Andrew Rannells discusses upcoming projects and personal philosophy
ANDREW RANNELLS IS WELLKNOWN for originating the role of Elder Price in “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway, as well as appearing as Elijah on HBO’S “Girls.” Now the multi-talented performer not only lends his voice to Netflix’s animated comedy “Big Mouth” and stars opposite Don Cheadle in Showtime’s Wall Street comedy “Black Monday,” but he also authored a memoir entitled “Too Much Is Not Enough.”
What made you connect with your “Black Monday” character? The arc reminded me a lot of what my character, Elder Price, went through in “The Book of Mormon,” actually. And also very similar to me moving to New York from Nebraska, with no contacts and having to start my career from scratch. [Blair] falls into this group of ragtag traders on Wall Street that are very much outsiders, and he creates this life and career. He starts off very optimistic and would like to think that business is fair and you work hard and then you’re rewarded for it, but he very quickly learns that that’s not how the world works, unfortunately, always. How playful were you able to be in further fleshing him out?
The thing that I added was a slightly darker side to people who seem nice and friendly, but there’s an undercurrent of ambition and some anger and some feelings of insecurity and wanting more but maybe not exactly sure how to get it just yet.
How timely are you interested in being with your roles?
The interesting thing about doing something that takes place in 1987 is you just realize how cyclical everything is — the financial market, politics. Everything’s constantly changing, but it’s the same pattern of you have a lot of time in a very conservative world and then there’s the backlash that makes things more liberal and accepting — and then there’s a backlash because of that and we go back to the conservative side. And that’s been happening since the world began.
What was the balance you wanted to strike between stories of your professional and personal life in your book?
I chose to focus on a time in my life that’s not about “The Book of Mormon” or Lena Dunham or television; it’s about all of the stuff that happened before, that got me there. … I wanted to share that particular time to show that it all counts and it all matters, even though it wasn’t maybe as splashy or as shiny as what I get to do now. I talk about all the things people talk about in memoirs: losing my virginity, when my father died, when my grandmother died. … If I was going to talk about that time period, I had to talk about those things. … If you’re doing it, then you should really do it. I didn’t want to soft-pedal anything or graze over anything. I just felt like I needed to be as honest as possible.
Birthplace: Omaha, Neb. Last book he read: “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh Hidden talent: “I’m a very good organizer.” If he wasn’t acting: “I would want to be fully Chip and Joanna Gaines.” Role for which he’s surprised to be recognized: Darren on “How I Met Your Mother” Most used app: Instagram Cause he cares the most about right now: The Trevor Project