Smash season two is setting out to make a star from a young bartender-slash-musician Jimmy, but the series doesn't need to make a star out of his portrayer, Jeremy Jordan. He already is a star, capturing attention and accolades from his time in the cast of Newsies.
Now, though, he is turning off the charm-- at least temporarily-- because when the Smash audience first meets his Jimmy, he is on the surlier side of brooding. He writes songs, along with his best friend, roommate, and colleague Kyle (Andy Mientus), but he doesn't want anyone to hear them. In fact, when Kyle shares too much with Karen (Katharine McPhee), Jimmy gets very defensive and offended. He says he wants his stuff produced, but he isn't really ready for fame. Nor may he be ready to push through the fear he has that not everyone will love his work in the first place.
"I’ve written songs before, and I don’t want to share them with anybody. It’s really personal for me, that sort of creative outlet where you put your emotions to paper or put to song. I don’t do it that much anymore, but to let someone in on that outlet and to have it susceptible to judgment is scary," Jordan said when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with him in Los Angeles last month, relating to his character.
"The fact that [Jimmy] doesn’t want anybody to hear his stuff in the first place indicates how sensitive it is. I think as the series progresses you’re going to get a sense of that. I think that he wants control of it and is not really good at letting go of things that are dear to him. You’ll definitely see why as he series progresses."
Jimmy and Kyle may be the new, young writers in town, but they are not being brought into Smash to immediately inspire comparisons to those who have come before them, namely Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia (Debra Messing).
"You’ll see a lot more parallels between Kyle and Julia than you will Tom and Jimmy. Tom is the fixer and always wants to make everyone all right. Jimmy doesn’t give a sh*t about anyone else!" Jordan laughed.
"But Tom and Julia definitely do start to take notice of what these guys are doing. How could they not? They're working with their star and their director!...Derek takes an interest in the show, and there’s definitely many, many arguments well into the season. [Jimmy] quickly gets over caring that Derek judges him and gets straight to arguing."
It's a common theme for the character, who may be being poised for an overnight success he's not truly equipped to handle. As Jordan put it, such a drastic life change would probably affect Jimmy "negatively" because "Jimmy’s not used to the spotlight, and he’s either going to take it really arrogantly, or he’s going to shut down completely. He wouldn’t take it with a humbleness at this point; he doesn’t really know that sort of energy. He’s never had to deal with that before."
But there is room for his softer side, and therefore Jordan's range, to begin to show itself. Jimmy may have some walls very well enforced and guarded around his work, but his personal life is a bit more open. He may resent Kyle at first for "forcing a connection" with Karen, but he couldn't deny that a shift very soon occurs between them.
"I think at first he’s simply very attracted to her physically," Jordan said of Jimmy and Karen, "but as he starts to understand who she is underneath this façade she’s putting up, he sees a much better, cooler person underneath, and he starts to bring that out in her. He starts to fall for that."
Smash airs on NBC on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.
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