Interview with Lucas Grabeel of "Switched at Birth" on ABC Family - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

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 Nikki situation?

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 character.

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 strategies.

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 characters?

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.

Moderator Right.

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 strange.

Moderator How do you think Toby has matured since the switch?

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 day?

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 your character?

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 together.

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 it.

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 like that.

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 care.

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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