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The Secret Ways Zachary Quinto Connected With Andrew Rannells On-Stage

Zachary Quinto Andrew Rannells
Marion Curtis/Starpix/Shutterstock

For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Andrew Rannells to write a tribute to Zachary Quinto, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Quinto represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan. For the full list, click here.

To know Zachary Quinto’s work is to know how strong and stoic he can be. How through his stillness, he can invoke intimidation and fear and power. To get to know Zach, the man off-screen, off-stage, is to know something different. He is still powerful and charming, and he can scare the hell out of you with one laser-like stare, but he’s also silly. There’s an impish quality to him that is unexpected and lovely and warm.

I spent the summer onstage with Zach in “The Boys in the Band.” It was, please forgive the overused term, a magical experience. It was a unique combination of material and casting and timing that made us all instantly fall in love with each other and remain unusually present. Zach played Harold, the sharp-tongued, hard-edged unofficial leader of the Band. (I played Larry. The slut.) He played his part with precision stillness, landing each joke, each stare, each gesture, with sniper-like exactness. Harold was cold and slightly dangerous, but Zach infused him with a childishness and warmth that was disarming. Harold was made of ice but somehow not cold.

It amazed me every night as I sat next to Zach onstage, as he stuck every comic landing, that he still managed to connect with me in small, meaningful, often hilarious ways. We developed a language of nonverbal noises to indicate our pleasure or displeasure with how the jokes were being received. A high-pitched “Hmmm” meant something went well. A low, guttural “Ugghhhh” meant not so much. We were as much Larry and Harold in those moments as we were Andrew and Zach. He walked a beautiful tightrope act in which he dazzled but stayed grounded somehow. I was always charmed and amazed. I am most certainly a fan of my friend both onstage and off.

Andrew Rannells is the author of the upcoming “Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood.”