We talked to Topher Grace about NSYNC, musicals, and one-hit wonders
Beloved That ’70s Show star (can you believe it’s been 10 years since the show went off the air?), Topher Grace, shows off his singing chops in the musical comedy, Opening Night, which premiered at the LA Film Festival on June 3. In the movie, which is full of some of our favorite old-school throwbacks, Topher plays a cynical, failed Broadway star managing the colorful and chaotic, opening night cast of a musical centered around one-hit wonders. The movie is hilarious, sentimental, and showcases some serious song and dance from an all-star cast featuring JC Chasez of NSYNC, Taye Diggs, Anne Heche, and Alona Tal.
We chatted with the very talented actor to learn more about the development of Opening Night, his lead role, and his involvement as a producer of the film.
HelloGiggles: Hi, Topher! Congratulations on Opening Night premiering at the LA Film Festival! It’s a film that has a lot of depth — we see your character evolve from a jaded production manager to embracing his identity as a Broadway actor. What about the storyline attracted you to not only star in the film, but also take on a role as a producer?
Topher Grace: Opening Night was developed by myself and the extremely talented Isaac Rentz, who I worked with in the past for a music video. I thought to myself, “This guy should be directing something more theatrical and musical.” We met with some writers and somehow as we started working on it, we realized this was becoming a full-blown musical. For me, I’ve always been approached to do indie-type films but the opportunity to partner with Isaac on this type of project was really exciting. I did a play in NYC which was something I had never done before, and it was such a different but great experience because a play is so visceral and all the action happens in real-time. I love my character in this movie because he starts at one end of the spectrum and moves to the opposite end during the course of the movie.
HG: We have to ask, what was it like working with JC Chasez?
TG: He is a wonderful guy, despite playing a complete jerk version of himself. He was completely open to the role and he had never done a movie before and said, “I’ll do anything. I trust you guys.” I was really moved by his trust. I had never sang before and he was in the studio with me, helping us out. He has such a great sense of humor about himself and the role he played.
HG: We have so many talented readers who are aspiring actors and singers. What advice would you give them before opening night given your successful career in film and on stage?
TG: I think embracing the spirit of putting yourself out there. That’s really the heart of the film, too. Singing in front of an audience is like, going to a dance in middle school. You have to accept that you don’t really know what the end result will be, but you shouldn’t be scared.
HG: What’s your favorite one-hit wonder?
TG: They were in the film! “To Be With You” by Mr. Big. I also really liked the mashup of The Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch” and The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like.” I really wish we could have worked “The Thong Song” in there.
Watch these hilarious Opening Night clips below.
Interview has been edited and condensed.