When NBC announced that Stephen Moyer was joining its three-hour holiday event The Sound of Music Live! (Dec. 5, 8/7c) as Capt. Georg Von Trapp you could almost hear the collective, “Huh?” But long before he was sinking his teeth into on and off screen love Anna Paquin on True Blood, the UK-born actor was a song-and-dance man, er, kid.
“I started out as a chorister in the village that I grew up,” explains Moyer, who performed in some three dozen musicals before enrolling in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Upon graduation, he starred in a touring production of Romeo and Juliet and had a role in the theatrical version of Pete Townshend’s The Iron Man, before segueing into TV and film full-time. Now, some two decades later, Moyer is rekindling his love affair with the stage in a big way.
Below, he opens up about his challenging re-entry into the medium via last summer’s limited engagement of Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl, why the prospect of performing live in front of millions of TV viewers scares the you-know-what out of him, and what he really thinks of his Music co-star Carrie Underwood’s signature mane.
TVLINE | Why get back into musical theater now?
Back in ’95 I was doing a Romeo and Juliet world tour and I had a moment of panic. I had been doing theater back-to-back-to-back for years and I [needed] a break for a bit. And, sure enough, a TV job came along pretty soon after. And then another one. And then a film. And before I knew it, two years had become five had become 10 and then 18. And a couple years ago I got to a point where I was going “I’ve really got to get back on stage.” And then Chicago came along at a time when I really wanted to do something.
TVLINE | How was that experience?
If you’d asked me what I wanted to do, it would not have been 10 days of rehearsal in front of 18,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl. It was f—ing terrifying; I didn’t love it. Ten days is such a short rehearsal time.
TVLINE | With Sound of Music, you have seven weeks of rehearsal time, but it’s all for one performance in front of millions of people, potentially. That sounds scarier.
It is crazy. It’s [essentially] the first preview, the press night, and the closing night all in one. And it is scary.
TVLINE | It’s a brave way to transition back to the stage.
I would have preferred to have [followed True Blood co-star Joe Manganiello's lead] and done a small theater in a town where it’s going to be seen but you’re in a gentle environment, rather than in front of f—ing God knows how many people.
TVLINE | So why do it?
It was time to test myself. I’ve been scared of going back on stage — and it’s completely rational fear. But it’s something that I love. This is all I ever wanted to do. When I started out in little Brentwood in Essex all I wanted to do was be on stage. That was my great love and my great passion. I want to get that love back.
TVLINE | Do you have a connection to this source material?
I auditioned for a revival in London when I was about 14. It’s the only thing I ever auditioned for professionally and I don’t think I even made it past the first stage. And, you know, everybody watches during some of the holidays. I’ve always loved it.
TVLINE | Will there be a live audience?
No. Everybody keeps going, “Can I come and see it?” I’m like, “There’s nothing to see!” [Laughs] It’s in a studio. The sets are amazing. Absolutely beautiful sets.
TVLINE | How has it been working with Carrie?
She’s lovely. She’s got fabulous hair — [which is] very important. [Laughs] She’s very keen and excited and willing to learn and she sings the s–t out of the songs. She’s been very open about what she’s good at and what she’s new to. So she’s very vocal about asking for help.