Jonathan Groff, the fresh-faced 29-year-old actor from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, first made his mark as Melchior in Duncan Sheik’s sexually frank rock musical Spring Awakening—a role that nabbed him a Tony nomination for featured actor and sealed his BFF status with co-star Lea Michele. He’s since won an Obie for his off-Broadway work, appeared regularly as singing powerhouse frenemie Jesse St. James on television’s Glee (also with Michele), portrayed a version of David Sedaris in the film C.O.G., dated actor Zachary Quinto (Mr. Spock in JJ Abrams reboot of the beloved Star Trek series), voiced reindeer-loving Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen, and most recently stars as Patrick Murray, a gay video game designer who’s looking for love and sex in San Francisco in HBO’s Looking. The second season starts filming later this summer, and we caught up with Groff over the phone while he was headed to Washington, D.C. from NYC on Amtrak.
What neighborhood do you currently call home?
Chelsea, in New York.
Would you ever move to San Francisco?
Absolutely. I feel like when I was living in San Francisco, my life was in Technicolor, and ever since we left it went back to black and white.
What’s your hands-down absolute favorite thing to eat in San Francisco?
The meatballs at Bi-Rite.
You’ve eaten a lot of those?
What’s your perfect night on the town in San Francisco?
A really nice dinner, maybe at Kitchen Story. Followed by walking around through the city a little bit, maybe a nice little bike ride, and then some karaoke at the Mint.
If you had a low-key afternoon, where do you go for downtime here?
Definitely Dolores Park.
Right now that’s called “Half-Dolo” because they’ve torn up the south half of the park.
I know! I saw that when I was there for the opera benefit [POPera!]. I was in shock.
Did you have a chance to do any trips in the city?
Yeah, I went to Alcatraz, with Russell [Tovey], who plays my boss on the show. We spent a day and did that, and I went to the farmer’s market one morning with Raúl [Castillo], and Murray [Bartlett], who plays Dom, and I rode our bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. Spent the day sort of hanging out over there, which was really run.
Now this is a quick fire round. So it’s about specific choices in San Francisco. Burger or burrito?
Presidio or Golden Gate Park?
Easy. Golden Gate Park.
Because that’s where I would go running. I lived really close by there, so that’s like where I would run.
Bi-Rite, or Mitchells?
What flavor, for Bi-Rite, for ice cream?
Whatever that special is, salted caramel.
Muni or Bike?
Fort Mason or Dolores Park?
The Independent or the Fillmore?
Ooh. I never went to either.
Okay, that’s fine. You’ll get a chance to. They’re both good. Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?
I never went to either of those either! God, I’m horrible.
Okay, now you’ve got more things to do on your list.
This is great.
Three words that described your life in San Francisco?
Three words … God, that’s so … laughter, love, looking.
Nice way to get a plug in there too.