Wherever the musical “Hair” is performed, the casting requirements are the same: young, good looking, capable of carrying a rock tune. Looking great in various states of undress also helps.
The lead performers in the Hollywood Bowl’s production of the “American tribal love-rock musical” that runs Friday through Sunday easily fit the bill — at least as far as the first three traits are concerned.
Playing flower children in search of free love and unfettered mind expansion, Kristen Bell, Hunter Parrish and Benjamin Walker were in the thick of rehearsals when they sat down to talk about their roles in the production.
“It’s a lot of information to digest in two weeks,” said Bell, who recently sang in the Disney movie “Frozen” and worked in New York theater productions before landing the 2004 TV series “Veronica Mars,” a role she reprised earlier this year in a movie financed in part through a Kickstarter campaign.
As is customary with the annual Bowl musicals, the “Hair” cast has had fewer than 14 days to get the semi-staged show up and running.
“The benefit of the show in my opinion is that 70 to 90% of it is music. And it’s a little bit easier to memorize music than it is dialogue,” said Bell, who is playing the role of Sheila, an earnest political activist.
Parrish joked that “we’ll just be beginning to understand it right when we finish” the show on Sunday. The actor, a former cast member of the Showtime series “Weeds,” is playing Claude, the fresh-faced tribal leader from Queens, and the closest thing the musical has to a protagonist.
He starred a few years ago in a Broadway production of “Godspell,” another countercultural touchstone.
“It’s cool to do another show that is about ‘the community,'” he said. “In most shows, you do your scene or a song, and you don’t get to commune as much… I enjoy that about these types of shows, where we get to have fun together.”
The subject of nudity was still undecided at the time of the interview. A spokesman for the production said the musical will contain some nudity, but the three lead actors said that they were still deciding how much flesh they wanted to show.
Playing the role of Berger, a freewheeling, frequently drugged-up hippie, Walker said his wardrobe sometimes consists of a loin cloth, a wig and little more. But the prospect of showing off most of his 6-foot, 3-inch frame didn’t seem to scare or excite the actor.
“[The musical] asks more questions than it answers. So hopefully boobs and butts are the least of what people will go away with,” said Walker.
The Bowl’s nearly 18,000-seat capacity — filled with smartphone-wielding fans — has been an important factor in considering how much clothing to take off. “The decision isn’t to be naked or not but whether you want someone to have a picture of it,” said Parrish.
Bell added that thanks to user-generated online video, questions about nudity are “no longer about the art.”
The actress is no stranger to the challenges of “Hair,” having previously played the role of Crissy in a 1999 student production at New York University.
The production received a visit from “Hair” co-writer James Rado, who has revised the musical on and off since the Public Theater debuted the show in New York in 1967. (He co-wrote the musical with the late Gerome Ragni.)
“He will come in and change things,” Bell said. Over the years, revisions to “Hair” have included new lyrics and moving songs between different characters.
Rado said in a phone interview that he has been involved with all major “Hair” productions, including the Public’s well-received 2009 revival that went on to Broadway.
For the Bowl production, “I’m going to talk to them as a friendly observer. They’re probably under a lot of pressure, so I’ll probably judiciously offer notes and through the director mainly,” he said.
Rado played Claude when the musical opened in Los Angeles in late 1968 at the Aquarius Theatre on Sunset Boulevard, less than two miles from the Bowl. (The theater was located on what is now the Nickelodeon studios lot.)
A Times review described the musical as irreverent, “but shocking it is not.” The cast included Ragni as Berger and pop singer Jennifer Warnes as Sheila.
The Bowl production of “Hair” is being staged by Adam Shankman, the movie director and choreographer who has also been a regular presence on the reality competition series “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Shankman said he had to make a decision early on as to whether Bell’s pregnancy would be an issue. The character Sheila isn’t pregnant, but another member of the ensemble of characters is. (Bell accepted the role before she found out she was pregnant with her second child. She is married to actor-director Dax Shepard.)
“Kristen called me and said that she still wanted to do the show but would understand if it was a problem,” said Shankman. He said costumes will be able to conceal signs of her pregnancy, though the actress is “more popped than I thought she would be.”
Bell currently lives on the east side of L.A. and said she has had the luxury of riding her bike to “Hair” rehearsals.
Parrish said he resides in Sherman Oaks, though in recent months, he was shuttling to the East Coast for a recurring role in CBS’ “The Good Wife,” where this season he played an unstable defendant who opened fire in a courtroom and fatally injured attorney Will Gardner (Josh Charles).
Of the three leads, only Walker isn’t a local. The actor lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been staying at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for the duration of rehearsals.
