‘Weeds’ Hunk Hunter Parrish Broadway-ifies Pop Music With Debut EP

Most of us know Hunter Parrish as Mary-Louise Parker’s easy-on-the-eyes son on Weeds. But in a past life, Parrish starred on Broadway in Spring Awakening (RIP) and Godspell. Like fellow Spring Awakening actress Lea Michele, who now stars on Glee, Parrish can belt out a pop song like the best of ’em and that’s exactly what he does on a debut six-song EP, Guessing Games, out June 29.

The single Billboard.com is streaming from the album is all the proof I need of Glee‘s Broadway-ification of pop music. In Sitting At Home, Parrish belts, "It’s like we’re drinking in Paris, it’s like we’re kissing in Rome" —sunny, upbeat lyrics that you can bet will find their way to the latest rom-com near you.

 

 

Hunter Parrish’s voice is a good one, of course.You don’t end up on Broadway without a set of pipes. I just hoped for something a little more folk-y and grittier, considering the EP is being marketed as "folk."

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Vs. ‘Godspell’: Which Broadway Revival Will Have The Hotter Jesus?

There may be dueling Jesuses at next year’s Tony Awards! The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Jesus Christ Superstar is heading to Broadway next spring after an acclaimed production in Ontario. The Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice (subtlety alert!) show will be hot on the sandaled heels of the first Broadway revival of Godspell, which opens this fall. But the real question: which will feature the sexier Jesus?

Perhaps the success of The Book of Mormon has created some sort of religious fervor on the Great White Way, but the New Testament has rarely been so hot. Hunter Parrish, who plays Mary Louise Parker’s son on Weeds, is set to play Jesus in Godspell. For those who are unfamiliar with the Stephen Schwartz musical, Jesus is classically seen wearing a Superman t-shirt and rainbow suspenders. Theatre! Let’s hope Parrish’s costume is at least sleeveless; could he be the first to portray the pacifist messiah while carrying such big guns?

A fun game to play on YouTube, by the way, is to watch the finale from various productions of the show, which is very popular among high school music departments and community theater troupes, to see how there’s no way to avoid ending this musical with a bleak and overdramatic depiction of the crucifixion. It’s kind of a boner-killer.

Meanwhile, the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar will probably be some unknown British guy draped in a white sheet. But there will be guaranteed sexual tension between Jesus and his prostitute gal pal Mary Magdelene, who sings the recognizable “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.” The original production of the depicted Jesus and his disciples as free-spirited hippies, (so, not totally different than Godspell, really). Hippies aren’t particularly sexy, are they?

Hunter Parrish may have the advantage here–that is, if the American Theater Wing were to award a Tony for Hottest Savior. But Superstar does have a secret weapon: Judas. It’s hard not to love the bad boy who gets the sing the title song.

Hunter Parrish’s Favorite Comfort Food: Brooklyn Diner, NYC

imageAs star of Broadway and Showtime’s Weeds, Hunter Parrish seems like a swell fellow. Both as a member of our New Regime and genteel interview subject, he seems an unlikely actor for his next role — tormenting Zac Efron as a bully in 17 Again. Nevertheless, when he needs comfort cuisine, Parrish turns to New York’s Brooklyn Diner, which is neither in Brooklyn nor blue-collar enough to be a diner. See our review.

Hunter Parrish: Weeding Out The Bullies

Each interview with actor Hunter Parrish invariably begins with a mention of his two shoes and how gosh darn goody they are. And so it’s a testament to his abundant talent that the 21-year-old star of Broadway’s Spring Awakening and the hit series Weeds has been able to play sexed-up pot peddlers with such conviction. Up next, Parrish will torment Zac Efron in 17 Again, which opens this spring. But will Hollywood’s freshest young star, an honest kid from Virginia, succumb to Hollywood’s debauched world of bottle service and bottle blondes? Parrish the thought.

You’ve been positioned as a back-roads innocent. In what ways has your upbringing clashed with your Hollywood life? It’s a shocker. I’m always like, Whoa, I didn’t even know people did that kind of thing, or thought that way! But also, everything I try out for has nudity, drugs and sex in it, so I’m used to that sort of material.

What sort of shocking things? It was a shocker to find out that the people I admired—a lot of them—weren’t all that interested in the craft. It’s been like, I really looked up to you! But when you realize they’re just working for a paycheck, it spoils the illusion of what we do.

