Interview with Groundhog Day star Andy Karl
Three-time Tony nominee and Olivier Award winner Andy Karl is the leading man, currently starring as Phil Connors in the Broadway premiere of Groundhog Day - The Musical at the August Wilson Theatre.
Andy picked up the Olivier Award for "Best Actor in a Musical" for the show's London world premiere. He is currently Tony-nominated for the role and also earned Tony nominations for Rocky (2014) and On the Twentieth Century (2015). His other Broadway credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 9 to 5, Legally Blonde, Jersey Boys, Wicked and Saturday Night Fever.
Despite sustaining a knee injury on stage during previews, Andy has battled on through opening night and continues in the production at the August Wilson Theatre.
We caught up with Andy to talk about his recovery, winning the Olivier Award, and the similarities between Groundhog Day and a Broadway performer's real life...
Thomas Hayden Millward: Well, I’ve seen you perform this show at London’s Old Vic and now on Broadway all strapped up in a knee brace. You’ve been a trooper, Andy! How are you feeling?
Andy Karl: I’m doing great. The injury is still there, but I’ve gotten a lot stronger. The great thing is that I’m wearing this brace in the show and I’m just making fun of it because I feel like Phil Connors can get away with anything!
THM: How beneficial was it for you to have your “out-of-town try-out” in the little town of London?
AK: Well, I tell you what – to me, all the pressure was off. We’re in Awards Season now and everybody is holding their breath and seeing if they’re going to win. That’s just how the Awards Season is. It’s competitive. In London, I didn’t feel any of that. I felt like I did the best work I’d ever done. Matthew Warchus, Tim Minchin and Danny Rubin are all these geniuses, so I just wanted to live up to their work.
THM: Well, the pressure may have been off, but you still managed to win your first Olivier Award! Congratulations! Did you manage to see the broadcast of the ceremony?
AK: I saw little bits and pieces of it. My friend Georgina Hagen - who was in the show in London – she accepted for me. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win, so I think I wrote about three sentences. I feel like I didn’t do enough, but it was an exciting, surreal moment.
THM: And it’s not too bad, when you have Tim Minchin performing one of the Groundhog Day songs in the Royal Albert Hall…
AK: It’s not too bad at all, when that guy gets up and sings a song. They are HIS songs, so he’s very welcome to sing any of them!
THM: When I think of Groundhog Day, a Broadway performer’s life is essentially like Groundhog Day in part, as they wake up every day and go to the same theatre and do the same show over and over again. Do you feel like Broadway and Groundhog Day are a match made in heaven?
AK: Absolutely! It’s very easy for me to be a jerk in the morning when I wake up in that show. I can take all the things that annoy us about doing eight shows a week and then by the end of the show, I’m fully realised and a better human being because all I have to do is look around at all the other actors and the support we have from the audience, giving us such love. So, it definitely is a match made in heaven!
THM: In that respect, do you feel it is a tricky role to pull off, because, yes, Phil has to be an a**hole at the start, but we still have to care about him as an audience and will him to turn over a new leaf and break the cycle?
AK: It is tricky, but it’s soooo much fun! Getting a handle on what kind of a jerk I needed to be was the best part. He carries all the cards but he’s also a little charming as well. You have to be that person that people love to hate. That’s been wonderful to play. I just love this role!
THM: Well, long may this role continue… over and over again! And I wish you a speedy recovery too!
AK: Thanks, buddy! I appreciate it.