Being a Grammy Award-winning stage, film and television actor wasn't enough for Andrew Rannells. The star of Showtime's "Black Monday" is now a published author. "Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood" (Crown Archetype, $26) is a coming-of-age tale of a young man from the Midwest who survived bad auditions and relationships while chasing his dream of becoming an actor in New York.
"It's a series of essays about the first few years I lived in New York before I started working on Broadway," Rannells says after an interview with the cast of "Black Monday." "My friend Bill Clegg, who is a writer and a literary agent, had written a book and we started writing back and forth. He said even in my emails there is something that says I should be writing a book."
The process started with Rannells sending a few essays to Clegg that eventually turned into a 100-page book proposal. Rannells was able to complete the book while continuing to work on series like "Black Monday" and "Big Mouth."
"Black Monday," airing at 10 p.m. Sundays, is set in October 1987's massive Wall Street stock market crash. The series, which also starts Don Cheadle and Regina Hall, is from executive producers Jordan Cahan ("Breaking In") and David Caspe ("Happy Endings"). They offer a look at a group of outsiders taking on Wall Street and ending up crashing the world's largest financial system.
Rannells plays Blair Pfaff, a novice trading prodigy who must work at what he calls "Mo's little chop shop."
Getting in the mindset to work on a show set more than 30 years ago was easy for Rannells.
"I grew up watching so many '80s movies and TV shows. I was born in 1978, so at the time all of this was happening, I was at least coherent enough to remember the period. I did go back and watched a lot of those shows and movies again," Rannells says. "I just told the producers that I wanted to look like Michael J. Fox and James Spader.
"That time period is so much about labels – the Rolex, the cars and the kind of suit you are wearing. All of that on Wall Street was a way to show your success. As Blair begins to see himself as getting more successful, he has to do those things. Blair goes through the most changes in the course of the first season."
It wasn't difficult for him to take the reminders and mix it with the humanity of the character to come up with the best way to bring Pfaff to life. He certainly could relate to the character: Rannells also moved to New York and felt like an outsider, as he explains in his book.
As if his own experiences weren't enough, Rannells found the role in "Black Monday" isn't all that different from the character of Elder Price that he originated for the Broadway production of "The Book of Mormon." It's a good role to use as Rannells received both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations and won a Grammy for his work in the stage production.
"Elder Price was this very idealistic young missionary who had a lot of knowledge but not a lot of practical experience," Rannells says. "That's exactly who Blair is. He has this algorithm, done all the homework but never put it into practice. He idealistically thinks he can come and take Wall Street by storm and then Don's (Cheadle) character teaches him quickly that is not the way things work."
Before landing the Showtime series, Rannells worked on the stage with roles in "Hairspray," "Hamilton," "The Boys in the Band" and "Jersey Boys." He's best known on TV for his work on "Girls" but also appeared on "How I Met Your Mother," "The New Normal" and "Will & Grace."
The early part of his career was filled with numerous jobs as a voice actor in projects such as "Sonic X," "Archie's Weird Mysteries," "Yu-Gi-Oh!" and "The Simpsons." Rannells started doing voiceover work when he was 15 and living in Nebraska.
"This animated company came to Omaha to cast these non-union jobs and I got one. When I got to New York, I continued doing that and it became my survival job. It's how I stayed afloat during my theater gigs," Rannells says.
That part of his life is just one element of his new book.
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