Aaron Tveit: from Broadway to ‘Les Mis’ to “Graceland”

Source: After Elton
Date: 2013 January 21
By: Jim Halterman

Whether you know him for his work on Broadway (Catch Me If You Can, Next To Normal), film (Enjolras in Les Misérables) or television (recurring as Trip on “Gossip Girl”), Aaron Tveit has been turning heads for quite some time now.

One thing he hasn’t done before: been a series regular on television. That changes this summer when Tveit headlines the new USA crime drama, “Graceland.” As Undercover FBI agent Mike Warren, Tveit will join a Southern California safe house (dubbed Graceland for its safety and sanctuary for the undercover agents) where hunky Daniel Sunjata (also a stage vet for his work as a gay baseball player in Take Me Out) plays veteran agent Briggs who teaches Mike the ropes.

We caught up with Tveit at NBC’s recent TCA party and not only talked about “Graceland” but whether Tveit will be rushing back to the stage as soon as his hiatus begins.

AfterElton: Talk to me about stepping into this character, who is a newbie of this FBI world.
Aaron Tveit:
My character, Mike, is a really smart guy. He’s coming out of Quantico, the FBI Academy. Top of his class, great practical scores, but thrown into this house where I have to get my sea legs per se. But I think the best thing about it is, if you notice in the pilot everyone talks about Mike, but Mike doesn’t really say anything about himself. As things go on, not everything is as it seems with Mike. Everyone plays up that he’s book smart, but I think Mike’s a little more smarter that that.

AE: From what I saw in the pilot, he seems like he keeps things close to the vest.
That’s the thing I’ve been thinking a lot about. They say this guy graduated at the top of his class, but to do that [is a] different kind of intelligence that he has to have psychologically. So it’s been fun to play with that as an actor and really sit back and observe other people before you necessarily jump in.

AE: What is going to learn from Briggs but also what does he have to teach Briggs?
I’m happy to hear you say that because I think that’s really… if the show is successful and we hopefully run for awhile, I think that will be a big part of what the story we tell is. These guys, I think, are an adversary but also have a really common bond; the fact that they’re both brilliant agents and really smart. If there’s a line in the sand between right and wrong, I think they’re just on either side of it, so I think it’s really interesting to see. Hopefully we’re going to each learn a lot about each other. I hope that we can come together and then move forward together, because I think it will be interesting to see how each of us is changed by the other person.

AE: You’re no stranger to TV, but this is a role you could end up playing for a long time.
Yeah, this is my first series regular role in a show, so I feel very blessed to have found such an amazing character and story and script my first time out. I feel really great about it.

AE: A lot of other TV actors who come from Broadway tend to rush back to the stage when they finish their season. Is that your plan?
Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what will be as soon as we’re done, whether it’s a play or a musical or if it’s a movie. I’m open to anything. I don’t have a direct plan, but I definitely want to go back to the stage. I want to work on stage the rest of my life, so I hope I’m going to be able to continue to do all three.

AE: How is it to take on a role where singing is not a part of it whatsoever?
It’s a little different. I definitely don’t wake up in the morning and check if I have my voice, which I do every day when I’m in a musical. But I do approach it the same way with the background work that I do. I prepare the same for a musical that I do for this. The singing element is the only thing that’s different.

AE: The other thing with a TV audience in the world of Twitter and social media, people want to know about you and your life. Has that come up yet?
A little bit. That’s something I faced to a certain extent in New York doing theater, also. My personal life, I’ve always really tried to keep personal. I’m not on social media myself. Those are just decisions that I made already in the past to keep those things separate, so I’m going to try to continue to do that with this.

AE: Do you see social media as a good thing or…?
I think it’s a good thing in that — obviously, there are pros and cons. I think it’s great for the sharing of information. For instance, when things break now, my friends tell me they see it on Twitter before it’s even on CNN. I think it’s good for promotional purposes, but as far as personal stuff, it’s people’s choices whether they want to use that and I choose not to do it myself.

AE: People are noticing you more for Les Misérables, but I saw you several years ago on Broadway in Next To Normal. I still think you were robbed of a Tony nomination!
Oh, thank you! Thank you very much. I love that show, and it was such a wonderful experience so thank you.

AE: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years. Is there a plan?
I’d hope to be doing “Graceland” for a while, but I would like to just be able to continue to go back and forth between doing a movie, doing this show, and getting back onstage.