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On the Rise Aaron Tveit

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On the Rise: Aaron Tveit

Universal Pictures

Among the many young stars who’ve recently made the leap from stage to screen, like Spring Awakening’s Lea Michele and The Book of Mormon’s Andrew Rannells, Aaron Tveit finally seems to be having his well-deserved, medium-bridging moment. Already something of a revered superstar in the theater world, the prolific Tveit (pronounced te-vate) has been doing curtain calls for most of his life, including during his time at Ithaca College, when he won a role in the national tour of Rent. Then there was his turn as Link Larkin in the national tour of Hairspray, which, in 2006, yielded his Broadway debut. A role in the Three Musketeers came after, and then, in 2008, a now-celebrated performance as troubled son Gabe in Next to Normal, a Pulitzer-Prize winning work. There was a role in Wicked, a role in the musical version of Saved!, and in 2009, the landing of the coveted lead in Catch Me If You Can, the Broadway rendering of Steven Spielberg’s portrait of Frank Abagnale Jr. For playing the charming, jet-set conman, who wooed women out of their clothes when not shedding his own, Tveit, now 29, garnered nominations from the Outer Critics Circle and the Drama League, and was also up for a Fred Astaire trophy for Best Male Dancer on Broadway. He’d become an indisputable hotshot of the New York stage, and this was all before Tom Hooper came calling with an offer to star in last year’s Les Misérables.

Before you click away, know that this piece will not go into a lengthy Les Misérables rehash, recounting a divisive juggernaut that everyone’s sick of talking about, from those uncomfortable close-ups to Anne Hathaway’s hateability. Let’s simply focus on the contribution from Tveit, the other stage favorite who lit up the cast, alongside “On My Own” belter Samantha Barks. Playing the role of the revolutionary Enjolras (whose name, Tveit says, is basically pronounced phonetically but with a French twist), the New York-born actor well overcame the limits of having a lesser part in an ensemble, nailing the look, conviction, swagger—and, of course, voice—of a character who’s always been compelling as the steadfast face of the story’s oppressed resistance. And what a face Tveit possesses—a kind of lovable fusion of Robert Redford, Matt Morrison, and Justin Bieber (don’t chuckle, y’all—those are some handsome specimens). It was admittedly tough to find a pic of Tveit that didn’t see him sporting that boyish grin, a flash of teeth that are big enough to be strikingly disarming, but not so large as to overtake his face (speaking of Hathaway…). Tveit’s innocent, approachable visage has been a large part of his appeal, and yet he suppressed it fully to bring angry, bellowing life to Enjolras, an idealistic martyr with zero time for shits and giggles.

Of course, Les Misérables was hardly the first time Tveit appeared on screen. He played Allen Ginsburg’s (James Franco) lover Peter Orlovsky in Howl, starred opposite Zachary Quinto and Rosario Dawson in Sebastián Gutiérrez’s anthology flick Girl Walks Into a Bar (available to watch in full, for free, on YouTube), and had a small part in last year’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle Premium Rush. On the small screen, he showed up on Ugly Betty, did his working-actor duties in a few episodes of Law & Order: SVU, and had a substantial, 10-episode arc on Gossip Girl, playing Tripp van der Bilt III, the shifty cousin of Chace Crawford’s Nate Archibald. Now, Tveit is awaiting the debut of his new series, Graceland, an hour-long drama from White Collar creator Jeff Eastin. Like Eastin’s previous project, the show will run on USA, premiering June 6. Along with Daniel Sunjata, Tveit headlines the series as co-lead. He plays Mike Warren, one part of a group of government officials from various departments (F.B.I., C.I.A., etc.) forced to hole up in the same house as part of an undercover operation. Did I mention it’s a Southern California beach house? If you’re hearing Bachelor Pad for Procedural Junkies, you’ve probably hit the producers’ draw on the head, and Graceland may very well be sunk by its own conceit. But then, who wouldn’t want to shack up with Tveit?