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Dan at Broadway Talks

theater
So I went to the 92Y tonight to see Dan do a Q&A/talk for the "Broadway Talks" series. I did not smuggle in a recorder, so this is not a transcript, but I did take a lot of notes. Still, most of you know how fast and manic Dan's conversational stylings can be, and that makes it very difficult to keep up. What follows is what I managed to scribble onto paper in the roughly 1.5 hours that the program lasted. I did my best. I hope you enjoy.


The evening started with a woman very awkwardly reading an introduction to Jordan Roth. Lots of cheers when she mentioned H2S (and the comeback of Hair, for some reason). Jordan Roth was not what I expected; he was fairly young and wiry and reminded me just a *little* bit of Bill Hader's SNL character Stefon (not in appearance or attire, just so we're clear). Almost expected him to talk about the hottest new club on the Lower Lower East Side. ;-)

Anyway, he comes out and says he wants this to be a good time, and says "Here's a little something to get us in the mood." Cue H2S montage that we've been seeing for weeks, after which he said "Makes you want to go again, doesn't it?" Yes, Jordan, it does. :-) He then did a brief overview, pausing for the DEAFENING cheer when he mentioned HP.

Dan came out to equally thunderous applause, dressed rather smartly in a coat and tie.

There was scratching.

* The strangest question he's been asked (and he's been asked this repeatedly) is "What is your dream role?" because people assume said role has already been written and already exists.

* He talked a bit about defying expectations and wanting to surprise people. That Broadway is a lot harder than film and he thinks (hopes) people will be thrown by him not taking the easier option and doing film after film after film.

* Was asked about Harry's desire to do good vs. Finch's willingness to do wrong. He says Finch doesn't think about whether what he's doing is right/wrong. He makes whatever choice will get him ahead whenever an opportunity presents itself.

* He talked about the smiles in the play, and I thought this would be a rehash of what he said to the MTV guy the other day, but this was a bit different. He said when he read the script he didn't really get them and kind of didn't like them (thought it was too self-conscious or something), but when the audience on the first night of previews (ahem, that was MY audience :P) responded to them, it kind of turned the light bulb on. It also adds to the feeling that the audience is complicit in what Finch does, because in spite of everything you still think he's still kind of sweet.

* Was asked about the current economic/corporate climate, and how that was addressed in preparing the show. "REALLY??!!" he said, hilariously. He said the only influence it had was that they wanted to give the audience a couple of hours of the complete opposite of what was going on right now, a glimpse of a more innocent time. They didn't explore any of the current stuff in rehearsal at all. He also mentioned the influence Mad Men had on the show, and that even people who don't watch MM still recognize the iconography.

* Was asked what he learned about himself in the voice/dance training process. He talked a lot about his work ethic. "What I lack in natural ability I make up for in bloody-mindedness." Talked about how he took voice for Equus because he couldn't get the jingles right. His voice teacher also works with Alan Rickman (*huge cheers*) and is rather tough, which he is grateful for. He said if you don't have a certain resilience you have no business being an actor, because you can't take direction.

* As regards the dance training, he talked about the "real" dancers in the show, and how they kind of speak another language with the choreographers, which is baffling to him. "You might as well speak to me in binary." He has to be shown if he's going to get it.

* He said he has a fear of not meeting goals. Was asked what are his goals. "Not to suck." And not to miss a performance.

* Yes, they talked about the Tony's and all the media attention about his not getting nominated. He said again that it was a really competitive year, and the fact that he was even being mentioned among such amazing company was a huge deal to him. He was surprised at how people were treating him, talking to him as if he'd lost a relative - lots of "Are you okay?"s. He said something about talking to Tammy Blanchard and saying something along the lines of "You know I'm okay, right?" which ended up in print and looked ridiculous if you didn't know *how* he said it. He said awards are not the reason he does this job, and he doesn't want to know people for whom that *is* the reason ("What happens if you get it? Are you going to give up?").