“I hate driving, so it’s been nice to be able to walk to work,” said the actor, who was in Australia shooting a period-drama movie prior to “Hair” rehearsals.
Walker has perhaps the most theatrical experience of the three leads. He appeared last year in a Broadway revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” opposite Scarlett Johansson, and in the 2008 musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which ran at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City before transferring to New York.
Walker described “Hair” as a somewhat amorphous, ensemble effort. “The story is charmingly vague. It’s all about the chemistry that the cast brings,” he explained.
The leads said that they won’t get a chance to rehearse “Hair” in costumes until just a few days before the first performance. The quickly looming date didn’t seem to be weighing too heavily on them.
Parrish jokingly suggested a strategy for covering up a flubbed line: “We can shout, ‘I’m on drugs!'”
On that note, the cast members were asked if they were experimenting with any mind-altering substances as research for their roles.
Walker, whose character arguably takes the most drugs of the entire ensemble, started laughing but otherwise declined to comment.
Bell deadpanned: “Yes, a lot! Quite a bit.”
Parrish invoked his eight-year run in “Weeds” and replied, “I spent eight years high on a show, so I’m done.”
Adam Shankman has just confirmed the cast list for this year’s Hollywood Bowl production of Hair, and Hunter is officially in the show! There’s no word on what role he’ll be playing, but I can’t wait to see
Edit: JustJared has confirmed that Hunter will be playing Claude
Warning: spoilers for the most recent episode of The Good Wife, as well as potential spoilers for the next episode.
Hunter Parrish, who played the unhinged client who fired the fatal shot, talked to THR about the secrecy surrounding the pivotal hour, questioning Will’s death and getting hate on Twitter.
Big 24 hours for you.
(Laughs) Definitely a big 24 hours for Good Wife fans.
You first appeared in the Nov. 10 episode earlier this season. Did you know when you first signed on that this was what your character would end up doing?
I did not. I did a show with Robert and Michelle King before, maybe eight years ago, that only lasted one season [In Justice]. They called me and said, “We have this role, it’s two episodes and it’s going to be this kid who gets wrongly accused and they can’t get him off and it ends in some tragic way.” They sort of alluded to him maybe even killing himself in jail. But then when I got this script, it was not any of those things. (Laughs) I was honored to be part of a huge plot twist like this. They were on set the whole week that we were filming this, and we had discussions. They were excited and nervous, but I didn’t really know. I knew it would be something tragic, but I had no idea. Some of the hair and makeup people weren’t even aware that Josh was leaving.
So you found out when you read the script?
I asked them! “Well, is he dead? Is he really dead?” And they were like, “Yeah, he’s really dead.” [Josh and I] shared an agent at the time, so I knew that he was potentially leaving the show, but I didn’t know if I would be a part of that plot and as I read the script, I was like, “OK, I guess I’m a part of that plot.”
What was your initial reaction when you discovered Jeffrey would be the one to put the bullet in Will?
I like to attack really good material and stuff that’s a notch above the norm, and clearly this is a notch above the norm. It’s always exciting when you get to be a part of something that really moves the storyline in a huge way. Obviously a main character leaving a show that’s been on for five years, that’s a big episode, sort of elevates it in a sense. I read it and I was excited that I got to be a part of it. It was an honor that [the Kings] allowed me to be a part of that, because it is precious to them, I know from conversations with them and some articles the creators have released.
What was that day like, when you filmed the courtroom shooting?
You might see pieces of it in the next episode, as they reference back to it. It was pretty rough. The [cast and crew] knew me from the first episode I did, and when I came up for this they were all a little mad at me, I must say. (Laughs) It was all with respect to Josh and the character on the show. But yeah, it was an interesting week. You could hear the cast and crew and the people in hair and makeup talking about how different the week was, because they’re used to that show being a little bit light-hearted and not taking itself too seriously, and these were moments that were definitely weird for everyone — trying to embrace every last moment with Josh as a person and Will as a character. It was a little more somber than it typically is on Good Wife.
The moment where Jeffrey starts to break down emotionally, just before grabbing the guard’s gun, was particularly tough to watch. What was the most difficult scene for you to film?
When I read the script, a part of me was like, Oh god, I got my work ahead of me. There was definitely some heavy stuff. As you saw, it read in the script as very abstract. It’s not like you see him pick up the gun and shoot — it’s not spelled out, which I think is more interesting. A lot of stuff was cut, too. The scene right before I grab the gun, the way we filmed it was incredibly disconnected. It wasn’t like filming a normal scene, where you tell the scene from start to finish and do it from different angles. But the most challenging and heavy part for me as an actor was putting a gun to my head and having to grapple with the downfall of what I had just done.
