Most young actors would kill for the career The Addams Family's Wesley Taylor is having. At just 23, Taylor not only stars opposite Tony winners Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth (as their potential son-in-law, Lucas Beineke), but this marks the second role Taylor has originated on Broadway (following a hilarious turn as the flamboyant German Franz in Rock of Ages). We caught up with the young star mid-haircut backstage at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to talk about joining the Family, taking Broadway viral and his crazy days at ROA.
You’re playing one of the show’s more normal characters. What's it like being surrounded by all the eccentric Addamses?
It’s an interesting challenge playing straight to the crazies. I’m used to being the “character.” Plus Lucas can’t be completely “normal” because he falls for this eccentric, dark person.
...who is played by Krysta Rodriguez. Offstage you two seemed joined at the hip.
We’re really close. All of my scenes are opposite her except for one, so we don’t really have a choice [laughs]. We’re like a married couple, always bickering and fighting and then we’re in love all over again.
You’re only 23 and Lucas is already the second role you’ve originated on Broadway.
It’s very helpful to hear that from other people sometimes because you forget you’ve been blessed with a lot of great opportunity. It’s very easy to be stressed and overwhelmed, or just tired and overworked, so whenever you get negative you just have to remind yourself that this is what you worked for and dreamed about. It’s good to have reality checks.
Did you need one after Paper Magazine featured you in their "Beautiful People" issue? To quote the Beatles, “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?”
It was great, although my friends gave me some crap for it. I don’t know why they chose me. I was with hunky [Next Fall star Patrick Heusinger and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’s Benjamin Walker] who are like actual studs and here I am with my big ole Jay Leno chin!
You’ve appeared several times on co-star Jackie Hoffman’s Addams Family video blogs. Does she ever clue you guys in to what she’s going to film?
She just breaks through the door with her camera with no warning! That’s who Jackie is. She has no filter, and that’s why we love her.
You’re no stranger to video blogs yourself, having created a new web series on YouTube with some of your old Rock of Ages co-stars.
It’s a really fun industry spoof called Billy Green. We’re on the third episode, and it’s about a guy who is new to the city and completely clueless to the business. It’ll feature a lot of Broadway actors [past guests have included Michael Urie, Karen Olivo and Jennifer Damiano] and hidden cameos. I sent a clip to [original Rock of Ages star] Will Swenson and he said that he was screaming with laughter so much that [girlfriend Audra McDonald] came running in the room because she thought he hurt himself. He said when he’s back in town, if we’re ever in need, he’ll just come get naked, which he did a lot in our Rock of Ages series. So yeah, we’re just going to end up uploading a lot of porn onto YouTube. That’ll get people to Broadway!
Franz was a pretty outrageous role. Were you afraid of ever taking it too over the top?
It was scary how easy that behavior was because I’m more comfortable playing those crazy character roles. I used to go so far sometimes and loved it. After “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” I would mug for the audience and start taking off all my clothes and milk it for as long as it could last, and the stage managers would scream, “What are you doing?! Hurry up! We have to go home at some point!” That stage was like a playground to me.
It’s a pretty crazy show. Any wild memories?
My favorite was when, about 10 minutes in, we were doing the first scene with no music and this guy in the audience drunkenly yelled, “Booooring.” We just lost it and were a mess laughing. We couldn’t believe the audacity!
It must be fun to perform for a crowd with constant access to alcohol.
It was fun at times and terrible at times, but you think about when Shakespeare was putting on his plays in front of the peasants. This is what theater was. It was an interactive experience for everyone. Peasants paid a penny and stood on the edge of the stage and watched. It wasn’t an elite, expensive club. That’s why it bothers me when people raise their chins to Rock of Ages and get snobby because it’s theater for the people! Everyone [at The Addams Family] talks about how we’re performing for [a non-typical audience], and I keep telling them they have no idea!