What about the upside of working in Hollywood? I don’t have to wait in lines for clubs. I recently went bowling and wanted a pitcher of beer. But I wasn’t going to drink the whole thing, I just wanted to use this beer tower machine—I like machines and gadgets. The bartender recognized me and brought me the full thing for free. So that’s always fun, but I don’t usually look forward to being recognized.

Is there any major difference between your Weeds fans and those who recognize you from Spring Awakening? Since I go out onstage every day, I talk to more fans now than I ever have. I get more fan mail now, but that’s just because they know where to send it.

Any overzealous fan stories? There are a couple of scenes in the show that are about self-pleasure, and one guy was like, Will you take a picture doing that with me? And I was like, No, no I won’t!

Have you been lonely since your move from Los Angeles to New York? It does get lonely; I’m not going to lie. I work really hard. I have to, because I’m not really that good at what I do, so I have to over compensate.

You’re joking, right? I’m not! For my first two months here, I sat at home and drilled myself until I got my lines right. And it’s hard work! You have to be focused if you want to do a god job. I had a few friends from New York, but they all moved to L.A. as soon as I got here.

Like Leven Rambin? That’s exactly who I’m talking about! Everybody knows Leven, and I was kind of counting on her to boost my social life. I guess that plan is now over…

I think that New York might be harder than L.A. to warm up to. Interesting. In L.A., it’s more like people look at you off the tip of their nose, but here people are like, Whatever, I’m not impressed by you, but nice to meet you!

What’s the most trouble you’ve gotten into? When I was younger, I was in an all-guys school, like a choir school. I was put on a behavior plan there because I was picked on and I have pride issues, so I didn’t put up with being picked on.

What does that even mean? If you get through the day without acting out, you get an award at the end of the month. Granted, I was in like fourth or fifth grade, but that’s like the most intense I’ve ever been watched.

Soon, you’ll play a bully in 17 Again. That’s a fun role reversal. I sort of turned it around and was like, Here’s how I got beat up. I had a firsthand experience.

Who are you bullying in the movie? Zac Efron. We know each other really well, having auditioned for stuff together in L.A. a lot. It was fun to work together, because once he started High School Musical, I haven’t really seen him around.

I’ve always pictured him as a guy who plays with his bangs a lot. Yeah, I mean, Zac’s a really great guy and he works very hard for what he wants. He’s really passionate about what he does, and it’s hard for him to hear people talk about him the way they do. He’s not just in it for the fame.

Does your family worry about your getting immersed in the excess of Hollywood? I’m sure they’re worried, and it’s all very tempting, but I just remind myself of who I was before any of this started happening. And I surround myself with people who hold me accountable for my actions. That doesn’t mean I don’t have fun, but I control it. Self-control is something I think a lot of people lose when they achieve success in our business.
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The New Regime: Hunter Parrish, Sebastian Stan, Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff, who one day earlier wrapped his first film, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, is the veteran of the bunch. After his Tony Award-nominated performance as the libidinous Melchior in Duncan Sheik’s Broadway masterpiece Spring Awakening, he went on to star in Hair and later, this month’s off-Broadway adaptation of Craig Lucas’ Prayer for My Enemy. In Woodstock, the baby-faced charmer channels Michael Lang, the charismatic creator of the world’s most notorious music festival. “On the very first day of shooting,” he says, from the basement of Manhattan’s Belmont Lounge, seated next to Sebastian Stan, who can be seen on NBC’s newest dystopic drama, Kings, “Ang held this big good luck ceremony where he blessed the cameras and the crew, and we all lit incense. There I was, sitting next to Eugene Levy with a stick of incense against my forehead. It was kind of surreal.”

Sprawled on a nearby banquette, Hunter Parrish, who plays the troubled son to Mary-Louise Parker’s drug-peddling soccer mom on Weeds, and who recently took over for Groff in Spring Awakening, shares a surreal experience of his own. “There are a couple of scenes in the show that are about, um, self-pleasure,” says the star of the upcoming film 17 Again, in which he plays Zac Efron’s bully. “After one show, this guy was like, Will you take a picture doing that with me?” Parrish didn’t, but smiled at the little pervert, proof that even though these actors are just starting out, they’ve already learned to play the game.

Photo: Victoria Will