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Josh Gad

Josh Gad is a film, television, and stage actor who gained critical acclaim for his role in the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.  Along with multiple impressive cameos in various television shows such as The Daily Show, Modern Family, and ER, he has also taken part in films like The Rocker, 21, Love & Other Drugs, with a starring role in the upcoming animated musical, Frozen. Born to a Jewish family in Hollywood, FL, Gad has managed a notable resume including winning the National Forensics League National Tournament Championships for Original Oratory in 1998 and for Humorous Interpretation and Original Oratory in 1999, and graduating from Carnegie Mellon College of the Fine Arts with a bachelor's in Drama. (2022 note: this interview was conducted in 2013, before Frozen or other films Gad has been in were released.)

Spectator Magazine: So first off, where were you born and what was your childhood like?

Josh Gad: I was born in south Florida, Hollywood Florida, and my childhood was pretty uneventful.  I was a kind of strange kid though, like my mom once got called into school when I was five years old because the teachers were complaining because I would walk over to them, wink at them, and say “Hiya toots!”

(Both laughing)


JG: So there was definitely something off about me from an early age.

SM: What influence did your parents have on your career and your career choice?

JG: Well, I come from a divorced household, so that was kind of tough; but my mom, early on, recognized how much I love performing, and so she put me in a children's theater program when I was pretty young — I was about 7 or 8 — to kind of hone my skills and to be in a community that encouraged those kinds of talents, and it really just all took off from there.  I found my passion and it was really because of my mom’s encouragement.

SM: Would you consider yourself more of a class clown growing up or kind of a more shy kind of kid?

JG: No, no, no, I was definitely a class clown.  I would absolutely, absolutely cross the line with making jokes in class, and being kind of a buffoon; my teachers were not very thrilled with me.

SM: On that note, how would you describe your high school experience?

JG: My high school experience was unbelievable. I really, really, really was very fortunate to have an incredible group of friends; and you know, I was class president, and I had the amazing opportunity to compete in speech and debate, which wound up being a huge part of my high school career and so it was a really fun time, and I mean, I really enjoyed it and I have amazing memories.

SM: Tell me one movie that you think defines your childhood other than Breakin’ Two: Electric Boogaloo.

JG: (Laughing) Well that’s very difficult because that was going to be my answer. But other than that I would say The Goonies.

SM: Alright, could you describe your prom night in three words?

JG: Um, my prom night in three words, um, wow, let’s see.... Discovering new things.

(Both laughing)

SM: Fantastic.  So I know you went to Carnegie Mellon, what would you say that experience was like for you?

JG: Carnegie Mellon was just an unbelievable program; it gave me the ability to hone my skills, and to go from kind of being like somebody who thought he could act to actually having the resources and the skillset to do it professionally. It was tough because it is a conservatory program so it’s hardcore, but it was great, I had a terrific time and I made lifelong friends and I really feel that it helped me to become the actor that I am now.

SM: What were the other theater students like?  Was it more of a competitive or supportive atmosphere?

JG:  You know, I think that it is definitely a family. I don't necessarily think that we were competitive per-say because, you know, there are only like 20 people in the entire class so you really become a family. You know, you share your deepest darkest secrets and you’re all just trying to survive the craziness that is drama school.

SM:  When and how did you meet your wife?

JG: My wife and I meet in 2004. I was in LA and a friend of mine who I went to college with called me up and said, “Look, I’m doing this reading of this new play that you’d be amazing in, it’s with this theater group that’s really great.  Would you be interested in this?” and I said, “Yeah, I am only here for a couple of days, but I’ll do the reading.” I did the reading and she was there and I definitely took notice of her. I was supposed to go back to New York and my friend was like “They loved you!  They would like to know if you would like to stay and do the show for the next two months.” I really didn’t have anything else going on and I wound up staying. My wife and I played husband and wife in the show. Soon enough that became a reality.

SM: We of course perused your Wikipedia page and we found that between 2003 and 2008 there wasn’t that strong of a media presence. Was there anytime between there where you really hit a bleak moment or found yourself in very adverse straits?

"And about a few weeks later I auditioned for this Broadway show called Spelling Bee and I wound up getting it, and it wound up being my big break."


JG: I graduated from school in 2003; and for the first three years I really struggled professionally. And I was ready to give it all up, go to law school. I called my mom and I said that very thing; I told her I was ready to call it quits and she started crying.  She said, “you worked too hard for too long  to do this, and if you really are passionate about it you can’t just throw the towel in; you owe yourself  at least a little bit longer.” And about a few weeks later I auditioned for this Broadway show called Spelling Bee and I wound up getting it, and it wound up being my big break.

