Will Chase talks about his two decades on Broadway, why he prefers TV, and his future on Nashville

will chase

Will Chase has left his mark on the theatrical world in the nearly two decades since making his Broadway debut. Last seen on Broadway in his Tony nominated role as John Jasper in the Roundabout Theatre’s revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Chase went on to play Michael Swift in season one of Smash and is currently starring as country music superstar Luke Wheeler on the ABC drama Nashville.

The transition from performing soaring rock scores onstage to playing a country music rocker is a seamless transition for Chase, who initially joined the Nashville cast in 2013 for season two as a guest star and was promoted to a series regular in season three.

Now in its fourth season, and on the heels of a hotly-anticipated fifth season, Nashville has grown Chase’s character from being a potential sweetheart for Rayna James [Connie Britton] who ultimately gets jilted at the altar to his own fully-developed character as he attempts to heal a broken relationship with his son and struggles to accept and promote an openly gay artist on his record label.

Chase, arguably one of the most charming and charismatic actors in the industry, sat down with Stage Door Dish for a candid conversation about his many theatrical roles, his transition from stage to screen, and his sometimes controversial social media presence.

Let’s talk about how you joined Nashville.

This is a funny story. I was supposed to be doing Little Miss Sunshine. The previous spring The Mystery of Edwin Drood closed and I didn’t have a job, so I was just sitting around and they asked if I wanted to do Little Miss Sunshine, and I said, ‘Yes, I would love to, are you kidding?’ I’d get to work with James Lapine and Bill Finn. I was a huge March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland junkie. The summer goes by, we’re supposed to start rehearsals the day after Labor Day, and Nashville calls and says, ‘Hey, we’re writing this new character’, and I read for it. Christian Borle put me on tape in his apartment. He and I have done this many times for each other over the last several years as opposed to going to a casting director’s office. I did that, and they said, ‘We love you. Can you sing something and play guitar?’ I said maybe, because I don’t play really guitar great, but I play enough. I got put on tape singing something, they said, ‘We love you,’ and it drug out, drug out, drug out. I don’t know if they were looking for someone else or what happened, but the Friday before I was supposed to start rehearsals for Little Miss Sunshine, they called and said, ‘You start work on Tuesday.’ So I had to call James Lapine, Bernie Telsey. They were not happy with me. Bill Finn was like, ‘Isn’t he the guy who left us last time?’

I had to leave again but I’m so fortunate. I love the show. I was only supposed to be on for seven episodes but network TV is weird. Not that fans don’t have a say but the writers start to look at what people say and what story lines they like. Obviously, Connie [Britton] and I got along great, and they wrote me back in the show and kept me there. I was like ‘yay’ because I had gotten the other end of that stick in Smash, which was getting the call saying, ‘Yeah, next season, we’re not going to be using you.’ I’ve been on both ends of those phone calls. It was pretty cool of them to call and say they wanted to make me a series regular, and I’ve loved where the story has gone.

What was it about the show that attracted you to the project?

It’s funny, growing up in the south, I was never into country music. In my house, we listened to classical and some religious stuff, but I didn’t grow up listening to any country music. My uncle Wayne played the banjo, everybody around me was listening to country music, but not in my household. This character came along, and I knew and liked this guy. I had seen the show, I liked what they were doing. They were pitting this older country star, Connie’s character, against this younger whippersnapper, Hayden’s [Panettiere] character, and I loved Chip [Esten] on the show, and I loved that they were trying to add another man on the show with a little under his belt. The way they wrote him, even though he’s kind of different than me, I knew this guy. He’s a combo platter like my uncle Wayne and Blake Shelton. When I immersed myself in it, I started to love it, and now I can’t get enough of country music. It’s really weird. It’s on in the car, and my kids are like ‘What are we listening to?’ I love that they added another guy and it was messy. We knew he was divorced and had kids, so it’s not all hunky dory and clean. I love messy relationships to watch on TV, I think we all like to watch messy and we like to watch our heroes win every so often, and they do a good job of that on our show.

Luke recently came to terms with something he was not originally in support of, which was signing a gay artist to his label. In your life, what is something you were like, ‘Uh, I don’t know,’ and came around to and thought, ‘Yeah, this is definitely for the better’?

