Photography by Trae Patton/NBC. From left: Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha
It’s proving a banner year for Andrew Rannells. The actor best known for his Tony-nominated performance in The Book of Mormon gave a deliciously droll performance as an ex-boyfriend in Lena Dunham’s runaway HBO hit, Girls, and then scored a starring role in Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal, which premieres September 11 on NBC. We caught up with him as he was packing up his New York apartment for an imminent move to Los Angeles.
The New Normal is getting lots of buzz -- what’s surprised you most in creating the show?
People expected it to be a little funny, and maybe dark, because it’s coming from Ryan, but those who have seen it also comment on how heartfelt it is. I’m very happy about that because that was the goal—to show how much love it takes to start a family, particularly for a gay couple.
What was your own coming-out experience like?
I came out right after I graduated high school. I don’t think it came as a great surprise to my family -- I had been dancing around to the Grease 2 soundtrack forever, but I am really, really fortunate that my family was extremely accepting and extremely loving.
As Elijah, you’ve become a popular member of the cast of Girls. Were you ever a girl’s closeted gay boyfriend?
I had one girlfriend in high school and nothing happened -- it was the perfect pairing for me because so little was asked of me.
In response to criticism that The New Normal was too gay for mainstream viewers, True Blood’s Stephen Moyer told The Advocate, “Is there such a thing as too gay?” Is there?
Absolutely not. I just came from Fire Island for a week -- there’s nothing too gay. And I grew a moustache while I was there. I was going for ’80s porn star.
What cultural highlights are you looking forward to most this fall?
The new season of American Horror Story. I became mildly obsessed with it last season, even before I knew I was going to work with Ryan. And I’m really excited for the new season of Boardwalk Empire.
The New Normal premieres September 11 on NBC