As much as we laud actors for being able to transform themselves, it is sometimes hard to separate the character from the person who plays the role. F has been a munchkin, a hunchback and now Augustus Gloop, a “fat German kid” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Despite being a great actor, he discussed why it’s still mentally challenging to be typecast in a certain mold and how innocent remarks at the stagedoor can be unintentionally hurtful.
Joy: Would you consider yourself a theater nerd?
F: I am and I am not. I like theater. I love it. It’s been a really great part of me and my career, but I never grew up with Broadway since I am from Georgia. Cats was my first Broadway show – I was in sixth grade when I saw it, and it was the most amazing thing because I didn’t really know anything about theater. I had done a couple of shows with my whole family in it, but I wanted to be a musician.
Did you play an instrument?
I played all the brass instruments and then I started on violin. They didn’t have a strings at the next school that I went to, so I played all the brass instruments and I wanted to be a band. But Broadway was cool. I did the shows and it was a fun way to hang out with my brother, who is an actor as well, and my mom who was my high school theater teacher.
Is it weird to have your mom as a teacher?
You know, it probably took until I booked my first Broadway show that I didn’t feel like everything I had gotten was nepotism. I kind of got to pad my stats being both a guy and from the South and doing musical theater and having your mom be your director – you feel like you are cheating.
I think every performer has to have a moment where – it’s not like cocky, but it’s a moment of confidence. It also can be really challenging when there are things you know you don’t do – and I don’t mean you are not open to them; I mean like there are people who will do X better than me. Or you go, “I am going to go in that room and I know that nobody is going to do this the way that I do.” So that’s more of what I glean from having been guilty the whole time. I didn’t even get into musical theater school so I went to a straight acting program for three years when I got to NYU and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Having my voice taken away from me because until college I hadn’t thought about acting, other than knowing your lines and not bumping into the furniture.
When did you start doing musicals again?
They don’t let you audition for shows in your first year at NYU. In my second year I did a production of Company. I think most people who have done that show don’t have the life experience to really understand it. I was playing the father of two who sings a song called “Sorry‑Grateful” where you talk about a relationship that you know is not great, and I didn’t understand any of it.
Then I played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar my junior year of college, which was much more musical theater, but no dialogue because it’s basically an opera. It was great to get to play that role, but I didn’t feel like I was doing a musical until a student production of Into The Woods. I played a part that maybe someone will be brave enough to let me do again – Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf.
What was your reaction when you heard they were casting adults to play kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
I found out about it when they asked me to audition. I thought my agents were messing with me. I asked my girlfriend if she knew anything about it because she had seen the show in London. She thought it was a bad idea to cast adults because the kids were so great. But I went in, I thought either they will like me or they won’t like me. It was a casting office that I loved (Telsey) and it was a fun group of people, no one I ever worked with before. I did my audition and then had a callback.
Is it hard to be an adult, playing a kid?
Not really. I don’