ON SONG WITH HE­ROES

In his first movie ex­pe­ri­ence, Kevin McHale, fresh from the cast of Glee, found him­self in ev­ery scene with his idol Dustin Hoffman

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - NEALA JOHN­SON

In the war for Kevin McHale’s eter­nal soul, mu­sic was the first to get its hooks in.

As a child, the young Texan’s ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity was a pop group.

“I’d do school in the morn­ing and af­ter­noon, then at night we’d go to a record­ing stu­dio, then when I got to high school we went on tour.”

But it turns out, McHale says, “mu­sic was just the gate­way drug”. His real ad­dic­tion? Act­ing.

It’s a craft he says he “ran­domly worked my way into”. And his only act­ing class was six sea­sons as gui­tarsling­ing, dreams-of-danc­ing, para­plegic per­former Ar­tie Abrams on Glee.

“I got Glee a year out of high school. By the end of it, I’d been in high school for nine years or some­thing,” McHale laughs. “When you do 121 episodes, your char­ac­ter is go­ing to have big mo­ments, small mo­ments and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. So we were con­stantly chal­lenged.”

Now that he’s grad­u­ated – the fi­nal episode of Glee aired March 20 in the US – McHale can’t wait to see what else act­ing has in store for him.

“It goes from mo­ments of ter­ror, of ‘Oh my God, what am I go­ing to do?’, to ‘This is re­ally ex­cit­ing’,” he ad­mits. “I got a taste of it last year when I did this movie Boychoir – it was the first time I’d done a film and it made me ex­cited. I knew Glee was end­ing the next year and I was like, ‘OK, I can do this’.”

As far as first movie ex­pe­ri­ences go, Boychoir was a doozy. The mov­ing indie is a tale of tri­umph over ad­ver­sity, about a poor, trou­bled kid who winds up in a pres­ti­gious choral school for boys.

McHale plays the school’s ju­nior in­struc­tor. Hang­ing out with him in the staffroom? Oh, only con­duc­tor Dustin Hoffman, prin­ci­pal Kathy Bates and choir­mas­ter-in­wait­ing Ed­die Iz­zard.

“I def­i­nitely felt like I was thrown into the deep end of the pool with­out know­ing how to swim,” McHale laughs. “It was in­tim­i­dat­ing to say the least. It was just so odd to be in a room with them, be­cause I’m such a big fan of all of them ... I mean, that’s putting it lightly.

“There’s Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates sit­ting across from you, they’re ref­er­enc­ing older movies they’ve done, you’ve seen ev­ery sin­gle one of them and here you are in the scene with them ... The whole time I was just hop­ing I wasn’t screw­ing it up.”

Though he ad­mits “I al­ways think I suck,” there was a mo­ment on set when McHale fig­ured he must be do­ing OK.

“I had met Dustin a week be­fore, but it was my first day shoot­ing with him, and the direc­tor was like, ‘Dustin has asked that you be added to all of his scenes, so we’re adding you to the rest of the scenes for the day’.

“I’m like, ‘OK, ei­ther he’s bored and lonely and likes hav­ing me around or maybe I’m do­ing some­thing right’. I wasn’t sure what it was. Ei­ther way, I was stay­ing, hap­pily.”

McHale, 26, was also re­as­sured by the fact he wasn’t the “kid” on set – they were the 11 and 12-year-old boys who made up the stu­dent body.

“On Glee we were al­ways re­ferred to as ‘the kids’; un­til the very last day we were ‘the kids’,” he re­calls. “On Boychoir, a lot of those boys were from the real Amer­i­can Boychoir School (in New Jer­sey) where they’re taught to call ev­ery­one sir. So they would walk past me and they’d be like, ‘Hi, sir!’ I would just feel so old, I hated it. I was like, ‘Don’t call me sir!’ They’re like, ‘Oh, sorry sir’. ‘No!’

“They were so sweet, so pro­fes­sional ... I mean, much more pro­fes­sional than I am.”

Now free to pur­sue what­ever comes his way – “None of us did too much dur­ing Glee be­cause our sched­ule was just ab­surd” – McHale has been back and forth to Lon­don where he’s host­ing a panel show, Vir­tu­ally

Fa­mous. The sur­prise of­fer came his way af­ter a Bri­tish pro­ducer was im­pressed by his guest spots on the US ver­sion of im­prov show Whose Line is it

Any­way? He says he barely knew what a panel show was, but the team was “so funny and so nice” he told them he’d do what­ever they wanted him to. As for his act­ing am­bi­tions? “I’ve done a bit of ev­ery­thing, so I’d like to keep do­ing that,” he says. “I’m not go­ing to say no based on genre alone ... un­less it’s hor­ror.

“In the be­gin­ning of Glee we were all get­ting of­fered hor­ror movies left and right. I was like, ‘I can’t even watch them, let alone be in one’. They ter­rify me. I don’t un­der­stand why peo­ple go and see ’em.”

Pic­ture: MYLES ARONOWITZ

Josh Lu­cas, Kevin McHale and Gar­rett Ware­ing get their acts to­gether in Boychoir.

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