Out actor Jonathan Groff has come a long way (and developed a few new muscles) since his breakout role in Glee.
To mark his starring role in HBO’s upcoming dramedy Looking, the 28-year-old sat down with Out to talk about his personal connection to the new series and, as you can see to the right, thankfully donned a tank top for the accompanying photoshoot:
For Groff, who first visited the city two years ago, San Francisco feels like “the gay Oz.” He says he was particularly struck by the legend that San Francisco became a gay haven for sailors returning from the Pacific after World War II: “It was the last port of call for all the guys in the Navy, and the ones who were gay just stayed there because they didn’t want to go back to their lives.” Groff adds that the show’s three-month shoot, which took the characters to well-known San Francisco haunts like the Stud, the Café, and El Rio, was like a dream. “The street where I was staying smelled like jasmine,” he says. “I rode my bike every day to set. I was in heaven.”
The interview mainly focuses on director and co-executive producer Andrew Haigh’s attempt to realize modern-day gay characters in San Francisco and the struggles that face them. Once again, he asserts this will not be a “gay Girls“:
Unlike the stars of Girls, the men on Looking are not the emperor’s children — they don’t hail from dynasties of artists, musicians, playwrights, or prime-time news anchors. They aren’t trying to date celebrities or become the voices of their generation. In part, they’re too old.
“Our show is less about people at the beginning in their twenties figuring out who they are,” says Groff, “and more about people stepping into their lives in their thirties and forties and finding their place in the world.”
The characters in Looking, he says, are “not aspiring to be rich. They’re not aspiring to have lots of sex. They’re aspiring to have happier lives, more fulfilled lives.”
The show premiered to eager audiences in San Francisco last night, and was even called initially “boring” by the Out interviewer himself. He believes, however, that “Looking is a show that will be watched religiously by millions of gay and straight people around the world. Many of them will like and look forward to it. Others will dread it but watch anyway.“
So…Guess we’ll have to find out what all the fuss is about for ourselves when the show premieres this Sunday. Until then, let your guard down and get to know the characters a little better.