Smash Q&A: Jeremy Jordan On Playing Jimmy Collins, Feelings For Karen & Trouble For Derek!

Jeremy Jordan made a splash earlier this month when he debuted as hot new New York City talent (with a chip on his shoulder) — Jimmy Collins — on NBC’s “Smash.”

Katharine McPhee’s Karen Cartwright may be developing her relationship beyond the professional with Jack Davenport’s Derek, but the pair may hit a curve in the road now that she’s becoming smitten with the young songwriter with the powerfully perfect voice.

Jeremy was actually pulling double duty when he first began his “Smash” adventure – starring in “Newsies” on Broadway and filming the show.

He told he actually filmed the first five episodes of the show (the third one premieres tonight at 10 PM on NBC) while holding down both gigs. Eventually, despite his love of Broadway (which loves him back – he was nominated in 2012 for a Tony) it was “Smash” that won his full-time attention. And Jimmy is no one-note character. There’s a heavy back story on the way and, according to Jeremy, his character will be causing some trouble in Season 2. You’re on Twitter — what was the reaction from people following the season premiere?

Jeremy Jordan: Twitter blew up. I got probably a few thousand Tweets… It’s been insane… Most people talked about how much they liked the song [‘Broadway, Here I Come’], honestly. I had a couple tiny little scenes before that, but that was the first big introduction for my character, so I think that was kind of like the moment that people sort of perked up and were like ‘Who is that?’ Most people were talking about how much they like the song… I hope they sort of like the bad boy element.

Access: It’s a change to be wearing the leather jackets and modern clothing from ‘Newsies.’

Jeremy: (Laughs) Definitely.

Access: What did the family think — back home in Corpus Christi? Did they all watch?

Jeremy: Yeah, I think everybody went over to my mom’s house and she said everybody was crying and all that stuff… I guess they’re just proud. It’s probably because of the song [that] they were crying. It’s a pretty powerful song.

Access: You had to leave your gig on Broadway to do this show. How hard of a decision was that?

Jeremy: It was really a transition for me. Actually, I didn’t leave it at first. I did the first five episodes while still in my show on Broadway and I figured I would leave eventually, but when I got ‘Smash,’ I had only been doing the show for like four months… and they told me my character on ‘Smash’ wouldn’t be showing up a whole lot until later on. Turns out that wasn’t the case (laughs), so I ended up being really, really busy all the time. I just kept missing shows from my Broadway show and it got to the point to where I was doing only half the shows every week and I had to go, I had to leave, for my own sanity.

Access: How did you balance the two while you were doing both?

Jeremy: I think that I survived through it, but I was tired all the time. I didn’t have any days off. I was really scared that I was going to lose my voice at any second because [on] both projects I had to sing a lot… I was always drinking a lot of water, I was trying to stay as healthy as possible, but it was tough.

Access: Your character, Jimmy, has a dark back story – can you tease a little bit about that?

Jeremy: Jimmy, on the surface, especially when we first meet him, seems like a d**k, he seems like he’s kind of a womanizer and that he doesn’t really care about anybody but himself. But, the fact is that he has suffered some pretty heavy grievances in his life that — some of it will come to light this season and you’ll start to see him haunted by past decisions and trying to sort of reconcile who he really is. I think the person that he shows everyone, especially at the beginning, is sort of the denial, protective shell version of Jimmy where he doesn’t let anyone in. He doesn’t trust anyone and I think throughout the series, you’ll see that shell start to crack and it’s scary for him and you’ll sort of see how he does or doesn’t deal with it well.

Access: Should fans of the show be thinking then that Karen is going to crack his shell?

Jeremy: It seems that she would be the one to sort of breakthrough to him, although it’s really not easy. Ultimately what really does break through, and does sort of start him on a new path, not that I’m saying he ever makes [it], but the thing that actually really affects him, may or may not have to do with her! She’s part of it. She may start the process, but there’s definitely more factors that have to happen. Just a sweet girl that he likes is not gonna be the only thing that takes him out of this deep dark place. It shouldn’t be either.

Access: He’s got a buddy as well. He’s got a writing partner — he’s got Kyle.

Jeremy: Kyle is sort of there as his friend, as his buddy. He helps him out, but I think Kyle’s sort of accepted how Jimmy is and because of his sort of secret love for him, not just friendship love, I think that he doesn’t want to rock the boat with Jimmy… He sort of has accepted him as this dark, but incredibly gifted [artist] and he just doesn’t quite touch the stuff that might push him over the edge.

Access: It looks like we are going to see you in Broadway numbers. Are those fantasy sequences or is Jimmy going to get a gig on the Great White Way?

Jeremy: (Laughs) At first, you’ll definitely see some, I wouldn’t say fantasy sequences, but sort of how they did in Season 1, where they would be working in a rehearsal room or something and you’ll see the sort of vision of it on Broadway. You know how they did that a lot with ‘Bombshell’? You’ll see that a lot this season. So the clips that you’ve seen are probably that. That’s not to say that Jimmy may not end up somehow making it to the top, but Jimmy’s a writer, he’s not an actor.

Access: Rumor has it Derek is going to cause some trouble for Jimmy.

Jeremy: (Laughs) Oh yeah. And vice versa!

Access: That’s great, because I think Derek needs some trouble caused for him.

Jeremy: He’s going to get lots of trouble, not just from Jimmy.

Access: How are you bringing the pain upon that British boy’s head?

Jeremy: I think we have a mutual respect for each other, but in that respect lies a lot of pride and stubbornness in terms of control. We both are sort of crazy control freaks and that doesn’t exactly bode well for working together so you might definitely see some division there… You also might sort of see the division in the fact that there’s always been a strange connection between Derek and Karen and now that Jimmy is sort of thrown in the mix, that could sort of throw a whole other angle on the whole, ‘Are Derek and Karen ever going to get together?’ sort of thing. He definitely can throw a wrench in it.

“Smash” airs Tuesdays at 10 PM ET/PT on NBC.

-- Jolie Lash

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