SM: So it can be inferred that your mother has always been a very strong influence on your career?

JG: The strongest, I would say. She has been a source of great strength and support for me.

SM: I know you have been a Daily Show correspondent a few times, how did you get that? How does one wind up hanging out with Mr. Stewart?

JG: My dream growing up was always to be on SNL, but their dream was not to have me on SNL.  So I got this phone call from my agent one day saying that “The Daily Show is looking for a new correspondent, is that something you would be interested in?”  I love the Daily Show, I think it’s brilliant,  so I said “Well yeah” but I was working in LA and I wasn’t interested in moving to New York full time and you know, making it a full time gig, but I was open to the idea of being a guest correspondent. So I auditioned and low and behold they decided that I was the right fit, and still, when I can, I do guest correspondence there.

SM: I know you’ve worked with a lot of different sort of niches of people, you worked with Modern Family for a while, you worked with OK Go for a little bit.  What’s that like?  With which people have you honestly felt the most comfortable, out of everyone?

"I would say that my favorite experience in those kinds of guest star roles was definitely Modern Family, because those guys and I go way back."


JG: Well, you know, I think that I love the idea of coming in briefly to an environment like Modern Family, like I did a guest spot on Party Down and Numb3rs and Bored to Death and couple of others.  I like just coming in and doing my thing, because you get a great perspective on how different shows work and different tones and you know, you get to leave your mark and move on.  I would say that my favorite experience in those kinds of guest star roles was definitely Modern Family, because those guys and I go way back.  They gave me my first TV break on a TV show called Back To You, which was with Kelsey Grammar, Patricia Heaton, and Ty Burrell, who is also on Modern Family, and then Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who’s in the show, he and I were in Spelling Bee together.  It was really like this family reunion.  

SM: Do you find a lot of people you’ve made connections with a while ago, that you almost wouldn’t think of again who are now resurfacing; do you find yourselves in the same circles now that you’re all professional actors and comedians?

JG: Well, I mean, I think that to a certain extent that’s certainly true of the profession.  You work with somebody, you move on, and then years later you find that you’re in the same circles with them again.  I’ve definitely kept in touch with certain people and lost touch with others.  But it’s interesting to reconnect with people over the years.

SM: Shifting to Book of Mormon, you said this was not your first Broadway show?

JG: No.

SM: Then your first was Spelling Bee, right?

JG: Yeah.

SM: You went to Carnegie Mellon for theatre, rather than musical theater?

JG: Yeah, they wouldn’t let me in for musical theatre.

SM: What did you think of before singing your first song on Broadway — you know, the legendary Broadway stage, home to the most fantastic singers ever seen or heard by the human ear — after never having studied singing professionally, as a career choice?

JG: Well, I always knew that I could sing.  I just needed the training.  I knew I had a voice; I just didn’t necessarily know how to use it.  It was almost like an “I told you so” kind of feeling.  You know, here I am, two Broadway shows later, and I’m like “Really? You guys couldn’t listen to me when I said I really could use this training?”   So, I mean, it’s all good.  I wound up getting the training that I needed, and you know, had I been a full musical theatre major, my career would probably be a lot different. I’m very grateful about how it all worked out.

SM: Now that you perform at the Eugene O’Neill Theater almost daily, sometimes twice a day, for Book of Mormon, what would you say is the hardest thing to balance between home life and work life in your field?

"The amount of energy you’re expending on the stage is just like going out there, dropping a nuclear bomb, and then going to play golf afterwards"


JG: Well, I think that there’s definitely, you know, a commitment to both being the best father and husband and also to being the best performer you can be. And I think that that balance is always tricky, because doing a show 8 times a week is an exhausting undertaking, even if it is just two and a half hour performances, the amount of energy you’re expending on the stage is just like going out there, dropping a nuclear bomb, and then going to play golf afterward.  You know, it’s pretty intense.  So that is something that’s always tricky to balance. And it’s you know, it’s ever evolving in trying to figure out the right kind of time commitments.

SM: As we reach the end of our interview, is there anything you wish I had asked you?  Is there anything you’d like to have known?

JG: You know…I wish you had asked me to prom with you.

SM: Oh, that’s awkward.  I was going to take my cousin.

—Josh Gad for Spectator Magazine, 2013

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