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Interview with Lucas Grabeel of
"Switched at Birth" on ABC Family 12/13/12
ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Lucas Grabeel
Ė SWITCHED AT BIRTH
Moderator How does the verdict affect the relationships
between the two families now that Angelo was awarded such a
significant amount of money?
L. Grabeel Well, he definitely doesnít shy away from
spending it right off the bat, and to thank the family for
all of the hospitality that they have shown him he buys
everyone in the family a pretty lavish gift. And some people
respond to it very positively. My character, for instance,
gets three hours of recording time with a famous producer,
so because Iím a musician and having the band and
everything, Iím very excited about that. Whereas, Daphne
gets a food truck, and gets to experiment with her own
business and having her own food truck, but of course that
brings up a lot of problems for the parents with
responsibility and liability and being out on our own and
how safe is all of that, and so itís kind of a mixed bag
with everyoneís gifts.
Moderator As far as your portrayal of Toby, is there
anything that youíve been bringing to the role that may be
beyond whatís written in the script for you? Is there
anything that youíve actually added to playing Toby?
L. Grabeel Itís been a great experience because on paper
Toby was completely different when they had written the
character originally than after I had gotten the job. And so
the whole musical part of his character and playing
instruments and singing and writing songs and all of that
stuff came after I was hired, which was really great. And so
they have tailored a lot of the character to my own
strengths and abilities and things, so thatís been really
fun to mold the character myself and get to have a little
bit of input with all of that, so yes, itís really great.
Moderator Toby had to make a lot of adult relationship
decisions there towards the end, and Iím curious as a real
guy whoís older and a little more experienced than Toby,
what did you think about how your character handled the
L. Grabeel Referring to the last question, a lot of the
charactersí decisions and actions and things have come from
me personally, and I feel like as the producers and the
writers have gotten to know me a little bit more, and I am
28 playing a 17-year-old, so definitely a bit of, I guess,
experience comes into play more so than a 17-year-old kid
would have. But one of the most interesting parts about the
character in general, even from the beginning, is that this
kid is the objective point of view of the television show.
Heís not a parent. He didnít have to go through the whole
experience of raising a child and having this huge lie or
this huge surprise being thrown upon him. And he wasnít a
child either in the whole, oh, who are my parents, who am I,
whatís going on. Heís on the sidelines and he gets to view
everything, as I said, from an objective point of view and
just gets to be a shoulder to cry on for the sisters and
gets to stand back and do everything from far away, which
definitely lends itself to be more of a mature, wise
And as far as Nikki goes, Iím trying to think back to what
happened at the end of the first season, because weíve been
shooting several episodes, so Ė
Moderator She pushes him away, and then Emmett convinces
Toby to go back after her.
L. Grabeel Right, yes. I think after the whole Simone
debacle being just completely heartbroken and that kind of
helped show his frailty ... teenage problems that a lot of
kids have to go through. But he finally decided that itís
time to move on and saw an opportunity to find comfort
somewhere else and get the band back together and pick up
where they left off.
Moderator Could you describe Tobyís approach to getting the
girl, versus Emmettís? I feel like they have different
L. Grabeel Yes. I think they both play the cool game, but,
in different ways, and I think Tobyís generally a good guy
and just tries to be himself and live by example in that
regard, and I think girls pick up on that and see an honesty
there, he doesnít really hide anything . Whereas, I think
Emmett tries to create this mystery and this, I mean, it
also is part of just his culture of being deaf and being
separated from the rest of the pack and all of that, but
also his coolness comes from, you donít know anything about
me, and Iím dark and mysterious and ride a motorcycle. You
find out whatís behind the curtain.
Moderator You starred in Disneyís High School Musical movie
series, can you describe for our readers what that
experience was like for you?
L. Grabeel Well, itís hard to encapsulate such a vast
experience in a short answer, but it took place over quite a
bit of time and lots of experiences, and it started off as
this made-for-TV cable musical, which we all were very
excited to be a part of, but didnít have any idea what kind
of magnitude that it was going to explode into once it was
released. And from the three separate movies, the two
separate international concert tours, the countless
international press tours and junkets and all of those
things, it was a lot of experience, life experience in a
completely different perception than a lot of us had
experienced, well, any of us had experienced before that,
most of us being late teenagers, early 20-year-old kids, so
you grow up really fast when something like that happens.
