Andrew Rannells on ‘Big Mouth,’ ‘Black Monday,’ Broadway, and Being Nude on Screen

     July 11, 2020

Andrew Rannells has done a wide range of notable roles on stage and screen, and so what people might recognize him from depends on wherever he might be in the world. “It really depends on the neighborhood, quite frankly,” he said. “Like, if I’m in Midtown [New York], obviously, people will recognize me from doing Broadway. But then I’m downtown or if I’m in Brooklyn, it’s more likely that someone would say, ‘oh, that’s that guy from Girls.’ If I’m in an airport in the Midwest, I get recognized for my two episodes of How I Met Your Mother, or The Intern, because a lot of people watch that on a plane.”

In the latest episode of Collider Connected, Rannells sat down to talk about his most recent project, the Showtime series Black Monday. The series, originally set in the year 1989, stars Don Cheadle as a coke-fueled stockbroker whose illicit business practices threaten to not just bring him down but everyone around him, including Blair (Rannells), who began the series as a naive financial genius taken under Maurice’s wing.

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Image via Showtime

Blair has changed dramatically since then, though, as the series nears the end of Season 2. For one thing, while he’s firmly in the closet when it comes to his sexuality, he’s at least acknowledging it privately, a journey which Rannells says was something he and creators
Jordan Cahan and David Caspe worked slowly into the show. “My only thought to David and Jordan was just that, if we don’t really have the real estate to dive into this, to have a character come out at the height of the AIDS crisis — if we don’t have the space to tell a realistic story, then I would rather not fully dive into it,” he said.

Black Monday has featured some intense twists this season, including a tragic one for Blair at the end of Episode 8, “Lucky Shoes.” But it has also featured a lot of fun moments, such as Blair’s Halloween costume in Episode 7: a pitch-perfect recreation of a classic George Michael look, which he suggested. “They just said it was happening, and as I recall, I just sort of floated that idea out there that maybe that would be appropriate for Blair,” he said. “To be honest with you, I just wanted professionals to put me in that get-up. I just wanted to be in that costume.”

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Image via HBO

When Rannells and I spoke, he revealed that he was locked down in Los Angeles after the pandemic canceled his original plans for the spring: writing and directing an episode for the second season of Modern Love. His episode is based on one of the stories he’d previously written for the New York Times essay series, and so he is looking forward to the challenge of casting a character only loosely based on his younger self. “I’m not attached to, you know, finding somebody who looks like me or sounds like me,” he said. “We’re looking for really great actors who are age-appropriate for the story and going from there… That would be very stressful to be like, ‘Who’s gonna who’s gonna play me?’ But luckily, that’s off the table.”

Other topics covered in our extended conversation:

  • The Netflix animated series Big Mouth is still in full swing, though because of the way production works Rannells isn’t quite sure what season they’re actually making.
  • How his first on-screen appearance was in an episode of Sex and the City… sorta.
  • The legacy of HBO’s Girls, and what it was like to work with Lena Dunham.
  • How he’s never worked with an intimacy coordinator for the many sex scenes he’s done.
  • Filling in for Jonathan Groff at one point as King George in Hamilton (and this iconic #Ham4Ham performance): “We were joking that the audience probably wouldn’t even really know because we’re both like, the same height, we have similar voices. It could just be like, ‘Oh, it’s that gay guy from HBO.’ And nobody would be disappointed because they were correct.”

Black Monday airs Sundays on Showtime. Watch the video above, and check out the rest of our Collider Connected video series, featuring Mary Steenburgen, Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Stevens, Jane Levy, Nathan Lane, and more.

Television