THE LEADING MEN: Jonathan Groff, the Spring Awakening Kid, Takes on Red and TV's "Boss"

By Kenneth Jones
20 Aug 2012

Groff in Spring Awakening.
Photo by Joan Marcus

When you were doing The Submission for MCC Theater last fall at the Lucille Lortel, you used to ride your bike from the Upper West Side to the Village?
JG: Yes! Yes!

Are you bike-riding in L.A.?
JG: Well, it's funny you say that. I have my bike here, and I'm nervous to do it. I ride my bike everywhere in New York — I love it — it's my favorite way to get around. I had started riding in L.A. in the late winter before I went for Chicago [to shoot "Boss"]. I bought a bike here, and I started riding around here, and the cars are not quite aware. I think there's a lot more texting, and there's a lot more swerving and sort of unfocused driving. The driving in New York is very aggressive and very intense, but very aware of what's around. The cab drivers and everyone are very aware of what's going on because everyone's going fast and stopping for red lights or whatever, so when you're on your bike, you feel like everyone knows you're there. But in L.A. — I'm on a tirade now, I'm sorry: In L.A., there's less of a respect for bike riders on the roads here, I found. People will beep at you and try and sort of cut you off, and it's slightly more dangerous. So I haven't [been biking], although just a couple of nights ago I was thinking, "God, I would really love to be riding my bike home from this play right now instead of getting into my car." So I think it's going to happen now that we're out of rehearsal — we just opened last night — so I have a feeling that I'm going to end up riding a little bit to and from the theatre, but probably not as much as I did in New York. It would be a 45-minute bike ride.

Isn't the Taper downtown?
JG: Yeah, the Taper is downtown.

Are there dedicated bike lanes?
JG: There are some, yeah, but not as much as in New York. And, the great thing about riding to the Lortel was the West Side Highway bike path, which is what I took the whole way down, which is just like heaven. I would take videos with my iPhone while I was riding my bike because I couldn't believe how beautiful and peaceful it was to be riding.

This is just what your parents and your agents don't want to hear.
JG: [Laughs.] Exactly! But it's on a bike path, and I wasn't going fast. I would never do that on the road. I also never listen to music while I'm on my bike. That's a little personal promise I made to myself. And, I always wear a helmet.

A couple months ago, I interviewed Sutton Foster when she was shooting "Bunheads" out in L.A. You know "Bunheads"?
JG: Yup. Hello?! Of course I know it! I thought she was awesome.

I asked her if she's into the California thing. I asked, "Are you hiking? Are you eating Mexican food? Are you going to the beach?" Because she's in a series, she didn't have any time to do any of that. Are you able the soak up California? Beach? Hiking?
JG: Yes! I've had probably a lot more downtime here that she had, where I haven't been working — I've just been auditioning. It's so different from New York. For me, New York is the number one place. It's my favorite city in the world, and it's my favorite place to live as well. But, that being said, I really have found things out here that I enjoy. There's this amazing pool — 15-meter outdoor pool at UCLA — where I learned to swim two years ago that I go to all the time that I love. And, the hiking here is so great. I love working out. I love all of that: the running outside here, outside the reservoir area and the canyons and whatnot, is really great. Really great.

Ideal scenario — you living in New York six months out of the year and in L.A. for six months?
JG: Yeah. I mean, I do love having both. I have a little studio apartment in New York, and I have a little studio apartment here. Yes, I think, yeah. Maybe more than six months in New York, but it's certainly nice to be living in both places because there's something, too, about L.A. that's sort of like you're on a vacation. It can be really lonely here because everyone has to get in their cars to meet and go places. And, in New York, you kind of spill out on the street and find yourself doing things and meeting people without having to plan it. A little back and forth would be great.