Ryan McCartan should be giddy over his performance in the Fox remake of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” that airs Thursday, making sure that Laverne Cox doesn’t completely run away with the prime-time production.
The 23-year-old actor, who picked up just about every plaudit a teenager could receive during his teenage years in Minnesota, proves he’s a triple threat, dancing, singing and mugging for the camera as the not-so-innocent Brad, who slowly finds delight in taking a walk on the wild side. It doesn’t hurt that his chiseled good looks make him a surefire candidate to play Superman the next time Hollywood decides to reboot the franchise.
Instead, the young star is making headlines this month for his breakup with Dove Cameron, his former co-star on Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie,” begging Twitter fans to “please be sensitive as this is painful.” McCartan was firm about not addressing the three-year relationship with his former fiancée during a phone conversation last week — “you called about ‘Rocky Horror’ and that’s all I want to talk about” — but he did speak about the role Minneapolis played in helping him prepare for the part.
Q: What was your first exposure to “Rocky Horror”?
A: It was the musical, not the movie. I saw it at the Ordway with my mom and dad when I was 12. My sister was in it. After bridging the awful gap of watching your sister play a slutty character on a family outing, I buckled down and really enjoyed the performances. I fell in love with Brad, which is kind of crazy for a 12-year-old, but I just knew I wanted to play the part. I just never thought it would be in this capacity.
Q: What drew you to him?
A: On an overly simplified level, I could relate to Brad’s innocence, this kind of blind assumption that he knows everything but doesn’t really know anything at all. It’s so delicious that he’s nerdy and hasn’t come into his own yet.
Q: Brad gets pretty kinky by the end of the movie. How did you brace yourself for the transformation — and the fact that so many people are going to be watching it?
A: At the very first rehearsal, the director [Kenny Ortega] put all of us in the middle of a room to do — I’m not sure how to describe it — exercises in sexual awakening. He had us walk around and get uncomfortably close to each other, making contact with the first person we saw, holding them, flirting with them, lying down on the floor with them. The strategy was that we weren’t going to talk about it, but just dive into it and accept that this is the kind of movie we were doing. After that, nothing was uncomfortable.
Q: What kind of contributions did you make to the role?
A: Kenny was very collaborative with both me and Victoria [Justice, his co-star]. In the movie, Brad and Janet escape the castle by the skin of their teeth. But in our version, we ask: “What if they don’t really want to leave? Maybe they take a second look at their engagement rings.” That’s very different from the original.
Q: Are there any performers that you’re modeling your career on?
A: I don’t like to model myself after anyone. I don’t think I know better than what the cosmos has in store for me. But I like good actors. I’m just watching “The Newsroom” and Jeff Daniels is terrific. Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston are high on my list.
Q: Which of the plays you did in the Twin Cities helped you for this role?
A: In one regard, none of them did. In another, all of them did. “Christmas Carol” and ”Lost in Yonkers” aren’t similar to this at all, but everything I’ve done comes from what I learned there. The Children’s Theatre, the Guthrie, Chanhassen were all my foundation. I only went to college for a few months. My education was Twin Cities theater.