That’s a good question. I guess what I was naive about was the transgender topic. I’m very outspoken on Twitter. My 17 year old daughter Daisy is the one who opened my eyes and educated me on that whole issue. I just didn’t understand it. I’ve been around gays and lesbians, and obviously you’re born that way, so I’m on that side of that fence. But as far as transgender issues went, I was just naive. After becoming more educated, I realized they’re just exactly like I am. Now I speak out for it. I love where my character is going on the show. It’s funny to be the guy who tells Will [Chris Carmack], ‘Sorry, you can’t be on my label,’ partly because of the ego Luke has and doesn’t want to screw up his own career, and also what he doesn’t know. I love that Luke is playing catch up, and in the upcoming episodes, we head towards where Will Chase and Luke meet. One of our writers said to me, ‘Isn’t it neat when your character catches up to where you are?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty cool.’ I’m really glad they allowed Luke to have that redemptive moment where learned something from his son. I love that relationship, one because it’s Keean Johnson, and he and I did Billy Elliot together but also because it’s him teaching me something, in the same way my daughter, Daisy, taught me something. That’s real, that happens all the time. Sometimes we as fathers and mothers don’t say it enough, but our children teach us all the time. So it was nice to have my son teach me that thing and then for me to have the balls to say to Will, ‘You know what, sometimes just because you’re afraid of something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.’ Then you’re going to see what’s going to steamroll in the next episodes. Luke and Will become ‘Wonder Twins’ powers.

They kind of started that way, and then Will came out.

Luke had to man up and say, ‘Oh, no, this is what I know to be true, this is what I believe.’ You’re going to see how that plays out. It plays out in a wonderful way.

You answered one of my other questions within your answer, which was ‘Luke has learned many things from this son, what have you learned from your daughters?’ 

Those are my favorite scenes, with my children. I know everyone is supposed to have a lover, and Luke has been unlucky in love with literally everyone on the show. Part of that, though, goes to the fact that network TV writers have it the hardest. There are 22 episodes, and you have the principle cast there, and when you’re writing guest stars, those people get jobs. A lot of times, you’re writing this great arc, and then Laura Benanti goes and gets another job. It always seems to happen to me. Why is the Luke storyline the revolving door? I love that everyone has these lovers, but my storyline became about my kids and these messy relationships and figuring them out. It’s not tidy. I have a 17 and 14 year old, and it’s not a tidy thing. I love that it takes a little time, it’s a little messy, and then we have moments where our heroes have victories.

I was kind of hoping for Luke and Sadie, as someone who loves you and Laura.

I love being on set with Laura Benanti. She’s beyond funny and then she comes in a scene and nails it. I think the writers were headed that way until they got the call that Laura got another job, but that’s what they deal with all the time with guest stars. It’s part of being a network TV writer.

You mentioned that you and the actor who plays your son go way back. What is it like to work with him again?

They told me Keean Johnson was going to play my son, and I thought ‘The name Keean Johnson sounds familiar.’ So I’m looking him up online and seeing this handsome guy, and he looked so familiar, and then I found an old picture and went, ‘Oh, that’s Keean.’ It’s a big difference between 12 and 18. We had so many kids in Billy Elliot, I didn’t get to know all of them. I knew little pipsqueak Keean, and now he’s 6 feet and beautiful. We got to know each other really well. He’s an adult. He was an adult at 11. It’s cool this time to really get to hang out with him in the city. They keep hiring these brilliant, awesome actors and I don’t really have to do any work. I just stare at this guy, he makes me cry, and they call scene. He’s awesome.

You and Luke are both parents. How do your parenting styles differ?

I try not to get as angry. My kids might disagree with this, full disclosure. I try not to lash out in my anger as Luke has sometimes with Colt, especially that time we almost came to fisticuffs. I almost hit him, and then he pushes me. In a couple of takes, he almost pushed me over, just so you know. He’s very strong. I don’t hit my kids, I use humor a lot with my kids. I don’t know if Luke does. He’s been in a crappy, dark place. Plus, I get to see my kids a lot more than Luke does. We joke that Sage, my daughter, is never around. Where the hell is Sage? She does come back, but she’s been at dance camp for how long? I think Will Chase diffuses with humor, plus my kids are major musical theatre people, so we have that in common. I don’t think Luke and his kids have anything in common like that. I think they butt heads because of that.

