It truly feels like it just started but the first season finale of HBO’s “Looking” airs this Sunday and, having previewed the finale early, I can tell you that it’s a good thing HBO ordered a second season because the events in the finale are definitely going to leave you wanting more.
Who better than series star Jonathan Groff to talk to about what’s to come as the first season wraps up as well as what he learned from the experience and other important subjects like whether co-star Russell Tovey is a good kisser, what the must-see show on Broadway right now is and if Groff, who starred in “Spring Awakening” way before he was on our televisions in “Glee,” would want to be a part of a “Frozen” stage musical.
Were you confident through the whole thing about a second season or were you a little uneasy about it?
Jonathan Groff: We had been feeling anxious, nervous, excited, hopeful for a season two since the day we wrapped season one. There was always sort of a feeling, like a feeling that we might come back, but you never can tell, you know?
There are so many times when people say, oh, it’s a sure thing, it’s definitely going to happen, it’s definitely going to happen, but you never know until you get that official announcement. So we’re just so excited to go back to San Francisco.
I can’t believe we’re already to the finale, but we are.
JG: I know, it’s crazy.
Do you think with fans that are either Team Richie or Team Kevin, do you think one group or the other will be more satisfied? How do you think people will react to what happens?
JG: That’s a good question. I think, the interesting thing about me is that both relationships take a huge leap forward, for better or for worse, but definitely, shit comes down in episode eight with both of those relationships.
Between Raul and Russell that’s not too bad. You’re in a good position.
JG: I know, I have such crushes on both Russell and Raul (Castillo), so it makes the acting very easy.
What’s more challenging for you, standing in front of a mirror naked with no dialogue or doing a sex scene with Russell Tovey?
JG: Oh, good question. Definitely being alone because it’s way more fun to make out with Russell.
I would expect nothing less.
JG: Andrew [Haigh] is so great at doing those intimate scenes and making them feel real, and making everybody on set so they’re comfortable, and Reed Morano, who’s our Director of Photography, we just felt really like we could be free and really go for it because we just trusted them so much.
Is Russell a good kisser?
JG: Oh, Russell’s a great kisser, are you kidding? Both Russell and Raul are great. I feel very lucky.
What would you say is kind of the predominant lesson or thing you took from the first season experience of the show?
JG: I think the thing that I probably learned the most…the thing with Andrew and his way of working is that there’s nothing you can really do to prepare for the moment. Sometimes we would do a scene exactly as written. Sometimes we would completely rewrite them on set. But really, there’s such an importance of staying awake and staying present when they call action because the real sort of magic of the show, and the magic of the performances when they’re at their best, is when we’re finding a reality. That, I think, is a lesson that I’ll take with me into season two and into anything I ever work on, just sort of that importance of really looking at the people around you and collaborating with your fellow actors and your crew in the moment.
Now that Raul, Russell and Lauren (Weedman) will all be season regulars in season two, is it safe to say we’ll probably find out a lot more about their characters in season two?
JG: I hope so. I mean, I don’t know what their plans are for season two but as a fan of the show watching it, I’d love to learn more about those characters in a bigger way. I think that that’s what they’re intending by bumping them up to regulars. We’re so lucky to have them on as regulars, because I think they bring a lot to the show.
What will be your first stop when you get back to San Francisco to shoot season 2?
JG: The first stop will be going to Bi-Rite to get some food, and then going and sitting in Dolores Park and eating it with the boys.
Your Lincoln Center performance last month sounded amazing. I wish I’d been in New York for it!
JG: Oh, my God, it was so fun. Raul, and Murray [Bartlett, Dom] and Frankie [J. Alvarez, Agustin] live in New York and they all came to the show. Danny Glicker, our costume designer, flew in from LA. I had them all stand up and I acknowledged them and had the audience applaud for them, and then I sang a version of ‘A Little Respect,’ the Erasure song, and dedicated it to them. We slowed down the tempo of that song and did a mash up between that and Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect.’
I love that some of your song choices were these traditional iconic songs that are traditionally sung by women, like ‘I Got Lost in His Arms.’ Is there a statement in there that feed into some of those choices?
JG: It’s funny you say that because I wasn’t making a conscious choice to make a statement by singing those songs. They’re genuinely just sing songs that I love. I sang ‘I Got Lost in His Arms’ and ‘The Man That Got Away.’ I would sing ‘The Man That Got Away’ all the time. I think it’s such an amazing song and I was just singing them because I love them and people afterwards were, like, ‘were you trying to make a statement?’ But I really, genuinely, was just singing them because I love them, and I think they’re incredible, incredible songs.
If you could resurrect somebody that’s no longer with us to sing with who would that person be?
JG: Oh, God. It’s a really important question. I mean, it has to be Judy Garland. I’m sorry, it just does. She was the greatest.
I was watching you on “Watch What Happens Live” a couple weeks ago and Andy Cohen was asking if you’re single so I’m wondering if that comes up a lot these days and if you mind?
JG: It does come up a lot, and I don’t mind saying I’m single. Maybe I’ll, like, get a boyfriend from all the single talk. [laughs]
I hope you’re at least getting some dates out of this.
JG: I’m not, really, not that many. But yeah. Also, I just moved into a new apartment. I don’t really have furniture yet, so I’m still putting my own sort of life together. But yes, I’m single, and I don’t mind when people ask me about it.
What’s the must-see show on Broadway right now?
JG: I just saw “The Bridges of Madison County” two weeks ago, and I thought it was so beautiful. It was so nice to see a show where they took the genre of the musical seriously. It’s not, like, sending it up…just beautiful songs, amazing story, incredible performers. Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale are mind blowingly good, and Jason Robert Brown’s music is so lush and beautiful and romantic, and I really loved that. I’m going to go see it again next week. That’s how much I liked it.
If and when a “Frozen” musical happens, would you like to be a part of it?
JG: Of course, of course. I mean, I think it’s very far away from actually…they’re still developing it. But only if they let me sing ‘Let It Go!’
“Looking” airs its season finale on Sunday at 10:30pm on HBO.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.