And for me personally it was a lot to take in all at once. I
never saw myself being a part of something like that, with
that much attention, and your whole world just kind of gets
turned upside down, and it was a lot at first. I have
nothing but gratitude for it because thereís very few people
in the world that get to experience what we got to
experience. And itís such a gift as an actor, so much of the
time you feel like your job is, I donít want to say
meaningless, but weíre entertainers, weíre not changing the
world here, and when youíre part of something as global as
ďHigh School MusicalĒ and you see firsthand from a childís
point of view how it did help inspire them and change their
mind in some way, shape or form a love of the arts or a
desire to explore different things than just one thing that
theyíre told that they have to do when they grow up, itís a
beautiful thing. And it makes you think about that gratitude
that you have for your career that you did make a good
decision building towards something that was artistic but
still has some sort of meaning, so yes.
Moderator What is the difference for you in filming a movie
as compared to working on Switched at Birth?
L. Grabeel Itís a pretty big difference. Itís a different
kind of pace. Itís a different kind of lifestyle altogether
really. I love them both. Switched at Birth is my first
television series that Iíve shot on a regular basis, and
itís so great to have a base, a home, that I get to sleep in
my own bed every night and get to drive home every day,
which is great, and every day I get to see the same smiling
faces and we all come together and we work really hard, but
itís a much faster pace so we get in and we work hard and
then weíre done, and itís very gratifying. Whereas, on a
film you are usually on location, youíre living out of a
hotel, and for the first week itís a bunch of strange faces
and youíre trying to figure everybody out and figure
yourself out and how you fit into the movie and everything.
But thereís something great about that too, a bunch of
people getting together and creating something really
magical in one fell swoop, and then youíre done and then you
wait however long until the movie is edited and get to see
the fruits of your labor. I donít know, there are great
things about both of them.
Moderator Can you tell us a little bit about the other
romance and relationships coming up this season with other
L. Grabeel Well, at the beginning Daphne is still struggling
to get over her infatuation with Chef Jeff, and itís a hard
situation that both of them, I guess, are put in, her being
such a young person and him being established in his job and
everything. And thereís a jeopardy that arises if he
continues the relationship, and I donít think she, as a
16-year-old, really understands that, and so that definitely
puts a damper on her romantic desires. And Bay is trying to
ward off any guy at the moment, at first, at least, to try
to heal her wounds and just be alone and try to figure
herself out for a little while. But I can safely say that
doesnít last too long.
Moderator If you had to pick a New Yearís resolution for
Toby, what would it be?
L. Grabeel I feel like he relies on other people a lot of
times with his music and maybe he should not necessarily
just shut everybody out and go out on his own, but not worry
so much about being a musician without a band. So maybe he
should just write and sing and produce, and be okay with
being on his own and making his own musical decisions.
Moderator How do you think Toby would have handled it if he
was the child that was switched?
L. Grabeel I bet he would have a lot of anger, a lot like
Bay has handled it, Iím sure. Having the rug pulled from
underneath you, not knowing necessarily where to land, I
feel like he would also be very investigative and try to
figure out the whoís and the whyís and everything,
detail-wise, but also just, yes, very angry and a bit of
self-pity, why me, why this, this could have happened to
anybody. Itís a very scary thing to think about.
L. Grabeel You wake up one day and you realize you donít
know who your parents are, and these people that you said
that you love them and you do, but you have these people
that just instantly become strangers overnight, itís kind of
Moderator How do you think Toby has matured since the
L. Grabeel I think he has become much more of a, I donít
want to say caretaker, but his responsibility he has gained
from listening and being able to be a friend, as well as a
brother, to his two sisters now, and before I feel like he
could have just slacked off. He was the rich kid who did
what he wanted and didnít really have any responsibilities
or worries. But since the switch dealing with two sisters
instead of one and the emotional roller coasters that both
of them have been on, heís had to be there and calm the
waters a few times, and make sure that theyíre taken care
of, because he loves them and he has taken a little bit more
of an adult, mature responsibility for them and wants to
make sure that theyíre all okay.
