When it came to casting the guest role of Broadway baby-turned-TV star Lyle West on NBC’s Smash, executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan didn’t have to look far. The real thing, Nick Jonas — currently the lead in their other big project, Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — had already asked to cameo on the show. Jonas had been an actor on Broadway. He’d been a hit on TV. And he could definitely sing — a must for a musical drama chronicling the making of a tuner about Marilyn Monroe. EW caught up with Jonas to chat about tonight’s episode of Smash, Broadway, and acting alongside Anjelica Huston.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Who is this Lyle West?
NICK JONAS: Lyle is a really common character. He’s very precocious and he has a lot of confidence. Basically, he’s a child actor who has just come into a bunch of financial success from the television show that he’s on that’s gone into syndication. He knows all the people involved in the Marilyn workshop from his time as a theater actor as a young boy. So the director, Derek Wills [Jack Davenport], throws Lyle a birthday party where Anjelica Huston’s character tries to get him to invest in the show.
So, just like you, he started as a kid on Broadway and then he became a TV star. Was that intentional?
You know what, I really don’t know if it was or not. I know that his role was already in place when they asked me to be a part of it. They just said that there is this role that they were developing for a young guy to negotiate with Anjelica Huston. It’s very similar to my real journey and that’s fun. I definitely didn’t have to do much character research since I know what that’s like.
Will you be singing?
I sing a song when you enter the party. I’m singing Michael Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet,” which was fun for me. I love that song and I think Michael Bublé is great. I’m also involved in a group number — an original number they do at the end of the episode. I jump on the guitar.
That number — when the company decides on the spot to perform a song from the Marilyn musical at your party — seemed pretty complicated.
It took a little while to film. I think it took about a full night to work that all out, because it is pretty elaborate. It’s ironic that the elaborate thing is the one that’s supposed to be impromptu.
You share a particularly emotional scene at the end of the episode with Anjelica Huston.
Yeah, it was pretty, pretty intense. I think Anjelica Huston is obviously one of the greatest actresses of all time and it was incredible to watch her work in that way. It was very inspiring. Megan [Hilty] and I were humbled to be part of that scene in the way that we were.
Is Lyle going to be a hands-on financier? In other words, will you be back?
You know, I haven’t really been told yet. I would be all for being on the show again, but no one has mentioned it yet. If there’s an opportunity, I’m there.
Is there anything that occurs on the show that doesn’t happen behind-the-scenes on Broadway but you wish did?
I’ve watched all the episodes so far and the brilliant thing they’ve done is really keep it close to the way Broadway actually works. It’s a great thing because I think that it’s really connecting with so many audiences — not just musical theater fans, but people who want to know how the whole thing works and are genuinely just interested in these different people’s lives and stories.
For my final two questions, I want you to go with your gut. Which do you prefer, Broadway or TV?
Ah, tough to say. I really enjoy both. There’s another element, though, that should be in there: recording music. It’s the biggest thing for me, really. That’s where I really got my start and out of those three passions, well, I’m going to be greedy and say I like all of them. It’s just a joy for me to be able to do them — especially on Smash where I get to do all three. It’s a really fun sort of collaboration.
And lastly, whom would you rather end up playing Marilyn: Katharine McPhee or Megan Hilty?
You know, I’ve been given a little insider information on that. So I have to stay silent and just say to everyone that doesn’t know, keep watching and that story gets really interesting.