What would you want to see happen in the next season?

We have a great, big cast and we have new showrunners. I’d like to see some story lines stretched out a little bit. A lot happens, which is fun for the viewer because you always get to see your favorite characters every episode. I think the new writers can still do that, but I’d like to see some story lines take a little bit longer, two or three episodes, to unwind. I think our audiences like that. The same audiences that watches Game of Thrones will watch network television, and in Game of Thrones, you can be on a story line for 12 episodes, but we have little victories within. That’s the art of writing, which our writers do very well. They give our characters little victories even though there’s an overlying dilemma. I’d like to see those dilemmas last a little longer. With 22 episodes, you can do it. I won’t say it’s easy, but I’m not a writer. I’d like to see those characters breathe a little bit.

If you could bring anyone from Broadway onto the show, who would you choose and who would they play?

Christian Borle as my brother. My long lost brother, Darryl. Like Deliverance. In theatre, you’re around the same people all the time, every day, forever and ever, and you become truly a family. Oliver Hudson, who played Jeff Fordham on Nashville and unfortunately got killed off, and I are close friends. We were best friends when we were there. We lived together in Nashville and he could make me laugh all the time, so I loved being on set. Unfortunately, you’re not on set with the same people all the time. I’ve done two scenes with Jonathan Jackson, who plays Avery, in three years so we had dinner just so we could see each other. Chip and I very rarely see each other. Just to have Christian Borle on set with me would be awesome, because he makes me giggle all the time.

Who else? Someone with gravitas, like Victor Garber. He could play my long lost uncle. Luke becomes rich and everybody comes out of the woodwork. I look up to Christian, I look up to Victor. To have people around like that keeps you on your toes. When you’re around great actors, it makes you up your game. I remember when I walked into Drood, I thought, ‘Oh my God, there’s Chita Rivera, there’s Jim Norton, there’s Stephanie Block. I better be good.’ It’s always fun to have great people. Christian would probably be my number one.

I want to talk about Miss Saigon because it’s coming back to Broadway. It’s so funny to see those old pictures of you.

It’s weird. I looked like a child, and I’m not just saying that I have great genes and skin, but I was like 30. Something happened between 30 and 40 for me, which was great because I started to be able to play dads and stuff, but for the longest time, people didn’t know where to put me. But Miss Saigon, I love that piece. I did it for a long time. I think I still have done more performances as Chris than anyone- 1600 performances or something. I couldn’t do it now because I’m too old, but I would do it today. I love that score. I’ve seen some bootlegs on YouTube- the entire Manila performance is on there- and I had visceral reactions to musical cues. I can still remember what that felt like in the wings getting ready to go on because I did it so much and because I got to know a lot of Vietnam vets. I was telling the story last night that a girl came up to me after one of the Broadway performances and said, ‘I don’t want an autograph or anything, I don’t want to get in the way of fans, I just want to say that I was on the last helicopter out of Vietnam.’ I’m very blessed to work on Broadway, but sometimes I don’t want to sing because my voice hurts or my body hurts or my kids need me or I have bills to pay, and then that happens, and I think, ‘Shut up. Quit bitching, Will. Pinch yourself, you’re on Broadway.’ Miss Saigon is special, I’m glad it’s going to come back. It’s smart. It’s very Cameron Mackintosh-y of him. He’s a billionaire now – the first billionaire theatre producer. I think that might change when Jeffrey Seller is done.

Why do you think Miss Saigon is important for Broadway today? And looking back, what’s your most significant memory of that show?

With Miss Saigon and Rent, it’s funny to do something that’s so close to the events and then as as you get further and further back it becomes a period piece. The events of Rent are HIV and AIDS becoming in the forefront. Miss Saigon is now a period piece. It’s like, ‘Oh right, the Vietnam War.’ 1991 isn’t that far removed, but it was fairly close to when people were still affected by that thing. I had a conversation yesterday with someone, and my girlfriend told him I was in Rent and Miss Saigon, and you expect people to go, ‘Oh my God.’ He said, ‘Hated it.’ I thought, What? I barely know you, it’s socially awkward. Then he said, ‘Okay, I didn’t hate it, it made me feel bad.’ I get that. It affected him.

