Boss Man: Jonathan Groff

8.7.2012

By Max Berlinger

On painting the town red, using sex as power, and overcoming the urge to Google himself.

Groff, however, has long been transparent about his sexuality. He came out early in his career at a march for gay rights in Washington, D.C., when a reporter asked him why he was there. “I just told her,” he says. “I sort of always knew, in the back of my mind, that when the moment arrived for me to come out, I would. I wasn’t yanked out of the closet.” Groff was singled out, along with Sean Hayes, in a much criticized 2010 Newsweek article questioning the merits of gay actors playing straight, but his nonchalance on the subject points to a grounded, what-of-it mentality.

“When I came out, people said it may have a negative effect on my career, and that’s definitely something I thought about before I did it,” he admits. “But I don’t hold that belief. I just go on my auditions and plug away as I normally would. At the end of my career, I can look back and ask, ‘Well, did it, or didn’t it?’ But at the moment, I just have to move forward and hope that people will follow my actions.”

SEE OUR EXCLUSIVE SLIDESHOW WITH JONATHAN GROFF

Mario Van Peebles, who directs Groff in Boss, commends his decision, saying, “Jonathan is part of a new breed of actor who says, ‘I am who I am’ -- someone who is smart, talented, sexy, and happens to be out.” Michael Grandage, who directed Groff in Red, agrees. “Most people are defined by their sexuality, so hiding it would be anathema to any sane person who wants to express themselves creatively,” he says. “He’s leading a new generation of actors who approach everything they do with freedom and honesty. I admire his ability to cut through the crap.”

Though he splits his time between New York and Los Angeles, Groff has planted himself firmly on the West Coast for the run of Red. His favorite haunt is not a trendy bar or hip restaurant but a public pool, the name of which he won’t reveal. “It’s such a well-kept secret,” he says. His mother was a gym teacher, and swimming is part of his fitness routine, but Groff bemoans his strict diet while filming Boss. “You’re meant to eat deep-dish pizza in Chicago, and I mostly eat chicken or broccoli or eggs,” he says. But he has a valid excuse for the self-deprivation. “I mean, the show is on STARZ, so I definitely get naked at some point.”

Boss’s second season premieres August 17. Red runs through September 9 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

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