Call him the smash-within-a-“Smash”: a stage veteran but TV newbie, Andy Mientus joined the cast of NBC’s musical melodrama for the second season and has already emerged as one of the most intriguing faces on the show. Mientus delivers his backstory from Broadway to broadcast, and offers a little sneak at the road ahead for his character Kyle.
Tell me a little about what this experience has been like for you, and how fast everything happened.
I’d never even done a one-line guest star on TV before and I’d been auditioning a whole lot, getting nice feedback, but nothing really happening. So getting a role this, a major series regular on a show that I loved, was not really something that I honestly saw happening for me so easily. I got the audition and I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’ll go and do my best,’ but I was already thinking about who was going to get it over me. You learn who the other guys are when you’ve been in the city long enough.
But then I got a callback and then got another and then got a screen test and then got the call that I was cast. It was incredibly thrilling and daunting, but luckily everyone was really, really welcoming and sweet and supportive and gave me tons of advice but not in a condescending way and was really patient with me, like learning the medium. So the whole experience was really educational, and I keep saying it’s sort of ideal. This transition to television has been a goal of mine for so long and so to be able to do it with this show that has roots in theater and kind of a lot of familiar faces from theater just sort of helped me through.
Did you know your share of real-life Kyles? Where was your learning curve on exactly who this guy is?
I knew that Kyle was a struggling young writer trying to get his work out there and for me, that’s really accessible because a lot of my theater work was for these new up-and-coming young writers who were doing little concerts downtown and readings of their work in apartments, doing these festival shows. I made a lot of friends who were doing that thing, and I, myself, was starting to dabble in writing new musicals.
And then in terms of his personal life, it was not so hard for me because as seen in the first few couple of episodes, he’s very star-struck by the important people that he was meeting, and he's incredulous about what's actually happening to him. He can't believe that people are taking him seriously. And for me, working on this show, coming into TV for the first time and having these scenes with these actors that I've watched and admired and sort of realizing that millions of people are going to see this. It's not so hard to tap into that sort of wonder.
What's coming up for you on the show?
Jimmy and Kyle got this major exposure by having their song sung by Veronica Moore on television. And so you'll see the aftermath of that and what that attention does to sort of heighten their profile and get their musical, ‘Hit List,’ which is the real thing that they're working on into a real production. So you're going to see it go from this little idea on paper, on the cocktail napkin and things to a real production, albeit a small one, a little off-off-Broadway fringe production, and then, onward from there without giving too much away.
How soon do we get to see another musical performance by you?
You're going to have to wait a little while. I luckily got to sing on the show, but I don't play a performer. The opportunities for Kyle to sing are few and far between because he's not in a show. I don't know if he can actually sing in real life. I know that we saw his sort of inner monologue in song in an episode, his sort of-like-fantasy sequence.
How is the friendship between Kyle and Karen going to evolve over time?
It becomes very complicated because they do like each other, and she's really the only person for now who takes me seriously and wants to do what she can to help them. And Kyle cares about his work so deeply – probably more than he cares about his own personal life – so Karen's very important to him in that way. She's very useful to him, but we saw a moment where he starts to see her infringing on his personal life - his relationship with Jimmy and with their writing partnership possibly as a writer – with some cool ideas, so he's sort of threatened by her but also really needs her.
If you could pick any sort of dream production number that you’d love to do yourself which one would it be?
Jeremy [Jordan] and I have been sort of fantasizing about doing ‘Rent’ together somewhere, because we think we’d just be really good casting. I did the show a couple of years ago already. I don't think he's ever done it, but we were sort of fantasizing about doing it together. That would be sort of ideal for me.
"Smash" airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on NBC