After a so-so third week, NBC’s musical drama “Smash” gets re-energized tonight (Feb. 27) when pop megastar (and current Broadway star) Nick Jonas drops by the show’s fourth episode for a one-off guest role as precocious young sitcom star Lyle West.
Jonas tells Zap2it that although his character is a veteran Broadway actor, he gets involved in the show’s Marilyn Monroe musical as a financial backer.
“He’s just come into some financial success — the sitcom that he’s on has gone into syndication — but he got his start in the Broadway world and that’s how he knows all the people who are involved in the ‘Smash’ workshop,” Jonas explains. “He worked on different things with them when he was a kid. So he comes back now and the director, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport), throws him a 20th birthday party, and at the party, Anjelica Huston’s character tries to get him to invest in the workshop of Marilyn.”
Read on for Jonas’ thoughts on working with Huston, covering Michael Buble and the inevitable comparisons of “Smash” to “Glee.”
Did you draw on any real-life Broadway experiences to help form your character?
Yeah, definitely. I think that having experienced some Broadway stuff definitely helped, and was a nice tribute to my actual story as well. It is such a small world here in the theater community. It’s such a tight-knit group that you really do run into people that you’ve worked with in the past many times.
Lyle is not a bad guy, but he is a bit smarmy and self-absorbed. Do you worry you could’ve ended up that way without a strong family support system?
Yeah, I think that there’s always the danger of going down a path that leads you to … being a bit different than you end up. Lyle, I think that what’s fun about him is that at the heart of it all, all his ridiculousness that he pulls, he really is just there to have a good time. I don’t think he takes anything too seriously, which is quite fun.
You have quite a few scenes with Anjelica Huston. What was it like working with her?
It was great. She’s obviously a legend, and was such a joy to be around on set. I think I was trying to wake myself up the whole time thinking it was a dream. She was incredible, and our conversations off-camera were great as well.
What did you talk about?
Just about her move to New York and shooting the show and discussing what I’d be coming here to do: “How to Succeed,” the Broadway show I’m in now. Just kind of going back and forth. We really hit it off and had a nice, genuine conversation.
So you weren’t discussing the latest episode of “The Bachelor” or anything like that.
[Laughs] No, it wasn’t that kind of [conversation].
What about the rest of the cast?
Working with the rest of the cast was great. Most of my scenes were with Anjelica, and we did a big group number at the end. They’re all incredible — Debra Messing, Megan [Hilty] and all the guys — it’s such a high caliber of acting going on here. I was really just humbled to be in the room with them all.
You cover Michael Buble‘s “Haven’t Met You Yet” in the episode, but there were other song options, right?
Yeah, there were a couple of different song ideas going around. The concept was to take more of an indie song and sort of change it up and put my twist on it, but we kept coming back to “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.” It felt like the one that was right and fit the storyline as well. “Pumped Up Kicks” [by Foster the People] was one of the ones being thrown around, “Paradise” by Coldplay, but we ended up with “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.”
Are you a Buble fan?
I love Buble! I think he’s great. I’ve seen him in concert once or twice. I loved his show and have been a fan of his music for a while.
Your “Smash” storyline leaves things open for you to return. Would you consider doing another episode?
I would definitely consider coming back. I had a great time shooting the show and working with the cast and creative team, so if they’d have me back, I’d love to come and bring Lyle back.
Have you been watching the show?
I have — I’ve watched the first three episodes and I’m looking forward to seeing this one Monday night. What’s funny is I don’t really know what happens after my episode, so I’m going to be really intently watching to see how the storylines progress.
So are you Team Karen or Team Ivy?
I don’t know, I don’t think I can choose a team because I think I have a conflict of interest, being involved in the show! I didn’t actually get to work with Katharine McPhee on this episode. We didn’t have any scenes together, so it’d be great to come back and maybe have some scenes with her. That would be fun. But as far as team whoever goes, I have been given a general enough idea of where the storyline goes for the rest of the season to where I’d say people should keep watching and see what happens.
What do you think of the comparisons to “Glee”?
I think that it’s only natural for people to compare a show that has music in it and dancing and all that to “Glee.” My personal opinion is that it’s very different in so many ways, but specifically just in the fact that you really are following the creation of something in “Smash,” and it is a real look into the way that this musical theater world is.
I’d say that it’s great to see a television show that feels so real to the way it actually works. It’s similar because of the music element, but obviously very different in a lot of ways.
Do you watch “Glee” at all?
I’ve seen one or two episodes. I’m all for it. I think it’s great whenever there’s music involved in TV.
“Smash” airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.