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Andrew Rannells: TV’s rising star

The actor appears this fall in NBC’s The New Normal

Actor Andrew Rannells is having a blockbuster year. He scored a Tony nod for his role in Broadway’s The Book of Mormon and captivated audiences as Elijah, Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend, on HBO’s Girls. This fall he stars in the new NBC sitcom The New Normal (premiering on Sept. 11), where he’ll play one-half of a gay couple expecting a child via a surrogate mother. Four things to know about him:

Rannells and Justin Bartha (right) in The New Normal
Photo: Courtesy of NBC

He’s either psychic, determined—or both. His mom recently unearthed his fourth grade “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” book in the basement of their family’s home in Omaha. In it, he had written that he wanted to go to college in New York City [he attended Marymount Manhattan College for two years] and be an actor on Broadway. Done and done.

He’s famous in the Japanese anime world. As a high school student in Nebraska, Rannells got work as a voice actor for the cartoons Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, and he still meets fans who recognize him for those characters.

He was constantly starstruck by the celebrities who went to see The Book of Mormon. The list includes Jim Carrey, Goldie Hawn, Hugh Jackman, Elisabeth Shue, Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino—and a certain sitcom star of the late ’80s and early ’90s. “I met Judith Light! I loved Who’s the Boss? when I was younger. It’s crazy to have these moments when I meet people and I think, I watched you all the time when I was a kid, and now you’re standing in front of me!”

Photo: Kevin Kane/WireImage for Tony Awards Productions

He still doesn’t “get” Los Angeles. After living in New York City for 13 years, Rannells has temporarily relocated to the West Coast to film The New Normal. “If one more person tells me how close I am to the mountains, it’s so ridiculous. Why would I want to go to the mountains? What would I do when I get there? I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart.”