NPR speaks with Glee's silent piano man
NPR has this interesting interview with Brad Ellis, the resident pianist on Glee where his official title is “Accompanist,” although contrary to his silent on-show character, he’s quite the conversationalist in real life. I noticed him early on in the show. He stood out because unlike the rest of the cast, Berklee College of Music trained Brad actually looked like a high school music teacher.
You ended up working on Glee because you knew the casting director, right? But you didn’t know you’d actually be on the show.
Right. I’d worked with Robert Ulrich. He’s a casting director, but he’s also so much more. I knew he was extremely good at his job, quickly seeing inside actors to steer them towards the right parts. One of the things I’m good at is teaching people that singing is just one more way of using their voices. So I had been working with a lot of the cast members, especially Cory Monteith, who didn’t have a singing background. And one day (creator) Ryan Murphy said to me, “You better get used to wearing all black.” And I thought he was talking about my fashion sense.
The next day I came to a meeting at Fox, wearing black from head to toe, and Dante Lorenti, another one of the producers, told me that’s not what Ryan meant. He meant to wear black when I was on the set and we were filming.
So what kind of instructions have you been given about your character?
“You hate all of them, and you hate children.” We even did a scene, as an exercise, where I tear all the music off the piano and storm off. But I have had occasions when some directors — we have such great guest directors — have said to me, “You can soften up here.” And in that sense I feel like I have a character arc.
[Hat tip: Mun]