* There was the usual talk about child actors transitioning to a grown-up career. He says he does get a lot of what he suspects other young actors who got a break very young get, which is questions that boil down to essentially "So, how long do you think this will last?" He said that if he can make the transition, coming off the most successful film franchise of all time, then no one else has an excuse.

* He said he loved doing films because he was comfortable on a film set (though not necessarily in front of the camera). Said the HP set was always very chaotic, and he'd go do an independent film, where he'd hear "Oh, I bet you're not used to all this chaos on Potter." It's actually worse on Potter, he says (more chaotic, that is), but he knows how to maneuver within all that.

* He thinks directing may be where he ultimately ends up in his career. Later, the last question he was asked was what his ambitions for the future were, and he said "That at some point, my odd mind will be of use." He thinks this is why he may end up as a director.

* A lot of the questions were based on things he'd said in other interviews, one of which had him saying that he was determined not to go "wild" like other celebrities. He talked about people loving a train wreck, and that he hated those shows where people just sit around and criticize celebrities and their mistakes. First of all, he said, it's none of their business, and second, you have no idea what that person might be going through. But he said that the big reason he had no desire to be one of those reckless celebrities is that once you give in to that, you've opened yourself up to that kind of attack from strangers, and that's something he clearly wants no part of.

* There was another HUGE cheer when Jordan mentioned HP, prompting Dan to tell him that we all just hated all his other questions. Jordan read the David Heyman quote about the eyes. Dan mentioned that he'd now played three orphans and that he just has "orphan eyes." He told the story about how the original plan was for everyone to sign on to do all seven movies and that they would be shot in Hollywood, and that his parents said no to that (at this point, he himself knew nothing about Columbus wanting to cast him after seeing David Copperfield). He said his parents were very big on fate and signs, and there were just too many signs to ignore, so that was what swayed them to let him do HP.

* He said what a huge fan of the HP books he was, and that his dad used to read them to him. Said his dad did a fantastic basilisk voice that used to scare him to pieces and that he actually suggested to the filmmakers that they let his dad do the basilisk voice in the film (which apparently mortified his father when he found out).

* Someone yelled out that he was the reason they started reading, which he thought was amazing. He then told two adorable stories about children who had come to see the show. One little boy, who was sitting near his (Dan's) father one night, got *very* attentive when the rigging dropped down in the beginning and sat on the edge of his seat, fully prepared for SOMETHING to HAPPEN. And when Dan popped up from the orchestra pit, he stuffed his whole fist in his mouth in surprise. Then, another night, at the stage door signing, a little girl was perched on her father's shoulders. She handed her Playbill down to her father to pass to Dan to sign, which he did, and when her dad passed it back to her, she pulled her elbow to her and went "Yes!" He says he loves that, and thinks it's amazing that people will have a memory like that from something he's been involved in. (I LOVE HIM, HAVE I MENTIONED THIS?!!!)

* Speaking of love, I LOVED THIS QUESTION AND HIS ANSWER! He was asked (I'm pretty sure this was a fan submitted question, but perhaps not) if, while reading the books, he ever thought "No, Harry wouldn't do that." He said, pretty emphatically, "No," and added that he hates when actors say "My character wouldn't do that." He said (omg love) "It's not your character; it's the author's/writer's character. If you didn't write it, it's not yours." BAM. Dan, this writer just fell in love with you a bit more.

* He also added that as the books went along, Harry started to become more like him, especially how he was when he was angry. He started to wonder how Jo knew this stuff about him.

* He said the thing again about how whoever had been cast as Harry would have gotten the attention he's gotten and told the story (many of you have already heard) about Smeyer saying Edward Cullen's name during a book reading - before Robert Pattinson was ever cast - and everyone going nuts purely for the character. I was pleased to hear annoyed murmurings at the very name of Twilight. :P

* He said he used to wonder, when he met girls, if they were expecting some movie star persona. "I'm just this 5'5 nerdy person." Lots of cheers and "woooo"s - someone shouted "Short people rule!" He said he finds it hysterical to step out of a car at a premiere and hear that wall of sound and think "That's for me?!"

