Hardly Miserable: “Graceland” Star Gets Two Big Roles in One Week

Source: Sioux City Journal
Date: June 1, 2013
By: Bruce Miller

How’s this for luck: actor Aaron Tveit learned he was cast in the film version of Les Mis√©rables and the new TV series “Graceland” just two days apart.

To fulfill both commitments, the Broadway star had to fly between London and the United States for the better part of six months.

Complaints? None from Tveit, who saw the differences – and travel – as a blessing.

“I had no plan as to what was going to be next,” he says. “I had been working in the theater and film and I wanted that to continue. Whatever presented itself I’d do.”

A one-two punch like Les Mis and “Graceland,” though, was like winning the acting lottery.

The Oscar-winning film gave him worldwide exposure; the series has the potential to make him a household name.

In the latter he plays a rookie FBI agent assigned to an undercover unit that could have big ethical problems. Living in a place called Graceland, agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Customs are trying to move in on drug lords. But folks in the house could be part of the problem.

To play the role, Tveit had to take gun and SWAT training. He also had to shadow officials in Florida who taught him the secrets of their trade.

“With a movie, you have one script. With a play, you have one script. But with a television show, you’re growing and changing on a week-to-week basis,” he says. “I find it very fulfilling. It’s the same character but a new situation.”

On Broadway, Tveit starred in Wicked, Hairspray, Next to Normal, and Catch Me If You Can — musicals that easily put him on the show business map.

Next to Normal brought him plenty of acting awards and showed him how the creative process works.

“When we did the show off Broadway, we talked about what kind of costumes the characters would wear and how they might behave. Because we had so much input, I was able to decide what kind of sneakers my character would wear. Now, it’s interesting to see pictures from productions around the world and they’re wearing the same ones. It just makes me smile.”

Playing a role on film created by someone else was a big responsibility, he says. “Sometimes you have no concept how it’s going to come out but [the film version of Les Mis] felt like it had something extra to it while we were rehearsing. Everyone was so passionate about the project. We were all happy to be there. It felt special.”

Members of the film cast were hailed for singing “live” instead of pre-recording their music. “I had a little more knowledge of how to prepare myself for it physically because I had been doing eight shows a week.”

Broadway actors, he says, are adept at preserving their energy, particularly when they’re doing four shows over a weekend. “Having just one day off is really hard. Even though we were working long hours on television, having Saturday and Sunday off proved to be a great thing. You get two days to kind of recover and get stuff done. They’re all a grind — just in different ways.”

Shooting in Florida for “Graceland” has helped Tveit find the character. “It adds an extra amount of focus to the work because we’re not distracted. We’re not in Los Angeles, where so much of the entertainment industry lives; and we’re not in New York, where everything is so fast-paced. It’s helped to elevate the show.”

A return to Broadway someday? Absolutely, the 29-year-old New York native says. “I’d love to do Broadway shows for the rest of my life. I hope I can continue to do everything.”