on, to be able to trust that an actor who has only been focusing on his character for the most part might have an idea the director may not have thought of. And, then, on the other hand, an actor may have an idea and the director may say, "Well, I understand why you may say that from your perspective, but, on the whole, it doesn't work because I am keeping my eye on all those other aspects, too."  So, if you have a bunch of people who are able to trust the artistry of the people around them, the whole is absolutely greater than just the one idea.

PC: In Oliver Stone's W. you play a real person, so how does that affect that process?

JR: Yeah, that's true. It does. You know, it's funny, because for the thirty seconds that I am in W., I read Jeb Bush's book and I did all this research and I watched all these videos. Then, suddenly, you are there one day and you do a couple takes and it's over! It was all so fast. But, that was a real thrill to be a part of that movie and work with Oliver Stone. And, to be in a scene with Josh Brolin, Ellen Burstyn and James Cromwell?

PC: Heaven, I imagine. Ellen Burstyn alone...

JR: If we're talking about actresses I want to work with, she is definitely one. I loved the actress in that movie THE CELEBRATION, too, and this other movie she is in where she is this alcoholic actresses who is trying to get her children back and she is doing WHO'S AFRAID OF Virginia Woolf? in between, called APPLAUSE. It's really, really incredible. Paprika Steen is her name.

PC: The first production of THE ZOO STORY, Albee's first play, premiered in Germany in German, after all, so that whole idea makes some semblance of sense.

JR: I believe this is actually a Danish film.

PC: Speaking of which: are you a Lars Von Trier fan?

JR: Yes, I am a Von Trier fan. All those Danish guys.

PC: Have you seen ANTI-CHRIST yet?

JR: No, I haven't, but I am looking forward to biting my fingernails the whole time. [Laughs.]

PC: Semi-last question: since you starred in FREDDY VS. JASON and it is almost Halloween - if forced to choose: who do you pick, Freddy or Jason?

JR: Freddy always terrifies me more - just the fact that he can get into your head. With Jason, you can get on a plane and get far enough away from him. But, the idea that there is no distance you can go to get away from Freddy is really scary. [Laughs.] Robert Englund is so ingrained in my young psyche. I mean, I'm 31, so... I ended up seeing all of them at some point, but not in order.

PC: Do you watch horror movies during this time of year?

JR: Yeah, there is this place that shows old movies and I am going to see THE TINGLER on Halloween.

PC: With the actual William Castle shockers in the seats?

JR: Yeah, they are going install Percepto into the seats of the theater. When I first saw that movie, I saw it at home - so, when Vincent Price goes, [Vincent Price Voice.] "Oh, no! It's gotten into the audience!" it was a little ridiculous because there was no audience, you know, on my couch. So, I am excited to see it with an audience, with the buzzers, and to watch them all scream and everything. And, some of my friends introduced me to one of my new favorite horror movies recently: it's called SHOCKMA.

PC: I've never even heard of that.

JR: There's probably a reason that you've never heard of it - it's about a killer baboon. It's as entertaining and legitimately scary as it is hilarious. Even the preview...

PC: Will you be dressing up?

JR: I am going to be dressing up, but I don't know what I am going to dress up as yet. This time of year, inspiration always strikes at the exact right moment.

PC: Do you see Shakespeare in your future - Edmund/KING LEAR, especially?

JR: Oh, I'd love to do that part. Iago, too.

PC: You'd be so killer in that, as well.

JR: It's funny that you mentioned that, though, because Edmund is one of my male parts in all of Shakespeare that I've always wanted to do and Edgar is one of the most terrifying. I've seen it done well and that Poor Tom stuff seems really tough. I would just fear having to do all that actorly stuff. [Laughs.]

PC: What actors would you like to work with soon? Ryan Gosling?

JR: Oh, I would love to. I would love to.

PC: I'd love to see you do some Arthur Miller, too.

JR: Oh, yeah! Me too. Me too.

PC: What can you tell me about your new movie I AM I?

