Neil Patrick Harris may seem like a Disney character come to life, but the company’s animated studio has never hired an out gay actor to voice one of its dashing male leads until now, as Jonathan Groff steps up to give life to Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen, which is opening today nationwide.
Kristoff is a reclusive mountain man, with only his reindeer Sven to keep him company, until he’s paired with rebellious princess Anna (Kristen Bell) to free their kingdom from eternal winter.
“He’s not like your typical, skinny-legged jeans, Disney prince,” Groff tells Out of his character. “He’s a little thicker, he’s got my thighs. And that was before they knew I was cast already—maybe that’s how I got cast?!?”
Of course, Groff has been a Disney kid since way back: “Aladdin came at the right time for me; when I was a little boy, and you had this scrappy, leading man that was funny and adventurous,” he recalls. “Growing up, I used to be alone in my bedroom acting out Disney characters and doing the job is the same thing, except this time, it’s actually for a Disney movie.”
Groff’s star has been on the rise since he appeared on Glee as a love interest for Spring Awakening co-star Lea Michele. He appeared in the short-lived cable series Boss and January sees the premiere of Looking, his upcoming HBO show about a circle of young gay men navigating 21st century San Francisco.
That might seem like a real leap for an actor but Groff insists there’s parallels between the two projects: “We improv-ed a lot on Frozen, trying to keep things alive and keep things real, and we certainly try to do that every day on [the Looking] set. Trying to keep things alive, keep things real.”
Frozen opens November 27