Moderator You have many talents, singer, actor, producer,
writer, musician, and probably even more than that, if you
had to pick just one of those areas to focus on for the rest
of your career what would you choose?
L. Grabeel I moved out to Los Angeles to be an actor, so
thatís my first and foremost thing that drives me and keeps
me going and that I love to do. I feel like everything else
is to fill the time and get out all of my extra artistic
frustrations and expressions through doing everything else,
because as an actor youíre not always working, youíre not
always acting. Itís not something you can just get together
with your friends and youíre like, ďHey guys, do you want to
act?Ē So playing music and painting and writing and all
those things helps fill the gaps.
Moderator As you mentioned, youíre a writer too, have you
written any episodes for Switched at Birth, or maybe you
would like to?
L. Grabeel No, actually. I would definitely want to direct
an episode before I would write one. Iím not that great of a
writer. I write more songs and poetry and things, not so
much television. But I would love to direct, and one of
these days Iíll get up the courage to ask him.
Moderator I was wondering if you can just talk about your
relationships and how theyíve developed with people like Lea
Thompson, D.W. Moffett, or the other people who are more
your age peers over the time that youíve been filming.
L. Grabeel Itís all a lie. We really hate each other. No, it
is strange every time you start a new job, thatís kind of a
strange thing about being in this business, youíre forced to
be in the same room as all of these people day in and day
out and you really donít know how everyoneís personalities
are going to mix and everything. And this is just one of
those, I mean, it happens often, but itís ... often that you
find somebody that is, thereís always one person in the
group thatís a bad egg or some kind of diva or something
like that, but just kind of sours the mojo of everyone on
set, and itís just unfortunate, but since the pilot we
instantly got together and it just clicked.
And I of course grew up a huge fan of Lea Thompson and there
wasnít this like nervous, oh no, what is she going to say
and that kind of thing. And of course meeting her and
everything, I was a little nervous, but sheís so warm and
inviting and gentle that we started talking and it seems
like weíve been friends for years, and that kind of goes for
everybody else in the group.
Vanessa and Katie and I hang out from time to time, and
theyíre just two amazing individuals. I think one of the
things that has strengthened our relationship is that the
three of us donít really have too many other friends that
are actors. So much of the time itís hard being around it
when youíre on your off-time, because I donít really like
talking about acting. I donít like talking about the
business. I go home from work and I donít want to talk about
it. So all my other friends, a lot of them are in the
business, but most of them are in other areas and things, so
Vanessa and Katie are kind of the same way and so we kind of
click on that level and we can talk about stupid stuff or
whatever and not have to worry about being like, ďOh man,
you hit that beat really well the other day and that is like
really deep.Ē So yes, itís great.
Moderator If you were ever to take one of those star leads,
as they do nowadays in a show on Broadway, is there a
certain show that youíd actually be interested in doing some
L. Grabeel Oh man, Iíve actually come very close multiple
times. Itís always some sort of scheduling debacle. I was
going to do Godspell, I was actually going to replace Corbin
Bleu in Godspell this summer, but unfortunately the show
closed before that could happen. And I was also going to do
Rent a few years ago before it closed, but High School
Musical 3 conflicted with it. I really love theater and I
love doing it. The whole live audience thing, itís what I
grew up doing and the first time I was on stage was when I
decided that thatís what I wanted to do for the rest of my
life. Itís definitely something that I have to do and will
do, itís just about finding that right show at the right
time. I feel like, especially with the show, with Switched
at Birth, itís so hard to find a show across the country, in
New York, that I could do for any extended period of time. A
lot of shows donít want you to just do a month, especially
with all the rehearsal and everything just to come in and do
a few shows and leave, so it probably wonít be any time in
the near future, but I definitely will do something.
As far as what it is, I donít know. When I was in high
school I was really into keeping up with all of the current
shows and things and Iím kind of out of it now. Whenever I
go to New York I try to see as many shows as I can, but
usually itís just like I get there and then I just buy
tickets and go see whateverís there.
