What’s Up, Aaron Tveit?

Source: Broadway.com
Date: 2009 October 30
By: Kathy Henderson

Just in time for Election Day, Next to Normal star Aaron Tveit is headed back to “Gossip Girl” for a seven-episode arc in which his blue-blooded character, Tripp Vanderbilt, is running for office. Will the handsome Tripp find himself at odds with his equally gorgeous cousin, Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford)? Will their patrician grandfather, played by Tony winner James Naughton, pull strings to ensure Tripp’s election? Don’t ask Tveit, who declined to reveal plot secrets during a recent phone chat with Broadway.com. In addition to GG, Tveit spoke about his summer stint in the new musical Catch Me If You Can, his decision to forego a screen test for “Glee” and why you might not see him at the Booth Theatre stage door these days.

Talk about a juggling act—you’ve gone from Next to Normal to Catch Me If You Can to “Gossip Girl” and back.
It’s been a crazy, amazing, humbling, pinch-myself-every-day couple of years. It’s every actor’s dream to work in a hit show on Broadway and also shoot a television show. I came back to Next to Normal on September 7 after the summer in Seattle [in Catch Me If You Can], and I haven’t had a day off since October 7.

You must be so busy.
I have missed a couple of shows during the week to do “Gossip Girl.” I have had to make some sacrifices for that: I used to go out and sign [autographs] every night—these amazing fans wait outside the theater—and I’ve kind of skipped out a few times because I have to be on set at 6 in the morning the next day. I want the fans to know it hasn’t been a slight on them in any way, it’s only been to maintain my health with this rigorous schedule.

So, what’s up with Tripp Vanderbilt on “Gossip Girl”? First of all, what the heck are you running for?
I’m running for a Congressional seat in the great city of New York in the great state of New York—as a very, very young, right-out-of-law school Congressman.

Well, if Chuck Bass can run a corporation at 18, you can get elected to Congress.
Exactly. Especially when my last name is Vanderbilt. It’s an upper-class New England Democrat thing, like the Kennedys.

Give us a preview!
I can’t really give away too much. This week, you get to see whether or not Tripp Vanderbilt is going to win his Congressional seat. I’m in the next five episodes, which takes the show into January. We’re starting my seventh episode, the last one for this arc.

What’s up in the romance department?
On the show? That, you’re just going to have to watch! It’s a really great, interesting storyline, and I can’t give it away.

Okay, what about your love life?
I’m a single man, and I’ve enjoyed that.

Tripp is a meanie, isn’t he?
My friends said that last year, and I was surprised they had that reaction. Tripp is a strong-willed person with a powerful, powerful grandfather. I think he got caught up in wanting to please his family, so any of his bad decisions were based on that. Bad things happen to good people.

How cool is it that James Naughton plays your grandfather?
It’s amazing. He’s a great, great guy. We’ve talked a lot about theater, and about the ability to go back and forth between stage and film.

Your TV cousin, Chace Crawford, is going to star in the film remake of Footloose. Have you given him advice about musicals?
He’s been picking my brain a little bit. We have similar backgrounds. He grew up as an athlete and so did I, and I told him that I had very minimal dance training before doing these shows. I was coordinated from sports and faked it [as a dancer] for a while, and the more I did it, the better I got. I think he was happy to hear that.

Who’s the nicest person on “Gossip Girl”?
Chace is probably my best friend over there. He’s this normal guy from Texas who still hangs out with all his buddies from home, and that’s exactly what I do.

What’s happening with Catch Me If You Can?
We’re waiting to hear. The show was so great this summer in Seattle. It was demanding; it was thrilling; it was so worth it. Marc [Shaiman] and Scott [Wittman’s] music is amazing. Working with Jack [O’Brien] and Jerry [Mitchell] so closely, and with Norbert [Leo Butz] and Tom [Wopat]—it was incredible. It’s too good not to happen. We just don’t know when.

Why not this season?
There’s certainly not a glut of new musicals.? It’s actually a testament to how much the producers and the creative team believe in the show that they want the circumstances to be perfect. I can’t wait for people to see it. It’s traditional in the sense that it’s like the great music of the early 60s, Rat Pack music, but the way the story is being told is so progressive and so different.

It’s great that you’re still enjoying musicals so much.
I love doing theater in New York. I’m not ready to skip town just because I’ve done a little work in film and on television. A good example of that, actually, is that while I was doing the workshops of Catch Me If You Can last fall, I had an opportunity to audition for a contract role in the pilot of “Glee.” I loved the script, which was really similar to me in high school—I played sports and also was in the show choir.

You auditioned for the role of Lea Michele’s boyfriend?
Yeah, for Finn. I had a great audition, and they wanted me to screen-test. When you screen-test for a pilot, you negotiate your contract right there, which could possibly be the next seven years of your life. But at that point, even though I saw the potential that “Glee” was going to be a huge hit, I couldn’t walk away from Catch Me If You Can or Next to Normal.

Any regrets?
Only that I hope [the “Glee” producers] don’t think I wasted their time by auditioning. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve been able to do amazing stuff here. I’m blessed to have these opportunities.