After winning a 2007 Tony for his moving performance as doomed schoolboy Moritz in Spring Awakening, John Gallagher Jr. was tapped by the show's director, Michael Mayer, for an exciting new project: a stage adaptation of Green Day’s Grammy-winning American Idiot. Floored by the prospect of working with the band’s music, Gallagher immediately accepted. Soon, he was working side by side with Mayer and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong to transform the album’s frequently referenced “Jesus of Suburbia” figure into the full-fledged character of Johnny, a frustrated suburban twentysomething slacker whose big city dreams are hindered by a nasty drug addiction. In addition to starring in two hot Broadway musicals, Gallagher has proven himself a gifted dramatic actor in the Tony-winning Rabbit Hole as well as off-Broadway productions such as Port Authority and Farragut North. We talked to the versatile Gallagher about Green Day, the legacy of Spring Awakening and whether it’s possible to live a rock star lifestyle while doing eight shows a week on Broadway.
Your character, Johnny, is an unmotivated slacker, yet you’ve already won a Tony in your 20s and are the lead in this huge show. Is it hard to identify with him?
You’d be surprised.