Last week, Smash gave Andy Mientus his biggest stage to date. Both literally and figuratively as the young actor not only slayed one of the episode's featured songs, but his character took a bow after Ronnie Wood performed the new track his partner, Jimmy, wrote.
ETonline caught up with Mientus to find out what's next for this dynamic duo, what's love got to do with it and why he's so proud to be bringing this rarely seen side of Broadway to the small screen!
ETonline: This is your first non-theater credit, so how cool is it to be debuting on vehicle that holds such personal significance in your life?
Andy Mientus: It could not be more ideal. TV has been a goal of mine for a long time because of the reach it affords and to be able to make the transition with Smash, which has so many familiar faces from theater and a big Broadway storyline, was just a really perfect transition.
ETonline: Did you and Jeremy [Jordan, who plays Jimmy] know each other before this?
Mientus: We weirdly didn't. But we had as many mutual friends as two strangers could possibly have. He was doing Newsies at the time with my roommate, so he'd come home from work telling me stories about Jeremy. But we'd never actually met until the chemistry read for Smash. We've become such good friends as a result of this, and I'd never imagined when I was watching him in Newsies that we'd be so close.
ETonline: What excites you about the role of Kyle?
Mientus: The first thing that excited me is that he's a writer, not a performer. Getting to play that side of the industry was so cool. In my theater work, I always made a point of trying to get involved with new up and coming writers because that world excites me, so to get to represent all the guys and girls who are creating new shows on Smash is really exciting. I feel really honored to tell their story and bring some awareness to the fact that Broadway isn't just the big, splashy, traditional musicals -- there's a young, hip group of people also trying to make their own way at the same time. There's more to Broadway than Phantom of the Opera.
ETonline: Given the fact he's a writer, were you surprised to get a song next week?
Mientus: Yeah! I was very pleasantly surprised -- I had to sing in my audition, but when I found out what the character was, I assumed that, logistically, there wouldn't be a place for it. I was crossing my fingers it would happen, but I certainly didn't imagine it would happen as early as it did, in such a major way or with Jennifer Hudson. I mean, I basically had a duet with Jennifer Hudson, which is pretty insane.
ETonline: Last week ended with Jimmy and Kyle taking a bow after Ronnie sang their song in front of millions. What's next for them?
Mientus: That was the episode that sets the rest of the season in motion for them. So far they've been living their status quo lives and in that moment, when the world hear their song, it makes the rest of their arc possible. In the weeks to come, things really kick into gear for them with more and more incredible moments like that, which puts their work out there in ways they never imagined. You get to see what that does to their friendship and their relationship -- from here on out, things get pretty intense for Jimmy and Kyle as their lives become a whirlwind.
ETonline: Kyle seemed to have pause after Jimmy asked him for space but then collaborated with Karen. Will we see him worry about his importance to Hit List in the weeks to come?
Mientus: Yes. Very much so. There was a cut scene in last week's episode where Kyle talks to Tom about that very thing. What is it like when you're in a collaboration and become obsolete? Jimmy gets a lot of attention for his songs, but you haven't seen much of Kyle's contribution. Without giving too much away, that's very much the story for Kyle and Jimmy tonight. What does Kyle bring to the table if Jimmy is writing all the songs, and are those equal roles? It's really complicated as Kyle has to see how important he is in Jimmy's life, and we also see that Kyle might have feelings for Jimmy beyond being just a songwriting partner. It's the first episode which kicks off a major part of Kyle's arc this year.
ETonline: I'd imagine that a lot of people think Kyle has feelings for Jimmy. How do you see their relationship?
Mientus: I think it's more complicated than that. A simple read of their relationship is that Kyle has a crush on Jimmy, and while I don't think that's incorrect ... there's more to it than that. Kyle and Jimmy have been friends since childhood. You'll learn more about Jimmy's backstory in the coming weeks and find out how Kyle helped get him out of that bad situation. You'll see the symbiotic way they work together and how they really need each other. But Kyle is a single gay guy, and Jimmy is charming and handsome, so that's bound to be an element, but it's much more complex than that.
ETonline: So he is single? No love connection with Bobby in the Brooklyn loft party?
Mientus: You know is so funny, we got a lot of attention about the scene where they're talking and people assumed they were hooking up, but there was honestly nothing romantic going on in that scene. They weren't flirting, they were just talking -- I guess because they're both gay, people assumed they will sleep together. I don't want to give anything away, but if people are hoping for that storyline, they're going to be disappointed.
ETonline: Looking ahead, what are you excited for fans to see?
Mientus: I'm excited for them to see more from Hit List -- it's got really innovative staging, and cool accessible pop music that they're really going to love. I'm also excited for fans of Smash to see how fearless the writers have been about the places this story goes. They're not precious about anything, so there are big twists and surprises coming that people will never see coming.
Smash airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.