Get to know the Welsh actor whose Adam has swept Kurt Hummel off his feet on the Fox series
Oliver Kieran-Jones can do a mean Marge Simpson impression. Tipped off by a fan, when we caught up with the Wales-born actor last week we quizzed him on his accents and impressions and along with the spot-on Simpsons character he also dropped in and out of Welsh, British, American and Irish with ease. Aside from his natural British accent, we don't think those particular skills will come in handy as his new gig as Adam Crawford, the first boy to sweep Kurt Hummel off his feet on "Glee" after this season's breakup of power-couple Klaine. (But it's "Glee" so we're not counting anything out!)
Oliver-as-Adam made his first appearance two weeks ago with a cheeky performance of "Baby Got Back" alongside his ragtag NYADA glee club, the Adam's Apples, and will continue for at least two more upcoming episodes this season. We caught up with Kieran-Jones to talk about his whirlwind "Glee" casting, what he thinks of his character Adam and the fan reaction to him, and what it's like jumping the pond to try his hand at the American film and TV scene.
So you're new to LA?
Brand new, I wasn't even meant to be staying. I came to do a bit of press on another show I was doing, then went in for "Glee" on a Tuesday, got it on a Wednesday and shot on a Friday. So it was… quick.
Were you familiar with "Glee" before you were cast as Adam?
When it first came out I was obsessed with it. Me and my friends were really into it in England. It's massive in the UK. I knew all the principal characters, I had watched season 1 and 2 but not season 3. I didn't know where the plot had gone too and I didn't know who the character was I was auditioning for. It was very secretive about who the character was and the names had changed. I didn't really know what I was auditioning for and I didn't know what I got until I got my first script.
So you didn't know he was meant to be Kurt's new love interest?
I knew he was the love interest of someone, because the scene was a love interest scene. Episode 11 was rewritten, they were originally more obvious that he fancied him. I was aware it was a guy, I was aware it was a gay or bisexual character. I didn't know it was Kurt, I didn't find that out until the formal offer came through.
Were you able to catch up on the show before you filmed?
Robert (Urlich), the casting director was amazing. They sent me the current season. Yeah, I kind of put a Glee drip into my arm, woke up singing "Don't Stop Believing" in the middle of the night. I watched as much as I could so I could see where everyone was emotionally in their lives. I thought that was important, what point in Kurt's life is Adam entering, and Rachel's as well.
What was your audition process like? What did you sing to get the part?
It was quite funny Audition story actually. I got the call a 2 o'clock on Tuesday and I was on Hollywood Blvd and I'd just gone to the gym. I had agreed to go pickup my friends kids from school in Pasadena and she doesn't have a phone. They wanted to see me for Glee at 5 o'clock and I had to two sides and two songs. I said, "I'm not a singer, I don't have two songs, and I have to get these kids I can't just leave them at school!" My agent said, "they're finding it really hard to cast this part and it has to start really soon, so this is kind of your last chance. If you get there you can, if you can't you can't."
I drove to Pasadena, picked the kids up and luckily my friend picked up her email and told me to go. I drove over and got there at half four. I'd just sung a song at my sister's wedding by this artist Daniel Merriweather, he's an Australian dude actually. "Red," it's a ballad. I'd sung it at my sister's wedding and it was the only song I knew all the words to! That's embarrassing to admit. They asked me to sing another song, an upbeat number. I went into this little room with Abraham Lim who was on The Glee Project, and went on the Internet to try and find another song to do. Originally I went in and read in American because they didn't know I was British, then they asked me to try it in British. Based on that, once I knew that t he character could be British, it gave me a different way of doing the character so I decided to do a British song. I did David Bowie, "Ziggy Stardust." I'd quite like Adam to sing it in the future. I don't know if you know the lyrics to "Ziggy Stardust" but once I'd chosen this song I realized the lyrics make no sense at all. But I sang it valiantly.
Are there any other songs you're hopeful to do on Glee?
I'd love to do some British influenced stuff, some Ed Sheeran. My voice is more funky, soul I feel. I'd like to do something with an edge to it. I've always sung, I've got quite a bit of range. I've been offered West End musicals before, but I really class myself as an actor.
Any music you're currently obsessed with?
I'm really into Lana Del Rey, which is probably a little behind the times. I come to things 5 steps behind but I do ti with a lots of enthusiasm. I'm a big classical music fan and I listen to classical music in my car. I like movie soundtracks as well, like the Juno soundtrack.
You have a very theatrical background in addition to your TV work on "Episodes" and UK television.
I've been very lucky, I trained at a place called LAMDA. I left when I was 20, 21, and my first job playing Octavius Caesar was opposite Ralph Fienes in Julius Caesar, then opposite Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic, then I did The Cherry Orchard in the West End, then The Tempest. Then i joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, so I've done a lot of very big theater with big names. I trained in classical theater. For me, as a young actor, it was invaluable. I learned so much about how to deal with classical texts, especially Chekhov and Shakespeare. There's so much depth required and technical charting of the role, like where they go from and where they end up. It really gave me an appreciation of the technical aspects.
Do you think you can translate that sort of training into how you approach "Glee"?
To me, acting is acting. Good acting is good acting. What that kind of stuff taught me is you can't play a two-note character. Actually arguably when you're moving so quickly with television it's easy to go, "okay,t his is the popular girl or this is the nasty bully." Before you know it there's no sides, but we all know the nasty guy has a sensitive side. That's what initially attracted me to Adam. There is so much to this character and his situation. It did take me a little bit of time a couple years ago to make the transition from theater to TV acting, because you are required a much more muscular approach to big stages. I've always been a fan of the American schools of acting anyway, and I come from the inside out rather than from the outside in anyway. I feel more comfortable [on TV].
How do you feel about Adam as a character?
I don't know what I'm allowed to say so I dare not say anything! My process of developing characters is to fall in love with them anyway, so I'm probably biased. I think he's an amazing, amazing person for a number of reasons, standalone and regardless to his relationship with Kurt. What intrigued me most and was difficult to make sense of is why this guy who from the outside seems he'd be relatively popular and have a lot of stuff going on for him. But he's the head of a group of misfits and running this glee club. There were two ways to go with the dialog I read -- you could make him a little bit arrogant and smarmy but kind of charming, or you can infuse him with warmth. I felt like, for me, that's where he comes from. Despite the outside, he actually feels extremely vulnerable and extremely like a misfit. I think that's perpetuated by the fact that he's gay and had to deal with that, perpetuated by the fact that he's in New York and feels like an outsider.