The Tallest Man I Ever Loved | With Andrew Rannells

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Brian Rea for The New York Times
Brian Rea for The New York Times

Andrew Rannells has been nominated for two Tony Awards. He starred in HBO's "Girls." And you can see him in "Black Monday" on Showtime. But before any of that, he was just like a lot of 20-somethings. Trying to make his career happen, and dreaming about his perfect boyfriend.

Where Are They Now?

"The Tallest Man I Ever Loved" is the second essay that Andrew Rannells has published in the Modern Love column and performed for the podcast. And after he recorded this essay, he talked more about the end of his relationship with Todd.

"It wasn't the end of his career or anything, but it was definitely ... time for us to break up," Andrew says. "At the time, I hated that the final straw came in the form of a professional win on my part. But I think it was a symptom of a lot of larger issues that we were both having."

"And please. I was 22 when we started dating, and I was his first serious gay relationship. Those are usually not the ones that stick forever, you know?"

Todd and Andrew have both moved on and had other relationships, and Todd is married now. But Andrew says this wasn't the last time he made a list of qualities he wanted his dream boyfriend to have.

"The list got more specific, and the guys kept showing up. That was the thing," he says. "I would create ideas in my mind, and they would appear."

"I don't know how that works exactly — if I was looking for these specific things and making them happen, or imagining that that the person was exactly what I thought they were going to be. But I would always leave something important off the list. Not on purpose, but I would realize later, 'Oh, I should have asked for that!'"

"So every breakup, I would adjust my list and be like, 'Let's tack that thing on.' Until finally I just got to the point where I was like, 'These lists are ridiculous. I need to stop journaling and just focus on [whether they're a] good person. And less on, how tall is he? What color is his hair?'"

And while Andrew's move to New York City fulfilled a dream, he also says it was a messy time.

"I wanted it to be a scripted, romantic, beautiful transition into moving to New York, and getting a job, and falling in love, and it was just a little scrappier, and things took awhile to cobble together — a life and relationships and friendships and a career," he says.

Andrew's essay is adapted from his new book of personal essays, called "Too Much is Not Enough." He says writing that book made him see his younger self differently.

"I think what was most helpful, even recently, was ... forgiving that 20-something-year-old version of myself for having some missteps along the way, and not always behaving as honorably as I could have," he says.

"I think I was hard on myself. But I was doing my best. And that's the big personal takeaway from writing all those essays, is to be forgiving of my young self. Because we're all just trying to get it done."

Now, about fifteen years after his relationship with Todd, Andrew's professional life has taken off. And his personal life is in a good place too.

"My love life is really great right now," he says. "I'm dating someone now. It's very new, but great. We were friends before we started dating, so that's always a nice sort of safety, because I feel like you can't pull any punches."

"We have to skip that stage where you're like, 'I'm super easygoing! Look how relaxed I am!' I can't do that with him, because he's seen me spiral out of control. He knows what he's getting into. So you've caught me in new love, [and] I'm feeling very optimistic and happy at the moment about my love life."

That's Andrew Rannells. He's starred in "Girls" and "The Book of Mormon," and you can see him now in "Black Monday" on Showtime. His book is called "Too Much is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood."

Voices In This Episode

Andrew Rannells is a Grammy Award winning stage, film, and television actor. Rannells recently joined the casts of the upcoming Showtime series “Ball Street,” opposite Don Cheadle, and Matthew Weiner’s new Amazon series “The Romanoffs.” He will also guest star on NBC’s revival of the beloved series “Will & Grace.”

Rannells is perhaps best known for his work on stage, having starred in a series of acclaimed Broadway shows. He began his stage career starring as ‘Bob Gaudio’ in the 2007 national tour of Jersey Boys. Next, Rannells originated the role of ‘Elder Price’ in The Book of Mormon, for which he received a Tony and Drama Desk Award nomination. As a soloist on the show’s original cast recording, Rannells also received a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Rannells continued his Broadway career as ‘Hedwig’ in the 2014 Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and ‘King George III’ in the acclaimed Hamilton. Rannells most recently played the role of ‘Whizzer’ in the 2016 Broadway revival of Falsettos, for which he received his second Tony nomination.

On television, Rannells is best known for his role as ‘Elijah Krantz’ in the HBO series “Girls,” opposite Lena Dunham. As ‘Elijah’, Rannells played the ex-boyfriend and openly gay friend of Lena’s character ‘Hannah.’ He also appeared in season two of Steven Soderbergh’s “The Knick” on Cinemax and NBC's “The New Normal.” Previously, Rannells starred in a recurring role as ‘Darren’ on “How I Met Your Mother.” Other notable television credits include “Sofia the First,” “Welcome to the Wayne,” “Drunk History,” “Another Period,” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!.”

On the big screen, Rannells can be seen in films such as 2016’s "Why Him?", alongside James Franco, Bryan Cranston, and Zoey Deutch. The film follows a father who attempts to stop an immature tech-billionaire from proposing to his daughter. Rannells also starred in 2015’s "The Intern" alongside Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro and will next be seen in the upcoming Paul Feig feature "A Simple Favor."

In addition, Rannells has voiced numerous characters on the small screen. Rannells earlier credits include voice roles on the 2000-2005 “Pokemon” series, “Sonic X,” “Archie’s Weird Mysteries,” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!” He also reprised these roles for the series’ respective video games. Rannells has continued his voice work, more recently voicing various roles on Cartoon Network’s “Chaotic” and himself in the 2016 “The Simpsons” episode ‘How Lisa Got Her Marge Back.’ Rannells can be heard as the voice of ‘Matthew’ in the Netflix series “Big Mouth.”

Rannells recently lengthened his list of credits, announcing his first literary project, an untitled memoir which will be published in 2019.

Rannells currently resides in New York City.

Headshot of Caitlin O'Keefe

Caitlin O'Keefe Producer, Podcasts & New Programs
Caitlin O'Keefe was a producer of podcasts and new programming at WBUR.



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