There’s still that feeling that we don’t want to fess up that we fucked up. Beyond this love story that is great and this child that’s made of this thing, that’s the microcosm, the big picture is that we fucked up in this war. That’s what the story is about, even though it’s very specific, and as an actor you’re playing the specifics. We screwed up in that war and have we learned? That’s why it’s important. Of course the audience isn’t thinking that during ‘Why God, Why?’ nor should they be. They should be in that moment with the actor, and they’re probably not thinking it in the show. When Kim sacrifices herself for her child, they might be thinking that, when all the dancers are coming down in Ho Chi Minh City three years later, I bet they’re thinking that, and I hope when they go home, they’re thinking, ‘Are we doing this again? Are we making the same mistakes in war? Are we getting involved in wars we shouldn’t be in?’

A significant memory is probably closing night on Broadway. Daisy, my oldest, was not a year old, and I had her and my ex, Lori, in my dressing room for the whole show. You’re thinking about a million things during closing, you’re trying to be present, you’re crying. At one point, in the ‘Exodus’ in act one, one of the chorus girls said, ‘Let me take Daisy,’ because people had fake babies. She wrapped up Daisy and carried her on stage, so Daisy made her Broadway debut in 2001. That was one of those moments of, ‘Oh, there goes Daisy, that’s pretty fucking cool.’ 17 years later, here we are. That’s one of those moments I’ll never forget.

Will Chase in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Will Chase in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

I need to say something – The Mystery of Edwin Drood is one of my favorite shows of all-time.

Easily the most fun I’ve had on stage ever.

It made you a Tony nominee, finally. What do you take away from that production? That cast was unreal.

The thing that hurts my heart the most about that is not getting to do it very long. You walk into the room with that cast, and you can’t believe you’re in it. I was obsessed with Drood in college, obsessed with Howard McGillin. If I could be anyone on Broadway, it would be Howard McGillin. That voice is crazy, I love it, I’ll never be able to sing like it, even though I tried to sing like it when I got out of college. When it was happening, I knew I had to do it. I called my manager, he said, ‘It’s Roundabout, it’s not very much money’, but it’s Drood. I don’t know if I ever said, ‘I want to get a Tony.’ We tend not to say things like that to jinx it. Then I started reading the cast list, and thought, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’

Rehearsals were great. You up your game, not because it’s a competition, but because you think, ‘Wow, that person’s awesome’ and there was funny stuff that Scott [Ellis] allowed us to do. Then, performing it, that moment before the show when we we got to fuck around with the audience is the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Roundabout is really not set up to have really long running commercial things, but I wish they were and I wish it had, because that’s something I could do for a couple years.

I wasn’t expecting the Tony nomination because the show closed well before. I know everyone says it’s nice to be nominated, and people are lying if they say the don’t want to be nominated, but everyone kept saying what you did. They said ‘finally’, but I don’t know what else I could have gotten nominated for. That’s one of those things where you know you’ve put in the time and you know your work was good and you think people liked it. It was nice that we had closed and Stephanie [J. Block] and I got recognized. I thought we were that good. I was talking to my youngest daughter about this the other day. She asked me something about the Tonys, and I said ‘There’s no chance I would have won.’ She said, ‘You could have won. That Gabe Ebert.’ Funny story: Steven Tyler was on Nashville this season and I was hanging out in his trailer. His girlfriend went to college with Gabe or something and she said, ‘You’re on Broadway, right? You were up for a Tony.’ We sent a video of me and Steven Tyler flipping off Gabe going ‘You stole my Tony’ or something. Just sitting there that night of the Tonys, there’s nothing like it. My parents were in the audience, and of course you want to win, but I wasn’t expecting it. If I was expecting it, then I might be bitter, but I wasn’t expecting a win. It was cool because the onus was off of me. I wasn’t performing in the show every night. I don’t know how people do it, to be performing knowing that everybody’s a Tony voter every night of the last three months. Hamilton people must be going out of their minds. I know they love it, but at some point that’s a lot of stress. I loved it because I got to go to every party, I got to drink because I didn’t have a show, and I got to enjoy myself because I wasn’t going to win. That was pretty cool.

