Rising actor Hunter Parrish is best known to pot-loving Showtime subscribers as sullen teenager, recent MILF-bait, and burgeoning marijuana grower Silas Botwin on Weeds. This month, he continues the tradition of playing rebellious, frequently disrobing heartbreakers as he takes on the lead role of Melchior in Spring Awakening on Broadway. Parrish, a lifelong theater geek who started his run a week early — such was his enthusiasm for the show — spoke to Vulture about Spring Awakening groupies, having sex onstage (and on-camera), and the benefit of having Mary-Louise Parker on speed-dial when making your stage debut.
So, is it more nerve-wracking to do a sex scene onstage than it is on Weeds?
Actually, it’s less. When you do it on camera, there’s only four or five people around, but it’s so intimate because you’re not projecting any emotion, it’s just right there, so it’s a little weird — a little close. Plus then it’s on tape, so it makes it onto the Internet, and it’s frozen in time. Onstage, all that awkwardness just doesn’t exist.
TV actors usually drop into flashy cameos in, like, Hairspray when they come to Broadway. How did you know you were ready to carry a whole show?
Broadway’s been like a goal of mine since I was six, so it’s definitely something I was thinking about and wanting to do. I’m excited that Melchior gets to be at the forefront of telling this story. I have a minimum six–months contract, but hopefully I’ll go longer…
Are you aware of the groupies that seem to follow playing Melchior?
Absolutely not! I mean, Weeds has a little cult following. It’s not the most popular show. To come into something and know how much they liked Groff, it’s a hard thing to know you have big shoes to fill. But they’ve been kind so far.
We interviewed Jonathan Groff last week. You both seem like really wholesome guys.
Did you see Passing Strange? It talks in that about how, for someone who’s an artist, your art is more your reality. I was sort of touched by that. I just did this movie, Seventeen Again, and I play this bully. I was the one growing up who got beaten up, so it was cool for once in my life to be the bully. Or to be Silas and smoke pot every week — I don’t smoke pot, so it’s fun to pretend in a sense.
Did Mary-Louise give you any Broadway advice?
She’s known I do theater since we’ve known each other, but I was actually texting her the whole time I was auditioning. She was doing Dead Man’s Cell Phone right before we went back to season four, so I was talking to her the whole time, like, “Okay what does this mean, what does that mean?” She was kind of the calming voice in the back of my head. And they just said she’s doing Hedda, right? So we’ll get to do theater at the same time!
Do you find people expect you to be a guy who can give them weed in real life?
Totally, I was in L.A. like five months ago and someone yelled from across the way, “Hey, where the weed at?!” That’s the best recognition I’ve gotten. But the number one question I’m asked is, “So do you guys smoke real weed?” And I’m always like, “Really?!” We live in L.A., but it’s not like we have medical marijuana cards.
So you’re not much of a rebel in real life?
I am such a goody-two-shoes. I would rather sit at home with my girlfriend and play frickin’ Wii.