Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

Jake Epstein Gets Ready to Rock in 'American Idiot'

The Canadian star talks to Shalom Life about his upcoming role in the Green Day musical

By: Ilan Mester

Published: November 7th, 2011 in Culture » Stage » Interviews

Jake Epstein Gets Ready to Rock in 'American Idiot'
Jake Epstein has already made a name for himself on television, with lead roles in The Zack Files and Degrassi: The Next Generation. It’s safe to say that the 24-year-old actor is making a name for himself on stage as well. He graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada back in 2008 and has since appeared in a number of theatre productions. Epstein starred as Melchior (a role originated by Glee’s Jonathan Groff) on last year’s national tour of Spring Awakening. He also appeared in the Toronto production of the Tony Award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical this past summer.

The Canadian actor will be playing one of the leads in the upcoming national tour of American Idiot -- the Green Day musical that picked up two Tony Awards last year. Shalom Life chats with Epstein about theatre and his new role in the rock-infused play, which will be kicking off its tour in Toronto on Dec. 28.

What drew you to American Idiot?

When I was 13 years old I went to see Green Day at the Hershey Centre in Missisauga, Ontario with my best friend at the time, Daniel Abrams. We were graduating Junior High school and felt like kings. This was the first live concert I’d ever seen in my life. It was a magical night. Green Day opened my eyes to a world of rock 'n' roll, screaming electric guitars, and the energy of a live show. Since that night I’ve wanted to be the band on that stage that I saw. That’s what drew me to American Idiot.

How would you describe your character?

I’m playing Will, a dude from the suburbs who is looking to make something of himself, along with his two best friends, Johnny and Tunny. The three have a plan to go to the city, but right before they’re set to go Will’s girlfriend tells him she is pregnant and so he stays behind to be a father. Will spends the musical dealing with his girlfriend, their baby, and the demons that go along with being “left behind."

What’s your favourite Green Day song?

Right now it’s “2000 Light Years Away.”

How does it feel to be kicking off the national tour in your home city?

Equally nerve-racking and exciting. Happy my friends can come and see it.

Have you gotten to meet Billie Joe Armstrong or any of the other Green Day band members?

Not yet.

You spent many years on Degrassi: The Next Generation. What do you miss about being on the show?

I guess I miss the feeling of playing a really great character, and not knowing what’s going to happen to him. Being on a TV show is a really creative thing.

The last time you appeared on Degrassi was in the TV movie Degrassi Goes Hollywood. Would you like to revisit your character again?

It really feels like a closed chapter of my life. I did it until the end and loved it. And I’ve moved on.

If you could play any character on stage, who would you pick?

The older I’ve gotten the more daunted I am by how many incredible roles there are out there that I’d kill to play. I’m sure in a month this will all change. But right now I’d pick Jamie Jr. in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, or Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof... there’s so many.

For more information about American Idiot, visit www.americanidiotthemusical.com.

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