It’s so funny you didn’t think you were going to win. I thought you had it.

I never know. I know people figure out who’s probably going to win and all that, but I didn’t think I had a chance. And Terry Mann. I’ve been a Terry Mann fan since I was 13 years old – I used to listen to Cats and Les Mis, my brother and I used to sing the songs in Les Mis. I got to be in Lennon with Terry Mann and we became friends, and then to be nominated in the same category, I thought ‘Who am I? I’m in the same category as Terry Mann.’ That was cool.

If you could go back to any role you’ve played on stage, which would you choose?

Jasper. My kids ask me a form of this question once every six months. ‘What’s your favorite Broadway show? What was your favorite role?’ For the longest time I said Roger [in Rent], for the longest time I said Chris in Miss Saigon. I guess now as a grown man, I couldn’t play Chris anymore, I could barely play Roger when I played Roger age-wise, although we were all kind of in the same range. I could theoretically play Jasper for a long time. I feel like I didn’t get to play it long enough.

I wasn’t going to say anything about this but you know which role you really didn’t get to play long enough?

Story of My Life? Yeah, that was a weird one. It’s so funny, those are the ones I always mention if I do master classes. I never leave out High Fidelity and Story of My Life and Lennon. If someone showed the script of Story of My Life today, I would do it again. Some people would ask why. I want theatre to be that too. I want theatre to be two people on stage. I’m not pretending that it was everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t say it wasn’t a contained piece. It wasn’t like there was a great number and a shitty number, which you can say about some shows. I think it was because, ‘Why are there two men up there with no set changes, and we’re at the Booth Theatre and paying 100 bucks?’ I honestly think people thought, ‘What the hell is this?’ I had already gone through High Fidelity, which was one of the worst moments for me where I wasn’t on stage for a year. I didn’t go see theatre. I was so bitter. I was younger, I was also going through personal shit in my life, but add to that my show closing, I had just been out of town and they spent millions of dollars and I was carrying it. Story of My Life, I was pissed for a couple weeks for lots of reasons. But that’s the nature of the beast. I didn’t sign up for everything to be Rent and Tony nominations and Billy Elliot. Story of My Life was five shows in three days. My manager and I had to drink the booze in my dressing room that I had just been given three nights before on opening for the closing.

If you could choose any of your leading ladies to do another show with, who would you choose and is there a show that comes to mind?

If I go to a place of singing and acting, I’d love to do any of the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon with Kelli O’Hara. Carousel won’t happen because Steve Pasquale has taken over that slot. It’s funny to be a Tony nominee and do ten Broadway shows but not necessarily be ‘the guy’ people think of for things. Anything with Kelli or anything with Laura Benanti, even though I’ve not really gotten to do something with her on stage. I can’t think of a show. This is going to sound weird, and I love theatre, but I’m not a huge musical theatre fan right now. I love Hamilton, but I’m not seeing a lot right now. Most of the time I go to theatre, I think, ‘Man I’m glad I’m not doing theatre right now because it’s very tiring.’ If I’m blown away, then I’m transported. That’s what I want theatre to do always. That’s why I took Story of My Life. I wanted to be able to transport people with no sets and two guys, me and Malcolm fucking Gets. I think this is as good as it gets, but whatever. I want theatre to do that. With Hamilton, what can I say that everyone else hasn’t already? It’s everything. It’s entertaining, it’s cool, it’s emotional, it’s hip.

Laura Benanti and Kelli O’Hara: let the readers decide.

Or, I’m just throwing it out there, maybe Betsy Wolfe or Jessie Mueller?

I got to do Music Man with Betsy Wolfe. When you say that, I remember that feeling of getting to do five concerts in Cincinnati with Betsy. If anyone wants to revive Music Man, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Betsy is truly one of the funniest. You could give everyone in Drood a Tony nomination, but Andy didn’t get one, Jessie didn’t get one, Betsy didn’t get one, Jim Norton didn’t get one. You could have just gone, ‘And the Tony goes to the cast of Drood.’

 

What would it take to get you back on Broadway?

