Stage and film actor Anthony Rapp is recognized as one of the original cast members of Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer and Tony Award winning Broadway production “Rent” (1996), where he portrayed Mark Cohen. He later recreated the role in Chris Columbus' 2005 feature film version and for the 2009 U.S. National tour. Starting out as a child performer, the Illinois native enjoyed rave reviews as the son of Ed Harris and Judith Ivey in “Precious Sons” at age 14 and originated the role of Ben in the Broadway production of “Six Degrees of Separation” at age 18, a role he later reprised in Fred Schepis' successful 1993 big screen adaptation. Other Broadway credits include “You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown” (1999), “Henry V” (2002) and “Little Shop of Horrors” (2004). Making his film debut in “Adventures in Babysitting” (1987), Rapp played supporting roles in the movies “School Ties” (1992), “Dazed and Confused” (1993), “Twister” (1996), “Road Trip” (2001), “A Beautiful Mind” (2001, shared a SAG nomination) and “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” (2009). He also collaborated with his older brother, playwright Adam Rapp, on the plays “Ursula's Permanent” (1993), “Prosthetics and the $25,000 Pyramid” (1994), “Nocturne” (2001) and the films “Winter Passing” (2005) and “Blackbird” (2007). Also a singer, Rapp released an album in 2000 called “Look Around.”
In 2006, Rapp released “Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent,” a memoir about his days in “Rent,” his mother's battle with cancer, and his experiences growing up. The same year, he also won the Trailblazer Award.
Childhood and Family:
Anthony Dean Rapp was born on October 26, 1971, in Joliet, Illinois. After his parents divorced, he was raised by his mother, who was a nurse. Young Ant, as his family called him, became interested in performing and by age 6 had starting performing in musicals. He graduated from Joliet West High School and moved to New York in 1989 to attend New York University. After dropping out of college, he headed to California to pursue a film career. Ant also attended theater camp at the reputable Michigan Interlochen Arts Camp, where he studied acting for two years. He won a number of awards for his singing while in Junior High.
Ant is the younger brother of Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright and novelist Adam Rapp (born on June 15, 1968), who is most famous for his play “Red Light Winter,” which won the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work, and a 2006 Pulitzer Prize nomination for Drama. Anthony also has a cousin named Anne, who he considers a little sister. Anne was raised by Ant's mother. In 1997, Ant's beloved mother passed away from cancer.
A Beautiful Mind
Anthony Rapp began appearing in musicals when he was six years old. His first role was that of the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” at the Island Lake Camp. He went on to make his professional debut in a road tour production of “Evita” (1981) at age 9. He then received the title role in a Broadway musical called “The Little Prince and the Aviator” at age 10. Although the latter show failed to make it to opening night, the gifted child performer quickly got a job in a touring production of “The King and I” (1982), alongside Yul Brynner. Four years later, Rapp received his second lead role in a production of George Furth's stage memoir “Precious Sons” (1986), opposite Ed Harris and Judith Ivey. He was handed an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk nomination for his performance.
Rapp appeared on the big screen the following year with a lead role in “Adventures in Babysitting” (1987), the feature film directorial debut of Chris Columbus. In the pleasant comedy, he portrayed Daryl Coopersmith, the best friend of Brad (played by Keith Coogan). He then played Pinky Sears in Meiert Avis' independent thriller “Far From Home” (1989), which starred Drew Barrymore, Matt Frewer, Jennifer Tilly, and Dick Miller, and Jamie in Donald P. Borchers' horror movie “Grave Secrets” (1989, starred Paul Le Mat).
1990 saw Rapp make his TV movie debut in the Disney produced family drama “Sky High,” which was broadcasted as part of NBC's “The Magical World of Disney.” Also that year, he returned to stage when he originated the role of Ben in the Broadway production of John Guare's “Six Degrees of Separation.” He also co-founded the theater company Mr. and Mrs. Smith Productions in 1991 and performed in the off-Broadway productions “The Destiny of Me” and “Sophistry” in 1992. He sat in the director's chair for the New York production of “Ursula's Permanent” in 1993, a play he co-wrote with his brother Adam.
Rapp resumed his movie career with the supporting role of Richard 'McGoo' Collins in the Robert Mandel directed “School Ties” (1992). After portraying the supporting role of a high school outsider named Tony Olson in Richard Linklater's “Dazed and Confused” (1993), he recreated his stage role of Ben in the film version of “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993). Directed by Fred Schepisi, the film earned critical praise.