* He was asked about his biggest influences, and he seemed conscious of the fact that he mentions Gary Oldman all the time. He loves Gary's fearlessness, and that he doesn't seem to have any hint of the little voice that often shows up in an actor's head that tells them they might look like an idiot. He said Gary feels more free when masked in some way (mentioned his prosthetic in Hannibal) and said he himself HATES prosthetics. He also mentioned David Thewlis, and that he had actually learned the most about life on set from Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton, particularly the idea that what happens on the set should not be the be all and end all of your life.

* One of my favorite things he said was about having relationships with the crew. He said people always say to him, about film acting, "It's a lot of waiting around, isn't it?" and yeah, that's true, but that it doesn't have to be boring. When you make an effort to have relationships with people on the set, the down time can be an enormous amount of fun. I couldn't help thinking of sitting/standing in line with friends in bookstores and movie lines and how waiting around is part of the good stuff. *wipes tear* It's the Circle of Fandom!

* Jordan asked him about the Trevor Project, and he didn't say much that we haven't heard before, except that he's probably the proudest of this, and that someone comes up to him at the stage door at least once a week to say thanks for his support of that program.

* Then came a question about religion - what interests him about it, as a non-religious person. He said he was fascinated by how it taps into a fundamental part of humanity, how it has formed the world, and how the world has formed it. He said he's an atheist, but not a militant one. He said that life is too short to have an argument about religion when you could have a nice conversation. I think it was here that he mentioned the History Channel and cricket, and Jordan made a rare mistake and said "cricket *on* the History Channel" which set Dan off on a mini-rant about it being some ancient sport.

* He says he watches History Channel *International* because there seems to be very little history on the regular History Channel (I quite agree). He said (which I can vouch for) that there's lots of people selling things and driving trucks and what not, and while that's entertaining "at some point, I would like a program about Caesar, please."

* He was asked about poetry and what he likes about it. He said he has a very short attention span, and he loves poems and short stories because you can tell a story in such a small space.

* He said theater was actually difficult for him to watch, because if it's bad he wants to leave and if it's good he wants to be in it.

* I can't remember what this was in response to, but he started talking about how everything (especially fame) is temporary. He said he won't be in anything as big as HP again (which he's fine with) and very likely nor will anyone else, and that when he's fifty and the fans his age are telling their kids about him, he'll just be someone who used to be famous for this one thing. He said moments of being actually satisfied with what you've done as an actor are quite rare, and that you have to get your fulfillment somewhere else. He mentioned his friend Will (though not by name) and how happy he is with his wife and kids, and that you have to ask what you're going to do when the fame and everything goes away, which it does for everyone.

* He was asked what his favorite thing about NY that is different from London. His first answer was that in London there is no button for "popcorn" on the microwave. He also mentioned the anonymity and that you don't have to be from NY to be a New Yorker.

* He was asked again if he could see NY becoming his home and he emphasized again that, even though he'd love to continue to have extended stays here, London (and England in general) is his home. He misses his life and his friends and his girlfriend a lot.

* If he hadn't been an actor, he says he would have struggled. Or been a superhero.

* What's on his iPod? A band called Slow Club (album called "Yeah, So") and another called Cars Can Be Blue (got a smattering of cheers, which surprised him). What's on his "to-read" list? His dad really loves John Steinbeck, and he (Dan) has never read anything of his, so he wants to correct that soon.

* His favorite current musical on Broadway is "Jersey Boys" and his favorite straight play is "Jerusalem" (which he said earlier was so brilliant it made him feel like an idiot for trying to write anything ... *puts on to-see list*)

* His musical theater idol is Stephen Sondheim, which he said is probably everyone's answer, but he said the thing about Sondheim is that he's not just an icon of musical theater; he's really just a brilliant writer in general.