The right project. Pure and simple. The right project for me now means a three month play because I love TV. Even if Nashville doesn’t come back, I’m pursuing TV. I love the schedule. Obviously, I love the money. I love the medium. I think it’s the golden age of television. You can really be an actor on television now. Schedule-wise, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t miss doing eight shows a week. I’d love to do it again if it’s the right piece like Drood. Drood was the right piece that made me not care that I was exhausted and tired and lost 15 pounds. It was fun, and it was worth it. To do a play for three months on a hiatus or something, it’s always about the piece. It’s always about the project. It’s not about going in and doing something just to make money. I don’t think people realize in the musical theater world, you tie up a year of your life. When you sign a contract for a new show, even if it’s going out of town, you sign a 13 month contract. They don’t want you to leave in three months or six months. Then, you renegotiate. If you’re a hit, obviously, you’re going to stay there or the show’s going to stay there. If you’re not, it doesn’t matter anyway. I just can’t do that. I love the TV world so much and the schedule.

Megan Hilty and Will Chase on Smash.

Megan Hilty and Will Chase on Smash.

Speaking of TV, where is Michael Swift right now?

He’s a Broadway guy. He’s probably on Broadway in something. I don’t think he’s doing regional theater.

Is he with Julia?

Oh yeah, I’m sure that he and Julia are together. Didn’t we allude to that at the very end? She came home with her Tony?

She opened the door, saw your face, and it was done.

I know. I love that I’m on that episode and that I think I said three things. Or did I even say anything?

You don’t say anything.

In the episode at all?

Nope.

That’s good work if you can get it. That’s good money. I think Michael and Julia are definitely together. Frank left her. Yeah, I think Michael and Julia are together. That led us to believe that. She’s going to keep writing but you’ve got to follow your heart. Michael’s on Broadway. Who knows? He could be on TV. He could be on Nashville.

What would you consider your biggest success? Other than your children, of course.

That’s hard. The Tony nomination is probably what I’m the most proud of in my career. Being on this television show will do more for my career and I love what it’s doing for it. I love that I have a place in it now. TV is a big game. Broadway is a game, but TV is a big game once you’re in the game. I teach a little bit, and I tell my students that obviously you want to be the best actor. Period. When you walk in the room, you want to be prepared. But it’s a game. The more you’re seen, the better you get at auditioning, The more you’re on set, the better you are. The first time I was on television, a hundred years ago on Law and Order, it was like, ‘What? Okay. Go.’ Now it’s like being onstage. I can mess around, I don’t take myself too seriously. It’s okay to screw up.

This will sound really odd. One of my favorite moments ever onstage was singing ‘Lily’s Eyes’ with Steven Pasquale for World AIDS Day. Jamie McGonnigal produced it, it was with Laura Benanti and Michael Arden. We finished ‘In Lily’s eyes.’ In rehearsal, we sang the last note forever. That was great and we felt great. We were being a little narcissistic. We’d been trying to do something together forever. It was the first time we’d been able to. We were both in a bad place at the time. His show Rescue Me had let him off, and I just had a show close. We were basking in this applause. It was one those moments that I am going to remember forever. I do. I think about it all the time. One, because it was Steve. Two, I knew it sounded great. It felt great. I’ve loved that show since I was in college. I got Mandy Patinkin and Robert Westenberg’s autographs when they were done singing.

That was one those moments, but the Tony nomination is probably the most important thing.

You and Joe Iconis are the only two people who I would let take over my Twitter and say whatever you want because I usually wholly agree with your opinions. 

Really? Because I say some outlandish things. I don’t hold back.

I know you do. I want to talk about that.

By saying that I don’t hold back, it’s not that I don’t make mistakes. I do. It’s very thought out when I am doing it, believe it or not. Sometimes it’s very quick and off the cuff. Ricky Gervais said, ‘Being offensive with your speech is the collateral damage of freedom of speech.’ We have freedom of speech, which means that people are going to say some nasty shit. That’s the groundwork for Twitter and social media. Yes, people write things on Instagram but Instagram is about pictures. Don’t let anyone fool you. We’re all doing it so everyone knows what we’re doing. Period. Anyone who says that they’re not is lying. I like to do it sometimes to be witty, sometimes to defend other people, sometimes to stand up for certain things. It juggles all the time with me. I like logic and reason in my life. I don’t like irrational thought. I don’t like illogical thought. I’m not always perfect. I don’t always think before I tweet. Sometimes I’ll delete. A lot of times, I won’t. I’ll comment on my tweet saying it was whatever.