JR: My friend Jocelyn Towne wrote and directed and stars in this movie and I am so close to her and her husband who is in it with me, Simon Helberg, so, because I am so close to her and Simon, I was so nervous when I first read the script - I mean, what if I hated it? And, it was one of the most beautiful scripts I read all year. So, I was so relieved and excited to be a part of it. I am honored that they included me in it. It's a really beautiful, complicated film about a man with a regressive illness. It's just very, very complex and beautiful.

PC: You have make such great choices in scripts.

JR: I really appreciate you saying that, Pat. I try to be careful of what I put out in the world.

PC: Is there anything else coming up that you will be filming soon?

JR: One I am really excited about is THE DEAD CIRCUS, where I will be portraying Charlie Manson, which is an interesting challenge for me.

PC: You can go to that dark place. Are you going to get physically skeleton-y?

JR: Yeah, I am. He was a scrawny, little guy right before the Sharon Tate murders happened. It all takes place then.

PC: So, it covers the Labianca murders, then?

JR: That becomes part of the backdrop of the film, but it is really about this other world - the Los Angeles underground of sex and violence and drugs. It's a fictional story. This writer researches the death of Bobby Fuller - who sang "I Fought The Law And The Law Won" - he died in a very mysterious way and this is a sort of a "What If?" movie. It's a fascinating script and I think Melissa Leo is going to be the main woman in it.

PC: You just did BROOKLYN BROHTERS with her, as well.

JR: Yeah, she has a cameo in that. She was in THE DRY LAND, too. So, this will be our third movie together and the first where we have scenes together. She's just amazing in everything she does and she just blows me away every time.

PC: What music are you listening to right now?

JR: Right now I am obsessed with this comedian/musician Tim Minchin. He's Australian and I just saw him live out here a few weeks ago. He's just amazing and hilarious. Another one I have been listening to is the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's NEVERMIND. Before that, I was listening to Alex Lilly and her band, Obi Best. She and Juliette Bommegere are my big favorites.

PC: Favorite film of last year? Did you see Innaratu's BIUITUL?

JR: I haven't, but I am so glad you just reminded me. I think Javier Bardem is just incredible.

PC: Apparently he has an amazing singing voice and the rumor is he will be appearing on GLEE.

JR: No way! That would be amazing.

PC: Can I assume you are you a GLEE fan, then?

JR: I am, actually. I sort of came to it late, but I have seen a bunch of episodes now and the spirit of it is so great and I love what it is doing for all the people who thought they had to keep their song just in their hearts in high school and how it encourages them to let it out.

PC: It has done so much for the struggling arts programs at so many high schools, even in just three years. It has added so much more awareness to the theatre community, as well.

JR: I love seeing the resurgence of musicals in general, even before GLEE. I think that for a while  there people were not getting into musicals and they thought they were lame or kind of stupid and, then, there were all these new musicals coming out and I am so happy to see that. It's really great and I am so glad people have re-embraced that way to tell a story. I think that because of the unnatural elements of musicals - that people don't break out into songs - and people got married to certain things and people forgot that by utilizing music you can still be as purely emotionally resonant as another piece of theatre, film or television. I hope to see that mode utilized more in the future.

PC: And the Shakespeare of our age writes musicals - Stephen Sondheim.

JR: He is just incredible - and, he is also the reason I told you I can't really do musicals. [Laughs.] His stuff is so complicated. When I was in school, we did a bunch of songs from COMPANY. So, I sang "Being Alive" and "Barcelona" in class.

PC: No way! You would be an ideal Bobby.

JR: I guess I can hope! Maybe someday I will get up the nerve to be able to do it. [Laughs.]

PC: I'm so thrilled that your career is taking off in such a major way, Jason - stage plays, TV shows, indies, shorts and studio feature films! You can do it all. I can't wait to see what you do next. This has been simply awesome.

JR: Thank you so much, Pat. This was awesome. Bye.

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Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)