* His favorite line in H2S? He loves the laugh that "This is an American company." gets. (Yes, it still gets laughs despite my spoiling it in my review. :P) He also loves the line where he explains what Mr. Gatch does, and he showed off a bit by reciting it. He said that line and the other fast-talking business gibberish line towards the end were ones he fretted over, so he set out to master those immediately, before he learned any of his other lines.

* Best part about working on Broadway? Working with the people he gets to work with and the community and spirit of goodwill between the shows, both of which he's mentioned before. He added, though, that one big difference between Broadway and the West End is that there is a citywide respect of theater. Everyone goes. Also that in London you get the sense that stage is something people do until they can get on television or film, while on Broadway you're working with people who are at the pinnacle of their career and they wouldn't be anywhere else.

* Future projects he'd like to work on? Again, he's bemused by this question, because it limits him to things that already exist. "Anything that sounds interesting."

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
emmacmf
May. 10th, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this! I have the SnitchSeeker audio to listen to, but it's a bit clicky, so I'll wait to listen to that on my iPod.

As much as I think Dan'll be a fantastic and creative director at some point, I selfishly hope that he stays in front of the camera too. He can do both!
emmacmf
May. 10th, 2011 11:04 am (UTC)
Oh - can I link to your report from DRC, please?
connielane
May. 10th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)
Sure.
emmacmf
May. 10th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
Thanks, lovely.
laurel_potter
May. 10th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for doing this!!!!

...Harry's desire to do good vs. Finch's willingness to do wrong.

I read "Finch" and thought "Filch" and was puzzled why Dan would compare him and Harry, LOL.

"It's not your character; it's the author's/writer's character. If you didn't write it, it's not yours."

Go Dan!!!!

Carolyn Rabbani
May. 10th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
Dan's chat
Thanks so much for this report, what a lovely guy!!

I was curious about Dan seeming self-conscious about mentioning Gary Oldman so frequently. The only reason he mentions Gary as his mentor and idol so often, it seems to me, is because a) Gary IS his idol(LOL) and b) Dan is frequently asked questions that illicit that response,...Why should he have to change a true answer to what is essentially the same question? I thought he sounded a little uncomfortable in the Snitchseeker audio, and then, you mentioned he seemed conscious. Was something said that we didn't hear that might have made him conscious? What are your thoughts since you were there? Thanks again!!
connielane
May. 10th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Dan's chat
I should have said self-aware rather than self-conscious. There was no embarrassment or discomfort at all. He just acknowledged that that tends to always be his answer (as you probably heard in the audio).
Carolyn Rabbani
May. 10th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Dan's chat
ok, cool. Actually, I was having a little trouble hearing parts of the audio clearly, so I thought I would ask you, :)

Thanks for responding!!
hpiknut
May. 10th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for this! Dan is such a lovely young man! He is always great at interviews!
sherylyn
May. 10th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this! I absolutely love hearing/reading him on things like this -- he is so perfectly exquisite in his answers!!!
lunalovepotter
May. 10th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
This is awesome, thanks for writing it all down! As always it sounds like a great interview. :)

Btw, is there another link for the SnitchSeeker audio, or did they take it down? I couldn't find it on the SS post...
connielane
May. 11th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
Sorry. I never even saw the first link.
star98hope
May. 11th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
and thinks it's amazing that people will have a memory like that from something he's been involved in.

oh my heart. <3333 I ADORE this young man.

what a great conversation. thank you so much for sharing this!
starnightmuse
May. 11th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
Dan just makes me love him even more every time he opens his mouth.
seriously- I had a huge smile on my face the entire time i read this...

and then when issue-that-is-sensitive-to-me showed up i think I hold my breath and my heart skipped a bit in trepidation...

to go back to smiling full force in my face at how sensitive and understanding he was about it.

I dont know how else he can grow as a human being because he seems to have reached full potential already.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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