In recent years, Jonathan Groff has become a household name and all-round family favorite. Between July 3 and 13, more than 2.7 million households watched Jonathan Groff’s iconic role in Hamilton on Disney+. Late last year, he reprised the role of Kristoff in Frozen 2, which is now the highest-grossing animated film in cinematic history!
However, Groff’s love of performing goes way back beyond these latest successes. So who is Jonathan Groff, and how did he get where he is today?
If you want to know more about Jonathan Groff’s rise to stardom, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn the untold story about how this iconic performer and LGBTQ+ advocate broke onto the big stage, screen and TV.
Childhood and Dreams of Performing
Jonathan Groff was born and raised in Pennsylvania, the second son of Julia Witmer and Jim Groff. Neither of his parents had any links to the arts, though they encouraged him and his brothers to pursue their own interests.
For Jonathan, his love of musical theatre began at the age of three with Julie Andrew’s performance in Mary Poppins. According to the actor, he watched the movie on repeat and even dressed up as Poppins one Halloween, complete with a performance of her hits!
In 2003, Jonathan was on the verge of starting at Conestoga Valley High School. However, his plans changed when he was cast as the role of Rolf in a national tour of Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. After the tour ended, he decided to move to New York instead of going to high school.
Once there, he began performing at the Fulton Opera House and The Ephrata Performing Arts Center.
Jonathan Groff and his Early Career in New York
In 2005, Jonathan’s performance in Fame earned his card for the Actors’ Equity Association, and he finally made his debut on Broadway!
Over the next five years, he performed in several roles, including Melchoir Gabor in the first-ever performance of Spring Awakening. Here is where he met his co-star and friend-for-life, Lea Michele. His performance also won him a nomination for a Drama Desk Award and a Tony.
During this time, Jonathan started delving into screen performances as well. His first on-screen role was as Henry Mackler on ABC’s One Life to Live, although his storyline was cut short in 2007. The following year, Jonathan Groff’s movie career began with a supporting role in Ang Lee’s comedy-drama Taking Woodstock.
Hitting the Big Time
After 2010, his career took a sudden and impressive leap.
Jonathan Groff’s Glee performance, opposite Lea Michele, made him a familiar face with families worldwide. In fact, his character was so popular that he returned across multiple episodes, including appearing in the series finale!
In 2013, Jonathan once again took to the big screen, this time taking on the role of Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen, opposite Idina Menzel and Josh Gadd. After becoming a massive box office success, he returned as Kristoff in Frozen Fever in March 2015 and Frozen 2 in 2019.
Of course, no look at Jonathan’s career would be complete without mentioning his performance in HBO’s series Looking. This show about three housemates navigating their lives in San Fransisco wasn’t just a milestone in Jonathan’s career. It’s also one of the first mainstream series to feature openly gay characters in lead roles, making it a real landmark project to be involved in.
Throughout all this amazing work, Jonathan never forgot his musical theatre roots. In fact, he performed in an impressive number of musicals and theatrical shows alongside his screen work. These include:
- Deathtrap in 2010
- The Submission in 2011
- Red in 2012 and 2013
- The Pirates of Penzance in 2013
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in London in 2015
- A New Brain in 2015
In March 2015, he also joined the cast of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton in its first-ever off-Broadway production. And, well, the rest is history!
Latest Projects and Future Work
After a career founded in musical and comedic roles, Jonathan decided he was ready to take things in a different direction in 2016. And boy, did he?
In October 2017, his performance as Agent Holden Ford of the FBI showed a very different side of Jonathan. Clearly, his fans were pleased to see this variety because he returned in the second season of the show, which aired on Netflix in August 2019.
This summer, Jonathan’s iconic role of King George III in Hamilton was once again available for people worldwide to enjoy. On July 3, it premiered on the Disney Plus channel to rave reviews.
He still finds time to get back on stage, though. Most recently, he has performed in the Westside Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors off-broadway. Since performing in Hamilton in 2016, he has also taken on roles in Hair in 2017 and The Bobby Darin Story in 2018.
As if this weren’t enough, he is also currently in production for The Matrix 4, which is due to be released in 2022.
Activism and Social Media Presence
Back in 2009, Jonathan came out as gay in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. In a lovely touch, the actor actually made this public announcement at the National Equality March.
As anyone who follows Jonathan Groff’s Instagram or Jonathan Groff’s Twitter will be able to see, he is a constant champion of the community. He uses his platform to speak openly about the importance of LGBTQ+ rights. In fact, his advocacy has gained recognition and praise from the Point Foundation and Equality Pennsylvania.
As well as advocating for gay rights and equality, he has played a vital role in representing and celebrating gay men within the mainstream entertainment industries.
Get Inspired by Jonathan Groff!
Jonathan Groff has undoubtedly come a long way from performing the role of Mary Poppins to his parents in Pennsylvania. That said, his career is a testament to the power of pursuing your dreams relentlessly and staying true to yourself.
For more inspiration on rising to fame as a queer icon, check out this advice from the Fab Five.
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Elizabeth Hess says
Your info about Jonathan Groff is incorrect. He graduated from high school.
However, It was when he was about ready to go to Carnegie Mellon University that he got cast and never ended up going to college.
A neighbor in Lancaster, PA.