Andrew Rannells is preparing to take over the role of transgender rock star Hedwig in the Broadway production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The “Girls” star will be handed with the task of filling the shoes left by Tony Award winner Neil Patrick Harris, but it is a role he has played before. In an interview with Playbill.com published Wednesday, Rannells discusses his return to the role and audience expectations.
In many ways, Rannells is the perfect actor to replace Harris. In 2002, he starred on stage as the rock-and-roll goddess in a production in Austin, Texas and is familiar with the character, the story, and of course is aware of the exposure Harris has brought to the role. Most importantly, Rannells can sing. In the interview, he recalled the first time he played Hedwig, recalling it as a terrifying experience at first.
“It was terrifying to get started,” Rannells said, “and then the amazing thing about that show is that audiences, in the best case, really fall in love with that character. So I felt very welcomed in Austin by the audience because Hedwig is a mess, but she’s really a loveable mess that you do sort of root for her in an odd way. You want her to be happy. And I very much felt that in Austin, so the response from the audience was pretty amazing.”
The Tony-nominated actor hopes to continue that magic as he takes over for the “How I Met Your Mother” alum and so does the show’s director, Michael Mayer. Rannells says in the interview that Mayer called him to be the successor. He said, “He called me several weeks ago and said, ‘We would like to continue the run, and we would like you to do it. Please come see it; think about it.’ And I went to see it with my boyfriend, and the second it started, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I wanna do this!’”
Rannells admitted to feeling pressure taking over the role from Harris, but he feels he as a better grasp of the character now that he’s 35 and has much more experience in his own life. He describes the character of Hedwig as someone who wants what we all want. She is someone who “wants to be loved and to find love.” The complication of the character is from that simple need. In the interview Rannells discusses his journey from “Book of Mormon” to the latest production of “Hedwig.” He is making quite a name for himself on Broadway, but is also becoming well known in television and on the big screen.
The Broadway vet was a regular on the recently cancelled “The New Normal” and is currently a regular on the HBO hit show “Girls.” Andrew Rannells is currently filming a role opposite Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro in the feature film “The Intern.” It is a busy schedule for the actor, but he has to preserve much of his energy for the role of “Hedwig.” He said, “I remember physically it was very difficult. [Hedwig is] sort of a beast of a show, but it’s also extremely rewarding. So I feel the rewards you get from doing it far exceed the costs of doing it. I’m very excited.”