Jonathan Groff on Coming Out, "Looking," "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer, Lea Michele and More

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26 Jun 2014

Groff on "Looking."

What was it like on the set of "The Normal Heart" with Larry Kramer?
JG: He was amazing. The most vivid memory I have from the set is that he came when we were shooting the White Party on the beach in Fire Island, and he had to leave. He just broke down, and he got really emotional and left because that scene is not in the play, so I think it kind of came as unexpected to him — to be there on Fire Island on the beach, where they did have the White Party—and to look around and say, "So many of these people died, and I was at this party, and so many of them are gone." It was a real revelation to all us twentysomethings who were standing there on the beach having a good time.

I feel like we're in a really interesting spot in the gay community because there's such a wave of acceptance that's happened over the last five years — over the last ten years, but a lot in the last five years… There's a huge shift. I was born in 1985, and I'm having such a different experience as a gay man than the people who were in their prime in 1985. Being on set, doing "The Normal Heart" with a bunch of people in their 20s that day on the beach, was a real revelation for all of us — just to be reminded what it was like to live not that long ago and to be a part of that generation and to be reminded of what they struggled through, what they fought through and what they gave to us.

Talk to me a bit about "Looking." What excites you about next season? What can you tease?
JG: Well, I know all of the stuff that everybody knows — both Russell Tovey [who plays Kevin, Patrick's boss who he hooks up with in the season finale], Raúl Castillo [who plays Richie, Patrick's love interest] and Lauren Weedman [who plays Doris] have signed on as season regulars as opposed to guest stars, so we'll be seeing more of them. The stories they have brewing [for next season] are really exciting and surprising, and I'm so excited to get back to that show. A lot of the actors — almost all of us, actually — live in New York, so we have stayed friends and stayed connected. It's a very unique, very special experience. I'm going to Fire Island with them today!

I'm so jealous!
JG: You can work from Fire Island, right? [Laughs.]

What is your favorite part about Patrick? What do you admire about him?
JG: My favorite part about Patrick is that he — from the very first scene of the very first episode, when he tries to get a hand job in Golden Gate Park — you're seeing a character who is ready to step outside of his comfort zone and grow. I feel like Patrick is naïve in a lot of ways, and he has a lot of learning and a lot of growing up to do, but the thing that I admire most about him is that, right when we first meet him, he's starting that journey. And, just when he's about to start really "looking" [laughs] at himself and try to go deeper — trying to learn more and trying to ask himself those hard questions, [such as when] he asks Dom in the pilot, "Why do I keep on going on bad dates?" — he's ready to break those bad patterns in his life and try something new. That's what I really admire about him, and it's so fun to play that because it's someone who is stepping outside of his comfort zone, which is really satisfying, emotionally, because [they're] always on edge, and there is also the potential for comedy in those moments because any time we step outside of our comfort zone, we're bound to fall on our face a couple of times or more.


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