I’m not a huge Clemson football fan, but I’m a football fan. Dabo Sweeney, he’s the coach. A kid messed up a punt. Dabo Sweeney is an awesome coach. The kid came over to him and he was ripping him a new asshole and called him out in the press conference and everything. I tweeted, ‘What a shitty thing to do, Dabo Sweeney.’ Some Clemson guy from nowhere said, ‘Stick to acting, you don’t know anything.’ I found out by this guy’s handle and looking at his tweets what he does for a living. I stalked this guy just to get a retort in. My favorite is when people tell actors just to act. Why can’t I say ‘if you’re a plumber, just be a plumber’? So, I found out this guy was an accountant. So, I said, ‘Hey Jim, well you’re an accountant. Why don’t you just be an accountant.’ Then we actually started a dialogue, though. He said he was a fan of the show. He said I needed to see a special on Dabo Sweeney. So I watched it. I told him that I owed him an apology. It was like, ‘You called me out, I called you out but I’m going to eat my words now.’ My tweet was, ‘Eating my words, Dabo Sweeney is a stand up coach.’

The point is that I’m not always right. If one is going to have a voice and they’re a moron- obviously you’re not going to get everyone because some people are there to do just that- if they show up on my feed, sometimes I reply to it and sometimes I don’t. I don’t know if everyone should have a voice, but because everyone does, sometimes I’m going to say exactly what I feel. I don’t care about losing followers. The first time Will had come on and he had kissed Kevin – Kyle Dean Massey– again, the best cast in the world -, some guy, who is a follower of mine and a follower of Chris’, said, ‘I liked it all tonight except for Will and Kevin kissing. We don’t need to see that on television.’ So I wrote, ‘I’m glad you’re a fan, but feel free to turn the channel.’ Then he started to walk it back. When I was first on the show, and I was going to do something outspoken, I found our PR guy and was like, ‘I want to respond to a certain tweet and I want to respond like this.’ He was like, ‘Your Twitter is your thing. Yes, you’re on the show. But you’re not a representative of the show.’ I’ve had people all the time go, ‘You’re representing the show.’ No. My Twitter is representing me. You can unfollow me. It’s really easy. It’s that blue guy right there. It’s so not important to me. I don’t check my followers all of the time. I feel like I’m rational and logical. I’m sure everybody thinks they’re rational and logical but I think I am. I like defending people and sticking up for people or a thought an idea.

I’m not pretending that my logic is going to win. It’s like trying to use logic with a bouncer who is not going to let you into a club. ‘Logic will get them every time.’ No, of course not. I also think that I’ve got 47,000 followers. Some of these people are going to get a kick out of it or they’re going to agree. I might start a conversation or I might not.

If you’re passionate about seeing a show, of course you’re going to talk about it because that’s what you do. But you’re also going to do it because you want people to latch on. Sometimes I have a tweet that I think is going to break Twitter and it gets four likes. Sometimes something inane has 500 retweets, and I’m like, ‘What? What happened? What was it? Was it a certain time of day? People thought this was something new and inventive.’

There are two reasons why I do it: I want to get something off my chest, and I’m hoping to maybe stir the shit pot a little bit.

What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I’ve been asked this question and I’ve never come up with a really funny answer. I have a degree in percussion, so I’m a drummer. I’m not crazy private and I’m not crazy public. It’s not like ‘I’m an open book, I’m so fascinating’. I don’t think there’s anything. I watch CNN and Sports Center like a crazy person. I lead a boring life. I fly a lot.

If you were not an actor or musician, what you do with your life?

I would probably teach religion. It would not be theological. Meaning that I wouldn’t be teaching theology somewhere, I would teaching religion at a liberal college. I grew up Southern Baptist and I’m obsessed with the the Bible and how it got to be that way. I’m a student of it. I’ve studied it. I took a lot of religion courses at Oberlin. There was a time in the early 2000s when I thought about getting a degree in religion. When I think religion, I don’t think theology. I’m talking about the religions of the world. I’m fascinated by it. I’m fascinated by the havoc it wreaks. I’m fascinated by religion and how it affects everything we do, good and bad. 

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald

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