Will we see retribution for your character in the next episode, which I imagine fills in a lot of blanks?
That’s exactly right. [In the next episode] they talk to the security guard and they talk to this person and that person. Clearly we see what Julianna [Margulies]‘ character, Alicia Florrick, goes through. There are a couple of moments where they say, “What the heck, kid? What did you do, and why? We were about to prove your innocence, what were you thinking?” It gets pretty tragic.
Did you watch the episode last night?
Yeah, I did. We all knew that it would be a big deal to people, but you never know how people will receive it until it airs. There’s always that expectation, and it was fun to see how many people poured out love for Josh Charles and for Will Gardner and for the show in general.
I feel like everyone who’s watched the show is in mourning.
Yeah, I guess so. I didn’t start watching the show when it first aired, so I wasn’t a part of what I think a lot of the hardcore fans are experiencing. I am now. I’m not surprised, necessarily, I’m just excited that people are voicing their sadness.
How many more episodes will you be in?
The next episode sort of wraps some things up, and then we’ll see what happens in the future. One [more] for now.
What’s next for you?
I’m doing an indie movie with Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin based off of a New York Times best-seller called Still Alice. We wrap that up tomorrow.
How ready are you to be approached by angry Will fans?
(Laughs) I will say, it’s an interesting dynamic to go from the kid that everyone loved from that pot show [Weeds] to fully hated. A lot of my tweets are people saying, “We really liked you Silas, but now I just don’t know. I can’t like you anymore. #RIPWillGardner.” It’s funny — I love how invested people get, It shows how much they care.
He’s been laying low since the end of Showtime’s long-running drama “Weeds,” but Hunter Parrish has just been snapped on the set of his new project, joining Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore in indie drama “Still Alice.” That’s him on set above, in case you forgot what Silas Botwin looked like.
Moore plays the titular Alice in the film directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, a fifty year old happily married Harvard professor with three grown children who descends suddenly into early onset Alzheimer’s. “Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away.” Alec Baldwin plays her husband, and there’s no word on who Parrish plays, but we’ll assume her son or a love interest for Stewart’s character, Alice’s daughter Lydia. The film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Lisa Genova. Filming has been underway in New York City for the past couple of weeks.
Parrish, who played son to Mary Louise Parker for 8 seasons on Showtime’s “Weeds,” most recently did a guest stint on CBS’ “The Good Wife” and completed indie flick “Hell of a View.”
The Good Wife is adding another key player for season five.Weeds alum Hunter Parrish has joined CBS’ critically acclaimed legal drama in the current season, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
Set to appear in the seventh episode, titled “The Next Week,” which airs Nov. 10, Parrish will play Jeffrey Grant, described as “an enthusiastic college student looking to experience everything life has to offer, until he’s caught in a Kafkaesque DNA trip, accused of murdering a female classmate he swears he’s never met.”
Repped by UTA and Management 360, Parrish starred as Silas Botwin for eight seasons on Showtime’s Weeds and headlined Broadway’s Spring Awakening and Godspell. He also starred in features It’s Complicated and Paper Man.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
The actor has also starred in several Broadway shows and appeared in a slew of films.
Weeds star Hunter Parrish has signed with UTA, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.Parrish was 18 when he began playing Silas Botwin, the oldest son of Mary-Louise Parker‘s pot-dealing single mom in the Showtime dramedy. The series ran for eight seasons and ended in September 2012.
In the interim, Parrish starred in two Broadway musicals, replacing Jonathan Groff as Melchior in Spring Awakening and then portraying Jesus in Godspell. He has also appeared in several films, including It’s Complicated, where he played the son of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, and Paper Man, where he romanced Emma Stone.
Parrish continues to be repped by Management 360 and Schreck Rose.
I’ve added 9 HQ photos of Hunter attending last night’s Inaugural Hope North Gala! Also attending was his Weeds co-star, Mary-Louise Parker.
Edit: Thanks to Marica, another 15 HQ photos have been added!
CharityBuzz is running an auction where the lucky winner gets to have lunch with Hunter! Check it out here
Better late than never! I’ve added 3 HQ photos of Hunter at the August 15 after party for Soul Doctor
Parker seemed just as eager for Hunter to do big things as we are. She had just spoken to him two days before she sat down with VH1.
“He was going to be doing something that fell through, so I’m not sure what he’s doing now,” she told us. “I think people have no idea how talented he is. His talent is bottomless to me. I saw it in ways that a lot of people didn’t, because he wasn’t always showcased very much, but he’s incredibly talented. Beautiful voice, incredible singer. He’s awesome.”