Andrew Rannells: Meet The New Normal's Bryan

Actor Andrew Rannells leaves behind missionary work in Broadway’s most outrageous musical to redefine fatherhood in the surrogate baby sitcom The New Normal.

BY Jeremy Kinser

July 10 2012 3:00 AM ET

“It’s a real gift,” Andrew Rannells says of his role as Bryan Collins in the eagerly anticipated NBC sitcom The New Normal. “To go from being scrappy and taking what chances are given to you to relaxing and having the opportunity to choose projects is really lovely.”

The busy 33-year-old sounds completely sincere while speaking by phone from his Manhattan apartment. The suddenly in-demand actor is taking a short break from the hectic pace of filming HBO’s hit dramedy Girls during the day, while at night finishing his long run in the Broadway musical  The Book of Mormon.

There will undoubtedly be many more opportunities to choose from when The New Normal premieres in September. Rannells stars alongside Justin Bartha, who plays David; the two are a well-heeled gay couple preparing to have a child with the help of a sweet surrogate (Georgia King), despite the objections of her comically bigoted grandmother, played with great zest by Ellen Barkin.

The two gay dads scenario of the series not only taps into the cultural zeitgeist, it comes with an impeccable pedigree. It was conceived and developed by Emmy Award–winning hit-maker Ryan Murphy, on a long winning streak after Nip/Tuck, Glee, and American Horror Story, and Glee writer Allison Adler, and it costars The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s breakout star, NeNe Leakes, as the unrestrained assistant to Rannells’s character.

Surprisingly, though, the comedy was developed as a vehicle for Rannells rather than the better-known Bartha, familiar from his work in hit franchise films The Hangover and National Treasure. In May 2011, Murphy caught a performance of The Book of Mormon, the giddy, potty-mouthed Broadway musical hit from the creators of South Park. Rannells portrayed Elder Price, a golden-boy missionary sent to disease-racked Uganda. It’s an indelible portrayal that earned Rannells a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical as well as throngs of adoring fans and backstage hugs from celebrity admirers such as Goldie Hawn. The writer-producer immediately recognized the actor’s potential.

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