Moderator How are you alike and how are you different from
L. Grabeel I actually try to be a version of my 17-year-old
self, and Iíve grown up a lot since then and Iím much more
mature in real life and deal with things pretty differently,
so I guess thatís how Iím different. But I am pretty similar
in the sense that, well, except for the fact, I didnít have
a baseball player as a father and was actually much more on
the poor side of an upbringing than rich at all, so we lived
out in the sticks, in the middle of nowhere. But actually in
Missouri, Iím from Missouri, which is kind of strange that
the show takes place in Missouri as well. But, yes, with not
a whole lot and when I was 17 I was definitely into music, I
liked writing songs, I had a couple of garage bands and all
of that, so very similar in those ways. But whatís the
biggest challenge is trying to be 17 again.
Moderator Do you have a behind the scenes moment or memory
or something that you can share with our readers that you
think they might be interested in?
L. Grabeel Well, goofing off, having a good time. We work
hard but we play hard. Lea is hilarious when she gets tired,
do you know what I mean, that moment when you get really
tired, itís at the end of the day, and you just start
getting zany and kooky, and once that starts happening we
all take a step back, because Lea, any performer will always
act out when they get to that point, but sheís absolutely
hilarious. One day she was singing Britney Spears at the top
of her lungs , and then she grabbed me and asked me to teach
her the ďWeíre All in This TogetherĒ dance from High School
Musical, so just silly things like that that pass the time.
Weíre all goofy. Iím always making a fool of myself too.
Thatís our job is to be jesters and make fools of ourselves.
Moderator It sounds like you guys have a lot of fun
L. Grabeel Yes, definitely.
Moderator What list do you think Santa has you on this year,
naughty or nice?
L. Grabeel Oh definitely the nice list. Iím a good boy.
Moderator Can you tell our readers any holiday plans that
you may have?
L. Grabeel My girlfriendís Jewish, so Iím not doing so much
for Christmas this year. Well, not really any year. Weíve
been together for six years, so itís been a lot of
Hanukkahs. We call it Christmakkah, so we just do a mixture
of both. But neither of us are very religious, so the
holiday isnít as important as at some point in December
getting together with friends and family, and friends that
are family, and just showing appreciation and sharing love
and peace and all of those things. Thatís what I think the
holidays should really be about. Actually this year weíre
going to be flying out on Christmas Day and weíre going to
go to Australia.
Moderator You and Toby are both into music, so how do you
think that your musical styles differ?
L. Grabeel Iím kind of all over the place. I started off
when I was a kid writing singer-songwriter, acoustic, folky
kind of stuff, but then as I got older and explored with
different instruments and things I got into a little bit
more of the dance music, electronic music and things. And
since then I float around. The last song I wrote was a
straight up country song, but Iíve written a lot of hard
rock, rock and roll, rock pop, and jazzy stuff and hip-hop
kind of stuff, Iíve done raps, but I just like to
experiment. Whereas, Toby, Iíve only written one song for
Toby, so that was pretty much straight up rock pop, but the
writers of the show usually come up with poppy tunes.
Moderator Do you have any other projects right now going on
that you can tell our readers about? I know the show keeps
you very busy.
L. Grabeel Yes, definitely. During the break, before we
started shooting the second season, I shot a music video of
a new single that Iím going to release in a couple of
months, itís called the ď1, 3, 5, and 8,Ē and itís a pretty
full-on dance track. And the video, Iím super excited about.
I brought on the choreographers from High School Musical,
Bonnie Story and Chucky Klapow, because we had such a great
time working on the three movies together, but we were
always under the Disney umbrella and so weíve always wanted
to get together and creatively work on our own and do what
we really want to do, and so this video really gave us a
chance to do that. And I brought on some of the dancers from
High School Musical and a lot of the crew members and old
friends that Iíve just known forever, and weíve made a lot
of videos together but this was by far the biggest
production and we shot in a huge soundstage and it was just
a wonderful day. We shot it all in one day and had an
amazing time doing it.
Iíve been editing it for the last couple of months, and
weíre just about done. Itís looking fantastic. Iíve got a
couple of featurettes and trailers and things that Iím going
to release beforehand and Iím going to have the song remixed
and release a couple of versions of the song on iTunes
before the video is released, and then eventually the video.