In 1994, Rapp was cast as Cadet Frederick G. Hodgson in Showtime's TV film “Assault at West Point: The Court Martial of Johnson Whittaker,” opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Waterston, Greg Germann and George Martin. He also performed in his brother's play, “Prosthetics and the $25,000 Pyramid,” at the Workhouse Theatre. It was also in 1994 that the actor began the role of Mark Cohen in Jonathan Larson's musical “Rent,” based on Giacomo Puccini's opera “La bohème,” in a limited three week Workshop production at the New York Theatre Workshop. He would go on to reprise the role in the successful off-Broadway production, which premiered on January 25, 1996, and the original Broadway production that opened on April 29, 1996. He would remain with the production until 1998. “Rent” was a hit on Broadway and picked up several Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Rapp netted an Obie Award, which he shared with a cast that included Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Fredi Walker.
Rapp returned to films in “The Mantis Murder,” a comedy directed and written by Keith Thomson, and the Jan De Bont summer blockbuster “Twister” (both 1996). In “David Searching” (1997), an independent drama by Leslie L. Smith, he portrayed the title role. His last film of the decade was “Man of the Century” (1999), a comedy directed by Adam Abraham. He also made a memorable guest appearance in “The X Files” (1997), where he played Jeff Glaser.
Entering the new millennium, Rapp fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a recording artist with his debut album “Look Around,” which was released in October 2000. He wrote or co-wrote nine of the 12 songs, including “Living Alive,” “Look Around,” “Then Again,” “Human Tornado,” “Always,” “Just Some Guy,” “Goodbye,” “Visits To You,” and “Now I Know.” The songs “Always” and “Visits to You” dealt with the death of her mother.
Still in 2000, Rapp played the supporting role of Samuel Pierce in the ABC Emmy Award nominated TV film “The Beach Boys: An American Family” (2000), a biopic of the rock group The Beach Boys, and costarred as Jacob in the box office hit comedy “Road Trip,” which was co-written and directed by Todd Phillips and starred Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott and Amy Smart. In addition, he made a cabaret debut at the Fez in New York City. Following work in the short “Cruise Control” (2001), Rapp delivered a notable supporting portrayal of Bender, one of the friends and colleagues of math genius John Forbes Nash (played by Russell Crowe), in Ron Howard's highly successful drama “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), which was based on the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr.
Returning to the stage after playing the title character in the 1999 Broadway revival of “You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Rapp starred in the West Coast premiere of brother Adam's play “Nocturne,” at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2001. The next year, he took on the lead role in The Commonwealth Shakespeare's production of “Henry V” in Boston. He went on to perform in musicals such as “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (2003), “Little Shop of Horrors” (2004, starred as Seymour) and “Feeling Electric” (2005, as Dr. Madden).
In 2004, Rapp portrayed Matt Spevak in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” called “Bound” and supported Hedy Burress and James Duval in the musical film “Open House,” by Dan Mirvish. He was then featured with Zooey Deschanel, Ed Harris, Will Ferrell and Amelia Warner in the comedy film “Winter Passing” (2005), which was written and directed by his brother, before reprising the role of Mark Cohen for the big screen adaptation of “Rent” (also 2005). The film received mixed reviews and was not a big success at the box office but Rapp and his costars earned a Black Reel nomination for Best Ensemble and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics Choice nomination for Best Song for the song “Seasons of Love.”
After “Rent,” Rapp appeared in childhood friend Andy Dick's “Danny Roane: First Time Director” (2006) and brother Adam's “Blackbird” (2007). During 2006 to 2007, he also had a supporting role in the NBC short lived series “Kidnapped,” where he played Larry Kellogg.
In 2008, Rapp performed the autobiographical “Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent” at the Pittsburgh City Theatre. After having a performance in the summer of 2007, he once again portrayed Mark Cohen in a 2009 national tour of the musical that began in Cleveland, in January 2009. The tour will end in Toronto, Canada, in January 2010. Adam Pascal also joined him in both productions.
On the film front, Rapp was recently seen in Don Roos' “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits,” adapted from Ayelet Waldman's novel of the same name. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2009. Costars in the film include Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow, and Lauren Ambrose. He will star as Gene in Todd Miller's drama “Scaring the Fish” (2009).
Trailblazer Award, 2006
Obie: “Rent,” 1996
Outer Critics Circle: “Precious Sons,” 1986