“Do I’ve to bounce?”: Mike Faist on shifting from stage to display for ‘West Facet Story’ | Options

West Side Story

Mike Faist is talking to Display screen Worldwide from exterior Columbus, Ohio — the place he’s visiting members of the family — when he breaks off to discover a reward he obtained. He excitedly thrusts a part of a tea set in entrance of the digicam, despatched by producer Kristie Macosko Krieger and Steven Spielberg to mark the Bafta nomination for his supporting function as Riff in West Facet Story

“That was very, very candy,” he says of what can solely be this younger actor’s newest pinch-me second involving one in every of cinema’s most legendary filmmakers. 

The way in which Faist tells it, their collaboration was fated. “The films that I grew up with have been the outdated MGM movies with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and West Facet Story, and Steven Spielberg motion pictures just like the Indiana Joneses. It truly is loopy. I bear in mind sitting down with Steven, very early on in rehearsals, and telling him, ‘I used to be born to do that.’ This was meant to be.” 

He was simply three years outdated when he first watched Singin’ In The Rain (“Seeing Gene Kelly dancing within the rain with an umbrella was large”) and a few years older when he insisted to his dad and mom that he be a part of a dance class. Youngsters’s and high-school theatre adopted, accompanied by journeys to New York to see Broadway reveals. At 17, he enrolled in a New York conservatory. “Shifting by your self to New York Metropolis, from smalltown Ohio at 17, was terrifying,” he remembers. “However that’s the city to be in if you wish to be in theatre.”

He was equally pragmatic in regards to the subsequent few years, which noticed him combining the stage with odd jobs, which satirically included promoting theatre tickets round Occasions Sq.. He labored as a courier in between the off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the musical Expensive Evan Hansen, by which he performed the suicidal Connor Murphy.   

West Side Story

Faist was Tony-nominated for his function in Expensive Evan Hansen in 2017. By this time, he was including TV and unbiased movie to his credit, although it was his stage work that introduced him to the eye of West Facet Story’s casting director Cindy Tolan. Faist was nonetheless taking part in Connor when requested to ship in a tape for the lead function of Tony. “So I had lengthy hair and black fingernails,” he laughs. “They thought, ‘Possibly that’s not a good suggestion.’” 

Months later he was invited to supply one other tape, this time for Riff. However Faist was reluctant when he was requested to go in and dance with everybody vying for the Jets roles. 

“I requested my brokers, ‘Do I’ve to bounce? Can I simply do the scene work?’ To which I used to be instructed, ‘That is West Facet Story.’ I’m not an ensemble dancer,” he explains. “I’m not adequate. I had no enterprise being in that room, fairly frankly. These have been among the finest dancers on the planet. So, for me, it was a case of Riff or bust.” 

Fortunately, the director didn’t share his doubts. “Mike Faist is one-of-a-kind,” Spielberg has stated. “He can do completely something.”

Household bond

Faist’s highlights from the West Facet Story expertise embrace the theatre animal’s pleasure at working with the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning Tony Kushner, and the bonding expertise together with his fellow Jets. 

West Side Story

“The individuals who I spent essentially the most time with, creating relationships and characters, have been these 15 boys. We spent your complete summer time collectively. We have been a household. We have been a tribe. And we had lots of enjoyable.” In reality, they grew to become so shut that one in every of their quantity, Harrison Coll, whose father had not too long ago handed away, included his co-stars in a really touching ceremony. “Harrison requested the Jets to launch his dad’s ashes into the East River with him. He stated a number of phrases, and all of us sang the ‘Jet Tune’. I’ll always remember that.” 

The 30-year-old not too long ago shot low-budget movie Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Recreation, and has been slated to star in Luca Guadagnino’s tennis drama Challengers, alongside Zendaya and Josh O’Connor. 

Having left New York on the outset of the pandemic and spent a lot of the previous two years travelling across the US in his automobile, together with his canine, Faist appears comfortable to stay in that mode for some time longer. 

“I positively wish to come again to theatre. I lived in New York for 13 years. It handled me so properly, it formed who I’m. However proper now, I’m kinda digging the open street.” He smiles. “The films, they shoot in all places.”

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