So that should be happening hopefully at the end of February
or March, once we get everything done. With working on the
show itís a lot harder to get everything together and spend
as much time on it as I want to. But Iím super excited about
Moderator You shot one full season and you guys are in the
second season, do you have a favorite episode so far?
L. Grabeel Itís weird, because I will watch the episodes
once they air, but when I watch it itís different than the
normal audience member watching it because in scenes that I
wasnít there for, I pay attention to things, but any scene
that Iím in or that I was shooting, I have an instant memory
of being on set, and so its more perception than just kind
of witnessing it as an audience member. So there are moments
that I remember that I really liked, but most of them are
set based. Thereís one episode where our band was shooting a
music video, and we all got in a big fight and the director
had just said, okay, Vanessa and Lucas, youíre going to be
in the background and weíre just going to shoot that right
now, and you guys just fight for, I donít know, two minutes.
And so we just improvíd this fight and it was absolutely
hilarious and we had such a great time doing it, so moments
like that I remember. When you watch the episode, weíre
blurry in the background and you donít hear ... hardly
anything, but I pick up on that and I remember that, and
thatís one of my favorite moments.
Moderator What is something that you would hope that the
fans would learn by watching Switched at Birth?
L. Grabeel I feel really honored to be a part of Switched at
Birth because of all of the things that I feel like it is
standing for and educating the youth of America today. Being
on ABC Family or any kind of teen directed network you worry
about becoming a teen soap opera and just talking about boys
and sex and the fake things in teenage drama, whatever, itís
all like kind of made up, but the great thing about Switched
at Birth is not only are we educating people about the deaf
culture, not only what it feels like maybe to be deaf or to
perceive yourself as a deaf person occasionally when you are
put in Daphneís point of view and having the sound cut out
and just kind of seeing the world from her eyes, and I think
thatís one of the beautiful things about the show, as well
as how difficult it may be to be a hearing person to
understand what itís like to go through life as that knowing
someone so close as Daphne and Regina, and then getting to
fight for her against the ignorant people who come in
contact with her and not knowing how to react to her and how
to treat her and being disrespectful and all those things.
And so the whole deaf culture part of it is really great.
Itís such a beautiful language and itís a beautiful culture
that they have and they are very strong and very proud, and
thatís something that I didnít know as a person before being
a part of this show. So I think thatís really fantastic.
Moderator Are you an avid gamer, and if so were there any
particular games that you love to play, or would like to see
under your tree this holiday season?
L. Grabeel I work a lot, so I canít devote enough time to
call myself a full-on gamer, but I do enjoy video games. My
dad bought me a regular Nintendo, the 8-disk Nintendo when I
was 6-years-old, and that was the coolest gift I had ever
received. I played all of the Mario Brothers and Street
Fighter and Royal Combat and all those games growing up, and
I go through phases, so I donít play all the time, but when
a game catches my eye, I really like adventure games like
where you have a character and you go through the world, not
so much like a first person shooter like Halo or something
Moderator Something like Mario Brothers, or Super Mario,
something like that?
L. Grabeel Yes, definitely. I like those.
Moderator Have you ever thought about maybe exploring more
of your geek side, do you like comic books, the Marvel
Comicsí characters or Star Wars, because we know thatís all
part of the Disney ABC Family now, so are you big into the
geeky world, as it were?
L. Grabeel Yes, Iím a bit of a nerd. I like graphic novels.
Again, itís kind of like my love for video games, it comes
and goes, because I like reading novels and other books in
general as well, so Iíll kind of switch back and forth and
read a couple of graphic novels and then read some novels
and go back and forth. Iím kind of in the middle, though, I
like DC and I like Marvel. I really like Superman and
Batman. Theyíre classic characters that Iíve always loved
since I was a kid, so I canít turn my back on that. But
X-Men and SpiderMan and all of those great Marvel characters
are favorites of mine as well, so I flip-flop, and I donít
Moderator Very good.
L. Grabeel Iím not so much of a comic book nerd that I have
to pledge allegiance. I can just say, yes, well Ė Iím right
down the middle. I like them both.
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