Five Burning Questions with Act One Star Santino Fontana

Last updated May 28th, 2014 by Josh Ferri
Five Burning Questions with Act One Star Santino Fontana

Santino Fontana has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of New York's most sought-after actors. The Tony nominated star began with featured roles in Billy Elliot and Sunday in the Park; then, in 2011, everything fell into place, and now it’s like a home run derby, knocking brilliant starring performances out of the park, one after the other: The Importance of Being Earnest, Sons of the Prophet, Cinderella and now, the most-Tony nominated new play of the season, Act One. (Oh, and did we mention he's a Disney prince thanks to a little flick called Frozen?) Below, Fontana, who plays Broadway legend Moss Hart in the autobiographical piece, shares with BroadwayBox the last show that brought him to tears, how he handles being star-struck and the most embarrassing thing on his DVR.

1. Who was the Aunt Kate in your life? Was there someone who introduced you to this world?
My grandfather, my mother’s father. He babysat me a lot when I was a kid. We were in California, so we didn’t have that access to theatre, but instead we would go to Blockbuster and pick up movies, and typically they were all older movies that were very theatrical. That was my first entry into storytelling, drama, comedies and musicals. And he’s seen almost everything I’ve done, he was at the opening of Billy Elliot.

2. Act One has made everyone I know cry at some point; what was the last play you saw that made you cry?
Oh boy, well strangely, when I went back and saw Cinderella [laughs], I did. I went back and saw Jess [Hershberg, Fontana’s girlfriend who alternates the role of Ella]. I think it was partially nostalgic for my own sake, and I had never gotten to see it, so I never knew what it looked like it or sounded like from out in the house. There was a lot of stuff I was really moved by, especially “There’s Music in You” with Vicki [Clark] and Jess. I know it’s weird.

3. You played Hamlet at the Guthrie at a ridiculously young age (23), but yet you’ve never done Shakespeare here. What role would you want to do for New York audiences?
I definitely want to do Hamlet again, definitely. But also Henry IV, Richard II; I have an idea for Richard III I want to play with. There’s a lot. I love Love’s Labour’s Lost, I want to do Berowne. I want to do A Winter’s Tale, As You Like It, Two Gentleman of Verona—I could go on forever. That's what I primarily trained on in school. It’s something I looked at doing here but the hard thing is timing.

4. What’s the most embarrassing thing on your DVR right now?
The Road Rules/Real World MTV challenges would probably be the worst. I love them though; I’m a big fan. I don’t know if I should feel bad about it. I’m obsessed.

5. When was the last time you were star-struck? And how do you play it off?
I get really shy. I just want to observe them and stay away. I don’t want to meet them—that's how I get. I was at a party a couple years ago and my agent at the time also represented Philip Seymour Hoffman and she offered to introduce me, and I said no, because I was so embarrassed and shy, and now I regret that.

See Santino Fontana in 'Act One' at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre through June 15.